Not a lot of people are fans of purple but it just goes so well with this one. (I love the purple Camaro) They say purple is not a manly color but can you really say that to this bad ass 1960 Camaro that hides 659 horsepower under its hood?
Most people will just see an awesome purple & white paint scheme but there actually more to it, as it is inspired by the life of Chris King, co-founder of Viking Performance. Viking Performance is one of the top suspension manufacturing companies in the country, they are based in Lakeville, Minnesota. Chris King is going to reach new heights with their latest creation.
Chris’ passion for cars started when he young, he had older brothers that showed him around the inside of a car. Chris was already building cars before he was able to drive one. “We didn’t have video games to entertain us, so we always had four or five muscle cars sitting in the driveway. It drove our mom and our neighbors crazy,” Chris said. “Back then, you could buy a decent car for $100, and a mint car for $700. We were always swapping out carburetors, camshafts, or entire motors. We mowed lawns in order to save up money to buy parts. At 14, I bought my first car, which was a 1967 Chevelle.”
As Chris grew up, he did not let himself to be completely confined to cars and looked for a job. “I went to school, became a CPA, and got a job as an accountant. I did that dirty stuff for several years,” Chris joked. “It is funny how things work out, as I ended up meeting my future wife, Christina, who just happened to work at an aftermarket shock manufacturer. While I never thought I would be crazy enough to work with my wife, I was eager to leave the monotony of corporate America behind and get back into the industry that I loved. It definitely rekindled my passion for the hobby.”
Combined, Chris and his wife had 40 years of experience in building suspensions which gave them the confidence to start up their own company. In 2011, they founded Viking Performance. To make a name for themselves, they wanted to build something that would represent their company. “We couldn’t call ourselves ‘King Shocks’ because that name was already taken. As newcomers in an established industry we had to be careful not to use anyone else’s colors,” Chris narrates. “The color purple kind of stuck because we’re from Minnesota and we’re Vikings fans. We couldn’t make our logo look too similar to the football teams, but the purple Viking theme really stands out.”
They wanted something that would really stand out and the Berserker logo that covers the entire hood of the Camaro did the job. The berserker Vikings are believed to be the best of all Norse Warriors and Viking’s Berserker Active Shock Management system is the best in suspension system technology. Their innovative system is able to monitor the wheel position, chassis acceleration, shock piston speed, and steering position which will then immediately adjust the shock valves accordingly at 1,000 times per second. To top it off, Viking Performance also has a new “Tuning Tool” for the Berserker system which makes it easier to adjust different parameters that includes the general sensitivity and stiffness, pitch control, anti-roll, end stop, and many more.
The Tuning Tool makes it possible to create and store an infinite number of presets that can then be loaded whenever needed. “When we introduced the Berserker system, we decided that we better build a test car to showcase it on. Since we already had a 1969 Camaro, it made sense to tear it down and transform it from a street cruiser into a more serious performance car that could run competitively with the best cars out there on the autocross and road course,” Chris recalls.
Chris acquired this 1969 Camaro around the early 2000s and little did he knew that it would eventually become their company’s flagship. “It was a true SS350 car that I bought from a friend of a friend of a friend. I’ve taken some heat for modifying a real SS car, but it had a tired 350 out of an ’80’s pickup in it already so it wasn’t exactly original,” Chris said. “I drove it around for a bit, realized it didn’t have enough power, so I put a 385hp crate motor in it. I drove it around some more, realized it still didn’t have enough power, so I ported the heads and put a bigger cam in it. The car was a lot of fun, but we needed to up our game to test and showcase the Viking shock line, and to be competitive at events like Optima and the Motor State Challenge”.
To bring the much needed power to the Camaro, Chris bought a 408 ci LS small-Block engine from TPiS. The engine was built from a factory iron block which was then bored 0.030-over and a forged Compstar rotating assembly was then installed. The RHS LS7 cylinder heads and TPiS metalwork intake manifold breathes air into the engine and a custom TPiS 252/2540-at-0.050 hydraulic roller cam starts that valves. The engine is able to power up to 659 horsepower that is directed to a TREMEC T-56 Magnum manual transmission.
That much power needs a tough chassis to keep it in place, Chris talked with Speedtech Performance to match the Berserker ASM shocks with suspension components that could do the job. On the front of the Camaro is a Speedtech front subframe assembly that comes with an improved sway bar and control arms. In the rear is a Speedtech three-link system that’s makes use of tubular lower control arms, torque arm, and Panhard bar.
When the build started, they planned to show it at the 2014 SEMA Show which meant that they only had 10 months to complete the project. This Camaro was featured in the SEMA and PRI car shows. Due to a freezing winter in Minnesota, Chris needed help to get it ready to race by 2015. So he asked for Brandon Clemens from Dick’s Hot Rod Shop for the last modifications and final calibrations. After the Camaro was finished, it certainly proved its worth in various autocross races and at the same time provided Chris with important data that will help them developed the Viking Performance’s product line.
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