Ken "Papa Smurf" Paparella's Pro-Street 1971 Camaro Z/28 RS
(from Volume 24, Issue 293)

photos by Michael B. Kelly


This story starts with Ken Paparella, a guy that loved Pro Touring and built a beautiful 1969 Pro Touring Camaro, which took 3 years, and was completed in 2008. Ken also had several other muscle cars, which included a completely restored 1968 Camaro RS, and several others. But, his good friends had Pro Street cars! That led Ken to buy this 1971 Camaro Z/28 RS, although it looked nothing like this when he bought it. He has transformed the car into what he now calls the “Wicked-B”. In the process Ken went through this car from top to bottom, replacing just about everything you see except the body.

The car now has a Competition Engineering 4-Link, and is tubbed to fit those big 33x22.5 Hoosier meats. The wheelie bars, wing, chute and chassis setup were done by Tim Christ at Coast Chassis Design in Edgewater, Florida. Tim also built the stainless headers for the new 565 cubic inch motor, which was built by Ron Dickerson, owner of American Motorsports. Ron is an avid racer and a top notch engine builder, and he put nothing but the best parts in the motor. That included a Callies crankshaft, Ron’s personal spec on the Comp Cams camshaft, Diamond pistons, Oliver Rods, Brodix 363 BB-3 Xtra Series CNC heads, Jesel Pro Series shaft rockers, and the rest is too much to list. It is all topped off with a BDS 871 Air-Loc blower sporting dual 1050cfm carbs. With a power plant like this there is a lot more to accomplish to allow the power to hit the streets. The tranny is an FTI Performance Pro Series Powerglide Level 5 with an FTI Performance 6-bolt 4,500 stall Pro Mod torque converter spinning a 9-inch Ford rear end with 4.30:1 gears and 35 spline Moser axles.

The color of this Pro Street beast is Ferrari yellow, and is has artwork depicting a motor blowing up airbrushed on the hood by Chris Cruz out of DeLand, Florida. Basically that hood paint is a tribute to his previous motor, which blew up while doing what boys will do with a car like this. Chris also ghosted in a Papa Smurf on the hood, since that is the nickname that Ken Paparella’s friends affectionately have given him. The flat black Z/28 stripes were done by Greg at Seaside Graphix, and sets off the yellow perfectly. The car has all LED lighting, and the taillights are from a C4 Corvette. This split bumper Z/28 RS also has rear split bumpers. The wheels are polished RC Components Hammer-S items, which really sets off the stance and look of the car.

The interior, completely done by Howard Krusey at Complete Upholstery in Altamonte Springs, is Howard’s creative design. It is done up in ostrich and black, plus the console fits the unique shifter perfectly. The dash is completely custom and holds the gauges right in eyes view. Sitting in this car is truly like sitting in a cockpit, with gauges for every aspect of this machine staring right at you. This bad boy even has air conditioning, and a kick-ass stereo system. Although Ken said he enjoys the stereo at times, what he really likes is the sound of the motor pushing out of those 4-inch oval pipes!

Ken told us that Ron Dickerson and the gang at American Motorsports keep this car running perfectly, and are always there for him. Ken also appreciates his great friends Charlie, Frankie and T.J. for all their help everyday with the car. The “Outlaw Garage” gang as they are known, always make it fun and they are always there for each other. In fact, Ken told us that is the best part of owning these cars; their friendships.

Even when owning a 1968 Camaro RS, Pro Touring 1969 Camaro, 2012 Corvette Grand Sport, and even 1993 Z/28 all at the same time, there was never a doubt which car Ken would take cruising or to any show....and it was of course the bad ass “Wicked-B” Pro Street ‘71 Camaro you see here. In fact, it is so much fun that Ken sold the ‘69 Pro Touring, the 2012 Corvette and the 1993 Z/28 this year because he would always drive the Wicked-B, and the others would just sit there. So his wife Charlene confiscated the 1968 RS Camaro, which she now calls hers, and left Ken with the Wicked-B. Ken told us he is OK with that. We can understand, since Ken also explained to us how extremely fun it is to drive....especially when the Outlaw Garage guys all get together, which at times has 20 of them cruising down the street at the same time. That sure makes for one heck of a crowd pleasing attraction, both in sight and sound! CN