Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Boyd Jaynes
Building a high-performance play car can be a daunting task for anyone, but it was a challenge that Jason Campbell was obviously up to from the incredible results seen here. As half of the founding team and co-owner of the well-known Camburg Engineering, Campbell possesses considerable engineering and fabrication skills, but even for him the job of building his vision of the ultimate family cruiser was a long and laborious one. Busy designing many of the high-quality suspension products and race parts that Camburg sells along with raising a family, the project stretched to almost seven years mostly due to a lack of two critical components common to many builds across the Dirt Sports Nation: spare time and spare funds.
Further complicating the process was that Campbell wanted the car to be extremely adept at multitasking. “Originally it started out as building a better sand car. Then in 2007 my wife raced our Ford Ranger at the Powder Puff race and she really dug that. She got second so was pretty fired up. We decided to make the car more heavy-duty, so put more into it. More tubes, bigger hubs, stronger trailing arms and things like that. The idea was that we could still do family trips to Glamis with it, but also enter a local desert race if we wanted,” explains Campbell.
Since the whole family takes part in trips to the desert and dunes, a four-seater buggy was a natural choice. However, Campbell still wanted the new ride to have excellent handling. “I wanted a short-wheelbase, sporty four-seater and not a big, lazy, cumbersome car,” notes Campbell. The idea was hatched to build what was as close as possible to a Class 1 in components, size, capability and handling, while still offering enough room for the entire Campbell clan.
Campbell took the car even further utilizing his engineering background. Not surprisingly, suspension is his passion so instead of using off-the-shelf items, he designed and built his own KINETIK shocks. To set the unique car further apart, a unique rear variable ratio cantilever suspension was dreamed up and fabricated. Matched with the beautiful aluminum body and exquisite fabrication found throughout, it was an easy choice as this month’s Masterpiece in Metal.
The front suspension was designed and fabricated by Jason Campbell of Camburg, while Craig Hall at R&I Industries created the CAD drawings and handled the laser cutting. Joined to ProAm Racing Products clevises, kingpins and 2.0 race hubs, the dual A-arms cycle out to 22 inches of wheel travel. Campbell also went through the extremely labor-intensive process of designing and building the KINETIK 12-inch stroke, 3.375-inch diameter internal bypass shocks from scratch, citing that it was always something he wanted to do. ProAm’s four-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors provide stopping power while a ProAm Class 1 steering rack guides the four-seater.
Jason Campbell and Craig Hall again teamed up for the build and design of the exotic variable-ratio cantilever rear suspension. Initially done for packaging purposes and to allow the use of a shorter KINETIK 14-inch stroke internal bypass shock, the unique setup gives an almost linear rate at ride height, a rising rate as the suspension compresses and a falling rate between ride height and droop. Combined with Camburg-built trailing arms, the setup produces 26 inches of wheel travel, but is strapped to 22 inches to preserve the CV joints. Buried in the center of the photo is a three-speed automatic transaxle built by Jeff Fields at Transaxle Engineering that sends power to the ProAm 934.5 outboard hubs via ProAm 35-spline 300M axles. More ProAm components in the form of six-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors complete the rear.
Powering the four-seater is a 373 cubic-inch Chevy LS2 built by Turnkey Engine Supply. A specialized camshaft along with a Turnkey billet throttle body and fuel rails help up the power to a respectable 500 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. The correct fuel/air mixture is provided a Turnkey-tuned MEFI 5 ECU unit with custom mapping. Besides building the shocks, Campbell also fabricated the headers from stainless steel, incorporating Magnaflow mufflers. Visible at the top of the photo is the Ron Davis radiator and Spal fans that keep the V8 cool.
Sparco EVO 2 seats with Crow five-point harnesses keep Jason and his family secure, while a Sparco steering wheel, AIM Strada MXL digital display and Winters gate shifter rest directly in front of the driver. On the other side of the 714 Motorsports-built dash is found a smattering of Auto Meter Elite Series gauges and a PCI-prepped Lowrance HDS 7m Gen 2 GPS unit. A Vertex 5500 race radio and a PCI 4 Link Pro Elite DSP intercom provide communication.
The entire body was painstakingly made out of aluminum by Eddie Moreno of 714 Motorsports and then painted satin black with graphics by GatorWraps. An upper rack of five KC HiLites Pod 70-watt HID lights allow the prerunning and fun to continue well after the sun has gone down.
The unique rear suspension enabled Campbell to build the car with a wheelbase closer to a Class 1, giving it a racier and more nimble feel compared to some big four-seaters. Without the design, the rear shocks would literally mount inside the passenger space. Aiding handling and traction are 37-inch General Grabbers on 17x6.5 Method Race Wheels beadlocks.
POWERTRAIN Engine: 373 cubic-inch Chevy LS2 V8
BUILDER: Turnkey Engine Supply
MAX Horsepower: 500 hp
MAX Torque: 475 lb-ft
MODIFICATIONS: Turnkey fuel rails, Turnkey billet throttle body, specialized camshaft INDUCTION: Turnkey-tuned MEFI 5 ECU and fuel-injection system, K&N air filter TRANSMISSION: Transaxle Engineering three-speed automatic transaxle
SUSPENSION Front: Dual A-arms with 22 inches of wheel travel, ProAm 2.0 race hubs, custom KINETIK 3.375-inch diameter 12-inch stroke internal bypass shocks, ProAm clevises and kingpins
REAR: Variable ratio cantilever with trailing arms, ProAm 934.5 outboard hubs, custom KINETIK 3.375-inch diameter 14-inch stroke internal bypass shocks, 22 inches of wheel travel
Cooling Ron Davis radiator, Spal fans, CBR trans cooler Plumbing Jason Campbell of Camburg Engineering WIRING Jason Campbell of Camburg Engineering Brakes Front: ProAm four-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors REAR: ProAm six-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors WHEELS/TIRES WHEELS: 17x6.5-inch Method Race Wheels beadlocks TIRES: 37x12.50R17 General Tire Grabbers
BODYWORK: 714 Motorsports aluminum body
INTERIORr Sparco EVO 2 seats, Crow harnesses, Sparco steering wheel, Winters shifter, Lowrance GPS unit, AIM digital display, Autometer gauges, PCI race radio and intercom system CHASSIS: Camburg Engineering Four-Seater DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase: 121 inches Overall Length: 179 inches Overall Height: 63 inches Track Width: 88 inches Overall Weight: 3,700 lbs