Volume I, Issue 2, Page 13


KEEPING IN TUNE!

I started Street & Performance in 1979 in Mena, Arkansas, after determining that I couldn’t always get what I needed to get the job done at the local auto parts emporium.

Innovation would be the word best used to describe Mark Campbell, founder of Street & Performance, which is without question one of the most important companies in our industry with regard to mixing modern technology and classic rides. Mark saw a need early on for components to adapt the computer-controlled systems of today into the coveted muscle machines and hot rods of yesteryear. Mark has pioneered many such transplants that include the latest and greatest that GM has to offer. He can provide the end user with all the information they need to adapt a modern fuel-efficient engine into a 1950s shoebox or he can send out everything needed to make it a simple turnkey installation. Mark’s attention to detail will benefit us all and his ability to communicate is what we welcome here. But long before I made my way to Mena, I had found my passion for building things.  I created my first hot rod, a model A coupe, when I was only 13 and still living in Visalia, California.  I drove that car to Arkansas when my parents moved me there three years later. When I built that first machine, my dad wouldn’t let me have a V-8, so I figured out how to install a 4-cylinder from a Jeep and backed it up with a manual three-speed transmission.

After some time in Arkansas, I located an Oldsmobile J2 engine (with three two-barrel carbs) and a manual Olds three-speed along with an Olds rearend to beef up that first project.  Needless to say, I made it all work myself. And as I became older and other project cars came along (such as a model A sedan, ‘34 sedan, ‘32 sedan, ‘48 Ford sedan and a ’65 GTO with three Deuces and a four-speed), I had a lot of experience crafting parts to make them work, all the while I was working in the family business milking cows, bottling the milk and delivering it to the customers.

As I said earlier, I found a need for custom parts for my own projects, which I made myself, and this led to friends asking me to make things for their hot rods, too.  I began my experience in the industry working at BRODIX, which also is located in Mena and manufactures aluminum performance parts. During this time I started producing aluminum brackets and pulleys from my two-car garage at home after hours. As the demand for these brackets increased, my oldest son started to help me while in high school by polishing the parts.

Seeing the need for other accessories, I found that the two of us could not keep up, and several of my street rodding friends would come and help part time. This led to the need to work full time and expand the operation. I moved the shop to an abandoned lumberyard where we stayed for several years. I then built our current facility and brought my wife Lisa in to manage the company while my other children have joined in to help in various ways.
My main objective was and still is to provide a quality product and service to our customer. Operating a family business allows me to do this and has helped me expand to include a foundry, header manufacturing department and a chrome shop. My latest expansions include a thermal coating shop for the header department.

In 1985, a customer, John Bovia, brought a GM-tuned port injection unit to me from a wrecked Camaro and said he wanted it polished for his ’32 coupe.  John installed it and was able to make it run and after a trip to a large car show, Hot Rod Magazine got wind of it and wrote a two-page article.  Before long, builders like Boyd Coddington had seen it and wanted to do the same thing. This led to 13 orders for this injection unit in the next year, which also led to the need for custom injection wiring harnesses to be made in house.
The first tuned port systems used an open loop harness with no oxygen sensor. As better computers came from GM we migrated to a closed loop system, which allowed the use of the oxygen sensor that allowed for better drivability and more control over the fuel air mixture, which also increased fuel mileage and efficiency.  All of a sudden, we found ourselves installing modern technology into old hot rods.  What a great concept, and one that has become a core part of today’s business.

In 1987, Street & Performance won SEMA’s Best New Street Rod Product Of The Year, and by the early '90s, when GM came out with the ZR1 Corvette engine and the second version of the LT1, we found ourselves getting orders night and day to fit the electronic-controlled powerplants in a wide variety of rods, muscle machines and customs. Both of these engines were a design change and required a new configuration of brackets, air cleaner, water necks, valve covers, wiring harnesses and other parts, so we started making those items to fill the need.

Having my own pattern shop and foundry allows me to develop the products needed for the new advances of parts needed. In ’94 GM changed their computer systems again, allowing us the ability to control many of the car’s other functions such as transmission shifting.

In 1997, GM once again changed the engine design and released the GEN III LS series of engines.  And again a whole new set of products were needed to make these engines installable into hot rods and custom machines.  We again met the challenge and were creating all the parts you would need to get these marvels of modern performance to work in your ’69 Camaro.

In the years since then, we have adapted and created many new components with the goal of helping our customers make the most out of all the innovative products that the OEMs are coming out with. Street & Performance has strived to be a leader in providing the custom installer with the products and tech support needed to complete their specific installation.

My goal for writing this column in MaxChevy is to help with common problems that you may encounter when plugging in a new LS2 into an early Nova, for example. As the price of fuel rises, the demand for these fuel efficient and high horsepower engines will increase and I will continue to provide the best products and support available.

I‘ve tried to build Street & Performance under the premise that technology never stops.  This, too, applies to new online magazines such as this one.  To say that the future is here is an understatement.  The new age of getting information is upon us.  And it’s right up my alley for getting all of the high-tech info that you will need right to your computer.  Stay tuned! 

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