It all started on Halloween last year (well, it really started so much longer ago in the dream of a U.S. Airman). That's the day Deron Warman put in his order for a 2010 SS Camaro in silver ice metallic.
"Never owned a Camaro before my 2010 Camaro SS/RS... always loved them, always wanted one," he wrote in a blog on Camaro5, an online forum for aficionados of this all-American muscle car. "But between money and practicality [it] just didn't seem possible or feasible. With a family to care for and our income, [it] wasn't anything more than a dream or a thought.
Warman took delivery of his dream car on April 29.
He'd made all the pre-delivery interior and exterior color and design choices. After takidelivery of the Camaro he named "Samantha," Warman would drive it around, showing it off, talking about it. He did a muffler delete "to get some sound in those pipes," he told his fellow Camaro5 enthusiasts. He took "a couple road trips and pulled 25 mpg," he said. He drove it to work daily, finding "that lone parking spot in the corner," he said. "And as I walk away, [I'd] turn around to stare for one last time before leaving her for the day."
Those days, though, wouldn't be the only ones he'd look back before leaving the car. But a little back story about being in yet another place, because that colors the front story about the Camaro, a Camaro called Samantha.
Warman is a senior Master Sergeant, an E8, with more than 24 years in the Air Force. He's married to Maj. Teresa Warman, also an active-duty Air Force veteran, who's assigned to the Air Force Services Agency in San Antonio, Texas. They live nearby; Randolph Air Force Base is Warman's home station.
At the time of this writing, he was on his fourth and final rotational tour of duty assigned to the 451 Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. He and his five-member team handled personnel support for contingency operations: personnel accountability; hostile and non-hostile casualty reporting; managing all inbound and outbound forces; and did requests for forces for the Air Force. They also managed such human resources tasks as promotions, re-enlistments, new assignments, etc. As team leader, Warman also managed Air Force contractors and Air Force civilians.
And the team did it 24/7, with each person working 12- to 14-hour days. It all seems so routine, as if working in an office back home in Texas. But being in a war zone is anything but routine, even if it's your fourth tour.
Still, he'd be in contact with his wife and children stateside. And he'd be in contact with the folks at RKSport in Murrieta, Calif., because he had left his dream car in their hands before heading off to that fourth tour in Afghanistan.
Warman had come across an ad posted by RKSport on the Camaro5 forum looking for a Camaro to use for its SEMA build. It was 12 weeks before the SEMA show the first week of November.
"Within minutes, Deron e-mailed me," says RK's Sean Tito. "Now, normally I don't think people are too serious, but this guy was. He drove his car out to my house that same week from San Antonio to Lake Elsinore, Calif. (1,362 miles). The next day we took the car to RKSport, and Deron flew home to San Antonio, leaving us his Camaro."
Wrote Warman on Camaro5: "The guys at RKSport are awesome. From Sean, who was so gracious to allow me to stay at his house for two nights and be a perfect host, to Mike Lozano, general manager who walked me through the process of what will happen to my car. You just know when you meet real good people, and both of them are."
Bob, Smith, Mr. RK himself, was there and talked at length with me, and showed me what a great company they are and took great care of me while in California. "Elisio is the designer, and he already [had] started to work on the car before I left. He's got a great vision and talent to match, so I know the end result will be something special."
The Airman turned "and stared," he said, "but I won't be seeing her again for some time."
That time would come in February, after Warman returned home. Not only would family be there to greet him, so would Samantha.
But back up to the weeks before SEMA when he left the car with RKSport, turning around to see his Camaro already up on stands, with work already begun.
"They started the car the same day Deron brought it to RKSport," Tito says, "which sort of freaked him out seeing his car on jack stands and fiberglass being applied to the front bumper. I think he had second thoughts at this point, but turned his back and we left for the airport."
Sean explains what the RKSport team of designer and technicians did to transform the 2010 Camaro SS:
RKSport "built a complete urethane ground effects kit, a rear fiberglass diffuser with real carbon fiber inlay between the splitters, a custom rear trunk spoiler with carbon fiber on the top, and a custom hood with more carbon fiber in the center. This hood extracts the heat from under the hood."
"Magnuson superchargers sponsored this vehicle by giving us a polished TVS2300, which Mike Lozano and a friend, James Bawkey, installed.
Exhaust, Eibach Springs and Energy Suspension were involved throughout our build of the Deron/RKS Camaro. Roadwire Leather Interiors wrapped the seats with a unique hound's-tooth design and black leather. Wheels were supplied by TSW; we used a 20" staggered setup: 20x8.5 front, 20x10 rear. Gorilla Automotive Products donated custom lugs for the wheels. We used Hankook tires.
"GT Styling assisted with supplying us their blackout covers. The brake rotors were stock from Brembo that we had crossed-drilled and zinc-plated."
In Afghanistan, Warman would get photo updates of the car, seeing its transformation.
The finished Camaro went to Las Vegas, where, on display in the Energy Suspension booth, the car was used for R&D and the suspension company installed its products on it, as well.
Others who helped support the build included MGP's caliper covers and Hurst Shifter. AFE Advance Flow Engineering, provided an intake, but Tito says the installed supercharger left the team unable to use it.
Master Sergeant Deron Warman is back home. He's driving his dream car again.
"To everyone at RKSport, thank you for allowing me to represent your company and allowing my beautiful Camaro SS to be your "front gal' at SEMA 2009," he writes.
"That's my story, and I'm thankful for what I have and been able to have from my wonderful wife and children to where I am in my life with everyday things: work, play, friends, everything.
"Truly I am blessed and as happy as one could be."
A man and his dream car, made even more of a spectacular dream by the reality of a quick response to an ad on a blog post brought to fruition by a team of aftermarket artisans at RKSport.
And, by the way, except for the cost of driving out from Texas to California and flying back home, the restyling of Samantha cost the Airman nothing more.