Unique Camaros are a dime-a-dozen at SEMA in Las Vegas, Nevada, but that doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth telling. While we walked the 2013 SEMA show floor last week, we stumbled upon this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro built by Dick Harrell in the Classic Industries booth. What we noticed first were the signatures on the hood, the one-off emblems, and traction bars. This was definitely an F-Body worth stopping to take a closer look at.
Built by “Mr. Chevrolet,” Dick Harrell, for the Flying Dutchman funny car crew member, John Penso, this 1969 Chevy Camaro SS396 saw a lot of America. The car was originally sent to Harrell to be modified; it was then driven from Harrell’s shop in Kansas City, Missouri, to Penso’s home in California. From there, the car raced as a sleeper for years. The “Built by Dick Harrell” emblems stayed in the glove box to fool fellow racers, and the stock hood SS396 hood was replaced with the current Stinger hood when it flew-off at high speeds.
Originally a SS396 car, the Dick Harrell treatment was given to this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro to beef-up its ability to race. An iron-block, 427ci engine was dropped between the fenders with a ZL1 camshaft. The rearend was given 4:56:1 gears to help it hook, and traction bars helped it grip. The fuel tank and fuel neck-filler tube were relocated to the trunk. Flared wheel openings helped stuff larger tires under the car. To finish the customization, the car was painted Candy Blue.
This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS396 had one rough ride over the years. Allegedly, the car traveled to Hawaii and further, before being proven it was indeed a Dick Harrell built Camaro. Once the documents were in order, it came back to the mainland and underwent a frame-off restoration with the installation of Classic Industries parts. The Dick Harrell Camaro was purchased at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona, during a 2013 auction. Founder and CEO of Classic Industries, Jeff Leonard, bought the car and will keep it in his collection. We’re certainly glad to see it in the right hands.