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1969 Chevy Camaro - Reality Resto

Saving A Camaro Convertible

By Jeff Trush, Photography by Anders Odeholm, Jeff Trush

Once JimTech had repaired all the sheetmetal (which took months), the car was placed on a rotisserie for paint. I was originally going to restore the car back to stock specs with an aftermarket cross-ram intake and some other nice pieces. But after a visit to Kyle Tucker's Detroit Speed and Engineering shop, I was hooked. I was bitten by the Pro Touring bug and I decided to take the car in a different direction. This was during the winter of 2000. I wanted the paint to still resemble the original Dover White and Hugger Orange, but I wanted it to pop when the sun hit it. I suggested the Orange Pearl, and Jim added the PPG Candy Orange stripes. It turned out better than I expected, as the car really transforms when the sun hits it. The car is actually pearled top and bottom with shaved wipers for a cleaner look.

When it came to the suspension, being a Project Engineer for GM Powertrain and working at the Proving Grounds in Milford, I have become accustomed to the handling and performance of newer sports cars. I wanted that same type of all-around performance wrapped in the classic style of my '69. I opted to install a complete Hotchkis Performance suspension, including dropped springs, de-arched leafs, hollow 111/48-inch front and 71/48-inch rear sway bars, tubular upper control arms, and solid tie-rod adjusters from Detroit Speed and Engineering. I also added a 12.7:1 quick-ratio steering box from AGR Industries. The car absolutely corners now like it's on rails. The original 15-inch Rally wheels were not going to cut it anymore, so I installed 18x8 and 18x9 Center Line Lazer wheels mounted with Toyo Proxes T1-S tires, 235/40-18 and P245/45-18, respectively. Amazingly, the wheels and tires required one of the longest and most laborious decisions of the entire build.

My Camaro cruised like a new car, but I wanted it to stop like one too. I opted for Baer Track brakes with two-piece Eradispeed 13.5-inch rotors up front and 12-inchers in the rear. I also installed a Hydroboost system from Paul Clark at Hydratech Braking Systems to supply the braking pressure I wanted, which was more than the limited engine vacuum could provide. You'd better have your seatbelt on now, or stomping on the brakes will send you through the windshield.

With the brakes and chassis sorted out, I turned to Tyler Crockett Marine Engines to build a powerful and capable small-block for the car. Tyler delivered a 352ci small-block that puts out 470 hp and 430 lb-ft on his engine dyno-plenty of power to push this Camaro around. I wanted the car to have a unique look to the engine compartment, so I called on Kyle Tucker at Detroit Speed to hammer out a new airbox based on my design and using parts from a used Winston Cup airbox I bought from Muscle Motorsports. Kyle delivered big time, punching out the firewall to allow cool air to come through the cowl vent and into the carb. I also tried to keep the engine compartment as clean as possible, hiding all of the wiring, and relocating all of the ignition components under the dash. Another area that almost everyone comments about is the brushed exterior trim that gives a more modern high-tech look.

The interior also yielded to more modern styling cues. I installed a custom Covans Dash filled with carbon-fiber Auto Meter gauges. I acquired a set of Viper GTS seats, and, believe it or not, had new covers made by Kay in mid-Michigan. The work she does is outstanding. I delivered two stock Viper seats and two rolls of material, and two weeks later Kay calls me up and says "they're done"-all for a whopping $100 total. I gave her $200. (She is my little secret, so don't call me looking for her number.) The seats still retain the original look with the houndstooth material but are bolstered for those open-track days and are comfortable enough to drive cross-country.

By Jeff Trush
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