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1969 Chevy Camaro - Reality Resto

Saving A Camaro Convertible

By Jeff Trush, Photography by Anders Odeholm, Jeff Trush

In order to drive cross-country, a mere four-speed wasn't going to cut it. I needed overdrive, or better yet, two overdrives. I called on Tyler Beauregard at American Touring Specialties in Las Vegas for a T56 installation kit. The transmission is an LT1-style Borg-Warner T56 six-speed that bolted right in. I chose a Centerforce flywheel and a McLeod clutch with a custom shifter from Detroit Speed topped off with a carbon-fiber shift knob from a European Escort race car. There is nothing quite like blasting down the left lane on a freeway in a 30-year-old car at 75 mph turning 2,000 rpm. It is truly a religious experience.

The 13-inch steering wheel is from Grant. I also relocated the e-brake between the seats, much like a modern car would have, using Lokar E-Brake and cables. When it came time for the top, I called on Jerry at All American Auto Upholstery in Romulus, Michigan, who installed the new top perfectly.

It is hard to believe that what started out as a quickie fix snowballed into a 3-year nut-and-bolt restification completed with equity loans and creative refinancing. OCD indeed. Obviously, I have been to hell and back with this vehicle, and I plan on enjoying it now more than ever. I have touched, modified, painted or replaced literally every part on this car and could not be prouder of the way it turned out. I have realized my goal of having modern acceleration, handling, and braking wrapped in the classic style and attitude of a '69 RS/SS Camaro. I especially commend my wife Kari for putting up with the long nights and literally hundreds of hours I spent in the garage, all while trying to build a house and raising two wonderful kids along the way. She has never been anything but supportive. The memories, both good and bad, make these cars part of our family, part of our history, and part of Americana. I wouldn't trade them or the car for anything.

I still ponder the question of whether my Dad bought the '67 for his benefit or mine. I know deep down he did it for me, I only wish I still had the chance to ask, or at least thank him one more time. Sadly, my father suddenly passed away in November 2000, two years before the car was completed, and he never got to see it finished. The license plate on my car reads 4YOUDAD, which is my small tribute to my father, one of the most talented guys I have ever known, who I miss dearly every day. I like to think he is looking down, smiling, and proud.

Thanks, Dad.

The Details
Car: '69 Camaro convertible
Owner: Jeff Trush

Engine: 352ci small-block, 0.010-over, four-bolt-main block, steel Eagle crank and H-beam, 4340 steel rods, SRP forged pistons, 11.7:1 compression, Comp Cams hydraulic-roller cam, 244 degrees duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift with 0.600-inch lift and 110-degree lobe separation angle, aluminum World Products Sportsman heads with 2.05/1.60-inch valves, ported Victor Jr. intake with a Gary Williams-modified 830-cfm Holley carb, Hooker 131/44-inch ceramic-coated headers, 211/42-inch exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers and H-pipe, Moroso road-race oil pan and pickup, Optima battery and Detroit Speed battery mount

Transmission: LT1-style T56 six-speed manual, American Touring Specialties install kit, crossmember and hydraulic master cylinder, Centerforce flywheel, McLeod clutch, Detroit Speed-modified shifter

Rearend: 12-bolt with GM 3.73 gears, Eaton limited slip and Mark Williams

Front suspension: Hotchkis dropped springs, hollow 111/48-inch sway bar, Detroit Speed upper control arms, AGR quick-ratio steering box, Bilstein shocks

Rear suspension: Hotchkis dropped multileaf springs and hollow 71/48-inch sway bar, Bilstein shocks

Front brakes: Baer Track system, 13.5-inch two-piece Eradispeed drilled rotors, two-piston calipers

Rear brakes: Baer Touring 12-inch drilled rotors and two-piston calipers

Wheels and tires: Center Line Lazers, 18x8, front; 18x9, rear. Toyo Proxes T1-S tires, P235/40ZR18, front; P245/45ZR18, rear

By Jeff Trush
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