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1969 Chevrolet Camaro - The Muscatine Coupe

Can A Gearhead Jones Be Quenched Without Jeopardizing A Coveted Classic? Match Numbers And Burn Rubber.

Photography by Henry De Los Santos

The Details
Car: '69 Camaro SS/RS 396
Owner: Jim Hughes
Hometown: West "I can see the whole Valley from here!" Hills, California

Engine: Miraculously, the original numbers-matching 396 block was still in the Camaro when Jim got it, so it was sent to Eddings Engine in San Fernando, California, bored 0.030-over and fitted with Federal-Mogul pistons on the stock, reconditioned rods. The stock crank was retained and the whole deal is held together with ARP fasteners.

Heads: Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum assemblies with 2.19/1.88-inch valves and 100cc chambers. With the Fed Mogul pistons, the heads make 9.0:1 compression for trouble-free motoring on lighter-fluid-like SoCal pump gasoline.

Induction: An Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake serves the little big-block well over a broad rpm range, topped with a Holley 750-cfm carb.

Valvetrain: A Comp Cams Xtreme Roller hydraulic arrangement with 0.510-inch lift and 276/282 advertised duration transmits through a set of Comp roller rockers.

Ignition: A Mallory electronic distributor is supported with a barrage of MSD stuff, like a 6AL box and Blaster coil.

Exhaust: Manifolds are corks for big-blocks, so Jim installed a set of Hooker Comp tubes with the 396. They use 211/48-inch primaries and feed a custom system that uses 211/42-inch Flowmaster three-chamber cans with custom 3-inch tailpipes set to jut just below the rear valence.

Transmission: The Camaro left the factory with a Turbo 400, but grabbing your own gears is more fun, and overdrive is always a welcome addition on the open road, so a Keisler five-speed conversion is utilized, incorporating a Tremec TKO gearbox and a Lakewood scattershield. The kit is intended to swap in place of a stock four-speed, so the custom shifter pokes right through the appropriate place in the console. The Hurst handle makes it look OE.

Rearend: The original 12-bolt housing remains, now filled with 3.55:1 gears on the freshened original Posi-traction unit.

Front suspension: Global West tubular arms replace the stock stamped-steel pieces. A Global 111/48-inch sway bar works with Detroit Spring big-block 111/42-inch drop springs and KYB shocks to keep it flat in the corners when the original fast-ratio power-steering box says so.

Rear suspension: Stock five-leaf springs hang the 12-bolt with Global West bushings and KYB shocks.

Brakes: The original power-assisted front-disc/rear-drum arrangement has been freshened and gives the Camaro a much more positive slowing sensation than most of its contemporaries, even with the big-block up front.

Body: Most of the original skin remains, untouched save for the deletion of the rocker-panel spear and vinyl top and trim. Guillermo Osario of Classic Vision Auto Restoration in Burbank smoothed the flanks and applied the '69 Camaro LeMans Blue paint in place of the previous Porsche India Red and the even more previous factory Fathom Green hue.

Interior: The stock seats didn't go with the enhanced cornering ability and weren't that comfortable anyway, so based on experience with previous projects, a set of Cerullo buckets were custom upholstered with OE-style deluxe houndstooth cloth inserts; the stock rear bench wears matching covers. That steering wheel is a genuine Nardi unit, a reissue of the style found in the original Ferrari GTOs. Jim feels that this is the design GM was trying to emulate with the optional Rosewood wheel, which he affectionately refers to as "that plastic thing."

Wheels/tires: It's hard to go wrong with Torq-Thrusts, and the Hughes Camaro reinforces that belief with 17x8 and 17x9.5 TTIIs front/rear wrapped in BFG G-Force KD 225/45-17 and 275/40-17 rubber, respectively.

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