His friends just call him S.W. That's short for Sriyantha Weerasuria, but it might as well stand for Seriously Warped. Standing in his nine-car garage replete with excretion-inspiring exotic cars, he complains about how his brand-new '06 Corvette Z06 just doesn't do it for him. Something about the brakes not scrubbing off speed as efficiently as he'd like, the gusto being just adequate as opposed to thrilling, and the hood scoop incongruously clashing with the lines of the car. Uh, OK. The twin-turbo Viper GTS on the rack garners just a passing mention only after we inquire, and he never even comments on the Ferrari 360 Modena we're conversing in front of, as if it was a disposable piece of Ikea furniture in a college dorm. S.W. could just be the most jaded and demanding enthusiast around, and it doesn't help that he sells high-end sports cars and exotics to the upper tax bracket for a living. However, despite his seething fastidiousness and seriously warped senses, the car he can't stop raving about is his freshly assembled '69 Camaro. And we can't blame him.
In the year that he's owned it, the Camaro has already gone through two iterations. He scored the shell for a measly $5,000, and immediately ripped it down for a complete frame-off restoration. First came a 383 small-block that didn't last but a few power shifts. "After I finished it, I decided I needed more motor," he says. Wanting something truly over the top, plopping in a big-block seemed an appropriate course of action. Built by Scoggin Dickey, the 534ci Rat is based on a GM Gen VI block that cradles a Callies crank, Lunati steel rods, and Wiseco 10.2:1 compression pistons. A custom hydraulic roller cam lifts the valves in the ported Dart Pro 1 heads, and a 9-quart Moroso road-race-style oil pan seals the bottom end. Feeding it all is a Dart Pro 1 single-plane intake manifold, a Holley HP 950 carburetor, and an Aeromotive external fuel pump. On the engine dyno, it cranks out 675 hp at a street-friendly 6,000 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm.
Backing up those ponies is a Tremec T56 six-speed trans adapted to the big-block with an American Touring Systems conversion kit and bellhousing. A DTS 9-inch rearend handles the massive torque loads, and is fitted with 31-spline axles, 3.89:1 gears, and a limited-slip differential. Interrupting the power when the tach hits the red is a Centerforce clutch, and a Pro 5.0 shifter flips through the cogs. Deceleration is handled by Baer discs at each corner with four-piston calipers up front. So all that stop-and-go hardware doesn't go to waste, gargantuan 335/35R18 Pirelli meats wrap 18x12-inch Fiske FM5 wheels in the back and 245/40R18s are mounted on 18x8.5s up front. Nonetheless, the rabid rat has no problem annihilating the 13-plus inches of contact patch and sliding the back end of the car in squiggly lateral arcs from a roll.
The rest of the g-Machine formula was brewed by the first-gen Camaro experts at Detroit Speed & Engineering. DSE started by fortifying the chassis with a set of custom subframe connectors, then installed its coil-over setup with Koni shocks bolted between a set of tubular upper and lower front control arms. Rear leafs, also from DSE, are paired with Koni shocks in the rear and a DSE box summons steering instructions to the rest of the suspension transmitted from the Budnik steering wheel. In addition to slapping on a good bulk of their parts catalog, Kyle Tucker and the crew at DSE installed the big-block, bent the brake lines, plumbed the fuel system, and completed the final assembly on the car. S.W. would like to give you a big "thanks" for your fine work, fellas.
Running down the impressive parts list in paragraph form, however, does little justice to the attention to detail splattered everywhere throughout the car. The custom 2 1/8-inch DSE long-tube headers are peerless in the complexity of their contours and the precision of their fitment. The custom dual 3-inch stainless steel exhaust is unparalleled in the cleanliness of its welds and the mysterious absence of a mandrel bender's stress marks. The 335s tuck perfectly beneath the quarters, thanks to a mini-tub job, a covertly rolled lip, and custom offset wheels. Tacky brightwork just isn't part of the game plan, with trick Billet Fabrication sheetmetal valve covers capping the heads, and white-on-black Auto Meter gauges lending a monochromatic interior motif. "I've seen '69 Camaros built so many different ways, but there's always something about each one I didn't like," he explains. "So I built one the way I wanted that was up to my standards."
Being that there are no track times yet, you're probably thinking this is just another rich guy's trailer queen, but S.W. has a well-earned rep of beating the snot out of all his rides. He built one of the first C5s to run 9s, daily drives a Toyota Supra-powered Lexus SC300 that goes 10-flat at 143 mph, pounds on his Ferrari at Texas World Speedway, and has logged 3,500 road course miles on another C5 track car. Nothing but manual trannies for this man either. That's pretty serious, and he had no problem driving through puddles or lighting up the tires on the way to our photo shoot. In fact, although the 534 made 45 more horsepower on the dyno with a Dominator, he went with a smaller carb for better drivability on the street. With a "track" record like that, you can bet your boots this thing will be running some numbers very soon.
Granted, this '69 Camaro is a car most people would do very naughty things to own, but so are the other cars in S.W.'s collection. And we haven't even mentioned his newly acquired '06 Viper Coupe or his Lingenfelter-massaged Corvette ZR1 yet. So what exactly is it that the '69 Camaro offers that his other cars don't? "It's the way it looks, sounds, feels, and drives," he says. "You can only get that certain mystique with a musclecar. I took my Camaro, Ferrari, and Viper to a local show, and no one even looked twice at the Ferrari or Viper. I got a good laugh out of that." So while he has cars that are faster, cars that are more expensive, and cars that are more socially acceptable, the Camaro is the only one that meets all his exacting demands.
It sure took a lot of effort to put the car together, and rather than take all the credit, S.W. is quick to deflect attention to the people who helped him out along the way. He'd like to thank Kyle and the crew at DSE, Prewitt Racing for the mini-tubs, Rodney Austin at Austin Collision and Custom for the bodywork, and pal T.J. Harais for wiring up the electrical system. Now how about thanking us by throwing us the keys to that Z06?