Family JewelJeff Stiller has known this ride for a long time. Back in 1968 when Jeff was just 12 years old, his grandmother bought the '69 Camaro brand new off the dealer's lot. As they were Irish, they chose frost green with a green interior and a 307 engine. Jeff washed it on the weekends, learned to drive in it when he was 14, and took his driving test behind its wheel when he was 16. It was family.
Eventually Jeff's grandparents passed on, and the Camaro was given to him for safekeeping. After seven years, Jeff finally found the time to start giving the Camaro a proper restoration-with a twist. He wanted the car to have as stock a look as possible, but at the same time he wanted to upgrade the drivetrain and suspension to a modern level. This was especially important given Jeff's love for open-track days.
The first task was reworking the suspension. The old leaf springs were ditched in favor of a Watts-link equipped three-link from Lateral Dynamics. Up front, the stock subframe was re-welded and Global West control arms were mated to a set of ATS dropped spindles. Detroit Speed mini-tubs give the Camaro room for bigger meats out back, and their weld-in subframe connectors stiffen up the chassis. For braking, Wilwood binders are assisted by a Hydroboost power boost unit. Now that it could stop and turn, it was time to make it go-fast. The 383-stroker small-block puts out around 500hp, and a dry-sump oiling system will keep everything slippery (even during high-g maneuvers). This picture was shot just before leaving the paint wizards over at Best of Show Coachworks in San Marcos, California, where it got its period-correct paint and graphics. The interior will feature a DSE roll bar and Corbeau seats, but the rest will stay vintage '69. The Intro wheels are on order and will be wrapped in Nitto rubber. Jeff also wanted us to mention how much help he got from his childhood friend, Kirk Swanson.
Bad WeatherThe guys at Rad Rides by Troy (Manteno, Illinois) have been hard at work on this '66 Biscayne code-named "Hurricane." The car came to Trepanier's shop in pretty good shape, and at the time, owner Jerry Crews only wanted a tricked-out drivetrain. One thing led to another, and before long it turned into a nut-and-bolt restomod project. Almost every aspect of the '66 is being replaced, reworked, and improved upon.
A 454 engine was punched out to 540 cubic inches (4.5-inch bore/4.25-inch stroke) by Lingenfelter, and topped off with Dart heads. Pumping in gobs of air and fuel is left to the Dart 4500 intake, 1050 CFM BLM carb, and Meziere billet mechanical fuel pump. Sparking it all up is a complete MSD ignition system, and Troy also built the custom long-tube headers that route the spent gasses through Flowmaster mufflers. It all worked good enough to put down 652hp at 6,100 rpm, and 657 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm on the engine dyno. The torque spins through a Keisler TKO-600 five-speed tranny and into an Easton-equipped limited-slip differential that's two inches shorter than factory.
The rollers are a one-off design from Billet Specialties (19x8.8 front and 20x10.5 rear), and feature anodized centers. Parts from Hotchkis, Koni, and Concept One will tame the bumps in the road and keep the Chevy flat in the curves. Massive 14-inch rotors with 6-piston Baer calipers will be like tossing out an anchor whenever the big Chevy needs to bleed off some speed.
Knowing the build quality that Trepanier turns out, we're sure Jerry will be one happy gearhead when this 'rad ride' hits the asphalt.
Hand Me DownSometimes we get a letter about a car that tells the story much better than we ever could. Such is the case with this Hometown submission we received from Tony Rapin of Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Here's what Tony had to say about his project:
"This little F-body has had quite a unique life, well, maybe 'odyssey' would be a better way of putting it. It's been in my family since the day it rolled off the Norwood Production assembly line in '67. It started out as my grandfather's gift to his wife, who had expressed a desire to have a smaller car to run her daily errands in. The '68 Camaro was the perfect car. It was a base model vehicle that was special ordered by a GM executive with an SS stripe, bench seat, power windows, air conditioning, full trim, a 275-hp 327 engine, and Corvette Bronze paint. My grandmother drove it everywhere for the remainder of the '60s, and throughout the '70s, on various errands. After 52,000 miles and shortly following my grandfather's death in '84, she parked it for good. My mom, realizing its sentimental value, inherited it and kept it in the garage until I persuaded her to sign it over to me upon graduation in '89.
"What transpired after that is what my old man fondly refers to as the 'Era of Darkness.' Engine after engine went into that car as it found its way to famous street racing venues around Michigan until I finally got popped by the local authorities. My brush with the local law was a wake up call. I was done with street racing for good. A few months later, I made the decision to start concentrating my efforts on the body of the car since it had been neglected all the years it was raced. I sold off the 331 small-block, along with the Turbo 400 transmission. With that money, I hired a body-man in Pontiac to do the grunt work of installing all the sheet metal that I had slowly acquired over the years. That was the winter of '93. When I dropped the car off I thought the guy was going to have a heart attack when he saw all the GM body panels. I had no idea that they had gone out of production long ago.
"In '94, I met the girl who is now my wife, and a year and a half later we were married and moved into our current home. The Camaro would sit for the next four years while I worked on fixing up our house and started a family. One day at my parents house we got to talking about the Camaro. My grandmother said something that stuck with me: 'As long as you've owned that car it's done nothing but go downhill!' Those words stung like hell, but she was right. The car had done more regressing than progressing over the years. That was all I needed to hear.
"It was time to return to the Camaro, but this time I was going to do that car some justice. No more half-measures, no more cutting corners, no more getting cheap. She deserved the very best attention I could give her, and that meant a complete 'frame off' restoration. However, I knew I didn't want it to be stock. That's just not in my blood. I had also tired of the traditional Resto-Mod and Pro-Street configurations. I started buying racing publications and parts catalogs, looking for the hottest thing going on. I also started combing the car shows in the metro Detroit area and was intrigued by a new style of modification that had been slowly gaining in popularity: Pro-Touring. Once I read up on it and checked out the cars on sites like Pro-touring.com, I was instantly hooked. The summer of '01 would prove to be the busiest ever in that car's life. Finally, the ride is progressing rather than regressing. My friends and family fondly refer to my Camaro as 'The Wonder Car,' because they 'wonder' when it will ever run again."