You may have seen a Dynacorn Camaro, maybe in your dreams or in your nightmares, but most likely in some high-zoot magazine or at a trade show. It is important. It represents the final chapter. It's how to build a new '69 Chevy that hasn't a single Chevrolet-branded part. If you plan on starting a '69 Camaro project from dead scratch, and have the mental and monetary presence of mind to see a project through from beginning to end, a crate Camaro may be your kind of gig. When it's all said and done, you'll most likely spend less money and time-and best of all, you'll have a detailed road map to help you get there.
Year One pioneered the use of these repro bodies and put a crate Camaro together for the 2006 SEMA show, and painted in blue. It was one of the first examples of the newly struck sheet metal. During that process, Year One created a comprehensive 74-page color build book based on this initial build, with hundreds of photos, captions, instructions, and parts lists in every chapter. For the '08 show, Year One redid the whole thing in yellow for GM's 40-acre booth, this time incorporating the first of the new Performance Parts LSX376 crate engines.
According to Year One's Kevin King, "This was the one of the first complete vehicles built from the reproduction Camaro convertible bodies produced by Dynacorn [Classic Bodies, Inc., Oxnard, California]. Year One built the car in 2006, testing reproduction parts, gaining knowledge of parts availability, and documenting the process in a book. Virtually no original parts were used in the build. For SEMA '08, the Camaro received a thorough makeover."
The Dynacorn convertible body...
The Dynacorn convertible body used by Year One is like a blank canvas-it can be built completely stock, just like they came off the assembly line in 1969, or highly modified. This car has actually been both: a stock-style build was performed on this shell in 2006 (the earlier blue iteration), and the current high-tech version you see here in yellow.
While the coupe bodies were on the drawing board, they benefited from a couple of improvements that have also been incorporated into the convertible packages. Most obvious are doors and a decklid, which arrive hung and fitted to the body. "The doors and decklid are brand-new stampings and fit much better than what was out there before," said Dynacorn's Jim Christina.
Another significant improvement is the addition of the trim studs around the windshield opening (and backlight on the coupes). In the early bodies, you had to drill holes in the windshield frame and install special Phillips-head screws in place of the original spot-welded studs. The bodies are e-coated black rather than sprayed in red oxide primer, and the ragtop models include a proper actuating mechanism. Remember, seeing is not believing. The MSRP for complete bodies is $13,500.
"These save the enthusiast hundreds of hours in labor, and the steel is as good as, or better than, the original. The steel is 1006 World Grade, and in some places it's two-thousandths thicker [than GM's original sheetmetal]," Christina told PHR. Options include pre-installed mini-tubs and three different firewall configurations: factory A/C, factory non-A/C, and smooth. The transmission tunnel comes without holes, allowing the choice of transmission and shifter arrangement without having to spend time to cover up the voids.
As the car would feature a hot, yet-to-be-released crate engine, Year One deemed further enhancement unnecessary and lowered the power module into the phantom Camaro's engine compartment. This car was built as a driver, at least for now, and the Year One folks naturally wanted a spicy yet palatable motive source, and if need be, stuff that could be bought over the parts counter at a Chevy store.
GM Performance Parts' new...
GM Performance Parts' new LSX376 crate motor is internally stock (see sidebar p. 29), but wears headers and an exhaust system built with Stainless Works parts. Note that there's plenty of room on either side of GMPP's brand-new crate bullet. Detroit Speed's contribution is noticeable; can you spot the remote ignition coils?
Though the body and its various panels were straight, they still had to be prepped flawlessly for the paint applications. Year One's Keith Maney on the actual surface condition: "Well, it's like any body reproduction panel, except the whole begins that way. If you want the finish to be very nice, you have to spend the time to make it so. We had to do quite a bit of work on the SEMA car, but for the majority of people who just want a nice driver, a little bit of basic work, and it would be fine." (Maney literally wrote the book on assembling the Dynacorn Camaro, so he should know.) Year One applied the BASF Millennium Yellow and the silver stripes, the latter shot with SATA guns.
But a funny thing happened on the way to SEMA, an incident that may or may not reflect the chaos at GM. You call it. About six weeks before the show, GM ordered this convertible to put right next to a 2010 Camaro wearing the same undeniable hue. The Dynacorn example would showcase the new LSX376 crate motor. Certainly for the Year One crew, it was the kind of thrash you don't even remember for the intensity, but they rolled the screaming yellow zonker into the GM booth as promised. In the ultimate irony, the '10 Camaro failed to show.
You'll notice that the Camaro's wheels, especially the honkers in the rear, are way unruly for the novice. Further, to fit that monstrous negative offset with a smile, the axlehousing was narrowed to accommodate. (Don't fret-it's comparatively easy due to the Dynacorn body coming equipped from the factory with mini-tubs.) The Yenko-style hood is actually a Year One S800 composite piece; the trim, lighting, and the small items are Year One repro pieces, as is the air dam. The "styling bar" behind the seats then becomes the most radical visual departure. Even though it juts straight up there, Year One has done a wonderful job of camouflaging this faux rollbar (it holds the third brake light), which also contributes nominally to stiffening the car as a whole.
Year One's production of the subdued and functional interior is right on the money. No squawkin', no hollerin', just stuff that flat looks good and works without fail. Here, too, you'll find items that are typically available in the Year One catalog-not special one-off stuff. The reproduction center console was modified to house a GPS/DVD screen, which is about the most radical departure from off-the-shelf items. Auto Meter gauges, a DSE interval wiper kit, and Vintage Air controls occupy a custom instrument panel in a stock-style dashpad that's been wrapped in leather. It's business inside there-sure you wanna ride?
The immediate hit comes from those Cerullo seats, not so much their dusky charcoal shadows, but from the matching yellow accent running through the middle of them. Marketing: right to the point. Your eye sees the whole thing, but your brain is inexorably, magnetically drawn to those lines. From there, the scheme unfolds into familiar territory trod by rank and file Year One customers. It's a mechanical yet pleasing sobriety. Year One made some smooth instrument panels to cosset those fancy Auto Meter gauges, modified the console to accept power window switches, and quietly surrounded the 4th-Gen Camaro shifter wagging from the T56. A brushed aluminum plate caps the console for a no-nonsense look.
To some people, where you sit is of more concern than what you're sitting on, but not in this world. If the modern custom builders learned anything from the master automobile builders, it was a thing called understated elegance, so called by the mouths of some Car And Driver guys who were old back in the late '70s. Some guys get it; some guys don't. The gut in the Year One Camaro gets it. The Cerullo GT seats (their stuff is good enough to supply Porsche) are leather-trimmed and surrounded by leather throughout the cockpit.