GM originally designed the...
GM originally designed the aluminum 427 to compete in the Can-Am road racing series during the mid ’60s. According to some estimates, only 90 copies of the motor were ever built for production cars, 69 of which ended up in Camaros. A few years back, Chevrolet Performance brought back the aluminum Rat as a limited-edition crate motor. A similar unit resides under the hood of PHR’s own Project X.
GM has lost its mind, and speed freaks are loving every minute of it. The company’s prudent response to the global recession and astronomical fuel prices is a supercharged 580hp ZL1 Camaro. Sounds good to us. Better yet, GM recently unveiled plans to build 69 COPO Camaros strictly for NHRA Stock Eliminator and Super Stock competition. It’s as if the car guys took over the joint, busted into the boardroom, and gave shareholders the middle finger. While the plan is ballsy, it’s far from innovative. In fact, the moves are a direct rip-off of Chevy’s 1969 playbook. Even so, there’s nothing wrong with that, because what was a great plan then is still a great plan today. During that year, Chevy dropped 69 all-aluminum 427ci big-blocks into COPO Camaros ordered up with the ZL1 option. Just like today, the goal was to mop up in Super Stock. The original ZL1’s success in NHRA competition was the stuff of legends, and it made quite an impression on kids growing up during the muscle car era. Mark Clark was one of those kids, and memories of Chevy’s factory ringers have inspired him to build a car that looks a lot like a ’69 ZL1 on the surface, but packs a fully modernized Pro Touring bite.
In the spirit of the NHRA...
In the spirit of the NHRA Super Stock COPO machines from 1969, the interior of Mark’s Camaro is a bare-bones proposition. Creature comforts are nonexistent, and Mark Clark decided to rip out the aftermarket steering wheel for a stocker once the build was complete. The seats look like stock units, but were actually pulled out of an HHR and covered in vintage houndstooth upholstery.
Let’s just get this out of the way up front. Mark has done quite well for himself over the years, and spent a pretty penny commissioning Woody’s Hot Rodz (www.WoodysHotRodz.com
) to build him a ’69 ZL1 clone. Nevertheless, he’s far from your typical rich wanker. He came out of the womb with a transbrake button in his hand, and grew up idolizing guys like Bob Glidden and Lee Shepherd during the glory days of professional drag racing. Not content with merely watching from the stands, Mark competed in NHRA Comp Eliminator, Super Gas, and Pro Stock, winning the ’86 Keystone Nationals in B/Altered.
Due to his affinity for drag racing, when Chevrolet Performance announced plans to build a run of limited edition all-aluminum 427 big-blocks, Mark had to get one. Back in 1969, in what’s arguably the most infamous magazine road test of all time, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated ripped an 11.64-at-122 mph quarter-mile pass in a 427-powered ZL1 Camaro piloted by Funny Car hero Dick Harrell. Considering the car’s only mods were a set of headers, a bigger carb, slicks, and ignition timing and valve lash tweaks, this blazing performance instantly elevated the aluminum Rat to legendary status.
Although the concept behind...
Although the concept behind the Camaro was to keep it looking as close to the original ZL1 as possible, the Woody’s team enjoys throwing in some subtle tweaks here and there. For a cleaner rear profile, the rear valence was notched in order to tuck the tailpipes closer to the body.
With a fresh aluminum 427 sitting in his garage, Mark had to figure out what to put it in. “I started bouncing some ideas off of Chris Sondles at Woody’s Hot Rodz, and considering the history of the aluminum 427, it only made sense to build a replica ’69 COPO Camaro ZL1. I had recently come across an original ZL1 with blue paint and the RS package at an auction, and decided to model my car after that one,” Mark says. After hatching a plan, the next step was finding a suitable car. “While standing next to Bobby Alloway at a car show, I mentioned that I needed a ’69 Camaro for a new project we were working on,” Sondles recalls. “He said that he had the perfect car for us sitting at his shop. It was originally a small-block SS car, but all that remained was the roof, firewall, and inner structure. Everything else was rotted out.”