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1969 Camaro - "Cool-Maro!"

Bob McClurg Apr 1, 2001
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Jim Wilkos has owned this awesome '69 Camaro ever since high school. In fact, it was Jim's first car. And, while it didn't look like this back then, to Jim, it was one slick ride.

"In 1987, I considered my bone-stock, six-cylinder '69 Camaro-with Macco paint job-a pretty hot car. It got me around to all the important places a high school kid needed to go. But as time wore on, I decided to personalize it as much as a 17-year-old kid could on a tight budget." One of the modifications Wilkos made to his hot First-Gen machine was a 383 small-block with a tunnel ram intake. Just enough power to take on IROCs, and 5.0L Mustangs, he reasoned.

The obligatory "big 'n' little" wheels and tires were also part of the package. On the outside, Wilkos added a Z/28 cowl induction hood, late-'70s Camaro side mirrors, and sunken antenna. He also shaved the door handles, de-chromed the body, and filled in all the body seams. When Jim was finished, he painted the Camaro "IROC Blue" with bold Pro Street graphics.

But that was then and this is now. In 1996, Wilkos was employed as vice president of operations for Wallingford, Connecticut's Total Performance, Inc., as well as the Inglese Inductions Systems and Inglese Cool-Flex divisions. The company was looking for a late-model project car to showcase their wares, and since Jim's old warhorse was starting to look pretty dated, well.

"The look of this car had to be a subtle blend of traditional street machine combined with a little street rodding influence thrown in," said company president Mickey Lauria. "These subtle modifications were necessary to radically change the car's attitude, and show enthusiasts that this look is easily achieved with readily available aftermarket accessories."

Starting with the Camaro's suspension, Wilkos and the folks at Inglese Cool-Flex updated the Camaro's underpinnings with a set of FatMan Fabrications 2-inch dropped front spindles, PST polygraphite suspension bushings, late-model Camaro front power disc brakes, and Air Ride Technologies airbags. Out back, the Inglese Cool-Flex Camaro sports a 3.55:1 geared GM 10-bolt Posi riding on a set of modified leaf springs, along with a complementing set of Air Ride Technologies airbags. Rear braking comes from a pair of late-model Camaro discs. A set of Budnik 18x8-inch "Sawblade" billet wheels, and 225/40xR18 and 245/40xR18-inch BFGoodrich rubber fill the Camaro's fenderwells nicely.

Powering this beauty is a Wilkos-assembled, E&G-machined, 383-inch stroker. The oversize Mouse features a set of 10.5:1 compression TRW flat-top pistons, ARP-equipped 350 connecting rods, a 10/10 350 crank riding on Michigan 77 engine bearings, Cloyes Tru Roller multi-index timing chain, Cam Techniques hydraulic cam, chrome-plated Tuff Stuff high-volume water pump, and Melling/TD Products Slam Guard oiling system.

Sitting up top is a pair of Trick Flow Specialties Twisted Wedge aluminum heads featuring a TFS/Cam Techniques valvetrain, with 2.02-inch intake, and 1.60-inch, stainless-steel exhaust valves. Those trick valve covers are Inglese Induction Systems pieces and, of course, the coupes de gras is a fully-polished, Inglese Induction Systems 48IDA Weber IR downdraft, "tall stack" intake!

Then, too, it wouldn't be the Inglese Cool-Flex Camaro without a full complement of Cool-Flex fluid transfer hoses. Other mechanical necessities include a full-house MSD 6AL ignition system, Airborne Coatings ceramic-coated Hooker Headers-with Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers-and a Smith's radiator three-core custom-polished radiator. Backing up all this is a Dynamic Racing Turbo 350 replete with a 2,200 stall-speed Transmission Specialties torque converter.

While credit goes to owner Wilkos for the bodywork-along the way, Jim had to open up that Camaro cowl induction hood to clear those Inglese Webers-Middletown, Connecticut's Seems Like Old Times Autobody sprayed the Camaro in 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse/PPG Durango Copper Pearl with clear topcoat.

On the inside, Milkos Camaro features Cerullo Pro Driver seats, AutoMeter "Phantom" instrumentation, a Total Performance, Inc. six-way, billet-aluminum, GM tilt-steering column, a Budnik billet steering wheel, a Lokar shifter, Painless Wiring electrical connections, and Custom Center console. A full-house Sony audio system, complete with a full lineup of MTX Black Gold speakers provides the sound. And we can't forget to point out that the real power providers are out in the trunk-a pair of Optima batteries powers up all of the Cool-Flex Camaro's electricals, while a JAZ fuel cell gives her the gas.

While the Sony sounds and the awesome paint are what many hot rodders might truly appreciate, we feel it's safe to say that this Cool-Flex Camaro is extremely hot from the ground up.

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