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This Camaro's Sting Is Worse Than Its Buzz

Mike Petralia Jul 30, 2002

Most long-time car enthusiasts have a tale to tell of the one that got away. Many of these stories are passed from person to person, ultimately growing wilder with each set of ears that hears it. There is such a tale of one '69 Camaro from Ohio that Tom W. Brison can now tell.

Tom's friend, Dave McGaffee, had originally built this sweet yellow and black First-Gen to cruise around as an advertisement for his fledging Bow-Tie Performance and Restoration shop. Dave enjoyed the car for several years, tooling around town with its four-speed small-block humming away. The urge for speed grew stronger and Dave put the Camaro up for sale to finance a new race car. At the time, Tom was deep into motorcycles, and although he loved the Camaro, there was no way to swing a deal that could meet Tom's available bank notes. Friend, as he was, Dave had to sell the Camaro to a stranger in Pennsylvania.

Years went by and one day the phone in Dave's busy shop rang. It was the Camaro's current owner wanting to know the cam specs so he could reset the valve lash. During their conversation, Dave offhandedly asked if the Camaro might be for sale again? Turns out that its new owner was in the market to deal and Tom jumped at the chance to own what he knew was a fine machine. Two days later Tom parked his new Camaro in the garage and began to tweak it to make it his own.

To start, Tom asked Dave to slam the front end and install a set of Moroso Trick coil springs up front. Adjustable Koni drag shocks were added and the Weld Drag Star wheels were bolted on all four corners. Next, Dave put together a screamin' small-block to propel the Camaro into the mid-11-second zone.

The 355-cid, all-iron Mouse runs a Lunati roller cam and a Victor Jr. intake. Ron's Porting Service in St. Charles, Missouri, messaged the heads and installed the 2.05-inch intake and 1.6-inch exhaust valves held closed by K-Motion triple springs. J&E forged 11:1 compression pistons and C&A Zero Gap rings seal the cylinders while Hooker headers send the spent fumes into Flowmaster silencers. An MSD ignition system fires the mix.

The potent small-block sends its power back through a Richmond 4+1 manual gearbox, through an aluminum driveshaft, and into the GM 12-bolt spinning 3.55 gears. Combined, this powertrain combo is enough to rocket the Camaro to 11.66 @ 118-mph runs and gets driven to and from the track and cruised around town every day the weather's good. This story has a happy ending and we're sure Tom is always pleased to talk about his great one that got away...only to return, and be resurrected into a better ride.

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