What is it that causes most men to hold on to the dream of owning a cool hot rod? Is it a disease that afflicts us? Despite the popular imaginations of the male species, this disease is not limited to one gender. In fact, if you're in a healthy relationship it's only through the help of a loving spouse that these wants and desires can often come to fruition.
Derel Latta is just that kind of guy to whom we're referring. After 15 years of painting, building and customizing cars, he walked away from it and joined the ranks of the regular car commuters. Even though he was in hiding, his automotive dreams and passions were not. These dreams and desires may lurk in the shadows of the mind, but are never far away from an ignition source. In this story, the re-ignition of those dreams came from an unexpected starting place.
Derel had once made a promise to his daughter, and that promise was if she kept her grades up, she could have a car. Rather than choose the popular overdone imports that most teenagers would want, she informed her father that nothing but a '68 Camaro would satisfy. What could make any dad happier than hearing that?
The disease, desire, passion, (call it what you want), was back, and in full force. Derel took tremendous satisfaction in helping his daughter build up her musclecar. But in the end, it was her Camaro and not his. Naturally, he wanted an F-body of his own. It was on! Together, with the help of an understanding spouse, they searched high and low, far and wide, and found what they were looking for. Or was it?
There it was, a '69 Camaro for sale at a swap meet. Immediately, Derel fell in love with the car. The drivetrain was a wreck, but the body and paint were nearly perfect. What Derel wanted was just the opposite. Remember, he was a painter and body man, so a car with a good drivetrain and rough body was what he was after. As strange as it may seem, he walked away from the swap meet empty-handed.
Intuitively, his wife Jessica knew he needed that car. I'm sure it didn't take much coaxing on her part, but they found their way back to the swap meet and purchased that beautiful red Camaro. It was then that his wife informed him that this would be the only other redhead in their relationship. It would seem that Derel has a great daughter-and-wife support team. We should all be so lucky in our automotive pursuits.
Derel was disappointed when he heard the news that Chevrolet would discontinue the Camaro line. During the three-year build-up of his red beauty, Derel decided to incorporate some of the styling from the Fourth-Gen Camaro's into his '69 street machine. From the looks of it, he did the job right. From the hood to the interior, everything flows as if it was meant to be that way. And we're sure the other redhead in Derel's life agrees.
Owner: Derel Latta
Make: 1969 Camaro
Engine: 396ci bored out .30 to a 402. Engine assembled by owner. GM Large Oval heads 10:1 compression, Edelbrock Performer RPM cam, Offenhauser Dual 4 barrel intake, 2 Edelbrock 600cfm carbs, Holley electric fuel pump. Weiand water pump, Pete Jackson gear drive timing chain, Be Cool Aluminum 2 row radiator, hand made aluminum valve covers, Edelbrock Air Cleaner, cowl induction, MSD ignition, Hedman Headers and Flowmaster exhaust. Estimated 474hp @ 6000 rpm and 472 lbs of torque @ 4500 rpm.
Transmission: TCI built GM turbo 400. TCI torque converter stall speed of 2800. Aluminum drive shaft built by Inland Empire Drive Shafts.
Rearend: GM 12-bolt 3.55 rears and limited slip.
Suspension: QA1 adjustable coil overs, Hotchkiss springs, Stainless Steel brakes and Gabriel shocks in the rear.
Wheels: Centerline Lazer 17X8 w/4-inch backspace in the front and 18X10 with 5-inch backspace in the rear.
Interior: Tenzo "R" model seats covered in cloth and leather. OEM carpet, Auto Meter gauges, Grant Steering wheel, B&M shifter and a Summit roll cage.
Exterior: Color is Mars Red by PPG painted by owner; Hood is Year One, Custom rear spoiler built by owner, and badges re-done in urethane molding.