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1969 Chevy Camaro SS - Red Eye

Tony Whatley's X55 350 SS: Boxed & Ready To Rock!

Ro McGonegal Dec 1, 2005
0512chp_01_z 1969_chevy_camaro_ss Side_view 2/1

Did Tony Whatley do the unthinkable? Did he wipe out a (barely living) piece of musclecar history? Nah, he just did what's right. He did what some owners of difficult-to-find and even more difficult-to-pay-for original examples are doing: putting the valuable (though useless) original stuff carefully aside and replacing it with modern renditions that cost less than OE replacement parts and are thoroughly engineered for business in the 21st century.

To wit: "I purchased this Camaro after selling my 10-second daily-driven '98 F-body. That car gave me an awesome introduction to LS1 performance, but I wanted something that would attract more attention to go along with the performance of the Gen-III engine.

"I bought the car sight unseen via the Internet and flew from Houston to Kentucky to pick it up. My fiance and I drove the car home, about 1,000 miles. That ride convinced me that the old cars could really benefit from late-model technology. The lack of power and fuel economy, poor chassis rigidity, horrible brakes, rattles, and leaks-all of it needed attention. The project had to remain a street-driven car, handle and brake like a late-model performance car, and run as good as it looks. I was tired of all the 'slow touring' examples out there with lowered suspensions, big wheels, and lame 13-second track times. Taking what I had learned about building 10-second Fourth-Gen cars, I knew exactly what to shoot for."

During the year that Tony gathered the bones for his new project, the Camaro went untouched. Finally, he did it the old-fashioned way, without a lift, lying on his back, getting claustrophobic, banging his head on its belly as he tore it down to the shell in his townhome one-car garage. Sound familiar? He farmed out the body restoration and paint to Herman's Classic Cars and got busy with the LS1 engine and drivetrain.

Tony's combo isn't radical at all, but it cranks out 500 hp on the Dyno-Jet. The Magnuson blower install is based on the new GTO system, but has an F-body belt-drive offset and is hooked to an internal air/water intercooler. He made a big, fat intake tube to feed the blower directly and routed the sucking end outside the engine compartment to pick up cooler air. With the standard 2.9-inch-diameter pulley, the puffer churns out a modest 8.5 psi of positive manifold pressure.

"Being the drag racer that I am, I couldn't resist the track. With a simple wheel and tire swap, it has gone 10.78 at 127, pulling the wheels on most of the launches. Roasting the radials, it still went 11.20. Everyone is in shock when I pop the hood on the LS1. But they are probably more in shock when I jump in the car and drive it home after knocking off those 10-second passes."

Tony flails his red demon about 50 miles every week and has put more than 5K on the clock so far, most of it on the Hot Rod Power Tour. It gets big smiles. It gets ogled. It gets driven. It gets 23 mpg on the road.

Speed Reading
Tony Whatley
Houston, TX
'69 Camaro 350 SS

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