None of our readers will be shocked by yet another feature on a 1969 Camaro gracing the pages of this magazine. Let's face it, love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying the steadfast and undying popularity with the majority of the Bow Tie crowd of one of the most popular Chevys to ever roll off the assembly line—what's easily the most popular and recognized F-body model. So rather than hate, why not just love?
That's what Jeff Smith does. The owner of a tire and auto repair shop, Jeff quickly confesses to having a love for the 1969 model.
"From my younger years I've always loved 1969 Camaros."
Jeff's built a lot of Chevys over the years. The short list is a 1967 Nova, 1955 210 sedan, 1969 Pro Street Camaro, 1967 Chevelle, 1972 Cheyenne short bed, 1968 Pro Touring Camaro, and an all original 1969 SS350 Camaro. After all of those, Jeff got the itch to build something at the next level, inspired by the more slick and smooth styling and build trends that were popping up at major shows.
To get started, a proper foundation was needed. After some searching, Jeff located a one-owner, pristine condition base model '69 in Pennsylvania. Once in his possession, the car was completely disassembled, and the body sent off to Paul Atkins at Interiors by Shannon for a full makeover. Paul smoothed and straightened all the original sheetmetal, and modified the underside to accept Ridetech air suspension at all four corners. Along with the Ridetech equipment, a Detroit Speed front subframe with Fabtech control arms and spindles was further bolstered by Fabtech sway bars front and rear, and both subframes are fully connected using Chris Alston Chassisworks subframe connectors. Stopping the fun are Wilwood brakes all around, with massive 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers hiding behind the Intro three-piece wheels, 19x8 front, 20x15 rear, wrapped in Michelin rubber.
To motivate the silver streak, Jeff knew he'd need a special powerplant. The first step was picking up the phone and calling Dart Machinery. For the foundation he went with a Dart aluminum 540-inch big-block, with Dart forged crank, pistons and rods, topped with a set of Dart DT-10 alloy heads. The parts were then sent to engine builders Jeff and Scott Whidby in Moultrie, Georgia, where the pieces were checked, cleaned, and prepped for final assembly with the 0.680-lift hydraulic roller cam and matching valvetrain. Topping off the alloy Rat are a Holly intake and Holley 850 cfm four-barrel. A set of Taylor plug wires sends spark from the AC Delco Redline Bull high-energy ignition to the plugs. Exhaust disposal is handled by a set of 2.5-inch coated headers connected to a Flowmaster stainless exhaust with 3-inch Stage 2 mufflers. A Vintage Air Front Runner system spins the necessary accessories, while an Easy Cool four core aluminum radiator keeps the big-block from blowing its top.
After the body was sprayed in its new DuPont silver hue, Paul Atkins went to work on the interior, stitching together a custom, baby soft leather interior in bright red, along with fabbing up a custom front-to-rear center console to house the Ridetech air controls and the custom-made gear selector for the Camaro's Tremec five-speed trans. The front seats are made by Fiero, and the sound system that provides music to cruise to is all Alpine equipment. Paul also fabbed up the special trunk panels and flip out door that provides access to the Ridetech air control system.
Owning his own repair business keeps Jeff busy six days out of seven, pretty much sunrise to sunset. And while he might come home tired every day, he finds all the justification he needs for his hard work and long hours when he gazes at his prized Chevys, especially the one you see pictured here.
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