Ever since David Brandt of Alamo, California, can remember, he has wanted a 1969 Camaro simply because it's an iconic muscle car. He had newer cars before but there's something about the style and soul of a car from the 1960s that you couldn't get out of something from the dealership today.
Some of his friends in high school and college had old-school rides, which helped sway him into his first purchase as a college graduation gift to himself. He found it on eBay and flew out to Tennessee to check it out; within 24 hours he decided to make the deal. Since it wasn't even close to being road worthy, David had the car shipped back to Northern California. He bought it knowing that it was going to be a gradual process and that it wasn't something he would be jumping into right away. It was a good thing, because he soon moved to Los Angeles and the car did not follow him. Instead, the Camaro sat untouched for so long that even most of David's close friends didn't believe he had it.
Being away from the car, but still wanting some progress, he paid someone to take care of a couple things on it. Sadly this person did the poor Camaro more harm than good. Fortunately, David was lucky to make the Camaro's second spot a great one. He eventually moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area and hooked up with Steve Keefer, owner of East Bay Muscle Cars. Located in Brentwood, California, Steve specializes in extreme customization of our favorite muscle cars and even those a little less typical.
David told Steve exactly what he wanted out of this car that was in shambles and asked if he was up for it. Steve accepted the build and got started right away. David had been working for Lamborghini, Bentley, and Aston Martin in Beverley Hills and became accustom to the look and feel of these high-end European cars. He brought that vibe into the design of the 1969 Camaro he had been storing for the last decade.
Steve has probably never worked with an owner that would be more involved than David. In this case, that was a good thing. David says that he and Steve saw eye-to-eye on everything and it really made the build process fun. His weekly visits were always a fun and rewarding trip, never a disagreement or disappointment.
After just 18 months, a pretty short amount of time for such a meticulous build, the car was finished. It was just in time, because David had his heart set on bringing it to the 2012 Goodguys show in Columbus, Ohio. It would be an understatement to say the car got some attention. It qualified in the Goodguys Street Machine of the Year as a finalist and earned the Builder's Choice award at the Goodguy's show in Pleasanton, California. He was then asked to have the Camaro in the K&N booth at SEMA and to be their entry to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. Those of you familiar with OUSCI know that's a coveted spot that can't be bought, it's quite an honor. There, his car received first place in the Lingenfelter Performance Design Challenge. It even snagged a second Builder's Choice award at the Del Mar Goodguys show the following spring.
It's not just a show pony though; he drove it hard at OUSCI and continues to stretch its legs at the local car shows and road trips. David couldn't be happier with his first of many builds to come.
Engine & Drivetrain
Sometimes it makes sense to go with a crate engine and in this case, a Mast Motorsports Black Label LS3 was the perfect choice. Starting with a standard LS3 block that has been bored and honed to a 4.070 inches; the Callies 4-inch stroke forged H-beam rods connect to their forged crankshaft and Mahle Motorsports pistons. Mast's Black Label LS3 heads give the combination 11.2:1 compression, which is perfectly compatible with California's 91 octane petrol. The valvetrain is starts with a proprietary Mast custom 3-bolt core hydraulic-roller camshaft that pushes a set of LS3 lifters, hardened pushrods, along with Mast valves and beehive springs. The factory LS3 intake was swapped at EBMC for a Hogans sheetmetal piece to help bump the Mast powerplant from 615 to 640 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and generates 560 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm. This hand-built engine is designed to have strong mid- and high-rpm power, all the while being docile enough for the street. Of course no automatic would back this powerplant, instead they chose a bulletproof Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-speed with a RAM dual-disc clutch, Quicktime bell housing, and Tremec's own shifter. An aluminum driveshaft connects the T-56 to a narrowed Winters Performance quick-change rearend with positraction and 4.29:1 gears.
Since this car was being put out to compete in major competitions, it needed to have a top-shelf suspension treatment. EBMC started out with an Art Morrison MaxG chassis. The front section of the frame was lowered 3 inches to meet up with the lowered rocker panels, the frontend is handled by C5 Corvette control arms, Swift springs, Strange shocks, and Exotic Air Lifters to help clear those pesky speed bumps. Steering credit goes to a C5 Corvette rack and pinion unit fitted to the Art Morrison frame. Out back is a 3-link setup with a set of QA1 coilover springs with Strange shocks and Speedway splined sway bars sit front and rear. EBMC fabricated wheel tubs, floor pans, trunk pans, and engine may sheet metal to clear all the upgrades underneath.
Wheels & Brakes
Big power means big brakes and EBMC set this thing up with just that. The six-piston Baer calipers clamp down on 14-inch drilled rotors for maximum braking. The wheel tubs house Forgeline GA3 wheels, featuring 19x10 front and 20x12 rear wheels that are wrapped in sticky 285/35/R19 front and 335/30R20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport's.
All of the body modifications were performed by EBMC. The entire skirt of the car was dropped around the frame to give it a lower look without sacrificing undercarriage ground clearance. The fenders, doors, rocker panels, and quarter panels were all extended downward and tapered for a seamless transition. They also fabricated the lower cowl panel with their custom chin spoiler, removed all badging and smoothed drip rails, and modified the rear valance for a through-panel exhaust routing. They tucked the bumpers up to the body, sharpened the body lines, and installed a custom EBMC gas cap between the taillights. Once the metal work was done, it was sent over to Mashore Auto Body in Brentwood, California, for final body prep and paint. The final shine is a 2011 Audi Lava Grey that was treated to a custom mixed matte grey stripe.
The interior of this Camaro resembles that of a modern day luxury sports car. The perforated and non-perforated leather was wrapped over modified Recaro seats and other interior components by Tony Anderson and Dave Robles. Monitoring vitals is a Dakota Digital VHX gauge pack that was installed in the custom dash with a 4-inch set back. Vintage Air keeps the cabin cool while the Pioneer head unit, Memphis amplifiers, speakers, and 10-inch subwoofers handles the tunes. The whole package was finished off with custom fabricated fiberglass door panels, rear side panels, and a package tray created by Tony Sancenthen.