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1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS - Sight Unseen

In the right hands, the wrong car can go from disappointing to gorgeous

Joe Greeves Mar 28, 2014
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The Internet has become a one of the world's greatest clearinghouses for automobiles. Advertise your car for sale on the web and buyers from around the world can see it. Search for a particular car and with any luck, you can find just what you're looking for and it might even be close by.

Ken Paparella from Winter Springs, Florida, did just that. Ken is happily retired from his commercial development occupation, a job that took him to construction sites throughout the Southeast, from Virginia to Florida. In addition to being able to spend more time with his family, retirement also means that Ken now has more free time to enjoy his collection of Camaros.

Ken is a staunch Bow Tie fan, intrigued with muscle cars since he was a teenager. He currently owns a 1993 Z28 that he bought new, a beautifully restored 1968 Camaro RS, and a 1971 Camaro RS pro street, in addition to a new Grand Sport Corvette and this beautiful 1969 Camaro SS. Built piece by piece with the help of talented friends, the exterior of his '69 captures all the style and nostalgia of the first generation F-bodies. Underneath however, thanks to the hundreds of upgrades available from the aftermarket, the shortcomings of 45-year-old technology have been transformed into new millennium cool. Thanks also go to several of Ken's good friends with the skills to create a car that embodies the best of both worlds.

 Chevrolet Camaro Front 2/10

Unfortunately, Ken's friends needed all their skills when the car arrived on the transporter. Using the Internet, he bought the car sight unseen from a dealer in Augusta, Georgia. The pictures looked good and the dealer assured him it was in good shape but when it arrived, the car was so rough that Ken's first thought was to send it back.

Disheartened, Ken relegated the car to the garage for almost a year. Finally, with some prompting from Ken's wife Charlene, a plan was developed to rejuvenate the classic Chevy, beginning with just a little paint and interior work. That part of the plan, however, is one we've heard before. Before long, the light cosmetic upgrade transitioned into a full rotisserie restoration, removing every single nut and bolt on the car!


Ken contacted his friend Tracy Costalo, from Tazz Custom Painting in Clermont, Florida to begin the process. Body panels, firewall, wheel wells, and floor pans were replaced, dents were removed, and a set of DSE mini-tubs added to accommodate a future pair of wider rear tires. The Rock Valley steel gas tank was narrowed to fit and DSE welded-in frame connectors made the body solid once again. Suspension upgrades began with BMR tubular A-arms and 2-inch drop spindles, Koni Shocks, and Hotchkis 2-inch lowering springs. In the rear, new Hotchkis springs and Koni shocks stabilized the 12-bolt rear.

Rollers & Binders

Modern go power under the hood demands equally strong whoa power at all four corners. The SSBC system uses drilled and slotted 11-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. The brushed aluminum caliper covers contrast nicely with the shiny black, ten-spoke, Rushforth X-Rated wheels. Up front, the Camaro uses 17x7s with 18x11 versions in the rear. All four are wrapped in Hankook Ventus R-S2 performance radials, 245/40ZR17 front, and 315/30ZR18 rear.

 Chevrolet Camaro Rear 6/10


The car was originally equipped with a 454 and when Ken had it rebuilt, it did not turn out well. Ken switched gears and ordered a Chevrolet Performance ZZ502 crate motor, knowing that it was big enough to fill the engine room and had enough power to launch the Camaro like an artillery round! It is equipped with aluminum heads, aluminum intake, hydraulic roller cam, forged steel connecting rods and crank, and forged aluminum pistons that run 9.6:1 compression. Opting for a decidedly different approach, he chose a Tri-Power setup using three 250cc two-barrel carbs, initially a challenge to tune but now running glass-smooth, thanks to the talents of Robby Hooper. MSD ignition touches off the internal explosions and Hooker long tube headers take out the trash through a 3-inch, ceramic coated exhaust system. The twin Flowmaster 44 mufflers create a sweet performance rumble. Rounding out the changes are the Billet Specialties V-Trac pulley system, black chrome valve covers and air cleaner, Ron Davis Racing aluminum radiator, and the pair of 13-inch SPAL fans. Ken opted for a four-speed Muncie M21 trans with a Hurst shifter like the one he had in his first Camaro when he was 18 years old. The trans is equipped with a Centerforce clutch disc and pressure plate in order to handle the 502 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque sent to the GM 12-bolt rear with 3.55:1 gears.

 Chevrolet Camaro 7/10


1969 Chevrolet Camaro Steering 8/10

The blend of old and new continues inside with the talented team of Mike Coletta and Howard Krusey crafting the classic yellow hounds tooth interior on the front buckets and rear bench. A Covan Classic dash panel holds Auto Meter Phantom gauges outlined with distinctive Twist Machine bezels. Keeping the driver in close touch is the custom leather-wrapped factory steering wheel, Hurst shifter, and competition-oriented Modo Innovations pedal covers. Rounding out the long list of upgrades in this new millennium cruiser are power windows, power door locks, tilt wheel, power trunk lock, Vintage Air, billet door vents, DSE intermittent wipers, and an elaborate Pioneer stereo system. The USB-equipped head unit controls the 800 watt Pioneer amp and 8-inch Pioneer sub that share space in a trunk-mounted enclosure. Component sets in the dash and rear package tray create the mids and highs. The trunk is coated in a flaked Rhino Tuff finish with a Bowtie trunk pad.

 Chevrolet Camaro 9/10


The classic look of the Western Star Yellow and Tuxedo Black paint job, sprayed by Tracy Costalo, contrasts with the new lower stance, giving you plenty of clues that this is not yer' daddy's old Chevy. Bumpers were rechromed, Marquez billet parking lights installed in the one-piece valance and Tri Glo headlights were added with internal amber accent lights. The all-steel hood is equipped with a functional cowl induction scoop, providing the 502 with a Big Gulp of fresh air. The rear sports a D80 deck lid spoiler, Marquez Billet taillights, and tiny reverse lights hidden in the bumper. The license plate says it all. Future plans call for a few extra additions like Rally Sport hideaway headlights.

 Chevrolet Camaro 10/10

Wrap up

Special thanks to good friends Mike Coletta, Robby Hooper, Howard Krusey, and Tracy Castalo. It was a three-year effort but their talent and dedication saved this beautiful Camaro from the crusher!



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