Some car collectors purchase restored muscle cars with rare options as investments. Others collect cars to reflect their personality or because a particular make and model reminds them of a special time in their life. But for this discrete collector, who only wants to be known as Les T., his collection of cars is definitely meant to impress. With a warehouse full of vehicles that includes a Dodge Viper, a '32 Ford coupe, a custom 1958 Chevy pickup, a 1957 Chevy, and a 2014 Corvette (all painted red), Les' cars clearly demonstrate his love for high-performance street machines.
His latest addition is this '69 Camaro, built by Rob Green of RG Custom Cars in Orange, California. Originally gutted and used as a race car, Les saw the '69 as a perfect platform for creating a vintage-style muscle car with a modern drivetrain and upgraded chassis. Green suggested using a GM Performance E-Rod LS3 engine that would not only make this Camaro a head turner, but also be a basis for obtaining big horsepower from a modern V-8. Les agreed, and the project moved forward based around the LS engine platform.
Once the Camaro got to RG Customs, the disassembly began to prepare it for a new tube chassis from Total Cost Involved. Green set up the chassis so the Camaro would sit low to the ground and incorporate rack-and-pinion steering, adjustable coilover shocks, and a trailing-arm rear suspension. The Camaro already had the inner wheelwells modified for larger tires, so it was easy to install a Currie 9-inch rear, set to the factory axle width, along with a set of 17-inch American Racing wheels with 225/45 tires in front and 275/40s at the rear. Green upgraded the brakes to a Wilwood system front and rear. With the rolling chassis properly bolted together and the Camaro sitting three inches lower than its original ride height, everything was disassembled so that all of the pieces could be sent off to be powdercoated in bright red.
In the meantime, Green began figuring out how to upgrade the LS3 E-Rod engine to reach the level of performance Les would want for the car. Without having to completely disassemble the engine for new heads, camshaft, and piston work, Green decided to install a polished Kenne Bell 2.8L Mammoth twin-screw supercharger, transforming the 430-horse street performance mill into a 780-horsepower monster. A Turn Key pulley kit took care of the alternator, air conditioning, and other accessories needed to make the Camaro comfortable to drive on the street. Green also fabricated the large air inlet tube that feeds the Kenne Bell 168mm billet throttle body, directing cold air taken from in front of the radiator core support. Completing the package is a Be Cool aluminum crossflow radiator, a Holley HP billet fuel pump, and Earl's stainless braided hose that extend from the Camaro's original fuel tank.
The kind of power the LS is creating needs a late-model transmission to handle the torque and power curve. But since the Camaro didn't come with a transmission when Les purchased it, Green got a hold of a used GM 4L60E automatic. To make sure it was up to snuff it got a refresh with some light modifications. A modified factory shifter in the center console selects the gears. Handling the spent fumes are custom stainless headers and pipes by Gibson Performance.
The '69's interior was completely gutted and the Camaro was taken over to Martine Interiors in Orange, California. Les opted for tan leather so Martine covered the dash, center console, and created custom door panels to match the Camaro's completely reupholstered seats. Tan carpeting is used throughout. Leather-covered panels in the trunk hide the sound system and rear-mounted battery. After the Camaro came back from the upholstery shop, Les had Green install a satellite radio, a billet tilt-steering column, and a matching steering wheel.
Les wanted the exterior of the Camaro to remain completely stock. With the exception of a billet grille, the '69 maintains its classic body lines. Of course, like most all of the cars in Les' collection, the Camaro was painted bright red. While the Camaro wasn't intended to be a complete “sleeper,” its lowered stance and simple 17-inch wheels don't give away the big horsepower beast residing under the hood. Lucky for us, Les is keeping this '69 in his collection. But should he decide to take it out for a cruise and come across a challenge, you can bet he won't hesitate to bruise some egos in the process.