Early on in life, Ohio-born Ron Greulich birthed what has turned into a lifelong infatuation with the automobile in a rather innocuous way — by building model cars as a young child. By the time he reached his senior year of high school, that infatuation had him walking into the Chevrolet dealer, somehow having been able to save enough money at that young age to purchase a brand-new 1976 Camaro Type LT for the then-princely sum of $5,200.
What does a high school kid in the mid-’70s do with a brand-new Camaro?
“The first thing I did was buy a set of Cragar S/S wheels, and big fat tires for the back, that stuck out about an inch. I also put on air shocks and added Hooker 3-inch side pipes. Hey, it was the ’70s!” says Greulich.
Just a couple of years later, he was bit by the ’69 Camaro bug for the first time, and really started to dig into doing some of his own work. This car, his second, was a freshly repainted ’69 SS 396 that was purchased from the original owner for $3,800. The car just needed a little TLC, and Greulich was up to the task.
“That car was my first so-called restoration,” he says. The 396 was yanked and rebuilt, and while the engine was out of the car, the engine bay, inner fenders, core support, and firewall were refreshed with semi-gloss black paint.
At the time, the Car Craft Street Machine Nationals was the big thing going for aspiring hot rodders. Greulich attended the event four years running, from 1981-’84, driving the ’69 Camaro to each year’s festivities.
“I had never seen so many blown cars in one place before, so after the 1984 Nationals I sold the ’69 to build a blower engine for my ’76 – a 350 small-block with a Dyer’s 6-71 on top,” he says.
To this day, he wonders why he let that ’69 go to build the ’76 up, but he did. And that led him down the path of the Pro Street movement, which took hold in the mid-’80s and never really let him go. A move from Ohio to Tucson, Arizona, changed the automotive-related activities from a summer standby to a year-round obsession. The ’76 came off the road for a four-and-a-half year project to tub it — most of that time waiting on other people to perform the work — and a new engine went in, this time a BDS 8-71-blown 454.
A few years later, while he was enjoying the ’76, boredom set in, and his daily-driven pickup truck, a 1986 short-bed Silverado, became the next project to go under the knife for the Pro Street treatment. This time, instead of relying on others, Greulich did the work himself and cut the build time from 4 years to 10 months. The truck also received — you guessed it — a blown 502-cube big-block with an 8-71 on top and a set of Centerline big-n-little Convo Pro wheels.
So the Pro Street hook was set, and deep. For Ron Greulich, there was no getting away from that hook — and no forgetting the ’69 Camaro he had unceremoniously pitched to the side of the heap years earlier.
“I always regretted selling the ’69. It was my dream to have a Pro Street ’69 with an 8-71 blown 454 big-block,” he says. So a couple of years ago, the ’76 Camaro and the Silverado went up for sale, and the proceeds were used to locate and procure the ’69 RS Z/28 seen here, in what was perceived to be decent shape.
The car, an ex-drag race machine bought with an empty engine bay from a Craigslist seller, was already back-halved. Greulich felt that purchasing a car with this done would save him some time. That idea quickly fell by the wayside when he realized that in order to fit the tire size he wanted to use, the rear wheel openings had to be stretched 2.5 inches and the rearend had to be narrowed an additional 6 inches. At the same time, the rollcage that was already installed in the car was replaced with an 8-point rollcage from Art Morrison — to make a long story short, he had to basically start over.
In order to fit the monster 33x19.50 Mickey Thompson tires under the rear, the 9-inch Ford rearend was shortened to 39.5 inches in length and stuffed with 4.56:1 gears, a Trac-loc differential, Moser 31-spline axles, and fronted with a set of custom 36-inch-long ladder bars. QA1 coilover shocks and springs keep the rearend suspended, and SSBC brakes were fitted to the housing.
The stock style front suspension remains under the car, although 2-inch drop spindles were installed to get the look just right. Again, QA1 shocks and springs are underneath, with SSBC 12-inch front brakes hiding behind the Centerline Convo ET wheels, measuring 15x4 in the front and 15x14 in the rear.
Underhood, the 468ci engine was machined by Gary’s Machine in Tucson, and assembled by Greulich and friend Dan Ackerman. A stock 0.030-inch overbore block, stock crankshaft and reconditioned stock connecting rods were used with Speed-Pro 8.0:1 pistons filling the holes. A hydraulic blower cam from Herbert has 0.550/0.565-inch lift and 285/280 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch lift. Pro Comp aluminum cylinder heads are on top, and the ignition is controlled by MSD.
The star of the show is the 8-71 BDS blower, sucking fuel through two 750-cfm Holley carburetors in true Pro Street fashion. The exhaust is comprised of 2-inch primary Hedman headers, 3-inch custom tubing, and Dynatech split-flow mufflers. Bob Metez assembled the Turbo 400 transmission, and Greulich selected a 3,000-stall Hughes torque converter to transfer the power.
Greulich put his skills to work again in the interior, using an American Autowire harness to completely rewire the car. Auto Meter Ultra Lite gauges, a Grant steering wheel, B&M Magnum Grip shifter, and PROCAR Elite 1100 seats complete the look. The carpet was completed by Chris Urbina at Quality Landau & Upholstery in Tucson. There is no radio, so that the shock and awe of the blown big-block can be appreciated at all times.
In order to get the exterior ready for paint, Greulich had to perform numerous cleanup tasks to achieve the look he was after.
“The previous owner had removed all of the exterior emblems, side marker lights, RS backup lights, and then welded up all of the holes. The rear tailpanel had so much Bondo where the backup light holes used to be that it was easier to just replace the whole panel,” says Greulich.
Finally, the BASF Diamont Inferno Orange hue, complete with Switchblade Silver metallic stripes, was laid onto the body refinished by Rick Harris, who also tuned up the body lines to get the car laser-straight. And now, Ron Greulich’s Pro Street Camaro appetite is sated.
Two years and 2 months later, the car seen here rolled out of the garage. This time, instead of waiting on other people, Greulich finished most of the work himself — with a bit of help on the engine and paint — the only two processes he wasn’t comfortable doing himself.
“Now I have my dream car, and I’m happy,” he says. We bet this one won’t get sold off!