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This LSA Supercharged 1969 Camaro is One for the Ages

Vapor: The LSA engine in Tim DeFoor’s first-gen didn’t stall

Ro McGonegal Apr 25, 2016
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Finite resources are cautiously guarded and universally coveted. Gold is one of them. Ibogaine is another. Vintage Detroit iron is yet another. Although some enterprising souls are actually making copies of the most sought-after tin in the hot rod world, the original core still gets most of the attention. It represents the box and all the parts that are supposed to be in it, not just the newly minted and often ill-fitting sheetmetal. To find that original form is becoming more of a challenge. Why do you think magazines and some social media sites run all those barn-find teasers? Hmm. Out there in the civilian world they keep that stuff up, maybe the term hot rod will be replaced by barn find.

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Tim DeFoor got into this thing without even knowing it and he’s been involved since he was kid. “My father was a huge collector so when I was growing up there were cars all around me,” he offered with smile.

As for finding an original form, Tim said that it was undoubtedly the most challenging and frustrating part of the build. Here’s that tidbit: “I had been seeing the car at local shows for several years. The gentleman was a backyard restorer. The body and exterior were pretty rough and the powerplant was a big-block. I’d asked him for [10] years to sell it to me. At a car show I approached him again, asked … and he agreed! We became good friends until his passing.”

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As a successful business owner (DeFoor Drywall Products in Macon, Georgia), Tim had the wherewithal for many months of construction time, which turned out to be something on the order of 1,800 labor-hours, but only six months of purgatory. Though his home is Warner Robins, in the middle of Georgia, he had no problem turning over the pile to the Pratt & Miller (P&M) folks many hundreds of miles to the north in New Hudson, Michigan. Detroit metro and environs seethes with sites dedicated to the complete car build, so when P&M was finished, the Camaro was dragged somewhere close by for another phase.

P&M is world-renowned as the swami of Chevrolet’s C7.R race Corvettes, so they know all the tricks and the best ways to apply them. Tim met with boss Mike Atkins. The games began. P&M set upon the chassis. They scoured the frame in anticipation of the DSE QUADRALink rear suspension, including Penske shocks inside DSE coils and a DSE antisway bar. They tightened up the box with DSE frame connectors and moved forward. Though they eschewed the complete DSE hydroformed ’rails, they anchored the assembly with DSE forged spindles, tubular control arms, coils, and antisway bar. They notched the crossmember to clear the engine.

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About that engine: Since the supercharged 6.2 would likely be thrashed heavily and often, and with a reptilian eye toward increasing positive manifold pressure via different diameter pulleys, Thomson Automotive pulled the guts out of it and replaced the cast junk with forged steel. The crankshaft is factory-forged and fine, but the marginal powdered metal connecting rods and cast pistons were superseded by much tougher stuff from Eagle and Diamond, so Tim could huff and puff to his heart’s desire. Brian Thomson balanced and blueprinted what was left and put the engine together. P&M augmented the charge-cooling system with a combo radiator and water-to-air intercooler. Meanwhile, Gordon Stoney in Williamston, Michigan, rehabilitated the hefty 4L80E with new clutch packs and a 2,800-stall torque converter.

In the cosmetic realm, the Camaro was covered by Steve Tabor at Lightning Custom Auto Restoration in Fenton, Michigan. Steve rubbed the body ad infinitum and rolled the quarters a bit to increase tire clearance. He applied the venerable Axalta Hugger Orange and corresponding stripes of white. Back in New Hudson, P&M screwed Hella headlights in the original sockets and converted the original taillights to LED illumination.

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As for the man-pit, P&M began with the dashboard, posting a DSE insert to accommodate a host of Auto Meter meters, both analog and digital. They laid down what seemed to be several hundred yards of Dynamat and covered it with National Parts Depot factory replacement rugs. Then Pat LaPorte engineered and installed the Panasonic audio system. Tim liked the seats from a Honda Accord and Rob Murphy covered them with leather, as he did the rear seat. To complement, they added Juliano’s three-point safety belts. P&M modified the door panels and built a slick, subdued console that continues to the rear seats.

Tim thinks that the coolest things he ever did with the car were to experience the win at the Detroit Autorama on the Camaro’s debut and being able to wheel the little bitch trouble-free on the Power Tour a few months later. He savored working with Mike Atkins and enjoyed the chumminess of the Pratt & Miller crew.

Rather than spew some kind of rhetoric about what the process means to Tim, let’s just say that he likes his car and wouldn’t do anything differently were he to do it again. He flat likes his car the way it is. What else can you say?

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Tech Check
Owner: Tim DeFoor, Warner Robins, Georgia
Vehicle: 1969 Camaro SS
Engine
Type: 6.2L LSA
Displacement: 376 ci
Bore: 4.065 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: L92-style ports, 68cc combustion chambers, 2.165/1.590 valves
Rotating Assembly: Forged crankshaft, Eagle connecting rods, 9.1:1 Diamond pistons
Valvetrain: Stock 1.7:1 rocker arms, roller lifters
Camshaft: Stock hydraulic roller (0.492/0.480-inch lift; 198/216-deg. duration at 0.050-inch), stock lifters
Induction: Eaton 1.9L supercharger, CTS-V intake manifold, DeWitts custom-integrated radiator with water-to-air intercooler, 16-gallon Rick’s Hot Rod Shop stainless fuel tank, Vapor Worx electronics, CTS-V fuel pump, K&N filter with custom aluminum intake tube
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, 8mm silicone primary wires
Exhaust: Kook’s stainless steel headers, 2-inch primaries, 3-inch collector, Pratt & Miller Restorations 3-inch stainless system, Flowmaster 40 mufflers
Ancillaries: Dynamat insulation, custom engine cover by Pratt & Miller
Output: 630 hp at 6,100 rpm, 600 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm
Machine Work: Thomson Automotive (Wixom, MI)
Built by: Brian Thomson
Drivetrain
Transmission: 4L80E built by Stoney Automotive Engineering (Williamston, MI), modified clutch packs, 2,800-stall converter
Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt w/ 9-inch centersection, limited-slip differential, 3.08:1 ratio, Strange Engineering 33-spline axles, Dynotech steel driveshaft
Chassis
Front Suspension: DSE forged spindles, tubular control arms, and antisway bar; Penske shock absorbers
Rear Suspension: DSE QUADRALink, coil springs, antisway bar, and frame connectors; Penske shock absorbers
Brakes: Wilwood vented 13-inch rotors, six-piston calipers front; Wilwood 12-inch rotors, four-piston calipers rear; Wilwood master cylinder and booster
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: HRE RC100 18x10 front, 18x12 rear
Tires: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW 245/40 front, 335/30 rear
Interior
Upholstery: Rob Murphy at Pratt & Miller (New Hudson, MI)
Material: Leather and suede
Seats: Honda Accord, Juliano’s three-point seatbelts
Steering: ididit tilt column, DSE rack steering system, Grant wheel
Shifter: B&M
Dash: Stock w/ DSE gauge insert, American Autowire wiring
Instrumentation: Auto Meter
Audio: Panasonic head unit, 6-inch front speakers, 6x9 rear
HVAC: Vintage Air SureFit
Exterior
Bodywork: Steve Tabor at Lightning Custom Auto Restoration (Fenton, MI)
Paint by: Steve Tabor
Paint: Axalta Hugger Orange and white stripes
Hood: Stock ZL2
Grille: Stock
Bumpers: Stock


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