What would you do if given the chance to do something over again? Not like resolving an issue with a departed loved one or studying harder for that important test. Or even making the first-date impression you wished you would have. No, we’re talking important stuff, like how would you build your car if you got a chance to do it all over again?
About a decade ago Bob Taylor bought this 1969 Camaro, an amateur restoration built in the likeness of a Yenko. Even though he came of age when cars like it were the gold standard, he said the car’s performance didn’t really rise to his modern-day expectations. “It was stock height and it really didn’t handle all that well,” he admits. But soon after he bought the car, he started to notice the stuff coming out of Detroit Speed Inc. “I was impressed with the craftsmanship and driveability,” he says.
Bob soon bought into the program with a hydroformed subframe and a whole host of other components, including the QUADRALink four-bar with a Moser 9-inch. He even did the subframe connectors. And all was good.
But it wasn’t great. “It just wasn’t quite right,” he says, pointing out a few of the car’s shortcomings, power among them. “The more I talked to Kyle Tucker at Detroit Speed, the more I wanted to take (the car) down and have a drivetrain put in.” But a funny thing happened the day he dropped the car off. “Have you been to the shop?” he asks. “They can do things with metal that, let’s face it, you could never figure out on your own. I thought heck no, we have to take this thing apart and redo it.”
So over the course of three years, Detroit Speed stripped the car and rebuilt it not as a custom but as a modern interpretation. They kept all the prior gear and added to it an LS7 re-engineered as one of Mast Motorsports’ Black Label engines. The 427 swings a Callies crank and H-beam rods with Diamond pistons. The wet-sump engine wears a pair of CNC-ported heads and the LS7 manifold.
But it’s the details that set the car’s personality. “I told the guys, ‘Make it right but don’t lose the soul of a ’69 Camaro’,” Bob says. They responded with things like the air-filter housing. Instead of tucking it off to the side as most builders do, they put it on top of the manifold as if it concealed a carburetor and made it function as the cowl-induction hood intended it to. “That’s what you expect to see when you lift the hood on a muscle car,” Bob observes.
That engine feeds a TREMEC T-56 rebuilt by Bowler Transmission. That, in turn, feeds a 3.25:1 gear on a limited-slip carrier in the Moser housing. And that spins 335/30 BFGoodrich Rival S hides on massive 18x12 Forgeline CR3 Heritage Series wheels, carved in the classic five-spoke image of historic wheels. Those rear rollers required mini-tubs, but Detroit Speed found a way to tuck 275/35s on 18x10s up front without resorting to custom inner fender panels.
The rest of the body remains basically stock, one of Bob’s mandates. “Yeah, they did things like tucked the bumpers and made the body fit right,” Bob notes. “But I didn’t want to lose touch with a ’69 Camaro. So I really didn’t want custom bodywork.” Michael Neighbors shot the car in PPG’s formulation of Mercedes-Benz Brilliant Silver with a Hugger Orange stripe, itself a metaphor for the car’s old-meets-new personality.
The dash may be custom but you’d have to know the stock one to recognize it. This one now mounts a set of Classic Instruments’ AutoCross gauges and a Vintage Air climate-control panel. In stock form, Recaro seats would scream modern. However, after M&M Hot Rod Interiors clad them in era-appropriate leather and houndstooth inserts, they look entirely correct.
We often tell ourselves that we wouldn’t change a thing on a car we built. It’s a beautiful lie; to not want to do something over again differently means you haven’t learned anything the first time around. In this case, Bob got the opportunity and he took it. “And I couldn’t be happier,” he says.
|Owner||Bob Taylor, Evansville, Indiana|
|Type||Mast Motorsports Black Label LS7|
|Cylinder Heads||Mast LS7 305 Black Label|
|Rotating Assembly||Callies crankshaft and H-beam rods, Diamond pistons|
|Induction||LS7 manifold with Mast M120 controller|
|Exhaust||DSE stainless 1 7/8-inch headers|
|Ancillaries||Vintage Air Front Runner accessory drive, Holley rocker covers, C&R aluminum radiator, SPAL fans|
|Output||675 hp at 6,800 rpm; 565 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm|
|Transmission||TREMEC T-56 by Bowler Performance, Centerforce DYAD multi-disc clutch|
|Rear Axle||Moser 9-inch with 3.25:1 gears and limited-slip carrier, Dynotech driveshaft|
|Front Suspension||DSE hydroformed subframe assembly|
|Rear Suspension||DSE QUADRALink with Panhard rod|
|Brakes||Baer 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels||Forgeline CR3 Heritage Series 18x10 front, 18x12 rear|
|Tires||BFGoodrich Rival S 275/35 front, 335/30 rear|
|Upholstery||M&M Hot Rod Interiors (Holly Pond, AL)|
|Carpet||Daytona square-weave by M&M|
|Steering Wheel||Billet Specialties Split Spoke|
|Instrumentation||Classic Instruments AutoCross|
|Audio||Alpine head unit with Type R 5 1/4 and 6x9 coaxial|
|Rollcage||Four-point A513 tubing by DSE|
|Body Prep||Michael Neighbors, Austin Moore, and Ted Dobkowski|
|Plating||Advanced Plating (Nashville, TN)|
Photographs by Gary Bohanick and Alex Stivaletti