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LS7-Powered Pro Touring 1969 Camaro With a Touch of Yenko

Yenko Redo: For Bob Taylor, the car of his dreams didn’t quite match the way he wanted to remember it. Now it’s every bit as awesome as it should’ve been

Chris Shelton Jul 17, 2017
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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.

1969 Pro Touring Camaro Front White Background 003 2/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Rear Quarter 005 3/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Badge 044 4/44

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.”

1969 Pro Touring Camaro Engine 008 5/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Engine Detail 009 6/44

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.

1969 Pro Touring Camaro Side 007 7/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Wheel 019 8/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Rear Low View 006 9/44

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.

1969 Pro Touring Camaro Interior 010 10/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Seats 011 11/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Roll Cage 012 12/44

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.

1969 Pro Touring Camaro Front 002 13/44
1969 Pro Touring Camaro Rear 004 14/44

Tech Check
Owner Bob Taylor, Evansville, Indiana
Vehicle 1969 Camaro
Engine
Type Mast Motorsports Black Label LS7
Displacement 427 ci
Compression Ratio 11.4:1
Bore 4.125 inches
Stroke 4.000 inches
Cylinder Heads Mast LS7 305 Black Label
Rotating Assembly Callies crankshaft and H-beam rods, Diamond pistons
Camshaft Mast three-bolt
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
Drivetrain
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
Chassis
Front Suspension DSE hydroformed subframe assembly
Rear Suspension DSE QUADRALink with Panhard rod
Steering DSE rack-and-pinion
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
Interior
Upholstery M&M Hot Rod Interiors (Holly Pond, AL)
Carpet Daytona square-weave by M&M
Seats Recaro
Column ididit Inc.
Steering Wheel Billet Specialties Split Spoke
Instrumentation Classic Instruments AutoCross
Audio Alpine head unit with Type R 5 1/4 and 6x9 coaxial
Shifter Steeda
Rollcage Four-point A513 tubing by DSE
Exterior
Body Prep Michael Neighbors, Austin Moore, and Ted Dobkowski
Paint Michael Neighbors
Plating Advanced Plating (Nashville, TN)
Headlights Oracle LED

Photographs by Gary Bohanick and Alex Stivaletti

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