There’s more than one way to skin a cat ... and even more ways to build a ’69 Camaro. Some yearn for the nostalgic feel of an original muscle car; others crave the comfortable and sophisticated blend of old steel packed with modern hardware. Travis Yoder is among the latter variety, and his hunt for the perfect ’69 meant building a vehicle with everyday driveability; a cutting-edge drivetrain; and the perfect, classic look.
“I have a [Nissan] GT-R and I wanted kind of the opposite in the Camaro,” said Yoder. “I never had a dire urge to have one as a kid, but I started looking at what Mark Stielow started and what everybody was doing and decided ‘I want to do that.’”
For those that don’t recognize the name, Mark Stielow is widely considered the godfather of the Pro Touring movement and has a list of epic Camaro builds under his belt that few professional builders could match.
Yoder’s search for a ’69 Camaro originally entertained the idea of purchasing one already built and adding some custom touches. “I flew to Vegas, looked at a car, then Houston to look at another, and came home with my money in my pocket each time,” he said. It didn’t take long before Yoder realized someone else’s car simply wouldn’t do. “I knew I had to build one to get what I wanted,” he said.
The search continued, during which Yoder enlisted the help of builder Mike Dusold of Dusold Designs. When a prospect came up, Dusold and Yoder drove out together to verify its potential.
“Mike is only about two hours from me and actually went and looked at the car with me before I bought it,” said Yoder. “It was an abandoned project that already had a Detroit Speed subframe and QUADRALink rear suspension, Baer brakes, 18-inch wheels, and mini-tubs. The previous owner had started it just the way I was going to.”
And just like that, Yoder and Dusold had their canvas. The car was towed to Dusold’s shop in Lewisville, Texas, where it immediately went under the knife. The Detroit Speed suspension was exactly what Yoder had on the wish list, so that item was quickly checked off.
Since the car had to stack up against Yoder’s Nissan GT-R—it’s no Chevy, but not an acceleration slouch by any means—power had to be ample and immediate. To that end, an LSA crate engine was sourced from Chevrolet Performance. It carried a 580hp rating out of the box, but Dusold was after more than just oomph ... it had to sound right. A quick swap to a Brian Tooley camshaft added lift, duration, and the required auditory thump out the twin tailpipes. A smaller pulley on the factory supercharger upped the boost, and the engine now delivers 650 hp to the tires. Gear duty is handled by a TREMEC T-56 Magnum transmission.
The suspension is the aforementioned Detroit Speed Inc. front subframe and QUADRALink rear, with steering handled by a Flaming River rack-and-pinion. QA1 adjustable shocks are placed at all four corners to damp road oscillations and Baer 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers help rein in the engine’s massive output.
Inside, the car was treated to modern electrical, courtesy of a Painless Performance wiring harness and a host of custom touches, such as a brushed aluminum center console and dash insert that make the car unique. Black carpet adorns the floor, and grippy Recaro seats keep Yoder firmly behind the wheel.
On the exterior, the car is all about subtlety. Shaved locks, emblems, and side markers let the body lines flow uninterrupted, while a simple black grille belies the power behind it. The bumpers feature the custom work of Dusold Designs and really leap the styling of the Camaro a couple decades.
“I struggled with the paint choice,” said Yoder. “I went back and forth on stripes, but I felt like the solid color was more modern. I was trying to bring it into the current day and age while still keeping the ’69 heritage. I wanted something my sons and I could take to car shows.” Mission accomplished.
So what does Yoder do with the finished product? “I like to drive this car to work every once in a while,” he said. “It’s not flashy. With a ’69 Camaro, most people don’t know whether it cost $30,000 or $130,000. It’s a fun driver and I just enjoy it. CHP
Owner: Travis Yoder, Waco, Texas
Vehicle: 1969 Camaro
Type: Chevrolet LSA (LS based)
Displacement: 376 ci
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Bore: 4.065 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: GM aluminum
Rotating Assembly: Stock GM
Camshaft: Brian Tooley
Induction: Factory GM supercharger with smaller pulley, OEM fuel injection
Exhaust: MagnaFlow/Dusold Designs
Ancillaries: Ringbrothers hood hinges, Detroit Speed windshield wiper motor
Output: 650 hp at 6,300 rpm
Built By: Chevrolet Performance
Transmission: TREMEC T-56 Magnum
Rear Axle: Detroit Speed Inc.
Steering: Flaming River rack-and-pinion
Front Suspension: Detroit Speed subframe and components, QA1 coilovers
Rear Suspension: Detroit Speed QUADRALink, QA1 coilovers
Brakes: Baer 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Fikse 18x9 front, 18x12 rear
Tires: BFGoodrich g-Force Rival 275/35 front, 335/30 rear
Dash: DSE gauge insert
Instrumentation: Speed Hut
Carpet: OE-type, black
Shifter: Finch Performance
Shifter Bezel: Finch Performance
HVAC: Vintage Air
Bodywork: Dusold Designs (Lewisville, TX)
Paint: PPG Pearl Red
Paint By: Mike Dusold
Bumpers: Custom shaved by Dusold Designs
Photos by Stephen Kim