Inspiration, it’s a word that by definition encompasses how you become influenced by a person or a thing. But, actually, it’s far more than that when you take into consideration just how life-changing the experience can be. For someone carving a new path from a young age it can be particularly exciting when an occurrence opens a whole new world right before their very eyes. Jay Doerfler of Manchester, New Hampshire, was literally born into the hobby when his dad, Michael, opened the doors to Auto Body Specialists in 1969, the same year he was born. It’s pretty cool when your first memories revolve around a sea of Corvettes and Trans Ams, spending time growing up in a body shop alongside your dad learning the trade and gaining an appreciation for muscle cars.
As the years passed, he followed his dad’s lead, learning the finer points of automotive repair. Longtime family friend Ron Gagnon, owner of New England Rod Shop, was also a continuous influence. From them, he learned one of the most important lessons in that fine details matter when building a car. Simply stated, every minute detail—regardless if it’s unseen under the dash or behind a door panel—matters when a car is finally assembled. Someone might later take the car apart and appreciate that it’s just as nice behind the scenes as it is on top, and that’s the payout for a job well done. As his career evolved, plenty of hopped-up muscle cars followed as he learned the art of power shifting a number of hot Camaros and Novas. He eventually took over the family business and shifted focus onto hot rods and restoration services, changing the name to ABS Classic Muscle Car Restoration.
Well-known for the level of workmanship the shop turned out, he put together a personal ride that would showcase the quality of his builds. It was around the same time when Mark Stielow debuted a ’69 Camaro known as The Mule. The iconic Pro Touring masterpiece stopped Jay in his tracks, leaving him breathless and inspired to encompass many of The Mule’s attributes into his own project. Starting the search for a suitable base, he located a reasonably clean ’69 Camaro so a deal was made and the car was hauled to the shop where the teardown commenced.
The first areas to address were the front and rear suspensions. Out back, an aluminum Currie 9-inch unit packed with Strange Engineering 31-spline axles connects to a matching aluminum center spinning 3.73:1 gears. It’s suspended in place by a Detroit Speed QUADRALink with a Panhard bar deftly matched to a Speedway Engineering splined sway bar and JRi single-adjustable coilover shocks with Eibach springs. Up front, paying direct homage to The Mule, a Wayne Due subframe was added to make the car handle like a champ. Corvette C5 upper and lower control arms and spindles are matched to a Speedway Engineering splined sway bar with C5 ends and JRi single-adjustable coilover shocks with custom, one-off adjustable remote canisters and Eibach springs. For ample stopping power, a Wilwood dual master pushes fluid through custom-bent stainless lines to matching 14-inch rotors wearing six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers. It all meets the pavement through a set of Fikse Profil 5 wheels (18x10 front, 18x12 rear) capped with Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.
For a fire-breathing V-8 between the ’rails, PK Machine of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, got started machining a 346ci LS6 to perfection, handing it over to Julian D’Anjou of 2-Lane Performance in Goffstown, New Hampshire, to work his magic. The block was packed with a stock crank linked to Manley rods capped with Mahle pistons, getting a heavy bump from a Comp cam. Up top, a pair of massaged aluminum LS6 heads breathe deep while a Wilson Billet Bank intake with stock injectors feeds the party through a ProCharger D-1SC supercharger.
Extensive detailing brings the engine bay to life, including a custom firewall, Katech carbon-fiber valve covers, hand-bent stainless fuel lines, carbon-fiber filler panels, and Detroit Speed fender braces. A stock ignition lights the fire with spent gasses moving through Stainless Works headers to a custom 3-inch stainless exhaust with Borla mufflers. Power moves rearward through a G-Force Street six-speed with a McLeod twin-disc clutch and flywheel to a custom Denny’s driveshaft. With tuning by Jannetty Racing in Waterbury, Connecticut, the stout LS pulled 732 hp at 6,800 rpm to the flywheel (632 hp at 6,950 rpm to the tires).
It’s important to start with the best possible car you can when undertaking a build. Jay’s ’69 was an original black-plate California car that survived the muscle car era unscathed, making it the perfect candidate. With the body stripped and set on a rotisserie, he then installed a set of Detroit Speed mini-tubs while also reworking the trunk floor to accommodate the exhaust system. From there, he added a custom front valance then shaved, narrowed, and tucked the bumpers. The factory sheetmetal was then finessed with all the gaps being set. He then prepped the body and laid down the vibe with a lustrous coating of PPG GM Victory Red to bring the car to life. Other cool bits include Marquez Design taillights, ’70 Pontiac GTO mirrors, and dazzle from Paul’s Chrome Plating.
The stock dash wears an insert from Detroit Speed housing dials from AutoMeter to monitor the vitals while a Corvette three-spoke wheel meets an ididit tilt column and shifts move through a stick from Long. Heavy tunes pour through an Alpine head unit to Polk Audio speakers. A Vintage Air HVAC system provides a cool breeze.
An exclusive all-cloth wiring harness by Skip Readio of Ayer, Massachusetts, brings it all to life. Completing the look, Michael Curley of Michael Jay Coach Trimmers of Barrington, New Hampshire, covered a set of Recaro buckets in black leather to complement the rest of the interior accented by black Mercedes square-weave carpet. A Detroit Speed four-point rollbar ensures safety, along with seat harnesses from Crow Enterprizes.
This is one subtle Pro Touring ’69 Camaro that separates itself from the pack with exceptional attention to detail personifying Jay’s build style, and we dig it! CHP
Owner: Jay Doerfler, Manchester, New Hampshire
Vehicle: 1969 Camaro
Displacement: 346 ci
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Bore: 3.898 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: Stock LS6|
Rotating Assembly: Stock crank, Manley rods, Mahle pistons
Valvetrain: Stock rockers, TFS dual valvesprings, titanium retainers
Camshaft: Comp Cams (0.600-inch lift, 230/242-deg. duration at 0.050, 114-deg. LSA)
Induction: Wilson Billet Bank intake, stock injectors
Power-Adder: ProCharger D-1SC supercharger
Exhaust: Stainless Works headers, 3-inch stainless exhaust, X-pipe, Borla mufflers
Output: 732 hp at 6,800 rpm (flywheel), 632 hp at 6,950 rpm (to the tires)
Transmission: G-Force T-56, McLeod twin-disc clutch
Rear Axle: Aluminum Currie 9-inch, 3.73:1 gears, Strange Engineering 31-spline axles
Front Suspension: Wayne Due subframe, C5 Corvette upper and lower control arms and spindles, JRi single-adjustable coilovers with Eibach springs
Rear Suspension: Detroit Speed QUADRALink, Speedway Engineering splined sway bar, JRi single-adjustable coilover shocks with Eibach springs
Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, front; 14-inch rotors, four-piston calipers, rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Fikse Profil 5 18x10 front, 18x12 rear
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 275/35 front, 335/30 rear
Upholstery: Michael Curley at Michael Jay Coach Trimmers (Barrington, NH)
Steering Wheel: Corvette
Carpet: 1970 Mercedes square-weave, black
Pedals: Clayton Machine Works
Paint: PPG GM Victory Red
Hood: Chevrolet cowl-induction
Photos by Chuck Vranas