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1969 Chevy Camaro - The Goddess Gets A Chariot

What to Do When Your Wife Doesn't Understand Your Passion for Muscle

Photography by Andrew Schear

I am a goddess. Well, at least that's what my husband's friends say. On a scale from one to ten, I'm about an eight. Okay, a seven, but that's not why I'm a goddess. I am a goddess for the gifts I bestow: major power tools for the shop, polished wheels for the Vette, and 60 laps in a NASCAR. I married a gearhead, so when I need a gift, I just look at the latest project and accessorize it.

Now maybe you're thinking: "What's that guy got on his wife?" Or, you could be asking: "What kind of toys can he possibly have?" Well, the guy I married is Tony Foti, the owner/driver of the LAPD race car. Since we've been together, he's had four different black and white racecars. He likes toys, fast toys.

Now when my husband announced our engagement to his friends, everyone told him I would "make" him sell his toys. They asked him if he was ready to give up racing, because surely the woman who was raised perusing museums and art galleries just wouldn't "get it." Well, I tow the racecar to the starting line. I clean the car for display, and I work on the PR for the racing program. I love horsepower.

So you ask, how can you make your wife "get it?" Well, I'll tell you. Before I met Tony, I drove a F_ _ _. (You know, that other car manufacturer.) One day, Tony was in a pinch and needed some driving help. He asked me to drive his '92 Quasar Blue Vette home for him while he towed the racecar home from a weekend car show. I was intimidated. The car was brand new and gorgeous, and I hadn't pulled any gears in years.

However, he really needed the help and I didn't want to be considered a sissy, so I took the keys. Oh, what a rush! The horsepower was intoxicating. An automobile was no longer just a means of transportation. A few years later when Tony and I got married, I ordered a wedding present for myself. I needed a new family car-you know, a four-door sedan. So, I ordered a '96 Impala SS.

Guys, if I've heard it once, I've heard it a dozen times. "My wife doesn't understand the horsepower thing." Whenever I hear this I always ask: "What does your wife drive?" Hey, when you tell me she drives a minivan, I understand why she doesn't get it. If she doesn't drive muscle, if she can't put her foot in it, if her ride doesn't scoot, she's not gonna get it. If she drives a slug and only gets to be a passenger in the ride that you've have spent the last 3 years tweaking, there is no reason on earth that she should appreciate your passion. Let her get behind the wheel-just as it happened to you, it will happen to her. Let her play with it. Take her out cruisin' and let her drive. Let her feel the wheel behind that dangerous Mouse or that nasty Rat. Be nice and share. You may put a smile on her face.

Since marriage is a two-way street, to show his appreciation for my support, Tony decided to give me a card for our anniversary. The sentiment was lovely. The pink slip to the '69 Camaro that was inside the card was the icing on the cake. Now, it is his turn to help me accessorize. The first thing to do was get it to the body shop. I took it to our friend and sponsor, John Landon, from John's Custom Paint and Body in Chatsworth, California.

While stripping the car down to the metal, John shot several varieties of red for me to choose from. I decided to go with the '69 factory color, Garnet Red. While he was blocking and color sanding my chariot, I turned to our good friends at Classic Industries for restoration help. In the past, I had always thumbed through gardening catalogues in pursuit of the perfect garden, now I found myself thumbing through the Classic Industries catalogue. Unbelievable!

While looking good is nice, performing well is even better. For direction under the hood, I turned to Mark McPhail for Bow-Tie genius. I wanted muscle with a kick. His advice was to drop a ZZ4 engine under the hood backed by a T-56 transmission.

To make the powertrain transition, we called upon the creative efforts of Nels at Billet Works in Santa Clarita, California. Nels is a fabricator extraordinaire and no idea is too much for his talent. Not only did he prepare the car for the new transmission, he installed a factory Chevrolet late-model hydraulic clutch system to prepare us for the Centerforce dual friction clutch we installed. He also fitted the car with a 10-bolt 3.73 Posi rearend stud to stud, installed the Flowmaster system, and installed the front power disc brakes conversion kit from Stainless Steel Brakes Company. This car stops on a dime!

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