For most car nuts, the days leading up to the driver's license test, searching for that first car, and the prospect of doing the first "solo" run in an automobile all contribute to the aura that surrounds that special time. Brian Carlock remembers those days as bittersweet. His grandmother, in her last will and testament, left enough money to Brian to buy his first car, a purchase he made when he was 14. He chose this 1969 Camaro, which needed a massive amount of work, and paid around $2,500.
The car came with a 307 V-8, Powerglide transmission, and A/C, a unit that wasn't working at the time of purchase. In the two years leading up to his 16th birthday, Brian pieced together the interior with some hand-me-down parts, or the occasional piece that his parents would chip in for. For his 16th, Brian's father, Bobby, helped in the assembly of a 350 V-8, and a Turbo 350 transmission.
By this time, Brian had the car "looking good and quick." However, some bad luck befell Carlock. We hear stories like this all too often, similar to the one in A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out, kid.") He spun the car on some ice and rammed the '69 into a tree. Luckily Brian wasn't injured. And, though the car lost a few chunks of grille, Brian would continue to drive the Camaro all the way through high school and college.
In 1993, after Carlock finished his X-ray schooling, he parked the '69, in preparation for a restoration. Work didn't really start in earnest until after 1997, when Brian's son, Tristan, was born. Carlock remembers working the 3rd shift, carrying around notes on what he wanted for the Camaro, down to the type of bolts he would eventually buy. Brian also enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, Shannon Born (who owns a rod shop in Chickamauga, Georgia), who would help out with most of the work.
The first order of business was chucking the small-block. The new engine is a '70 LS6 454, punched .030-inch over. The machine work was done by Race Engine Design in Rossville, Georgia, and was assembled by Brian and his father. Carlock added '66 Chevelle iron heads, ARP studs, Crane pushrods, TRW forged 10.2:1 pistons, and an Isky cam and hydraulic lifters. Up top, an Edelbrock 454 Victor manifold holds the Holley 4150 carb with an 850-cfm rating. A Be Cool aluminum radiator and Moroso water pump ensure no high engine temperatures.
The spent fuel mixture is sent out through Hooker Super Comp ceramic-coated headers, and back to a Torque Technologies exhaust and Flowmaster two-chamber 3-inch mufflers. Carlock added some personal touches to the engine bay as well, including the valve covers, which were sanded down and repainted. The Chevrolet badge adorning them was hand painted on.
The motor makes 507 hp at 5800 rpm, and 489 lb-ft of torque at an impressive 2900 rpm. The power is put to the rear wheels via a Chevy 700R4 four-speed and a custom driveshaft, all assembled by Gary McGill. Carlock also added a TCI torque converter with a 2000-rpm stall speed.
The Camaro rides on Billet Specialties Shock wheels, 17x7 front, and 17x8.5 back. Rubber is BF Goodrich T/A-nice, low-profile 235/45/17s in the nose, and 275/40/17 aft. The suspension is mostly stock, with all the pieces being sandblasted, painted, and updated with new poly bushings. Brian added KYB gas shocks and new leaf springs in the rear, giving the Camaro a vintage look while sacrificing little in the way of handling. He also added a four-wheel disc-brake kit from Power Stop and CPP.
The exterior of the car is one of the more unusual aspects to Carlock's Camaro. The custom-blended Orange Pearl is a swatch that Carlock picked out after brother-in-law Shannon mixed up a couple of different hues. To that color, Brian added some ghost-like pinstriped flames, a first-class touch.
After many holiday gifts of cams and car parts, rather than socks and ties, Brian's Camaro is largely finished. He still has future plans for the car though. "I like to give it something new every year," Carlock said. For winter '07, he's considering a Keisler 5-speed transmission, and maybe even a ProCharger blower.
It sounds like Carlock's ongoing tribute to his grandmother is still progressing nicely-we wonder if that ProCharger might wind up in a stocking this Christmas.