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1969 Chevy Camaro SS - Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

A Quintessential G-Machine, This '69 Can Handle Anything The Road Or Track Has To Offer

By Mike Ficacci, Photography by Mike Ficacci, Dan Ryder

Define "show-stopper." Ed LaGuardia has perhaps the best answer. Make a trip to the "Run Out East" exotic car show and walk away with the coveted People's Choice First Place prize in a 39-year-old American hot rod. Pardon me, Enzo Ferrari, move over Ferruccio Lamborghini, make way for the cleanest big-block 1st generation Camaro in the Hamptons. Stick that in your designer driving shoes and smoke it, Mr. Auto Snob! Excuse the enthusiasm, but when one of our own goes to an event packed with the filthy rich, the best Europe has to offer, and cleans house, all the Bow Tie faithful should be proud.

Ed's hide-away Camaro is a show-stopper, plain and simple. The classic, beautiful lines of 1969, complete with shimmering metallic blue paint and hockey stick stripes, are complemented by a perfect stance and pavement grinding hides on the corners. The g-machine trend continues to grow, and rightly so. With the quality of the suspension parts available in the aftermarket for first generation Camaros, there is no reason you can't get the best of all worlds. Ripe for cruising the highway, skating the back roads, hitting the road course, and dominating the drag strip, all with comfort and control, there isn't much more a hot rodder can ask for.

At the heart of any properly designed g-machine is a rigid, adjustable rear suspension, and that is exactly what Kyle and Stacy Tucker from Detroit Speed & Engineering specialize in. Ed installed their Quadra-link rear suspension setup, complete with no-bind swivel-link technology, adjustable coilover shocks and springs, a panhard bar for lateral control, and improved suspension geometry.

After mini-tubbing the rear wheelwells, Ed slid in a GM 12-bolt rear with 4.10 gears and a limited slip differential. Rubber is supplied by a set of BFGoodrich Drag Radials measuring a whopping 345/30R18 out back. Up front, he used BFGoodrich HTRs measuring 245/40R18. All four are mounted to Fiske polished aluminum wheels. The front suspension is a complete drop-in unit from Martz, with tubular control arms, rack and pinion steering, and Wilwood disc brakes.

A Deer Park aluminum driveshaft bolts up to a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed transmission, Lakewood steel bellhousing, and Hays Street/Strip 11-inch clutch. S-K Speed custom built the 468-cubic inch powerplant from the ground up, beginning with a GM 454ci steel engine block. It bored it .060-inch over and installed an Eagle crankshaft, Eagle rods, and 10:1 J.E. pistons. The valvetrain is completely roller using a Lab Machine custom camshaft, and Crower roller lifters and rockers. Atop the short block sits a set of 340cc Brodix 2X cylinder heads specifically CNC'ed for lightweight high performance vehicles; in this case, 3,160 pounds without a driver. Feeding air into the chambers is an Edelbrock RPM intake manifold and Quick Fuel 950-cfm carburetor. Pooping air out the other side is a set of Jet Hot coated 21/8-inch Hooker Super Comp headers and a JBE Racing 3-inch exhaust system.

The final result is a very pump-gas friendly big-block Chevy pushing 615 horsepower and 530 ft-lb of torque. Not specifically known for its capabilities on the drag strip, the DSE rear suspension held the skins flat on the 1320 to the tune of 10.97 at over 125 mph for this F-body. Pretty darn good for a road-race-inspired suspension.

On the inside, Ed wanted to make it as soothing a ride as possible, but not for himself. He does not travel without his loyal canine companion, Samantha, who is battling a long fight with cancer, and he insisted she be comfortable on the long rides. He installed a complete Sony sound system, Vintage Gen-4 air conditioning unit, and Arizen black seats made of cloth and vinyl. Auto Meter Pro-Comp Ultra-Lite gauges replaced the stock gauge cluster and help manage engine vitals. Along with the Budnik steering wheel and Hurst shifter, the dash, carpet, and electric windows were all custom made for this street machine.

Ed performed most of the installation himself with the help of his father-although, when it came to choosing a color, they definitely had their differences. "The back and forth arguments between father and son as to which way to go with was like an episode of Orange County Chopper, but we both loved doing it," he said. After a long, loud three months of deliberation, both sides decided on a custom blue metallic paint scheme from PPG. Few cars stand out like this one does in the sunlight.

Ed's fleet consists of a wide variety of road warriors including a V10-powered snake that we know better than to mention. But at the end of the day, there is no driver seat that he enjoys getting into more than his '69 Camaro. Possible future plans consist of a turbocharged, fuel injection engine providing even more power and adjustability.

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By Mike Ficacci
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