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Speed Tech 69 SS396 Camaro - Fathomless Handling F-body

Speed Tech's '69 Camaro SS.

By , Photography by Team Super Chevy

In '69 it was the Camaro that reigned supreme. Yeah, the Corvette guys had their Tri-power carbs and fancy styling, but the Camaro was still the car on Chevrolet dealer lots, to the tune of 243,085 cars sold. Not only did the Camaro have the 425-horse 427 (if you knew how to get one), but also the holy grail ZL1 engine, of which the Chevelle guys could only dream. At the strip, Camaros with the potent L78 375-horse 396 were taking Mustangs, 'Cudas, GTOs and others to the woodshed in quarter-mile showdowns. And that's where this particular Camaro first cut its teeth.

This Fathom Green terror was built late in '69's model run, sold by a dealer in Ontario, Canada. It was ordered with very few options outside of the SS package, M22 four-speed, and L78 Rat. The original owner ran it on the dragstrips around Ontario until the early '80s, when the car was sold to someone on the west coast, where it continued its life on the dragstrip until the early part of new millennium, when the car was retired to an old chicken coop, not to see the light of day until it was acquired in a real estate deal.

Paul Dyck, owner of D.Y.C.K. Design and Gun, was offered the F-body and with only 19,000 miles on the odo when he bought it, Paul knew the old Camaro still had a ton of life left in it. But instead of just going straight, he wanted to turn the '69 into a real corner carver with high-speed straightaway capability.

The call went out to Speed Tech Performance to get the right parts for making the Camaro a handler. Speed Tech makes some of the best parts for F-bodies, Novas, and Chevelles, including bolt on subframe suspension upgrade systems. And with its recent acquisition of American Touring Specialties (ATS), Speed Tech's line of parts has grown even wider. Once completed, the '69 became Speed Tech's entry in the 2009 Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge.

To make the suspension work, Speed Tech supplied Paul with a Track Time package, which included a brand new front subframe, tubular control arms, coilover shocks, rack-and-pinion steering conversion, and Speed Tech's rear torque arm kit. The advantage of a torque arm system is that it provides the same vertical stability of a four-link style suspension, but still offers the lateral stability and travel necessary for a car to handle on a road course.

Up front, the Speed Tech front subframe uses high-clearance upper and lower tubular control arms, solid, heat-treated chrome-moly sway bar, billet aluminum upper shock mounts, QA1 single adjustable coilover shocks, Unisteer rack-and- pinion with steering arms, and adjustable transmission and engine mounts. Baer 14-inch rotors with Baer six-piston calipers provide stopping power at all four corners of the Camaro.

The Camaro still employs a 396, but in slightly modified form. Sometime in '70, the original block failed, and a factory warranty short-block was installed using the L78 heads. Since then, the 396 has soldiered on. As for when the last time the engine was actually refreshed or rebuilt, no one knows, but it still pulls as strong as it did new. The original intake and vacuum secondary 4150 carb were removed in favor of an Edelbrock Victor intake and newer 4150-style carb, along with the engine being dressed up with a Billet Specialties front accessory drive system, cast Chevrolet valve covers, and a set of Ring Brothers hood hinges to make the engine compartment pop.

A set of Stainless Works headers, designed by Speed Tech, take care of ejecting spent hydrocarbons. A Gun Bigger Block hood was installed to allow more clearance for the taller Edelbrock intake, but the factory "fake" cold air inlets were retained for looks. Backing up the 396 is a Tremec TKO600 transmission with Centerforce clutch.

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