The world of high-speed, open road racing is like gambling; the stakes are high, as is the adrenaline rush. In one you lose money. In the other you can lose your car, or your life. John Stout hasn't gone that far participating in the sport, but he's come close enough in other's to want to build one for himself. More about Stout's triple digit adventures later. For now, let's hear about the origins of this LS7-powered '69 Camaro.
Colorado-born Stout first acquired his car in 1978 at the tender age of 16. We didn't ask him, but we're guessing he may have rocked a mullet and listened to Thin Lizzy as he drove the car to and from school through his junior and senior year. "Soon after school I got into drag racing," said Stout, recalling the days of business in front and party out back. "I built a strong 327/four-speed with a 12-bolt rear-end and 5.13 gears. I did that for a while until a guy named Jeff Taylor introduced me to road racing." The open track/corner carving bug bit hard, and the venom traveled deep within Stout's veins. He was hooked. He continued: "I lowered my car, built my own sway bars, put in a Doug Nash five-speed, changed the gears to 3.08s, and proceeded to tear up the canyons. Then, the car got put on hold for awhile while I restored other cars."
Stout is currently a restoration tech at Corvette City and has been for the last 15 years. This Commerce City, Colorado-based-company has been performing award-winning Corvette restorations from mild to wild since 1986. While smelling the perplexing aroma of the local Purina factory, workers at Corvette City specialize in engine building, and have a complete paint shop as well. In fact, Stout did nearly all of the work on this Camaro himself, including the dash (which is a custom modified Detroit Speed unit). Just look at the cabin. You've heard of Chreme de la Chrome? How about a Basquette du Billet
Bad French references aside, other cabin accoutrements include the Corbeau CR1 seats with pump-up bladders, and the floor-mounted transmission/gauge cluster, also made by the owner. John created the custom subframe in the beginning of this whole project. As we said earlier, the Camaro nearly languished into obscurity as Stout went about restoring other cars and co-piloting for open-road races like Big Bend, a 118-mile adventure in Texas with elevation changes and nearly as many turns as miles. Don Herbel drove his C5 Corvette, and invited Stout to navigate their way to first place in the 155mph division in many a race such as this one. Stout recalls the incident with a gleam in his eye.
"One corner's recommended speed was about 140," said Stout. "We were powering through it at about 160 and the rear end started to get a little loose. I mean it really got a squirrelly for a minute." The various experiences, harrowing or not, inspired Stout to build the black beauty you are looking at for the 160mph class. This all occurred around the turn of the century. It took him over nine years to complete the car. After making the subframe, Stout went about attaching the Wayne Due front subframe with custom connectors to the '85 C4 Corvette spindles and A-arms. Springing to action in corners are QA1 12-way adjustable shocks, and 400-pound coilover springs.
If you're gonna drop it you gotta stop it, so to bring the rig down from dangerous triple digit speeds a pair of 14-inch drilled and slotted, zinc-washed Baer brakes with Alcon four-piston calipers do the duty; 13-inch stoppers of the same brand accompany the rear where they are sprung by 175-pound Detroit Speed leaf springs and offset shackles with QA1 shocks. The result of this combo provides a drop of three inches. And with an oil tank mounted in the passenger side fenderwell from Peterson Fluid systems, this pro-touring terror is dumped and sumped!
Speaking of the fenders, once Stout finished raising the tranny tunnel one and a half inches he mini-tubbed the rear, widening it three inches to fit the 17x11 Corvette ZR1 rims and massaged the front fenders to fit the 17x9.5s and Michelin Pilot Sports, respectively. These body mods could be made with the car upright, but in order to fill every hole on the bottom and remove any unnecessary suspension parts from the same area, Stout had to build his own rotisserie. One can only imagine what his home barbecue set up is like.
As you can see the body is black. Steve Sheets of True Color Customs in Henderson, Colorado, applied the PPG hue along with black pearl SS strips, airbrushed LS7 emblems, and rear quarter panel gills. Before he shot the paint, Sheets narrowed and tucked the bumpers in, after smoothing the bolt holes.
"Steve made all the gaps perfect by adding metal where needed," said Stout. As they installed all new sheetmetal including front clip, doors and quarter panels, a bit of metal fitting was inevitable. Marquez Designs supplied the all billet door jamb vents, front park lamps, stainless steel door strikers, hood bumpers and pins, while Fesler supplied the rear taillights. The license plate bracket has been removed and the side markers filled. If you're out of breath after repeating the body mods, all we can say is the combined result does the same. The body is truly breathtaking. And that's just the surface. Look underneath and all the aluminum suspension parts are powder-coated as are the engine brackets. Which brings us to the powerplant, the heart of this beast, the LS7.
We first saw Stout's Camaro at the 2010 Denver Super Chevy Show at Bandimere Speedway, where he took first place in class, Top 10 Editor's Choice Car Show, and Trick Stick awards. "I was pretty happy about that," said Stout. Having that late-model LS7 didn't hurt his ability to take home a handful of hardware. And the fact that it comes with a 675hp kit from Schwartz Performance with a bigger cam, valvesprings and retainers, ARP engine bolts, and a tweaked computer made it even more appealing.
Jay Edens and Scott Howett at Corvette City also deserve to be worshiped. The latter did the welding, and the former tore down the motor, blueprinted it, and installed all the aforementioned goodies along with better rod and crank bearings. Kudos also go to Rick at EandG Terminal for help with the wiring terminals on the Painless wiring harness. Stout may have spent just as much time on the tranny tunnel raising it an inch and a half to accommodate the T56 six-speed and aluminum 4-inch custom length driveshaft. Stout's inspiration for this build came from two things, a desire to road race and a previously built feature car. "I saw Mark Stielow's car, "The Mule," in a magazine article and knew I had to have a bad-ass pro touring Camaro like that."
Will Stout's '69 Camaro achieve the notoriety of The Mule? Quite possibly. Whether or not our man will attain the average speeds required to be competitive in the 160mph class also remains to be seen. Hopefully the frightening incident that occurred to him and his co-pilot won't happen in the Camaro. "We were barreling along at 150 when there was a huge explosion," said Stout. "The window got ripped off its hinges and exploded out the side." John Stout and his motley crew have built an obsidian road warrior with one of the premier LS powerplants, and a dazzling array of subtle modifications that are about function not fashion. Since the shoot he has acquired a new set of wheels and the array of upgrades continues today.
Web Exclusive Photos!