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1969 Chevrolet Camaro LS7 - Laterally Motivated

Combine Classic Style With Cutting-Edge Tech And You Get Scott Gulbranson's '69 LS7-Powered Camaro

Feb 17, 2009
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Cool cars aren’t built in a vacuum, they’re crafted from dozens of experiences and are a combination of unique ideas. Scott Gulbranson’s ’69 Camaro is just such a car. His ride is the product of his own experiences and, in turn, his car helped produce a very unique website: Scott informs us, “I started lateral-g as a place to host pictures of my car and a few friends’ rides. I never intended to build a website that’s as big as it is, but it just took off. Over the time that it took to build the latest incarnation of my car, I also focused on making the website the best it could be.

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I’ve always enjoyed technology and computers, along with cars and motorsports, so it’s something that brings all my interests into one place.” With Scott’s love of tech it’s no wonder he went the direction he did when building his Camaro. It’s a conglomeration of high-tech wonders and classic muscle car styling. And, like all cool rides, the journey to getting it on the road was almost as fun as the finished product… almost.

Scott picked up his Camaro in the summer of ‘00. It was an older restoration that had gotten fresh NOS quarters and a decent paint job ten years prior. Back then, there was no rust on the car, but there was no performance, either. As Scott mentions, “It was your typical 13-second muscle car that was just plain boring to drive.” Scott has a hard time leaving stuff alone, so it wasn’t long before the M20 was out and a Tremec TKO 5-speed was in. While there, he bolted on a set of Baer brakes and some 17-inch Budniks to replace the 15-inch steel ralleys. Those modifications helped, but by the fall of ’04 Scott was craving more… Much more.

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To chronicle the build-up of his ’69, he started a website to post pictures called Over the period of a few years the site became something more than a picture hosting deal for Scott and his buddies. Today it’s a gearhead community nearly 8,000-strong and they all love lateral acceleration as much as the linear type. As he was launching the website his Camaro went from a driver to a pile of parts as he began building his unique vision of Camaro nirvana.

The first think he purchased for the car was wheels. “I mounted up the tires, cut out the inner wheel tubs, and notched the frame to get them to clear. Once the 18x12-inch HRE wheels would fit, I made a fixture to mock up a rear end for the car based on where I wanted the wheels to go. Using those measurements, I had Currie Enterprises build a rearend for me. I closed out the rear tubs with a DSE mini-tub kit,” recalled Scott. Later, he decided to run DSE’s new Quadra-Link rear suspension kit. Unfortunately, the rearend he had built back before the Quadra-Link even existed needed to be modified. “Since I already had the complete rearend built with the axle housing ends welded on, I had to cut all the Quadra-Link brackets in half, position them on the rearend in a fixture I made, then weld it all together,” deadpanned Scott.

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The thing about building a car over such a long period of time is how much technology, and companies’ change. The LS7 that now powers Scott’s Camaro was barely on the drawing boards at GM, and the company that built his front subframe, Wayne Due, is no longer in business. Luckily for Scott, all the parts mated to the subframe, like the DSE control arms, AGR rack, Koni coilovers, ATS spindles, and Speedway Engineering splined sway bar are from solvent companies, so replacement parts are readily available.

The chassis was given more rigidity by way of DSE’s in-floor subframe connectors and a six-point cage fabricated by Autokraft Race Cars and Restorations in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For stopping power, Scott turned to The General for their C6 Z06 brakes consisting of 14-inch rotors and 6-piston binders up front and 13.5-inch rotors and 4-piston units in the rear. Helping mate these new-school stoppers to his rearend is an adapter kit from KORE3 Industries. For extra braking capability, he also grafted in a Hydratech Braking Hydroboost system. After all, what’s the fun of stopping if it doesn’t occasionally detach your retinas?

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Originally, Scott’s plan called for a twin-turbo small-block, but fate had something else in store. “When I was at Mark Stielow’s house a while back, we took his ’69, called Camaro X, out for a spin. While he was flogging it, Mark told me that he had two LS7s and one was for sale. So I jumped on it. The motor that’s in my car is the one that Mark used for pictures in his LS7 swap article for Hot Rod magazine,” recalled Scott. The output of the LS7 was ratcheted up with a Katech camshaft and a set of Kook’s 1 7/8-inch stainless headers. To dress out the aluminum mill Scott went with a black-anodized front-drive system from Synister Products. AutoKraft mounts hold it all in place.

Thanks to some fittings from Street and Performance and a Peterson 8-quart oil tank Scott was also able to retain the factory dry sump system. Cooling it all is a Ron Davis radiator fitted with dual Spal fans. Feeding the big-inch small-block is an Aeromotive regulator and a Walboro fuel pump fitted into the Rick’s Hot Rod Shop stainless gas tank. Control of the engine is taken care of by a GM E38 computer and the wiring harness was custom built by Speartech Fuel Injection.

On the chassis dyno it churned out over 500 rear-wheel horsepower and 470-pounds of torque. It’s enough grunt to hold Scott over until he installs the Nitrous Express MAF nitrous system. Good thing he has those brakes!

Rounding out the driveline is a Rockland Standard T56 six-speed with ATS hydraulics and tubular crossmember. The clutch is the same piece found in a C6 Z06, and power spins back to a Currie nine-inch rear via a three-inch aluminum driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline. But Scott isn’t done messing with the mechanics of the Camaro just yet. “My latest item of interest for the car is incorporating cruise control. With the use of the stock GM E38 ECM, that uses throttle by wire, and the T56 VSS, a lot of it is already in place,” explained Scott.

Once he had finished the driveline and suspension, it was back over to Autocraft Race Cars and Restorations, where Kurt Anderson and Paul Nowak took care of some much needed sheetmetal TLC. Scott recalled, “While the car was solid, it was still in need of some work. So Kurt and Paul gave it a good shot of media blasting, then addressed the minor gap fitment issues. The hood is carbon fiber, and since they have a lot of racecar experience they knew just how to prep it. We couldn’t decide on which shade of red to go with, so Anderson came up with a custom PPG number that I think works great with the white stripes.” The exterior isn’t heavily modified, but Scott did dress it up with a few billet items from Marquez Design.

Scott wanted the interior to stay classic Camaro, only with a modern vibe. A DSE dash filled with Auto Meter gauges helps Scott track the car’s vitals, while a Budnik GT steering wheel enables him to maneuver the ’69 through the curves. The sleek Marquez Design door panels and MODO innovation pedals provide style while comfort comes by way of the Recaro Sport seats. Leather abounds courtesy of TEA’s Designs, and atmospheric comfort is regulated by a Vintage Air system.

But Scott’s Camaro isn’t a wallflower; it’s a driver. “As of right now, I’ve put over 4,000 miles on it in the last 90 days, 2,500 miles of which were from doing the Long Haul on the Power Tour. I’m getting 22mpg on everyday type driving. Not bad for a car making 500 rear wheel hp,” quipped Scott. And he can take pride in the fact that he did 99-percent of the work himself in his two-car garage.

The result is a car that is far more than the sum of its parts, and Scott couldn’t be more thrilled. As he told us, “Now that it’s finished I get questioned a lot about what I would do different if I had to do it all over again. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. The final product is everything I wanted it to be. It drives like a brand-new car; it’s been incredibly reliable, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.” And with a ride like this, how can a blast down the road, especially when it gets curvy, not be fun?



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