Having previously owned a relatively stock ’69 Z/28, Jim soured on the 40-year-old suspension’s handling ability, so he set his sights on a ride loaded with more modern chassis components. Scouring the Internet, he came across a ’69 Camaro advertised on lateral-g.net as a Pro Touring build. After purchasing the car he realized it was basically a Pro Street machine decked out in a Pro Touring ensemble.
“When I bought the car it was totally finished, but it leaned more in the direction of Pro Drag than Pro Touring,” informs Jim. “It was a great-looking, totally bad-ass, 937 hp, Procharged, big-block car that was really good at doing smoky burnouts, but not much else.”
Although Jim drove the car for a while in it’s Drag Touring trim, his heart was into the Pro Touring scene. “I started with the idea of making some minor chassis upgrades, then I’d eventually swap out the drivetrain. I figured this would help diminish some its Pro Street attitude,” says Jim. “Almost three years later, basically every inch of the car has been transformed, including the Viper Red exterior and custom interior.”
Jim got started by sending the car to TLT RaceTek for a new subframe, engine, transmission, and paddle shifters. “I bought a W2W-built all-aluminum 400ci small-block from Mark Stielow,” confirms Jim. “Super Chevy magazine actually did an article on the engine build a few years back.” Consisting of Dart’s 18-degree CNC’d aluminum heads, Arias 10.5:1 pistons, Manley 4130 pushrods, Comp Cams 12-900-9 CS cam, and Crower solid roller lifters, it dyno’d at 580 hp with 500 lb-ft of torque. “That’s plenty of heat for what I’ll be doing with this car.” adds Jim.
Twist Machine’s Muscledrive 10-inch, 2,500 rpm stall converter snugs up to a Hughes 4L80E trans, while a Compushift Electronic Transmission Controller takes orders from the Twist Machine Paddle Shifter.
A Ron Davis two-row aluminum radiator keeps engine temps in check, while Vintage Air’s Front Runner pulley system adds a tasty garnish to Edelbrock’s aluminum intake, and Dart’s Cathedral Type valve covers.
With a heavy dose of Pro Touring being fed directly into Jim’s veins via internet sites such as Pro-touring.com and lateral-g.net, he decided a 21st Century C5 subframe followed up with a custom torque arm would be the perfect recipe for his newfound taste for cutting corners.
With the big-block gone, and its straight-line tendencies a thing of the past, Jim really began to take comfort in the car’s newfound handling ability. “This car is great. It handles more like a European GT than a 40-year-old muscle car.” said Jim.
Now spending a good amount of time behind the wheel, Jim decided an interior and stereo makeover made sense. Matt Figliola at AI design took responsibility of the creature comforts and gave the ride a top-notch, custom Connelly Autolux leather interior complete with red stitching, Marquez door panels, Sparco Torino seats, and Sparco Flash 5 custom powdercoated steering wheel. Autometer Ultra-Lite gauges fill in the custom dash and Vintage Air’s Gen IV A/C system keep the pilot and navigator cool on summertime excursions. Not a big radio fan, Jim prefers his hand-picked, iPod-compiled play list. Therefore, the center console houses an iPod base with a Zapco controler and Alpine iPod display.
Even though Jim has plenty for friends, ride-a-longs are limited to one-at-time due to the rear-seat-delete option. That area is now home to an amp rack and a small storage compartment. What can you say? Dude digs his tunes.
Perplexed with the interior, now the main focal point, Jim decided the pedestrian red pigment needed a facelift. So, the car went back to Figliola and the crew at AI design for a glassy dousing of dark silver metallic wrapped in a brilliant, Viper Red bumblebee stripe around the hind quarters.
With the ’69 granted a new lease on life, Jim chose a pair of 18x10 Fikse Profile 5s wheels up front with 2-inch wider versions hanging out back. Toyo R888’s reside on all four corners (275/35-18 front, 335/30-18 rear) making sure the C5 Vette binders comply during aggressive deceleration.
We asked Jim what he might do different if he had the chance to start the build all over again. Answering candidly, Jim said, “It would have been cheaper if I had started with an unfinished car instead of making changes to a completed hot rod. That’s one of the reasons I named the car ‘Hoover.’ This thing inhales money faster than a top-of-the-line vacuum sucks up dog hair at the Humane Society.”
No matter the cost, he couldn’t be happier about how the car performed at the 2008 Run Through the Hills event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “Participating in the RTH4 event was great,” Jim goes on. “It allowed me to really beat on the car and share a great experience with fellow enthusiasts. But none of that would have been possible without the help of some fantastic and knowledgeable people. I’d really like to thank Todd Tureski, Steve Chryssos, Matt Figliola, Job Spetter and Manny Sirrus. These guys made great contributions in design and function. I can’t thank them enough.
It goes to show that Camaro guys know exactly what they want and they won’t stop until their ride is done exactly how they envisioned, even if it means taking someone else’s dream and completely dismantling it. Hey Jim. Hoover? We like it…