Whenever a family member reaches that point in life when it’s time to hang up their driver’s license, it’s common for the car to be handed down to a close relative or offspring—most often a child or a grandchild. Although it’s a nice gesture, not much can be expected on the side of the recipient. This becomes even more evident when the person handing down the used ride happens to be a grandparent. Seriously, what could Grandpa Joe have driven into his golden years that would make someone less than half his age proud to own? How about an early ‘80s-era Cadillac? Nah, Cadillac’s cool factor was long gone at least 25 years prior. What about a tired four-door Ford from the mid-seventies? Nope, we’re talking at least two too many doors, and way too long.
When Jeff Stiller was a young, impressionable teen, there was no question that the ride he would someday inherit was way high on the cool meter. Never mind the Landau top, used up 307, or the less-than-muscular 10-bolt; this was a ’69 Camaro! It’s the coolest of cool no matter what mill or driveline motivates it.
“My grandparents bought the car new when I was 12-years-old and my grandmother drove the car for what seemed like forever,” informs Jeff. “I remember washing and waxing the car on weekends. I was thrilled just to drive the car up and down the driveway.”
Although he took his driving test in the car a few years later, he received somewhat unconventional lessons at age 14 when he would drive his very Irish grandfather to his favorite watering hole for a few “pops.” “While my grandfather was in the bar, I would drive around the parking lot until he was ready to go,” remembers Jeff. “As you can imagine, I became a pretty good driver at a fairly young age.”
Jeff, now in his early fifties, took ownership of the car about eleven years ago. With no real hurry to rip into the car, it sat relatively quiet until about three years ago when he finally figured out the direction he would take the restoration. Although a simple resuscitation would have been nice, Jeff was really becoming fond of the Pro Touring builds he had seen recently. With that being the chosen build path, it also had to be something his grandparents would be proud of.
Handling performance was high on the build list, so the ground-up restoration started with a Lateral Dynamics three-link rear suspension system complete with Eibach springs and KYB shocks. ATS 2-inch drop spindles and Global West tubular A-arms reside up front. Accommodating aggressive-sized rear rubber was part of the drill, so he had the experienced crew at Best of Show Coach Works in San Marcos, California, expand the wheelhouse real estate by way of Detroit Speed’s mini-tubs. With the Detroit Speed catalog left open, Jeff ordered up their subframe connectors and half-cage for extra chassis stiffness.
These days exotic engine combinations can sometimes be the norm, but Jeff decided to go with a street friendly and reliable 9.9:1 compression 383. Air Research aluminum heads are accompanied by an Edelbrock RPM Airgap intake manifold and BG 700 cfm carburetor. The combination nets Jeff 500 hp and 404 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm. A Be Cool radiator keeps the small-block temps in check while the engine compartment’s race-inspired appeal is provided by a Vintage Air Front Runner drive system, K&N filter, and GMPP’s aluminum valve covers.