One of the questions on the CP tech sheet asks about the owner's most memorable experience with their car. When you get a response like Fred Bartoli's, "Staring at it-finished," you know you've got the right man. Fred is 38 years old and runs Altronics, Inc. in Schaumburg, Illinois. His company specializes in instruments and systems for automotive data acquisition, weather systems for race cars, reaction timers, and a lot more. It's been his company and his passion for the last 15 years.
When it comes to cars like these, Bartoli builds or installs all the mechanical properties, getting dirty and doing everything himself except for the pretty work. To hear him tell it: "I always loved early Camaros, especially the '69 model, as do many. I grew up drag racing and always remember my father's '67 Camaro. Now I deal with race cars on a daily basis running my company, where I design and manufacture electronics for racing and also with Super Stock drag racing. My father and I run two cars-an '86 Camaro and his '00 Firebird. In my high school days, my father and I built a back-halved '84 Pro Street Camaro, which still sits in my garage. This time, I wanted a car that could go straight and turn.
I didn't care much for the stock interior and chassis in the '69. I liked what I saw going on with the Pro Touring movement, but I still wanted more than just the handling aspect. So I decided to try and build a modern-appearing and functioning '69 Camaro. I found a decent Arizona car on eBay for about $15K. I was hoping the body was in good shape and would not require a lot of new metal. When I got it naked, I saw it would need a quarter-panel, floors, and some of the trunk. I guess not too much, but I would have been better off paying a little less for the car and just figured on more body work since everything else on the car would be replaced anyway."
What were Fred's motives? He wanted to build a nice driver, "but ended up with something that is so nice I am afraid to drive it. Not sure how or when that happened." He worked diligently on the project in the evenings and on the weekends that he wasn't racing. The whole thing flowed along nicely and he thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing.
"Hoping to utilize my electrical engineering education, the game plan was to modify and transplant all of the wiring and electronics from a late-model [Gen-4] along with the dash and steering column. And with a lot of massaging, that's what I did," Fred said. "Everything functions, including the airbags, I assume. Hopefully, I won't ever find out if they work or not."
Fred stripped the car to shell and used a lot of bolt-on parts, but nearly none of it bolted on. "Strangely, the stuff that was not supposed to fit, like the interior components and wiring harness, were sometimes easier to modify to make them work properly. I went along and completely assembled the car before sending it off for paint." So all was well, or was it? "What made the project the hardest was working with the car without stripping the body first. A friend [Tim Alcalde] suggested leaving the paint on until the fabrication was finished to avoid rust. Bad advice. If I did it over again, the first place the car would go is to a media blaster. Fortunately, my friend mixed up the baddest custom blue to redeem himself."
Fred got to chomping on the machine work and gathering the items for the furnace. He found a '04 LS6 and made some limited but very pertinent modifications. Though freshened, the rotating assembly is factory. Fred was wise to keep it. Even with the nodular iron crank, pressed metal rods, and hypereutectic pistons, it will take all the abuse this engine has to give without fail. The compression ratio is at least 10.5:1. In stock form, this engine was rated at 405 hp at 6,000 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. By choosing his equipment wisely and discreetly, he brought the power figures at the flywheel to an estimated 525 hp at 6,500 rpm and 463 lb-ft at 4,900 rpm.