1969 Chevy Camaro - Throwin' Heat

Pro Skateboarder Josh Kalis' '69 DC Camaro Is, Quite Simply, An Awesome Ride.

John Nelson Apr 1, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Josh Kalis is a professional skateboarder, good enough to make a living doing what he loves while managing to remain a "pure" street skater, the type you won't find on display in an arena. Put him in a city and he uses the urban landscape, whatever's available, as his space for ripping, skate-speak for "executing drastic and radical moves." Look him up on YouTube-we think you'll find this to be an apt description. Josh is also known as "goofy." It's not a character description; it refers to his riding stance, with his left foot back, near the tail of his board. But there's nothing whatsoever wrong with this kid's right foot. Second only to his passion for street skating is Kalis' zeal for extremely fast street cars, culminating in this radically shaped, brute twin-turbo LS-powered 1969 Chevy Camaro, built to be Kalis' "Ultimate Highway Driver." And whether you're speaking skater or gearhead, this 760 turbocharged rear-wheel-horsepowered baby is ready and able to put to the pavement, he said he's pulled it off.

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Throwin' Heat Although he grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kalis' automotive lust centered on European-style GT cars: autobahn warriors with forced-induction engines, prominent fender flares and air dams, and big rear wings, where 150 mph is a quaint cruising velocity and top speeds approach 200 mph. He's owned two such rides, a supercharged BMW M5 and a twin-turbocharged Porsche 996; neither, however, could settle the "fastest car" issue in his favor, at least amongst his local scene and in his hometown club, South Side Street Cars. But Josh met a willing and skilled collaborator when he took the M5 to a dyno session at All Speed Performance in nearby Muskegon where he met Brian Moat. Game for the task, the ASP crew did something no one else had been able to do: get Josh to go domestic. "The guys at All Speed assured me that they could build a musclecar that would outperform my BMW and my Porsche, and I would look a lot cooler doing it," Josh recalls. Just like that, it was on.

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Starting with a '69 Camaro shop car and a rendering from Kris Horton that powerfully influenced the final shape of the car, the next nine months were a bit crazy. Taking in that body-it's '69 Camaro all the way, only more so, and that's exactly what Josh and Brian wanted. "Horton accentuates lines in his rendering," Josh recalls, and the team went with it. "We didn't want to lose any of line," he added, referring to the fender flares. "We just wanted to pull the line out, have the exact same line extended." But with Josh's affinity for German widebody cars, the flares were just the beginning, and the custom touches flowed: a front spoiler, turbo vents in the hood, the rear quarter vents, the R1 motorcycle fuel door on the rear quarter...and that rear diffuser arrangement with center exit exhaust, a setup that required cutting out the trunk floor and repositioning the fuel tank. Appropriately, all this bodywork is where Josh showed his dedication to the project. "He came in pretty much everyday, excited about the build," Moat recalls. "He'd do finish work; he was like an entry-level employee. We just told him if you ruin it, you can fix it." Long story short: although grinding and carving are common in the skateboarding world, Josh had never practiced their automotive counterparts before starting this build, so plenty of that "we can fix it" happened, especially when he decided to shave the drip rails. As your eyes tell you, though, it all worked out.

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Lest one forget in the prism of radicalized Camaro body lines, this F-body contains a whole lot of motor. ASP created a quintessential American powerplant with all the flavor of anything you'd find under the bonnet of the most brutal autobahn attack weapon. All Speed assembled 408 ci worth of turbo-ready LS motor, filled with the toughest of innards: ARP main studs capping an Eagle 4340 forged crank and rods and top-shelf Arias pistons that bring in a boost-friendly 8.5:1 compression ratio when topped with Dart Pro 1 CNC heads. The hydraulic valvetrain is all Comp, with a secret cam recipe created by Moat who also programmed the FAST components that handle induction duties: specifically, an LSX Big Mouth intake with a 92mm throttle body, and an XFI Electronic Fuel Injection setup. An XMI Ignition Module activates MSD coil packs mounted on Kline aluminum valve covers to fire off the mixture, and believe us when we say there's plenty of mixture to burn.

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Credit the mechanical knowledge Brian gained from his father, who owned several service stations, and credit the high-performance experience he's gained over the years, much of it through sand drag racing, but All Speed Performance prides itself on providing the ultimate in one-stop hi-po shopping. Accordingly, Moat and his crew created the custom twin-turbo setup that sucks mass quantities of fuel and air into the LS' maw. ASP based the system on a Bullseye Power model S366 compressor with the waste gate set for 8 psi, but everything else, the labyrinth of turbo headers, intercoolers, inlet tubes and everything heading back to the 3-inch Magnaflow crossover exhaust system, was created in house. Kalis wanted a turbo motor for it's power characteristics-he wanted every bit of the 760 hp and 800 lb-ft made at the system's low boost setting-just not all at once. The rising tide as the turbo spools up suits him, peaking at 6,100 rpm for both horsepower and torque, and is put through a Rockland Standard Gear "Son of Transzilla" T-56 by way of a Ram Twin disc setup clutch activated by a McLeod pressure plate and linked to the LS by a Quick Time Inc. bellhousing back to a limited-slip-equipped, 3.55:1-geared rearend built by Scott's Custom Rears.

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Of course, whether American Pro Tourer or European GT-style car, running triple digit speeds means the thing has to have its act together in the braking and turning departments. While Kalis' Camaro isn't meant to be a track car, as many of its ilk seem to be these days, this F-body handles its business. Speed Tech Performance got the nod for one of its trick front subframes, allowing plenty of clearance for king-sized front rubber (Nitto NT05s, 245/40ZR18 wrapped around 8.5-inch iForged Neo hoops) and filled with adjustable QA1 coilovers, rack-and-pinion steering, and 14-inch rotors clamped by Wilwood six-piston calipers powered by a master cylinder from the same. Out back, Detroit Speed's ubiquitous QUADRALink arrangement was employed, filled out by 12-inch, four-piston Wilwood binders and Koni adjustable shocks-front and rear subsets are tied together via DSE subframe connectors for a rigid, highway-eating platform. Complementary DSE mini-tubs are in place as well, allowing room for the large by huge 335/30ZR19 NT05s, wrapped around 12-inch Neo hoops.

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The cockpit is more updated American classic than Teutonic, consisting of Cobra black leather buckets fitted with Simpson four-point harnesses, a Marquez fiberglass dash and door panels covered in black leather and suede by ASP (yeah, they do upholstery, too), combined with stock '69 Camaro black carpet. It's also got a face full of AutoMeter carbon-fiber gauges, with boost and air/fuel ratio gauges, a Sparco Lap 5 wheel, and a Twist Machine lever to row the gears. The stereo is extensive, consisting of an XO Vision 1946T head unit, along with Digital Design front and rear speakers, subwoofer, and amp. Installation was by Excessive Audio, and we're guessing they're appropriately named. The shifter, stereo, and FAST Touch Screen Dash Data Loggers are all contained in another custom ASP piece, the center console. And lest we forget, there's a four-point rollbar, treated in the oven by Monarch Powder Coating, which handled all such duties on this project.

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As if they hadn't done enough, All Speed Finished it off with Gunmetal PPG paint, about the most perfect highway warrior color we can think of, including rally stripes replete with the logo of Josh's sponsor, DC Shoes. DC once featured Josh in a commercial with the theme "Definitions Challenged." Google it, and you can see Kalis doing his signature move, a 360 kick flip. It's worth a look. But the idea can easily be applied to this build: Just how do you define this car? All Speed's Brian Moat calls it the ultimate driving car, "unbelievably quiet" and "so smooth" on its maiden voyage from Las Vegas to its new home in SoCal, pulling down 20 mpg when disposing of pavement at just-below triple digit speeds. Josh Kalis, who feels safer skating than driving because there's "no dancing around anything in the car," has reportedly settled his issues in a head-to-head meeting with his nemesis Viper Joe, who's supercharged snake was thoroughly beaten in a series of 70-180-mph contests, giving him the "freeway killer" he's long lusted for. In either case, this is one '69 Camaro that's locked in and capable of handling just about anything running on what passes for the American autobahn. In skate-speak, locked-in means "to maximize a ride." Looks to us like it means the same thing in gearhead speak.

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(The author wishes to thank skateboardingdictionary.com for helping a "geek" with his skateboard lingo.)

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