1969 Chevrolet Camaro - First Gen, First Car, First Class

Speed Tech Performance co-owner Roger Maniscalco finds the ultimate test mule: his first car, RedZed

Chris Shelton Apr 1, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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The g-Machine movement favors the smaller and lighter LS-series engine. Roger’s 427 wasn’t chosen specifically to do so but the fat block offered Speed Tech two more opportunities. One was to test the engine-to-crossmember fit, an especially critical relationship made more so by the Holley PowerCharger sprouting from between the engine’s custom-badged Moroso rocker covers.

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The engine gave the car another opportunity to serve as a test mule, this time to develop more part numbers. Speed Tech commissioned Stainless Works to build 2-inch-primary headers to clear the modified crossmember shape and steering rack. The specific ones on this car are the first production set for Speed Tech, literally the ones deemed worthy of boasting the bolt-on claim.

The headers pass a prepped 700-R4 transmission on their way to 3-inch pipes and MagnaFlow mufflers. That pipes this large arch over the rear axle amid all manner of locating bars and springs with room to spare indicates that Speed Tech put a lot of homework in the torque-arm kit. The only modification this particular exhaust system required was lopping off the corners of the fuel tank.

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What Roger did to his car’s body admittedly has nothing to do with Speed Tech’s research; however, this is a story about a car he’s owned for more than half his life so it bears mention. He had the driprails and purely ornamental quarter-panel gills shaved. They’re from the Camaro parts pile but the rear-view mirrors Roger used came from a third-gen car. Countless more Camaros would’ve survived if only because their window troughs didn’t rust prematurely had GM flush-mounted its windows as Classic Auto Glass Innovations did for the kit Roger used.

Roger replaced the tail, marker, and driving-light assemblies with Marquez Design pieces. Stamped hood hinges were never a model of accuracy or beauty, but the Ringbrothers versions that replaced them are. Ringbrothers also made the exterior door handles. Roger replaced the trunk hinges and doorjamb vents with Marquez’ interpretations.

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From inside, the car is largely as Chevrolet made it—Roger still has the original floor mats of all things. In fact, he based his changes on function rather than simply form. While the Recaro-style seats fit the part of race-bred buckets, they were chosen for their support primarily. The Auto Meter gauges display figures well beyond the means of GM’s. Roger sees those through the spokes of a fat-rimmed, smaller-diameter Billet Specialties Rival wheel. Though it can’t be classified as a performance part per se, the audio system with components from Pioneer, Phoenix Gold, Alpine, and MB Quart increases the entertainment factor between the big blasts of speed.

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Suffice it to say Roger Maniscalco’s first love is a far different car than the green one he dragged home a quarter of a century ago. But these are also different times than they were in 1985. Naturally, he’s a different person, too; rather than comb catalogs as he did as a kid, he makes the parts. Lucky for him that he still has the perfect car on which to test ’em, isn’t it?

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And though he could largely transform the car’s chassis and running gear back to stock in a weekend with little more than hand tools, it’s not very likely. It simply would be the car he had rather than the one he always wanted, even though he never could’ve imagined it turning out quite this way.

“And though he could largely transform the car’s chassis and running gear back to stock in a weekend with little more than hand tools, it’s not very likely.”

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