1969 Chevrolet Camaro - Influential Hybrid

Over 13 Years in the Making, Mike Cornelius’ ’69 Consists of a Potent Combination of Ideas Gathered From Some Pro Touring Heavyweights

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Hedman Hedders 1¾-inch mid-length headers dump into a 2½-inch exhaust system complete with X-pipe. MagnaFlow stainless steel mufflers offer a slightly docile tone in a cruising state, but announce Mike’s ruckus behavior when he hammers the loud pedal.

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A simple and cost-conscious assemblage of parts, Mike estimates the engine’s horsepower output to be in the ballpark of 400 ponies.

A manual transmission is high on the list of future upgrades, but for now a GM 200-4R and 2,400-stall converter assembled by the guys at Walt’s Transmission Service (Bowling Green, Kentucky) handles shifting duties. Manageable torque twists its way to an 8.5-inch rearend, which houses a limited-slip differential and 3.43:1 cogs.

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As previously mentioned, the Pro Touring influence laid heavy on the theme throughout the build, and even when his wallet fought back, Mike upgraded the stock spindles and control arms with Hotchkis 2-inch lowering springs and KYB shocks up front. A massaging of the GM leafs out back combined with additional KYBs brought the rear down 2 inches as well. The stance was set.

Budnick Diamond Lite wheels wrapped in Nitto 555 rubber (235/35-19 front; 285/30-20 rear) feature brushed outer hoops. Behind the painted spokes, you’ll see a glimpse of the GM LS calipers riding on 12.8-inch rotors up front with 12 inchers out back—a bit smaller plates by today’s Pro Touring standards, but good enough for Mike’s criteria.

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The interior continues the hybrid mix of modern coupled with vintage as the front seats, shifter, and center console were sourced from an ’02 Trans Am. DJ’s Upholstery, also in Bowling Green, laid the black carpet and fit the graphite and silver leather over the seats while Kyle Tuck at Poston Electronics introduced a custom scene on the door panels and side panels accented with Lokar door handles and window cranks. Lokar bits also cover the brake and gas pedals while the Budnik steering wheel keeps the theme in line.

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Auto Meter Ultra Lite gauges keep Mike in the know and a Vintage Air Gen III system keep he and his wife, Denise, cool as cucumbers, even during Bowling Green’s relentless summertime heat and humidity.

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A Pioneer DEA 7200 head unit backed by a JL Audio HD 900/5 amp juice the JL Audio C5 6½ inch speakers resting in the custom kick panels whittled by the aforementioned Kyle Tuck. Tuck also tackled the custom-built rear package tray and nestled in the JL VR 690 6x9s. All said and done, the system offers a balance of scorching tunes in a rather lightweight system.

Cary Guess sprayed the PPG Silver Metallic but not before brilliantly massaging the sheetmetal to perfection while Jeff Smith polished the existing OE stainless trim. Goodmark came on board where necessary including the hood, grille, and front and rear bumpers.

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So did Mike finally get it right? “I like to drag race a couple times a year, and I’m really starting to like autocrossing. And even though it’s still basically a work in progress, I’m just enjoying driving the sh#* out of it.”

Mike, we’d say you got it right.

“Mike’s ’69 has been marinating for over 13 years, and in that time it’s seen various parts and pieces come and go.”

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