Like so many high schoolers favoring the muscle car scene in the early ’70s, Dave Mausbach would secretly hide his Hot Rod magazines inside an open textbook pretending to follow along during another boring physics class lecture only to be taking in images and articles on the coolest muscle cars of the era.
Hailing from Columbus, Nebraska, his small-town high school didn’t have nearly the same population of street machines sitting in the parking lot as the “big city” schools did. “There were a few guys at our school who had muscle cars, but it was nothing like what you’d find on the larger campuses,” said Dave. “We were out in ‘the sticks,’ so we could only dream of owing cars like what we saw in the magazines. Unfortunately, we were more familiar with John Deere tractors than big-block Chevys.”
Well, those magazine pages got a hold of Dave and soon after graduation he got his hands on a ’70 Nova SS — not the most stellar ride, but one that secured his footing in the muscle car scene for a good five years. It wasn’t long before the enthusiasm wore off and Dave’s focus on farming took precedence, so he and the Nova parted ways.
Ten or so years went by, but Dave always had “the bug.” It got bad. He was jonesing for another ride – a Camaro, specifically. Finally, in 1990 he got back into the muscle car scene with this ’69. It was a nice car, and for almost 20 years he got a kick out of driving it around town. That was until he saw what was going on at Boesch Auto Body in nearby Humphrey, Nebraska. His eyes got wide and he wanted his Camaro in the hands of owner Dale Boesch. Dale has been building, modifying, and restoring award-winning muscle cars and street rods for over 34 years, and with a dozen or so builds going on at any given time, Dave figured he’d throw his Camaro into the rotation for “just a few upgrades.”
With Dale taking the reigns, along with Jim Gronenthal, Dave’s daily driven F-body was about to take on a whole new personality. Starting with the engine, Dave shied away from today’s popular LS trend, and instead went traditional with a 383 stroker built by AG Industrial Machineworks in Norfolk, Nebraska. Engine specs are on the light side, but we do know a set of Holley aluminum heads and COMP Mother Thumper cam keep the engine’s heart rate in check. The focal point of this old-school gem is the ported and polished Inglese intake system topped with eight polished Cook Enterprises domed air cleaners. Contributing to the small-block art piece, Dale customized a pair of GM valve covers to adhere to the vintage vibe. A Vintage Air Front Runner drive system leads the ensemble and a Be Cool radiator with a custom shroud and dual electric fans handle cooling duties just beneath the custom Boesch closeout panel.
Lemons ceramic, silver-coated long-tube headers relinquish waste through a custom-bent Boesch 3-inch crossover exhaust system. Flowmaster 44 mufflers slightly tame the stroker’s 400hp growl.
A GM 700-R4 transmission and shift kit manage shifting duties while a 3,000-stall converter ensures aggressive launches off the line. A 3-inch Inland Empire Drive Line driveshaft exerts twist to a Ford 9-inch rearend and 3.73:1 gears.
Driving a first-gen with stock suspension takes a bit of talent as well as a good amount of tolerance. Dale’s confidence in Detroit Speed, Inc.’s suspension components landed a DSE Hydroformed subframe up front and a DSE QUADRALink joins the Boesch-built rear subframe out back.
With a “go big or go home” attitude, Dale incorporated a set of massive rollers between the rear wells. Ginormous custom-painted three-piece Boze Pro-Touring wheels (19x10 front, 19x13 rear) set the stage for the Baer six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors all around. More of Dale’s trickery ensued with an ABS electronic high-power master cylinder and pump.
With 345/30-R19 Michelins on the business end, Dale took the honors of stretching the DSE Deep Tubs another 11/2 inches while slightly narrowing the rear suspension to make room for the insanely wide rubber. A slightly more traditional tire size of 265/30-R19 settles in up front.
Beyond the stock ’69 console and shifter, a fully custom Boesch interior features a plethora of one-off goodies and fancy gadgets that will send most any Camaro purist into a four-letter frenzy. Tracy at The Recovery Room incorporated the copper Italian leather and suede covering throughout, including the Cadillac Catera seats. Dale used 18-gauge steel to form the dash in which custom pods house the Classic Instruments gauges. A Vintage Air A/C unit controls the climate and airflow through the Boesch custom-made vents. A hybrid of sorts, Dale combined parts from an 18-inch ’68 Camaro steering wheel with an aftermarket wood version and had Tracy wrap it in leather. A Sony Marine head unit and strategically placed speakers offer up the tunes, but Dave favors the orchestrated sound of the V-8 at high rpm.
Known for whittling some of the coolest billet bits, Clayton Machine Works pedals liven up the otherwise less-than-exciting driver-side floor section.
The seemingly infinite customization continues on the exterior where Dale sprayed the body with eye-catching DuPont Hot Hues Copper Sunset Pearl then added Eggshell stripes cleared over with DuPont Gold Mist. It’s an unlikely combination that sets the car off in its own humble direction, yet not too far off the beaten path of hot rod magnetism.
Focusing on the hood, Dale rounded the front corners then fabbed in custom vents with molding and formed the underside to accept the air intakes. Moving south to the grille, Dale hand-formed stainless steel mesh and aluminum bar stock then called upon the talents of Kirk Bowman to polish the ensemble. Headlights are custom halogen with small signal bulbs installed in the back lens. Check out the custom-built front valance with center air intake, trans cooler, foglamps, and brake ducts. Dale sucked in the front fenders nearly 2 inches for better flow into the valance and bumper.
The obvious modifications reside in the hand-formed rear valance including the flush-fit license plate and exhaust cutouts. Directly below, the center section was sliced and filled with stainless wire mesh and chrome runners to conceal the 21-gallon Rock Valley stainless fuel tank. On the less obvious side, the stock spoiler was widened 4 inches, moved rearward 11/2 inches, and down 11/2 inches to conceal the trunk lid and rear body panel gap. Reminiscent of the early days of “frenching,” Dale tucked the Fesler chrome taillight bezels in 1 inch.
Possessing an extensive dose of custom ingredients, it’s virtually impossible to list every modification and detail of this immaculate 21/2-year build in a relatively short magazine article, so for now we can only suggest you soak up the amazing images captured by photographer Josh Mishler while appreciating the fabrication talents of Dale Boesch, Jim Gronenthal, and the crew at Boesch Auto Body.
There’s no telling if this is the car that will put the small town of Humphrey, Nebraska, on the map as a hotbed of custom automobilia, but there’s no doubt local farmer, Dave Mausbach, owns and drives one of the sweetest Camaros in the country.