If you asked a group of Chevy fanatics what their ideal cruise would consist of, you would get a multitude of answers. Some would envision a moonlit forest through the mountains, while others would picture a vast desert with nothing in sight but some tumbleweed and sunrise. Whatever you fancy, there's an undeniable feeling when you get a chance to take your machine on the open road with eight cylinders singing that sweet song. If you haven't experienced this feeling, I recommend strapping into a Chevy V-8 to lay down some rubber.
Ned Jackson's cruise is a daily reality of sun, sand, hills, and horsepower. Sun courtesy of the Pacific Ocean backdrop, beach from the warm sands of California, hills of the Great Valley, and all this at the wheel of a Flame Red Pro Touring '69 Camaro. Few things can compare with having the wind in your hair, the cell phone turned off, and the family back at home. Who cares about the 11 mpg you might be gargling, or the minivan sitting in the cloud of dust at the last street light. Was that a cop you just buzzed at 85? It doesn't really matter. He had a "thumbs up" hangin' out the window, so you're in the clear.
Ned's ride is everything a Pro Touring car should be-styling and power from the 1960s, with the comfort and handling of today. For a street machine, there's really no other way, with miles to be covered and tires to ruin. Ned puts more than 1,000 miles on the car per year and has no intention of slowing down. With his wife and two young children, this Camaro is responsible for many family trips to car shows and around town.
A 355ci small-block by Paul Widger of Cylinder Head Dynamics in Tracy, California, provides the soundtrack with Dart Iron Eagle heads, 10:1 pistons, an Edelbrock Air-Gap intake, Holley 750-cfm four-barrel carburetor, and Comp Cams valvetrain. On the "out" side of things is a set of Hooker 1 3/4-inch Super Comp headers with Jet Hot coatings and a full American Thunder exhaust system. All this is backed by a Muncie M20 four-speed because, let's face it, chirpin' gears is fantastic.
Forty years of suspension technology have allowed street machines like this one to retain the stock-style setup, yet add driveability and comfort. Holding the 12-bolt Posi in place are Hotchkis Sport leaf springs, creating a drop of two inches. Matching Hotchkis 2-inch drop springs were installed up front, as well as Global West tubular A-arms and Koni adjustable shocks. Also adding to the rigidity of this hot rod is a six-point rollcage and subframe connectors, compliments of Fuller Fabrication in Lodi, California.
Baer disc brakes were installed on all four corners and are concealed by Bonspeed Delta Wheels (18x8 front; 18x9 rear) and Kumho Escta MX tires (245/40R15 front/275/40R18 back). An aftermarket Grant Corsa GT steering wheel was installed with an AGR quick ratio steering box.
The interior was fully revitalized with custom door panels, rear seats, and carpets, all done by Color Glo Upholstery in Manteca, California. Corbeau CR1 seats up front with Simpson five-point racing harnesses were installed, including a Simpson child seat for Ned's young son. Alpine and JL Audio speaker systems were installed and concealed neatly around the interior.
Looking back, Ned realized that he made some mistakes through the build, but he learned a great deal from the experience. "Despite the setbacks, frustrations, and periods of saying to myself, 'This is supposed to be fun, right?' the car never fails to put a smile on my face every time I fire her up and drive it," he said. He would never trade this car or the experience for anything.
"The car has been a great source of spending time with my wife and young son, too. My wife and I like to joke that the car really belongs to our son, and he just lets us drive it and pay the bills. He gets so excited and his eyes light up when he gets to ride in dad's loud car."