How far would you go to obtain the car you've always wanted? Jim Ayach, owner of this sleek yellow and white Camaro, knew exactly what he wanted-a '69 SS Camaro-and he knew just how to get it. Jim and his wife Sandra decided to sell their built '59 Cadillac Coupe Deville and liquidate some of their other assets and holdings. Once that was done, the hunt for their dream F-body began.
According to Jim, his search took him to various states, but many of the cars he saw had too much rust. Then he came across this '69 convertible. Those liquid assets came in handy when negotiating the purchase price of the Camaro. That cash also came in handy with the build up. Jim had a highbrow vision for this car that meant no corner-cutting. Only the best parts would find their way onto his road handler.
By trade, Jim is an auto mechanic who owns his own shop in the Los Angeles area. When he wasn't working on customers' cars, the Camaro was usually on the rack, and for the next 14 months, Jim could be found spinning wrenches on his coveted ride. While his mantra was to cut no corners (except on local canyon roads), keeping the Chevy all-Chevy was another goal. That's why you'll find the original numbers-matching 396 under the hood. In addition, a genuine 12-bolt spins the tires.
The block was taken and bored .030-over, filled with Probe pistons and crank, and then topped with Edelbrock Performer PRM cylinder heads. Compression sits at a healthy 10:1 ratio. The valvetrain consists entirely of Comp Cams roller products; the camshaft numbers are as follows: .520-inch intake lift with 280-degree duration/.520 exhaust with a duration of 290 degrees. Pulling in the air and fuel is done with a set of two 600cfm Edelbrock carburetors sitting atop an Edelbrock Performer intake.
If you happen to notice, the Zoops serpentine system has been painted the same color as the valve covers, which are the same as the car. The rebuilt Rat is running an estimated 500 hp and 550 lb-ft. In other words, it's a perfect street plant. And that's exactly what the intended purpose of this car is. It is not a garage or trailer queen. Don't believe us? Take a look at the scrape marks on the oil and transmission pans.
When we shot this '69 on the mountain roads of Southern California, the engine and suspension combination worked like magic. I know-I followed behind Jim in my '88 IROC up the winding roads, and that '69 just ran away from me. Underneath the Camaro are Heidt's two-inch dropped spindles with QA-1 adjustable coilover shocks, the rear suspension set-up uses a TCI four-link with QA-1 adjustable shocks and Hotchkis sway bars. A quick ratio steering box from CPP handles the front tires, and the brake pedal is attached to 13-inch Wilwood rotors and calipers.
The unique thing about this particular F-body, though, is the appearance. We've all seen Camaros with flames on them, but not many have ghost flames coming off the bottom and across the hood. Combine that with a slick customized interior, and its hard not to miss this first-gen even from a mile away.
The only work that was not performed in Jim's shop was the interior and paint and body. Peter from Jack's Auto Body handled much of the metal work and paint gun duties. From the black leather dash to the yellow and white leather seats, the custom grille and custom taillights. When stopped at any intersection in this California canyon carver, Jim and Sandra are greeted by a slew of thumbs up, or cell phones snapping pictures.