1969 Yenko Camaro - Marching On

Jim Barber And Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists Resurrect A Muscle Car Icon-And We Test It.

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Sitting in a Hugger Orange big-block Camaro is the kind of experience that causes people to do crazy things. The cackle of the chambered exhaust, the cowl induction hood, the black shift ball-it all works on your emotions. Your brain is telling you its 2008, but the sounds, sights and smells are all screaming "1969."

Overwhelmed by confusion, your right foot decides that not only is it 1969, but since you are 1,000 miles from home traffic laws do not apply. It smashes the accelerator pedal to the firewall and the 427 under the hood melts the tires as you scream away from the intersection.

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As the revs climb and you powershift second, you're pinned to the flat bucket seat. Sure, it's a relic of the old days, but vintage vinyl never felt so good. The Hurst shifter works like magic and the sounds emanating from the barely-muffled exhaust announce for all the world that this is not a Prius coming down the street.

Third gear comes up quickly and reality rears its ugly head in the form of modern-day Florida traffic. You're off the throttle and on the brakes and scanning the rearview mirror for flashing lights. Your pulse is strumming to the beat of a Rat-powered Camaro. You have no choice but to the repeat the process over and over and over again.

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When Don Yenko devised a way to slip a 427 cubic-inch big-block engine between the fenders of a '67 F-body, the venerable Yenko Camaro was born. While the '67 helped start the craze, the one car most everyone thinks about when the words "Yenko Camaro" are uttered is the '69. Yenko worked with Chevrolet to have the L72 installed on the assembly line via a Central Office Production Order (COPO). While the list of modifications is long and distinguished, only 201 are believed to have been built, with 171 coming with the M-21 four-speed, and 30 with the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic.

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With there being such a small number produced, and an even smaller number that have survived 40 years of abuse by both the environment, racers, and enthusiasts alike, Jim Barber thought why not resurrect the legendary icon known as the Yenko Camaro? Enter the first product of the Yenko Camaro Continuation Series, this Hugger Orange '69 Yenko Camaro, badged car 202.

According to Barber, what you see here is not a Yenko clone, but an honest-to-goodness brand new Yenko Camaro. "I have to admit, it gets to me seeing a modified Camaro with stripes being called a Yenko clone," Jim comments. "With this car and this series, we wanted to do something brand new. What you get is a brand new Yenko Camaro just like what you would have gotten from Don back in '69."

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While it took only eight weeks to build the car, it took two and a half years of planning to get the ball on this project rolling. "To do this car, we had to have something happen," Jim explains. "First, we needed GM to produce the 427. We didn't want to go someplace like World or Dart and build one, because we wanted to stay true to the original car and honor Don the right way.

"Once we got the new 427 engine from GM, things started falling into place. Auto Gear Equipment is building the brand new four-speed gearboxes, Moser the 12-bolt rear, and Stewart-Warner the gauges. We wanted everything to be brand new, so at times we had to have parts made. We wanted no shortcuts with this car."

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Having previously done a project with Dynacorn, it was only common sense that Barber, who is the proprietor of Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists (CARS), would tab Dynacorn to supply one of its '69 Camaro bodies to the cause. With this Camaro being the prototype for future customer builds in what Barber coins the 1969 Yenko Camaro Continuation Series, he limited color choice to those that could be had in '69-Daytona Yellow, Hugger Orange, Lemans Blue, Rallye Green, Fathom Green, and Olympic Gold.

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