Looking at this immaculate specimen of resto-mod Americana, you wouldn't guess that it comes from the mountainous region of Colorado. It looks more "Left Coast." The Midwest is replete with gearheads who have been wrenching, grinding and painting since day one. Case in point: 35-year-old Dave Wynne, owner and builder of this lean, mean tangerine dream. Camaro Dave (as he and his 10-year-old company are known) grew up in Thornton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver known for its mullets and more importantly, its hot rod heritage.
"My dad and my uncles always built hot rods," said Dave, "like '57 Chevys or '32 and '33 Ford coupes with small-block Chevy motors. I learned it all from them."
Dave got his first car when he was 12. It was an Aztec Avenger, a sort of Lamborghini look-alike with a VW motor-i.e. a kit car. "I used to sneak it out and drive it up and down the street," Dave said.
At 19-years-old he picked up his first Camaro, a '67 SS. "I traded a crappy old '42 Ford Jeep with a small-block Chevy for that and that's what started the ball rolling," said Dave. "Then I traded the '67 for a '68 with more power."
Dave started flipping Camaros and honing his manufacturing skills along the way while doing exterior remodeling on houses until about 10-years ago when he started his own company. "That's when it really went crazy," said Dave. For the record, he means no offense to those who might be hospitalized for mental problems. But enough about Dave and his life growing up in Mulletville, let's hear about the build-up.
"I bought the car from a friend in Spring of 2008," said Dave. "I sold it and bought a '68 Z/28. Then the dude I sold these two '69s to traded back both plus cash for the Z/28."
Somebody obviously wanted that Z pretty badly. Dave fixed one of the '69s up and sold that, leaving him with the '69 you see before you. Only, at that point, it was painted primer grey over its original blue. All clear?
Dave's on-site shop is at his home in Brighton, Colorado, a place only slightly more country than Thornton. But once he got the car there, it went straight to paint. Remember, Dave did everything on this car, including fabricating the bumpers with his bare hands and grinding the supercharger gears with his teeth. Actually, the only thing he didn't do was the interior. But, he did finish the trunk on his own.
"I took the body off of the frame then spent three days and three nights dealing with the undercarriage and the rust protection using the angle grinder and a scraper," said Dave. "Then I cut out the inner wheel well and installed the Detroit Speed mini-tubs to allow for the 20x12 Bonspeed Malibu wheels that would go out back. (The 18x8 versions of the same wheel revolve up front.) Other body mods include shaved emblems, a 5-inch steel cowl hood, a '69 Trans Am rear spoiler, billet taillights, front turn signals, and marker lights. The whole thing was slathered in Tangelo Pearl paint
Dave then dismantled the suspension and paint-matched that, the diff, and the motor. "At this point I was trying to blaze through the build-up and I was ready to finish the paint when the heat went out in my shop," said Dave. I ended up trying to paint with a propane heater in the dead of winter."
After suffering through that chilly ordeal, Dave was ready to put in the new motor. While Dave obviously has mad skills when it comes to putting custom Camaros together, this build didn't go off without a hitch.
"It seemed like almost everything on this car fought me," said Dave." Custom adaptive mounts are required for the LS1 and the T56 six-speed. For lack of better words, they were fighting each other.