1969 Chevy Camaro - Pro Street To The Max

Tom Calverley Has Crewed Real Pro Stockers And This '69 Is A Reflection Of His Passion For These Racecars.

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Once upon a time in the early 1970s, there was a class in racing called Pro Stock. Street machiners across the land were smitten with these rides, which were based on actual production automobiles.

It wasn't long after that people were stuffing giant L60x15 tires (on Keystone Klassic or Cragar SS mags) under the back of their hot rods and adding tunnel ram intakes to their engines, just like the real racers. This necessitated cutting a hole in the hood and adding the requisite giant scoop used by your favorite Pro Stock driver.

By the 1980s, Pro Street (as it came to be known)had taken over and guys were tubbing their cars, gutting the interiors and adding blowers, multiple carbs, wild manifolds, you name it. What stuck out of your hood was more important than what was inside the engine. Add to this wild graphics, fluorescent colors, and wheelie bars and you were the man

Few automotive trends have lasted as long as the Pro Street movement. While it has waned in popularity some, replaced in many circles by the Pro Touring/g-machine build, it is still wildly popular in the Chevy world.

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Virginia's Tom Calverley is one of those who remain committed to Pro Street. And why not? In the early 1990s, Tom crewed on Jim Revis' IHRA Pro Stock Olds Cutlass, and later in the decade crewed for John Montecalvo on his IHRA Pro Stock Monte Carlo.

"That's where the inspiration came from," says Calverley, a deputy sheriff in Stafford County, Virginia. "I knew I wanted a big-inch small-block and a Lenco. I knew I wanted removable floor boards, just like a Pro Stock car."

The big decision was whether to do a '69 Camaro or a '69 Chevelle. Chevelles, Tom said, were virtually non-existent and the F-bodies were mostly junk. Ultimately, he found the right car (less engine and trans) in Fort Pierce, Florida. This was circa 2004.

Around the same time the build was commencing, Scott Shafiroff Racing Engines had introduced its 472-inch small-block and Tom knew that was the powerplant for him. His dyno'd at 673 hp at 6,000, though its high compression ratio does require expensive race gas for the 16-gallon fuel cell. Heads are Brodix 227 M2 aluminum and a Comp solid roller (0.630 lift in/ex, 256/266 degree duration cam opens the valves. Fuel comes via a Barry Grant 1090 King Demon carb and Dart Super Mod intake and leaves after combustion through Lemons 2-to-21/8-inch step headers and a Spintech exhaust system. A 2.5 inch Griffin radiator with a pair of 10-inch fans is required to keep things cool.

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A 10.5-inch Ram clutch and alminum flywheel help send the power through the Lenco and back to the 4.30 gears in the Moser Engineering 9-inch.

From a driving standpoint, Tom's favorite part is sitting in the Funny Car-style cage and pulling the levers on the Lenco. Besides that, he's enraptured with its look and stance. He wanted it slammed to the ground stuffed with the biggest tires possible, just like a real Pro Stocker. As he said, you have to get the front-to-rear rake right and Tom did. It was Chris Cheek of Cheek's Performance in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who built the car, and he used Heidt's tubular A-arms (narrowed one inch), QA1 coilovers, and a Flaming River rack up front.

The rear suspension is a Competition Engineering four-link with diagonal bar and chrome-plated wheelie bars (with that company's coilover shocks). Cheek fabbed the 2x2 frame connectors with X-brace and the Lenco slide mount. The factory Chevy front clip was raised even with the side rocker panels for ground clearance and the factory inner fender panels were notched and bubbled up for tire clearance. The rear Mickey Thompsons measure a robust 33x21.5x15 and really fill up the 38-inch tubs

Tom makes himself comfortable in a Jaz fiberglass race seat and a Grant steering wheel gives him something to hold onto when he's not ripping the shift levers. Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges are set in a custom-fabbed aluminum gauge panel.

The exterior color is Pontiac Red Fire Metallic (with three coats of clear) applied by Mike Smith, who did all the bodywork, including the new rear quarters. We tip our collective cap to Mike because the work he did-body, paint, etc.-is flawless.

Tom has put about a thousand miles on the Camaro since its completion, typically never venturing more than 40 miles at a clip thanks to the car's propensity for guzzling race fuel. Sometimes, he'll just take it out for spin because it makes him feel good.

This last reason is, perhaps, the best to own a car like this. They simply make you feel good.

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