Speed Tech 69 SS396 Camaro - Fathomless Handling F-body

Speed Tech's '69 Camaro SS.

Patrick Hill Apr 4, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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On the outside, the car was reshot in the factory Fathom Green color, including the bumpers. Inside the interior was revamped with a set of Gun Camaro gauges, along with a whole new stock interior that converted the Camaro from all black to dark green carpet with white houndstooth seats and door panels. A Grant steering wheel replaced the factory unit. Rushforth X-Rated wheels with Nitto NT05 rubber give grip all the way around.

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Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course
I liked the handling of this Camaro and it performed very well considering the extra front-end weight of the 396 big-block. The initial offset slalom tour brought a hint of understeer after initial good turn-in, and the car seemed comfortable with the transitions. The crossover and lane changes leading up to the end sweeper were easy to prepare for, but under hard braking, I encountered serious front wheel lock-up. This occurred every time the brakes were applied to slow the car and the only way around it was to either not use them or soft brake very early. As everyone's aware, locking the front wheels results in understeer and this is no fun either on an autocross course or on the street.

For street driving, it's not a huge issue but push will add precious seconds, not just tenths, to an autocross or track lap time. Drivers hate it and try like mad to diagnose the "root" cause for a solution. Whether it's the brake friction material, improper adjustment of the proportioning valve, or the added weight of the 396, we'll never know, but this tiny problem did change how this car had to be driven. I'm positive that the Camaro could have gone much quicker with the problem sorted out.

Hauling butt back towards the finish had the Camaro showing more push on corner entry. I countered this minor delay by trying to take an early apex as late as possible and this appeared to resolve the understeer. Aside from that, the 396 got the Camaro down the course quickly. There was plenty of torque available and the gearing was perfect. I'd like to see a larger diameter steering wheel, as this would offer better steering response but overall, the steering was manageable. Speed Tech is on the right track and with further development, its Camaro should be outstanding. -Mary Pozzi

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Driver's Impression-On the Street
You could paint an oxcart Fathom Green and I'd probably like it. It's a color I'm partial to, having owned a '69 Corvette in that hue. Speedtech's '69 Camaro didn't get extra points for being Fathom Green, but it was just one more thing for me to love about it.

From the test log, we noted this about its suspension: "It takes a set and holds it. Turn in is crisp." We would have loosened the rear shocks for more comfort. The back end felt a tad too stiff for our tastes on the street, especially crossing the railroad tracks on our test route.

We liked the quick, accurate steering, even though it was a little light. Also, it had a tremendous combination of shifter, clutch pedal pressure and action. "The shifter just glides into gear," we wrote in the book. "Nice."

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The only real downer was the brakes. Pedal feel was poor, there was no pedal travel and the car was hard to stop. Not what you'd call a desirable combination in a valuable big-block first-gen Camaro, especially one set up for high-speed handling hijinks. Fix that and we'd drive the Speed Tech Camaro anywhere.-Jim Campisano


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