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1969 Chevy Camaro Z28 - Making His Bones

When Jim "Bones" Bassett Lit Up The Tires Of His Supercharged '69 Camaro, He Ended Up With A Little More Than He Bargained For With The Local Police.

Isaac Mion Aug 1, 2010

The revs from the 400ci small-block bounced off the limiter as the raucous growl from the 3.5-inch exhaust and Spintech mufflers bounced off the adjacent buildings. The Camaro's enormous rear tires broke loose, and soon thereafter a thick plume of smoke curled up from underneath the chassis.


An exhibition of speed is not something that Super Chevy magazine insists upon when we photograph a car. If the subject at hand is as gorgeous as the one you see before you, with full tubs, 20-inch rear meats, and 660 supercharged rear-wheel horses underhood just waiting to break loose, well then, we might suggest a little smoke show. But what happens after the mechanical violence takes place is beyond our control.

More on our little confrontation with the law later; for now, let's hear how this diabolical collusion of sheetmetal, tubing, gauges and a supercharger the size of a horse's head came to fruition. Jim Bassett is the proprietor of Bones Fab in Camarillo, California. Bassett or "Bones" as he is sometimes referred to, has (like many hot rodders) been around cars most of his life.

"I worked at a speed shop selling parts for 12 years and doing the occasional side job," said Bassett. "I finally had enough of my boss so I quit and opened up my own shop." This was circa 2002. Around that time Bassett, who is tall and lean in stature, wore a skeleton costume to a Halloween party. The name Bones stuck after the debut of that original costume and morphed into his company name, Bones Fab-as in fabricating.

Even before Bones Fab sprung to life, a customer of Bassett's previous place of employment had started the build of this car. While the project started about 10 years ago, Jim acquired it much more recently after the customer moved out of state.

"As with most projects like this, it went a little sideways. It went from a nitrous car to a supercharged car, to a twin-turbo set up," said Jim. "Needless to say, it never got done in any of those combos and sat for quite a while."

The customer wanted something to play with so he went out and got another running '69 Camaro that they built up for him in four months. While the customer was out ripping around in his new ride, he also ended up moving out of the state, at which point the half-finished Camaro and its adjacent pile of parts became a thorn in his side. Well, you know what they say: In Japanese, "crisis" is the same word as "opportunity" and in this case, the customer's crisis became Bassett's.

"He had to get rid of the Pro Street car so we made a deal," said Jim. "From sitting around all those years the paint had suffered some ill effects. But the pile of parts that came with it more than made up for that."

The deal sweeteners included such items as a GM Bow-Tie block with full race-prep and 4.125 bore, 65-pound fuel injectors, Coast Machine heavy duty 1350 driveshaft, Wilwood disc brakes, and a Vortech reverse rotation YS-I blower.

There were even more high-end go fast parts that Jim basically just had to piece together. But before that point, he got the paint sorted out, changing it from red to blue with basically the same graphic display. The stripes are playing loud and clear on this Camaro's body.

Completing the majority of the project ended up being pretty straightforward for a man with Bassett's experience. He did mention that fitting the supercharger presented its problems. "The blower clears the hood by 1/4-inch," he said.

Bassett's skills as a fabricator got put to the test as he had to relocate the master cylinder from the firewall to the floor and fit the alternator and vacuum pump along with that ginormous supercharger. An easy route would be to fit a hood with a big nasty cowl, but that would have been too easy. Instead, Bassett with lots of careful measuring, created all of the bracketry that holds all these performance parts in all these odd places and allows for it all to sit and function under a fairly unnoticeable 2 1/4-inch cowl hood.

The rest of the body retains mostly stock trim to achieve a little bit of subtlety. This is a trait that is quickly negated by the massive Mickey Thompson 20x16 HR1s with the rear fenders stretched over them. The Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR 26x8x18s up front look like bicycle tires as they and the Wilwood 11-inch front brakes with polished calipers struggle to hold down the force generated by the torque being squeezed through the Mike's TH400 tranny.

Topping the 400-inch short-block are Dart Pro-1 215cc heads that were ported and assembled by McKenzie Cylinder heads. A 0.625-inch lift solid roller Comp Cam works the 2.08/1.60 Manley valves. For induction, there's an Edelbrock Super Victor manifold modified to accept fuel injection by Bones, a 90mm Accufab throttle body and Bones Fab custom elbow, and a FAST electronic fuel injection system. An Aeromotive pump, regulator and filter keeps the petrol flowing and an MSD ignition system lights it all off. A four-inch front-mount intercooler ensures the incoming charge from the blower isn't too hot to handle.

We first ran into Bones two years ago at our Super Chevy Show in Fontana, California. We were dazzled by the car's threatening looks and even more impressed when it won the Super Chevy Magazine True Street Challenge, with a three-run average of 11.489. The owner knows there's a lot more in it, but the last time he went to the track he wasn't allowed to run due to what was dubbed an "illegal helmet."

Which brings us to the aforementioned burnout, or burnouts as the case may have been. You see, Bassett did not one but two brake-stands for us that day. It should be mentioned that this was a Saturday in the empty parking lot of a powerplant, as you can see from the background in the pictures. The adjacent office building had three or four cars so we weren't exactly waking up any sleeping babies. Nonetheless someone got annoyed or they just heard us all the way at the police station because about three minutes after the second burnout a county cop rolled up and shut down the shoot.

Or so they thought. As you can see from the pictures, your brave little snapper continued to shoot Bassett as he "took one for the team." The cop called two cars for back up, but ended up being quite cool about the whole thing and giving Jim a slap on the wrist.

But don't take our word for it. Go see this tarmac-chomping muscle car in action at: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=60069404



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