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1979 Chevrolet Camaro - Nuclear Arsenal

Doug Noce and his wife bought their ’79 new off the lot and instead of getting a new model decided theirs just needed some freshening

Patrick Hill Nov 14, 2011
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Doug Noce grew up worshipping stuff that went zoom in a different way. With his father working at NACA/NASA during the Space Race, instead of toy cars he had airplanes and rockets, with youthful hero worship for men like Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and the rest of the Mercury 7 crew. The sounds of jet turbines and not open headers stoked his imagination, at least until 2007.


Setting the way back machine for the midst of the Carter Era, we find a young Doug Noce, recently graduated from Virginia Tech and married, looking for a new car after some prodding from his wife. Specifically, she wanted a yellow Camaro. Luckily, Casey Chevrolet in Newport News, Virginia, had two Code 51Bright Yellow Camaros sitting on the lot. One was 350 equipped with black interior, the other 305 with tan upholstery.

Tired of roasting his cheeks on scorching hot black vinyl, the tan interior car ended up going home as the Noce’s new car. This was September 1, 1979. (Author’s note: To make our veteran readers cringe, this was a scant four months after yours truly was born. Yikes!). For the next 28 years, the Camaro would be Doug’s daily driver, racking up 265,000 miles and the 2-bbl 305 with its 145 ponies never missing a beat.

By 2005, Doug had been inspired by an article in our sister magazine Car Craft, where a similar ’79 Camaro had been freshened up with LS power and a host of other goodies. Two years later, with enough cash saved and help from his good friend Doug Carter, Doug (Noce) pulled the car into the garage and began tearing it apart for a refit. This was June of 2007.


Two years later, after blowing the roof off his build budget twice, the ’79 was ready for its return to the street. The smog-era 305 was yanked, and a GM Performance Parts Ramjet 350 dropped between the front framerails. With more than double the 305’s horsepower and torque, it definitely added some extra kick to the F-body.

The original TH350 trans was retired too with an ATI built 700-R4 taking its place along with a Denny’s Driveshaft custom 3.5-inch aluminum driveshaft. The original 8.5-inch 10-bolt was also freshened up with Moser internals, a Tru-Trac posi unit, and 3.73 gears, all put together by Doug Carter.

For the suspension, Global West tubular A-arms were bolted to the stock spindles, and QA1 adjustable coilover shocks were tasked with cushioning the ride. A 1-5/16 diameter Global West sway bar helps keep things steady, and Stainless Steel Brakes 11.25-inch rotors and aluminum calipers provide extra stopping power.

In the rear, Global West leaf springs and KYB shocks keep the 10-bolt under control, along with a Global West one-inch sway bar and SSBC discs replacing the factory drums. Other details of the build include solid aluminum body mounts, Global West subframe connectors, and for added detail the original front subframe was blasted clean then powdercoated for extra durability.


Inside, Bill and John Mongesku at Tim’s Custom Upholstery handled modernizing the Disco-era interior. The beige trimmings were replaced with gray vinyl and carpet. The factory door panels were recovered to match, along with the factory front buckets and rear seats. To spruce up his readouts, Doug went with a Covan’s Classic Dash panel insert stuffed with Auto Meter carbon-fiber gauges. A B&M shifter tells the 700-R4 what to do, and a Momo “tuner” steering wheel sends inputs to the front wheels. Corbeau three-point harnesses keep the front passengers secure, and a Kenwood Excelon head unit blasts songs through JL Audio speakers to drown out the Ramjet 350’s bark.

Outside, the car was resprayed by Matt Schon in the original code 51 Bright Yellow hue, and Matt finished it off by airbrushing on the car’s new graphics.


Ironically, it was September 1, 2009, when Doug was able to drive the car in its new form for the first time. Thirty years to the day from when he first drove the Camaro off the Casey Chevrolet lot. Along the way he made lots of friends, those mentioned earlier, along with Craig Jones and Buddy Watley who donated their time and advice to the rebuild, and Doug’s daughter Ashley, who encouraged him to start the project and see it through to the end.



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