Having the desire to build the car of your dreams, then suddenly having to compromise could make the average car enthusiast a little crazy, somewhat pissed off, and in some cases downright ornery.
Charles Dunn, a retired police officer from Washington, D.C., didn't feel any of those frustrations. Well, maybe initially. But he soon got over it. Officer Dunn kept a little stash of extra greenbacks in hopes of one day owning a fully restored 1955 Chevy. But in early 1994 his oldest daughter informed him she had plans of marriage. Well, this changed everything. The money Charles had been putting away for his '55 would now have to go towards another cause-a wedding. All of a sudden those mental images of him and his wife cruising down Main Street in a beautifully restored '55 Chevy were exchanged for pictures on the mantelpiece of his daughter's wedding reception.
Charles still had his mind set on owning some "vintage muscle" at some point in the near future. He caught wind of a young man who was parting ways with a less-than-pristine 1969 Camaro for $3,000. Charles figured this might be his last opportunity to own a classic car. So he bought the Camaro for the seller's asking price and the remainder of his overtime savings paid for the wedding. No ill feelings though. He now has two wonderful grandchildren to share a ride in the restored vintage Camaro. In fact, the two youngsters have appropriately named the beautiful first-gen "Pop-Pop's Toy."
Pop-Pop's, err ... Charles' musclecar project was far short of an overnight garage-build. This little pony car took 12 years to get to its current state of existence. He liked to go fast, so he called on Leroy Dewy and Paul Barham for their extensive knowledge of the small-block Chevy. Charles wanted his "little toy" to have some giddy-up so they took the 350ci engine and bored it 4.185 and .060 over then stroked it 3.75 inches. The balanced and blueprinted mill was then coupled with World Products' Sportsman II Iron heads. Keith Black pistons happily oblige the Scat 400 crank and feel right at home in the 11:1 compression range. Roy Chambers ground out a custom BL-4 solid lifter cam (258/262 at.050 with a 535-inch lift) to give the car a nice lofty idle and plenty of bump when called upon.
An Edelbrock Victor Jr. summons the fuel from a Holley 830 carburetor and the remaining fumes exit through a set of jet hot-coated Hooker Super Comp 1-7/8-inch headers and Flowmaster mufflers. A custom 3,500 stall converter accompanies a GM Turbo 400 transmission, which sets the hefty 12-bolt cogs in motion-4:11s to be exact.
Charles kept the suspension in its stock formation, with the exception of adjustable shocks. The Nexen rubber (235/60/R-17 front, and 245/60/R-18 rear) wraps nicely around a set of Coys Wheels on all four corners.
Freddy King took on the project's interior stitching, including a custom console, door panels and seat covers-all done in blue-and-white soft touch. The beautifully color-matched exterior was smoothed and sprayed by Rob King and Joe Hayes of Hot Rods East in Forestville, Maryland.
Although the car hasn't been dyno-tested as of this writing, Charles estimates the car to come in with 510 peak horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 550 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Suffice it to say there's plenty of juice to keep the grandkids firmly planted in the back seat during acceleration.
Even though Charles' original plan was to build a 1955 Chevy, all the new relationships and camaraderie that accompanied the first-gen Camaro build far surpassed his wildest expectations. He's got new friends, joined the Tail Lights car club, and he's got one of the coolest 1969 Camaros in all of Maryland. Just ask his grandkids.