CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO SEE ALL OF THE STORIES IN THE PROJECT AMERICAN HEROES II BUILD ON THE WEB
Project American Heroes II Unveiling at the Joliet Super Chevy Show
Embedded in hot rod folklore is the ultimate speed shop. It's a place where a slightly less than mechanically inclined visionary brings his car to get "worked on" by car guys with legitimate skill. This "oft dreamed of" shop possesses a strong, state of the art knowledge of the very best parts available, while magically creating a stalwart, old school feel where you pay a reasonable price for excellent work.
Anticipated trips to such a shop help carry an owner through the drudgery of his daily routine as pictures of significant progress and improvements to his ride capture the imagination. Caught up in a high-powered climate of successful enterprise during the workweek, it's the visit to this hot rod shop that makes the 10- or 12-hour days tolerable. Though some might conclude that finding such a shop is beyond the realm of reality, it certainly is no myth. A few of those shops capture that ethos successfully, and Route 66 Motorsports does so more than most.
During the buildup of Project American Heroes 2, our '69 Camaro SS (that now wears an RS grille), it has not escaped notice that the customers of Route 66 Motorsports in New Lenox, Illinois, quickly became friends with owner Bill Jelinek and company, developing a fellowship of enthusiasts passionate about high performance cars. There are guys who come to the shop and literally hang around talking for a couple hours, dreaming about their cars, laughing and joking with Jelinek and his crew. That atmosphere of camaraderie and bench racing makes for the sometimes elusive experience of the buildup of one's machine equaling its subsequent usage. At Route 66, there is no lack for talent, and the cars that roll out of the shop speak for themselves. Concurrently, these are regular car guys building outstanding cars for people who become a part of a family.
The Project American Heroes 2 Camaro was built at Route 66 Motorsports first and foremost to help our military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Foundation is an incredible organization that accomplishes great things for needy families who truly understand the price of war. Assisting those who have sacrificed so much for the safety and security of our borders, and ultimately the world, must never go unnoticed. Patriotism runs rampant among hot rodders, evidenced by the enthusiastic support of the manufacturers who supplied parts for the Camaro. The heroism of our armed forces personnel evokes the strongest sense of gratitude and admiration from the car world, and the boys at Route 66 understand that reality profoundly.
For that reason, this Heroes Red '69 LS7 Camaro is a very special piece. The challenge of making a red '69 Camaro that would be instantly recognizable as a Project American Heroes car was daunting red '69 Camaros seem to have some measure of popularity among Chevy guys. Would this car be a real performance piece, or would it be a poser with nice wheels and paint? Then the parts started rolling in, and we're talkin' serious, high-performance parts.
Every major segment of the build of this car resulted in stepping back and admiring the quality of parts that were going in. The incredibly high-quality sheetmetal that was arriving from Classic Industries was the first indicator. Every body panel, without exception, that arrived from Classic Industries was outstanding, with ingenious packaging to boot. Watching Jelinek and crew perform the metalwork on the California shell was Chicago craftsmanship at its finest. The installation of the Detroit Speed & Engineering subframe and DSE rear four-link with up to the minute Baer brakes made us all realize that this car would in fact be a serious performance ride with outstanding handling and braking characteristics. The entire execution of the build just seemed very, very right.
As the car progressed, this sense of rightness prevailed. The custom Heroes Red color mixed by Jelinek is blinding, but still red, and the stinger hood definitely works on this car. Honestly, my quiet questioning surrounded the flag mural. I love the American flag, and detest those who dishonor it, but let's be honest, flag murals on a car can be, shall we say, borderline dicey. But this Route 66 Motorsports flag mural on the side stripe is nothing short of perfection. Again, rightness triumphed.
But it was when I first heard the motor in this car that I became convinced that this Project American Heroes Camaro was a bonafide, top-tier, street machine. Yes, LS engines are cool, but street versions in our old cars are usually left relatively stock. From this big-block lover's perspective, they often have all the excitement of a Volvo station wagon. Maybe I don't get out enough, but our Turn Key Engine Supply motor is the first LS-series street engine I've heard that sounds nasty. Its raucous and rowdy exhaust note is definitely evidence of something more than stock under that stinger hood. And in case you've just joined us, that Turn Key Engine Supply LS7 427 motor dyno'd at 562 horsepower. That should be enough to exit the Barrett-Jackson auction compound with reliability, authority, and the Vintage Air running. Power like that is very, very right.
Exceeding all expectations, this Project American Heroes Camaro is one that should have a number of your readers heading down to West Palm Beach, Florida, for the Barrett-Jackson in April, 2009. This Chevy has heroism and chutzpah in an awesome wrapper. Like the efforts of our military men and women all over the world, we can proudly say that rightness has won out, and this Camaro is worth owning and enjoying for a very long time.
Let the bidding begin!