There's no such thing as a 1969 Camaro that isn't cool, but what do you get when you create a black over red coupe with an L89 spec big block, a 5-speed, and incredible detailing? Something like this gorgeous SS 396 hardtop that's full of cool tricks and subtle upgrades that make it an exceptional car to show and drive.
Ill spare you the trim tag decode, because all it'll tell you is that this was original a green on green coupe with a V8. The past is over, and what this car represents today is the real story. And painting it black with a red interior? Brilliant! There's no better combination on an early Camaro, and it has been finished well enough that you'll have a hard time staying home, you'll definitely want to show it off. The bodywork is well done, and if you look at the photos, you can see how crisp the details are and how well the panels are aligned, not to mention how much time surely went into buffing the finish to make it so mirror-smooth. It isn't until you see a really well-executed black Camaro that you notice that crisp dividing line that runs the length of the body, neatly clipping the tops of the wheel openings. I also like that this one sports the stock hood with its simulated velocity stacks, which is a way-cool detail that the cowl induction guys are totally missing out on. I don't know about you, but hearing a solid-lifter big block that looks like this in the lane next to me would make me very, very nervous.
Ill also give the builder some extra points for not going with the ubiquitous RS conversion and leaving the standard grille in place another clue that performance, not simply style, was his first priority. Chrome bumpers fore and aft look like reproduction pieces that add just the right amount of flash to the black bodywork, and correct "SS" and "396" emblems have been added where they belong. Chrome gill inserts bring out this unique detail that can still be found on the 2011 Camaro, and all the stainless around the windows and wheel arches has been straightened and polished until it shone like chrome.
Since the goal wasn't to restore the car to original condition, they were free to go all-out in the engine bay. Pop the hood and you'll find a built 396 that has been fully detailed to original specs. Look closer and yes, those are indeed a set of L89 aluminum heads atop the big block, which shave precious pounds from the front end. While the L89 was still rated at 375 horsepower (the heads were essentially aluminum versions of the iron castings), the lighter weight makes a notable difference in handling and aluminums better heat-transfer properties allows a little more timing and compression if a smart builder puts it all together. They also got all the details correct, from the chrome valve covers and air cleaner with correct decals, to the reproduction hoses with tower clamps, to the reproduction Delco battery. Noteworthy upgrades include power steering (which wasn't available on the solid-lifter cars), a massive aluminum radiator, and a pair of powerful electric fans to keep it ice cold under the most demanding conditions. It cackles and snorts at idle, which is threatening all by itself, and pulls like a freight train on the open road; you'll probably find yourself doing a lot of shifting just to listen to it burble on the overrun and snap through the revs like a racer.
And shifting is made easy thanks to the Tremec 5-speed living behind the big block, one of the sweetest-shifting transmissions ever built. As rugged as the old Muncies, but with tightly spaced ratios and a tall overdrive, it transforms the car from a drag strip brawler to a legitimate long-distance cruiser. In back there's a durable 12-bolt hanging on a set of original style leaf springs. Up front, the stock suspension has been fully rebuilt, and there's not a sign of rust anywhere on the undercarriage. The exhaust system is a step up from the original, but still uses a transverse muffler that gives it an authentic sound without being too loud. And you've undoubtedly noticed that there's a disc brake at all four corners, peeking out from behind those gorgeous 18-inch Torque Thrust replicas. Tires are 225/40/18 front and 235/45/18 rear, which give the car just enough rake to keep the nose down.
The dazzling red interior is an elegant and sporty touch, and has been restored to better-than-new condition throughout. There's no trace of the original green guts inside this F-body, and that means that every single component is brand new. The seats are accurate reproduction covers over the standard Strato buckets, and new door panels were installed to match. The red carpets are the correct pile and weave with matching red rubber floor mats as protection. Both the dash pad and the headliner are also new, although it appears that the original gauges were rebuilt and reinstalled. There's a factory AM radio in the dash, but hanging underneath you'll find a rare accessory 8-track player. Forget consoles, there's nothing cooler than a Hurst shifter just sticking up out of the transmission tunnel, and this one sports a white cue ball knob with the correct 5-speed shift pattern engraved on it. Pop the trunk and you'll find a crisp, clean storage area with a new mat and full-sized spare with a jack assembly.
This is one of those rare Camaros that perfectly blends the best of 1969 and 2011. It's not quite radical enough to even be called a resto-mod, but there are plenty of upgrades that make the most of the vintage performance hardware underneath. Eyes always pop when they see that L89 under the hood, but only you will know how nicely it drives at, say, 80 MPH on the highway. With powerful disc brakes and big modern rubber, it handles far better than a stocker, but if you want to revert to a set of Rallyes, that's an easy choice that would make this car a total sleeper. And you'll never get tired of the compliments you receive on the black over red color combination. As far as 1969 Camaros go, this one is a home-run in every way that matters. Call today!
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