Sometimes, when you want a better mousetrap, it's best to let the factory do it for you. Fortunately, when the factory is General Motors and they're churning out hardware like the Z06 Corvette, you can build one hell of a mousetrap. This 1969 Camaro features three of the most famous numbers in all of automotive history: 427. As in 427 cubic inches, as in LS7 V8, as in 650 dyno-proven horsepower.
Originally built as a ZL1 COPO clone by Pro Touring Super Cars, it has been substantially upgraded over its builder's original vision what better way to pay tribute to the most incredible Camaro in history than with a brand new state-of-the-art all-aluminum 427 cubic inch engine? If you still believe the cars of the 60s were fast, you haven't driven today's latest crop of muscle. Heck, a well-driven Toyota Camry will run neck-and-neck with some of the nastiest hardware from muscles glory years, and even today's V6-powered Camaros and Mustangs will eat their big block elders for lunch. On the other hand, it's awfully easy to fall in love with a 1969 Camaros shape, so the smart thing to do is build a 1969 Camaro that moves like a 2010 Corvette Z06. The body on this killer Camaro was given a rotisserie restoration, top and bottom, inside and out, by the pros at Classic Cars of Mchenry County. You want gorgeous metalwork? You've got it. Paint a mile deep? It's here. Body gaps that would do a Lexus engineer proud? Included. This is a real code 71 Lemans Blue car according to the cowl tag, and has been refinished to an incredibly high standard that makes the paint look iridescent in the sunlight. As is my personal choice, the body guys decided to let the beautifully styled original sheet metal do all the talking, so there are no modifications to any of the panels, no questionable graphics, no outrageous stripes, just clean vintage steel that probably looks even better today than it did 41 years ago. Only the steel cowl induction hood gives it away, but it was a factory option and certainly looks like it belongs there. Like a coiled spring that's ready to explode, this Camaro looks dangerous just sitting still, and woe be unto the fellow who mistakes this for another garden-variety Camaro, albeit a very nice one.
Chrome and trim was also kept to a minimum, and I especially like the standard front-end and grille. No hidden headlights, no extraneous chrome and emblems, not even the polished stainless wheel arch moldings. The bumpers are fresh, door handles are correct and beautiful, and all the lenses are new reproductions. 427 emblems that were probably cribbed from a Corvette have been affixed to the cowl induction hood, the lone tipoff that something special is going on underneath. One cool trick all the lighting on the car is LED, and the headlights have been upgraded to cool HID units that are like flamethrowers on the front of the car.
OK, on to the heart of the matter that all-aluminum LS7 engine under the hood. As the largest small block Chevy ever built, the 427 cubic inch LS7 is a direct descendant of the incredibly successful C5R and C6R racing teams, who campaigned a very similar engine in endurance races all over the world. In the Z06 Corvette, it cranks out 505 horsepower and features a race-ready dry sump oiling system, resulting in perhaps the most potent track weapon to ever come out of Bowling Green (perhaps surpassed only by the mighty supercharged ZR1). Lighter than any cast iron engine that originally lived in a Camaro engine bay; the LS7 is a perfect fit and looks right at home inside this blue pony car. Featuring a custom 4-inch induction system, a custom LS7 camshaft by Speed, Inc., and a set of beautifully fabricated Kooks headers, it belts out an extremely impressive 650 horsepower on the engine dyno. All of the Z06s factory bits are included, from the fuel injection system (upgraded to handle the extra power, of course), to the original dry sump oil tank, to the serpentine belt setup up front. Turn the key and it fires up the first time, every time, just like your daily driver. It idles perfectly, with a decidedly 60s cackle to the exhaust, and accelerates like the hand of God is pushing it along.
Who says you can't have it all? Hell, this one even pulls down decent fuel economy when cruising on the highway in 6th gear. Yes, I said 6th gearing addition to the modern power plant under the hood; it also features a rugged T56 6-speed manual transmission borrowed from a new Pontiac GTO. Fortified with a stock Corvette LS7 clutch, it's easily up to the engines output and feels great banging through the gears. So much smoother than an old Muncie rock-crusher, but every bit as durable. Out back, there's a factory 12-bolt rear packing 3.73 gears and a Positraction unit, making for rocket-sled-like acceleration and very pleasant highway manners when you just feel like sitting back and taking it easy. Other upgrades include upgraded brakes and suspension as well. Originally built as a COPO tribute, it featured factory-correct disc brakes and a heavy-duty suspension, but today it's been taken to the next level. Up front, BMR lower control arms replace the stamped steel originals, as well as a set of QA1 adjustable coil-over shocks for a nastier look and more precise handling. Braking is managed by massive Wilwood Dynalite front discs, which have been cross-drilled and slotted, along with some bright red 4-piston calipers. In back there's a similar oversized setup, which also includes an integrated parking brake. New stainless brake lines and Wilwood braided stainless flex lines were installed, giving this car enough braking power to detach retinas. The finishing touch is a set of gorgeous 18-inch COYS wheels custom cut with the proper back spacing. Tires are 245/45ZR18 front and 275/40ZR18 rear BFGoodrich g-Force KDW radials that perfectly stuff the wheelwells.
Inside, its 100% stock 1969 Camaro, from the code 711 black vinyl buckets to the shifter sticking out of the transmission tunnel as the General intended. Those are original seat covers, but all the hardware has been restored or replaced with exact reproduction items. The carpets and headliner are new, as are the door panels, and the gauges including a cool Stewart Warner greenline tachometer on the steering column have been fully restored. In true factory COPO style, there is no console, no center console gauge package, and few frills outside of an original Camaro radio that has been upgraded to feature an iPod interface. Heck, even the 6-speed shifter feels vintage in the palm of your hand, as does the original, base Camaro steering wheel. In back, the trunk is equally well-finished, with spatter paint and a new trunk mat, although you'll note that the Optima gel cell battery has been relocated to the trunk area for better weight distribution.
A better mousetrap? I'd say absolutely. Who doesn't want a 1969 Camaro that can accelerate, turn, and stop like a new Corvette? All the cool, race-bred features have been retained, and the upgrades that build horsepower have done nothing to compromise drivability and reliability. Get in, turn the key, and you're ready to start running 10-second quarter mile times, then commute to work the next day. I suppose the Pro-Touring movement is about not compromising, and in the case of this car, ID say mission accomplished. There's nothing that's simply adequate everything is exceptionally well done throughout. A high-dollar build that still manages to stay under the radar, this car couldn't be duplicated for the price. If you're interested, call today, because I don't think this one will be around for very long.
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