Hugger Orange
Black
396 V8
4 Speed Manual

There's definitely a hierarchy among 1969 Camaros. At the top, of course, are the COPOs, including the mighty all-aluminum ZL-1, which is perhaps the most desirable muscle car of all time. But just below that is the almost-as-rare L89 SS396, which features aluminum heads atop an identically rated 375 horsepower L78 big block. Like the beautiful COPO tributes we've featured recently, this beautifully restored L89 tribute is so well detailed that it scored first place in the”Original Class” at the 2010 Motorama.

Treated to a cost-no-object rotisserie restoration, this 1969 Camaro is an original Hugger Orange SS396. New quarters were installed during the restoration, and the workmanship is first rate - you won't be able to find the repairs and panel gaps are exact. Every square inch of sheet metal was massaged to better-than-new condition, and hundreds of hours were spent getting every surface right. Two-stage urethane exactly duplicates the original Hugger Orange, but with a depth and clarity that the original single-stage enamel just can't match. There are guys who long for the original look, but park this one next to an original car, even a perfect one, and the difference is stunning. Correct black “hockey stick” stripes were painted on and are not decals, adding to this car's movie star appeal.

I'm personally a fan of the no-frills look of the exposed headlights and V-shaped grille, all of which are in excellent condition. Out back, a ducktail spoiler and blacked-out valence panel are proper SS396 equipment, along with the subtle chin spoiler and cowl induction hood. All new badges were used, from the SS emblems front and back, to the “396” callouts and Camaro script on the front fenders. Stainless was all polished and straightened to show levels, and subtle items like the bright wheel arch moldings and quarter panel gill trim add a little flash. All the glass is new, too, and has that perfect Soft-Ray tint that looks so right on cars of this vintage. And, of course, all the weather stripping is new, so this coupe seals up tight and feels solid running down the road.

This car probably started life as an L34 or L35 SS396, because, as our sharp-eyed readers will note, it is equipped with power steering, which was not available on the solid lifter L78 or L89 engines. No matter, because driving a manual steering big block Camaro is a workout and a half, and you'll appreciate it every time you take it out on the road. Built to L78 specifications, including the four-bolt mains, forged rotating assembly, and a correctly date-coded 1969 block (number 3955272; stamped T1011JH, which decodes as a 396/375 HP 4-speed), it is ready to rumble. Topping it off is a set of ultra-rare aluminum L89 heads, which were simply lightweight replicas of the high-performance rectangular port iron heads found on the L78. The carburetor is a correct Holley R4346 four-barrel with vacuum secondaries on a 163 intake manifold, and the cowl induction setup is correct and functional. Detailing is exact, from the hoses and clamps to the plating on the power brake booster, and you'll want to pop that hood and show off those raw aluminum heads every chance you get. The finishing touch is a Delco battery topper that gives a pretty good impersonation of an original battery without the staggering reproduction battery cost of replacement.

The transmission is an equally correct and accurately detailed Muncie 4-speed manual feeding a beautifully detailed 12-bolt with 3.73 gears and a Posi limited slip. Every single component on the chassis has either been powdercoated or plated to match original specs, and any original component that wasn't up to snuff was replaced. Even things like the inner fenders were powdercoated satin black to match the original finish. The floors are new and are the perfect canvas for this highly accurate undercarriage. Correct decals and markings abound, from the tags on the springs telling assembly line workers which ones to use with the 50-pound lighter L89, to the stripes painted on the driveshaft. The only noteworthy deviation from stock is a ceramic-coated dual exhaust system that features great-sounding Flowmasters instead of the original transverse muffler system. And you know we're fans of the industrial look of painted steel wheels with “dog dish” hubcaps wearing original style F70-14 Goodyear Polyglas tires.

The standard black vinyl interior was restored just as accurately as the rest of the car, and is a fabulous place to sit and stir the gears. Every single component is new, from the headliner to the carpets and everything in between the door panels. If you can touch it, it's new. The gauges have been rebuilt and are crystal clear and bright behind polished lenses. And in case you were thinking this car wasn't hardcore enough for you, please take note that this is an original radio delete piece, with the block-off plate still intact. The four auxiliary gauges on the wood grained console are some of my favorite Camaro details, and they, like the main gauges in the dash, have been refurbished to new condition. The trunk has been painted with factory-style spatter-finish paint, and features a correct trunk mat and matching spare tire with jack assembly.

Documentation includes an original owner's manual.

If you're shopping around for something a little bit different that isn't another COPO tribute, this L89 should do the trick. Every bit as potent as a COPO (and considerably lighter, too), it is still a predator on the road. Beautifully detailed and restored to better-than-new condition in every way, this Hugger Orange SS is capable of winning awards at the highest levels, as it has already demonstrated. There's nothing like the snarl of a solid lifter big block, and once you pop the hood and show off those aluminum heads, you should brace yourself for the barrage of questions that will follow. This is a very unusual, very unique, and very desirable Camaro for not a lot of money. Call now!

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