The cool thing about early Camaros is that you could build them just about any way you wanted. Need a big block with green paint and a bright red interior? GM was only too happy to oblige back in the day, and the result was a wide variety of cool, unusual, and one-off combinations that are a fascinating study for today's automotive scholars. Take this 1969 SS396 coupe, for instance. It's a real X66 big block SS, with a matching-numbers drivetrain, a ton of documentation, and a correct color/trim combination of Hugger Orange with a Parchment vinyl top and an orange houndstooth interior. This is also a late 1969 build car. Unusual? Absolutely, and that's just how we like 'em.
First, some history on this incredible Camaro. The original, Thomas D. DeCampli, purchased this Camaro from Murray Stein Chevy, in Burlington, NJ. Tom owned the car until 2005, when it was purchased as a survivor by a fellow Camaro lover from New Jersey, who decided to give this worthy car a complete, frame up, every nut & bolt restoration to as high of a standard as we've seen.
The original documentation on this Hugger Orange pony car is extensive, including the original window sticker, which lays out that this Camaro was configured as follows:
C08 Parchment vinyl top
D55 Center console
G80 3.07 Positraction rear axle
L35 325 horsepower 396 cubic inch V8
M20 4-speed manual transmission
N40 Power steering
PL4 F70-14 white letter tires
P01 Full wheel covers
Z27 Camaro SS equipment
Z87 Custom interior
The original cowl tag backs up the Window Sticker and decodes as follows:
ST69 1969 model year
12437 Camaro coupe
NOR Norwood assembly plant
117673 Body number
TR 720 Orange Houndstooth interior
PNT 72E Hugger Orange exterior with Parchment vinyl top
09C Third week of September production date
X66 Base car with SS396 (rear fender louvers, black rear panel, black body sill)
Hugger Orange is the ideal 1969 Camaro color. Not only was it popular, but it represented everything the Camaro itself did: youth, performance, and an in-your-face attitude that paid big dividends on the showroom floor. And speaking of showroom floors, this car is showroom fresh in just about any way you'd care to measure. Look at the bodywork and how crisp the body creases are. There are plenty of nice cars out there, but when you park them next to machines like this, you can see the difference instantly. Panel alignment is exact, gaps are exact, and no factory could have ever spared the manpower to build a car this perfect on an assembly line. Cars like this only come from a massive investment of time and skill to get everything just right. Most folks don't even notice, but when they're right, it's a subtle effect that makes a car stand out.
Of course, that brilliant paint job doesn't hurt, either, and the two-stage urethane Hugger Orange is as vibrant as a nuclear explosion. Lots of sanding, both before and after the paint went on, has resulted in a mirror-smooth finish that dazzles on the show field. White hockey sticks are my personal favorite stripe, more subtle than the racing stripes down the middle of the hood, and I'm pleased to see a standard hood instead of an aftermarket cowl induction piece, and no tacked-on ducktail spoiler. Someone definitely cared about keeping this one original, and the National Camaro Association Gold this Camaro won the only time it was shown at the Carlisle All GM Nationals in 2009.
The original L35 396/325 horsepower V8 remains under the hood, fully rebuilt and detailed for show. The L35's claim to fame was smooth torque and its ability to use any factory options, including power steering as on this car. It also idles well and makes enough vacuum to make power brakes a no-brainer, and ultimately this Camaro is as easy to drive as your mother's Oldsmobuick. The 396s get flashy chrome valve covers and air cleaners, and the vivid Chevy Orange paint on the block and heads always looks fantastic in a satin black engine bay. Get closer and note all the correct decals, stencils, and other factory-style markings, ranging from the shift stamps on the firewall to the CW assembly code on the alternator. This is exactly the kind of stuff judges look for at top levels, and most restorers overlook it. RK Motors Charlotte just installed a reproduction Delco battery to give the engine bay a period-perfect look, and even the heater hoses wear correct codes and labels. You'll never hesitate to open the hood with this one.
The chassis is every bit as nice, so get the mirrors out and show this one off. The Muncie M20 4-speed transmission spins a 12-bolt full of 3.07 gears on a limited slip, making this one a fantastic high-speed cruiser with incredible mid-range performance. In fact, everything looks new underneath, and it's likely that this car has not been driven more than a handful of miles since the restoration was completed. Even big items like the lower control arms are pit-free and the decals used on the springs an sway bars are still bright and crisp. A reproduction exhaust system—crimped bends and all—has been installed to give the 396 just the right tone of voice, and spiral shocks make sure it rides like it should. And kudos to the restorer for resisting the urge to throw on a set of Rally wheels, when the standard steel wheels with dog dish hubcaps and F70-14 Goodyear Polyglas bias-ply tires look so right (although admittedly, this car should have the P01 full wheel covers, according to the window sticker).
You've got to give GM credit for putting orange houndstooth inside a Camaro. Sure, the '60s were all about wild colors and textures, but the traditional look of houndstooth combined with bright orange was a gutsy move that paid off big. You can't help but look at this car and be impressed by how well it pulls it off. Perhaps it's the fresh black carpets and dash that add some contrast and pull out the black in the upholstery, or the beautiful styling of the seats themselves, especially with the optional headrests in place, but this is one great-looking interior. Crisply restored gauges have a soft green glow from the instrument lights, the woodgraining on the dash and console looks bright and clear, and the matching woodgrained steering wheel is the perfect upscale touch to hold it all together. In the trunk there's a correct mat, matching spare tire, and a complete jack assembly, all just as nicely restored as the rest of the car.
We also have the original purchase agreement, loan documents, owner's manual, warranty booklet with Protect-O-Plate, original brochure, original registration information, and early receipts. IN addition, it comes with a number of awards, including the American Camaro Association Gold award from 2009. This car is also a member of the Carlisle Elite Club, which is no easy feat in itself.
Investment-grade Camaros don't have to be full of exotic hardware to be cool. This one has an unusual color combination that looks great, as well as a sweet-running big block and a clean bill of health thanks to a recent six-figure restoration. If you're like us, and you appreciate the unusual, or are simply tired of seeing the same orange and black cars at shows over and over, this one will definitely stand out. With a pedigree like this, you can't go wrong with this SS. Call today!
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