1969 Chevy Camaro SS - Red Eye
Tony Whatley's X55 350 SS: Boxed & Ready To Rock!
From the February, 2009 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Ro McGonegal
Photography by Henry De Los Santos
Did Tony Whatley do the unthinkable? Did he wipe out a (barely living) piece of musclecar history? Nah, he just did what's right. He did what some owners of difficult-to-find and even more difficult-to-pay-for original examples are doing: putting the valuable (though useless) original stuff carefully aside and replacing it with modern renditions that cost less than OE replacement parts and are thoroughly engineered for business in the 21st century.
To wit: "I purchased this Camaro after selling my 10-second daily-driven '98 F-body. That car gave me an awesome introduction to LS1 performance, but I wanted something that would attract more attention to go along with the performance of the Gen-III engine.
"I bought the car sight unseen via the Internet and flew from Houston to Kentucky to pick it up. My fiance and I drove the car home, about 1,000 miles. That ride convinced me that the old cars could really benefit from late-model technology. The lack of power and fuel economy, poor chassis rigidity, horrible brakes, rattles, and leaks-all of it needed attention. The project had to remain a street-driven car, handle and brake like a late-model performance car, and run as good as it looks. I was tired of all the 'slow touring' examples out there with lowered suspensions, big wheels, and lame 13-second track times. Taking what I had learned about building 10-second Fourth-Gen cars, I knew exactly what to shoot for."
During the year that Tony gathered the bones for his new project, the Camaro went untouched. Finally, he did it the old-fashioned way, without a lift, lying on his back, getting claustrophobic, banging his head on its belly as he tore it down to the shell in his townhome one-car garage. Sound familiar? He farmed out the body restoration and paint to Herman's Classic Cars and got busy with the LS1 engine and drivetrain.
Tony's combo isn't radical at all, but it cranks out 500 hp on the Dyno-Jet. The Magnuson blower install is based on the new GTO system, but has an F-body belt-drive offset and is hooked to an internal air/water intercooler. He made a big, fat intake tube to feed the blower directly and routed the sucking end outside the engine compartment to pick up cooler air. With the standard 2.9-inch-diameter pulley, the puffer churns out a modest 8.5 psi of positive manifold pressure.
"Being the drag racer that I am, I couldn't resist the track. With a simple wheel and tire swap, it has gone 10.78 at 127, pulling the wheels on most of the launches. Roasting the radials, it still went 11.20. Everyone is in shock when I pop the hood on the LS1. But they are probably more in shock when I jump in the car and drive it home after knocking off those 10-second passes."
Tony flails his red demon about 50 miles every week and has put more than 5K on the clock so far, most of it on the Hot Rod Power Tour. It gets big smiles. It gets ogled. It gets driven. It gets 23 mpg on the road.
'69 Camaro 350 SS
|Transmission: ||Tremec T56, steel Viper shift fork, carbon-fiber synchros, billet slider keys, Pro-5.0 billet shifter |
|Clutch: ||Ram billet flywheel, Ram 900-series single clutch disc |
|Driveshaft: ||Custom, heavy-wall, 3-inch diameter |
|Rear axle: ||'69 GM 12-bolt, Eaton differential, 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion, Moser axles |
|Type: ||'02 Gen-III LS6 |
|Block: ||Cast aluminum, 3.89-inch bore, cross-bolt main bearing caps, 348ci |
|Oiling: ||Stock 6-quart cast aluminum oil pan, stock oil pump |
|Crankshaft ||Stock, nodular iron, journals polished, 3.62-inch stroke |
|Connecting Rods: ||Lunati billet |
|Pistons: ||Wiseco forged, flat-top, 9.5:1 compression ratio |
|Cylinder Heads: ||Stage 2R aluminum (LQ4 castings) ported, polished, fitted with custom valvesprings, 2.05/1.60-inch intake and exhaust valves by Motorsports Technologies, Inc. (Houston, TX) |
|Camshaft: ||COMP Cams hydraulic roller, 0.591-inch lift, 230/230-deg duration at 0.050-inch, 114-degreelobe separation angle |
|Valve Train: ||Aluminum sheetmetal rocker covers, stock rocker arms, timing gear; MTI chrome-moly pushrods |
|Induction: ||MagnaCharger supercharger system, 2.90-inch drive pulley (8.5psi boost), internal air-to-water intercooler, custom 3.75-inch blower intake tube w/K&N filter; sumped stock fuel tank, Aeromotive pump, filters |
|Ignition: ||Stock, coil packs mounted at rear of cylinder heads |
|Exhaust: ||Stainless Works long-tube headers, 1.75-inch primary pipes x 3-inch collectors, 304 stainless 3-inch exhaust system, X-pipe, turbo-style mufflers |
|Cooling: ||Stock |
|Machine Work: ||Short-block spec'd and assembled by MTI, balanced rotating assembly |
|Engine built by: ||MTI |
|Electronics: ||'98 Camaro ECU with MTI custom tuning, Painless wiring harness |
|Output (at wheels): ||505 hp/501 lb-ft w/93-octane |
|Front Suspension: ||Acid-dipped subframe, K-member modified to accept Brewer's Restoration & Performance '02 Camaro power rack-and-pinion steering assembly as installed by JBZ Racecars (Tomball, TX), stock spindles, Global West control arms, QA1 12-way adjustable coilover shock absorbers, anti-sway bar |
|Rear: ||Suspension: solid-axle, QA1 12-way adjustable shock absorbers, Global West leaf springs, CalTracs traction bars |
|Brakes: ||Stainless Steel Brakes 13-inch Tri-Power, front; SSB 12-inch, rear |
|WHEELS & TIRES |
|Wheels: ||Intro GT Sport, 17x8, 17x10 |
|Tires: ||Nitto 555 245/45, Nitto 555R2 275/40 |
|BODY & PAINT |
|Body: ||Global West aluminum subframe and body bushings, Global West tubular weld-in subframe connectors, new trunk and floor pans |
|Paint: ||'95 Chrysler Flame Red, Year One restoration and trim pieces, body prep and paint by Herman's Classic Cars (London, KY) |
|Interior: ||'02 Camaro front seats w/power assist, Year One houndstooth upholstery front and rear, Covan's carbon-fiber gauge panel with Stewart-Warner gauges, Alpine in-dash CD/mp3 player, Alpine speakers, NHRA-legal six-point chrome-moly rollbar (JBZ Racecars), G-Force five-way cam-lock harnesses |