Joe Carnes of Newport News, Virginia, grew up loving cars. Hanging out in his uncle's garage, Joe learned how to wrench on cars and, like many other red-blooded young men, developed an affinity for Chevrolets, particularly first-generation Camaros. Years went by, and Joe finally got to make his dreams come true. When he originally purchased his '69 RS, it was a matching-numbers 350ci small-block car with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. It was nice, but not the muscled monster Joe had dreamed of.
When you're a kid, you tend to think big, so Joe tossed out the stock 350ci small-block and replaced it with a gnarly 509ci Merlin III big-block crate engine. The best part about crate engines is that they come fully assembled, so all you need to do is plug 'em in, tune 'em up, and go! The transmission and rearend were also upgraded to hold up to the first-gen's increased torque and horsepower. After the rumble was right, the candy apple paint job was laid and sprayed. New brakes, wiring, A/C, and a sound system make the dream complete for Joe. He loves to go cruising with his wife, Teresa, and kids, Casey, Joe Jr., and Angel. Car shows and clubs are all part of the fun, but Joe also likes to help out local charities when he can. Just driving the car seems like charitable work to us, considering all the little gearheads he must inspire with his blazing red big-block burnout machine! Joe's '69 Camaro definitely knows how to leave a lasting impression.
It was originally equipped with a numbers-matching 350, butI love big-block motors, and this Camaro needed to have one. -joe carnes
The Merlin III 509ci big-block built by Bill Mitchell puts out a whopping 580 hp! With 10.5:1 compression and aluminum heads, running on pump gas is still a reality. Spark makes its way through the MSD 6AL ignition setup and exhaust rumbles through the 171/48-inch Super Comp Hooker headers and Flowmaster 311/42-inch pipes. Joe shifts through a 700-R4 tranny, and the factory GM 12-bolt was replaced with a Moser 12-bolt posi with 3.73:1 gears.