Those of us involved in the addictive vocation of hot rodding all share one common goal: to drive something that’s unique; to build something that no one else has, and then take it out on the road and embarrass all the cookie-cutter-mobiles while vying for the attention and respect of our peers. When building old musclecars, it’s difficult to always create something new and exciting. It’s easy to just add the standard high-performance fare and claim you’ve built something no one else has. Going the extra step and adding a few small custom touches that you created yourself—that’s what hot rodding is all about.

In 1989, Mark Bird from Performance Technology Unlimited of Huntington Beach, California, bought this ’69 Camaro off a storage lot and began a restoration/customization project six years in the making. The car came equipped with a cheap blue paint job and a torn and cracked black vinyl roof. It was, however, complete in all respects and even had the original center console with all the factory gauges that are still in use today.

The Camaro’s body was pretty straight but needed one rear quarter-panel replacement, so Mark drove it to the body shop for repairs—where it sat untouched for the next four years. Mark finally started designing and building the car, and the finished product you see here took two years to complete. The Camaro is powered by a healthy 355ci, a 4-bolt main small-block containing 10.0:1 forged TRW pistons swinging on a factory crank, and stock rods. A Comp Cams 270HR hydraulic roller bumpstick opens the stainless 1.94 intake and 1.60 exhaust valves used in a set of ported and polished Chevy iron heads. Comp Cams roller rockers and a full complement of Comp springs, locks, retainers, and pushrods transfer cam motion to the valves. The 355 is topped off with an Edelbrock Performer intake and a custom-built Stage II Q-jet from The Carb Shop.

This Camaro was built to be driven, so The Toy Shop installed a 700R4 automatic using an 1,800-rpm stall lockup converter and a B&M trans-pak with custom valvebody modifications. Power runs to a 12-bolt posi with cruise-friendly 3.55:1 gears and a C-clip eliminator kit from Performance Technology Unlimited.

Mark knew what stance he wanted the Camaro to have and achieved it with Global West front springs and Cure-Ride shocks on all corners. The back half is supported by Vette Brakes Products fiberglass mono-leaf springs, who also supplied the front and rear sway bars. The original steering box was swapped out for a Lee Manufacturing blueprinted WS6 12.0:1 ratio box for quicker, more responsive turns. Other handling improvements come courtesy of Energy Suspension urethane bushings and Toyo 225/50ZR-16 front and 255/50ZR-16 rear Proxes tires mounted on Boyds 16-inch wheels. Stopping is just as important as going fast and turning, so Mark complemented the factory front disc brake setup with a rear disc system off an ’89 Corvette. The unibody was stiffened with chrome-plated subframe connectors.

Interior comfort is paramount when cruising, so Mark added several creature comforts to make life a little easier behind the wheel. Power windows, eight-way power-adjustable seats, and power door locks were added along with factory A/C, a 140-mph speedo, and an 8,000-rpm tach. A custom-designed Alpine stereo system provides the thumps for entertainment on the long haul.

Mark crafted a set of third-generation Camaro side mirrors onto the doors to smooth the exterior and give the car a subtly unique look. Other exterior touches include a hand-made Z/+ grille and fender emblems, and the fully functional cowl-induction hoodscoop.The personal touches may be small, but they’re what set this ride apart from the rest.