FEATURE: 1200HP 1969 CAMARO SS

– Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: William Stern.

It’s not often we feature cars like this. That’s not to say this Camaro is any less worthy than our usual, in fact the hours put into this one-of-a-kind Camaro would eclipse almost all our other feature cars put together. With Meguiar’s MotorEx just a few days away from Sydney it seems fitting to bring this car into the spotlight. Plucked from 1969 and revamped in a completely modern way, it’s a spectacularly comprehensive build with more attention to detail given than General Motors ever did – and with 1,200 horsepower on tap, no one will ever be left wanting for more.


Chevrolet revealed the name ‘Camaro’ to a fleet of automotive journalists in 1966, telling them that it was “a small viscous animal that eats mustangs.” The whole point of the Camaro was to beat the Ford Mustang at its own game, and it certainly made a commanding impression. Over forty years later, Camaro is still a word that strikes fear into the heart of any blue-blooded Ford fan, and this first-generation masterpiece is one of the world’s most fearsome.

Joe Rabon is the brains behind the construction of the green machine, commissioned by an unnamed client to build the ultimate Camaro. “He wanted luxury and exotic to match what he owns,” explains Joe. A raft of high-end vehicles is what this Camaro has to share a garage with.

Work began on a far different looking chassis. Actually if we’re honest, there wasn’t one. In Joe’s own words, “There was no car when we got it.” Yep, “the whole thing was built completely from parts.”

I can’t begin to imagine how difficult a build like this would be. There are unorthodox methods and then there’s making an entire 1969 Camaro from nothing. Money was no object, and incredible was the only possible outcome. Detroit Speed provided a front subframe with all tubular control arms and the Camaro appeared from there.

Give most people a blank cheque and a blank slate and their mind will go berzerk with possibilities and outrageous ideas that all of a sudden become achievable. It’s an invitation to mess things up, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It takes an astute car builder to make sure things don’t go badly, and Joe’s vision has fulfilled the client’s wishlist to the fullest.

Under the bonnet is a 606ci all-alloy V8 wrecking ball. For those of us more accustomed to metric terminology, that’s a 10-litre V8. When we say it’s capable of 1,200hp, that’s not an exaggeration. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from these photos to understand how physically imposing the motor is, just trust us when we say it’s big.

Sitting on top of the intake manifold is an 8-way direct port nitrous oxide kit. Joe is not mucking around, this is an exercise in the extreme. The rear tyres are 345mm wide, and every last millimetre screams for mercy. Most motors of this size won’t turn particularly hard, but this one is good for 9,000rpm. Of course it has air conditioning and ABS tucked in there as well.

Delivering the level of luxury demanded by the client wasn’t an easy task. There was a fine line to tread between honouring the vintage nature of the original car and introducing modern functionality and comfort. In some ways Joe was fortunate that he had no choice but to start from nothing.

“The interior was built entirely from hand, from scratch,” says Joe. “There was zero in the car, so we built all of it.” “The owner had to be able to leave his other exotic rides and not feel out of place getting into the Camaro. Modern seats from a Pontiac GTO were dropped in, and twenty hides of Mercedes black leather were spread over almost every visible surface.

The TCI logo on the shifter is worn proudly by the Camaro. Claimed to be the world’s first six-speed automatic gearbox capable of holding this sort of power, the ‘box is managed by a CompuShift transmission controller allowing for manual gear selection.

Diamond stitching is the current trend in custom cars and exotics alike, so it’s used fittingly throughout the Camaro. Joe created an overhead console integrating all switches, LED lighting, nitrous gauge and security system with push button start.

Running the length of the car between front and rear seats is a custom centre console with a one-off aluminium armrest serving as a central feature-piece. More Mercedes leather wraps the subtle roll cage.

Custom alloy doorpanels house all types of brushed billet trimmings like the window switches and door handle shown here. It’s as finely kitted out as any elite luxury ride.

Externally the car is exceptionally unique. “The ’69 is a classic and retro, but we wanted to clean it up with all Frenched glass and a refined custom grille,” says Joe. It was essential to retain the car’s original lines while bringing everything into the 21st century.

Blending the rear spoiler, creating a front spoiler from scratch and deleting all chrome trim has created that updated look, a neat blend of past and present wrapped in Dodge Viper Green. Flush fit glass is a beautiful touch.

“Underneath, what you don’t see is way prettier than the exterior,” Joe says. “A lot of cars have nice paint but factory interior, or nice paint but the motor is so-so.” Not here. No stone has been left unturned. Even in-car entertainment is first class after Ultimate Audio decked the whole thing out.

This car exists on a completely different plane to what you and I are ever likely to achieve. In many ways it’s an experiment, a case study into the ‘what ifs’; a breathtaking look at what is possible with a head full of bright ideas and limitless resources to play with.

SPECIFICATIONS

VEHICLE:
– 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

ENGINE:
– 606ci Chevy all-alloy big block V8
– 8-way direct port nitrous kit
– March Performance serpentine belt system
– Custom ceramic-coated exhaust
– Dakota Digital A/C
– Power Brake ABS electric boost system

DRIVELINE:
– TCI 4L80E six-speed automatic
– CompuShift transmission controller

SUSPENSION & BRAKES:
– Detroit Speed front subframe with tubular control arms
– 4-link rear suspension
– Baer brake calipers
– Drilled and slotted rotors

WHEELS & TYRES:
– NC Forged wheels, custom design
– Nitto Invo tyres F: 245/30/20 R: 345/25/20

INTERIOR:
– Mercedes black leather
– Custom door panels
– Keyless ignition system with push-button start
– Custom overhead console
– Aluminium armrest
– LED lighting
– Pontiac GTO seats
– Custom matching rear buckets
– Roll cage wrapped in leather
– Mercedes wool carpeting
– Billet Specialities steering wheel

BODYWORK:
– Dynacorn body
– Window drip rails shaved
– Flush fit front and rear windscreens
– Bumpers narrowed, tucked to body
– Rear fender vents cut out and made functional
– Rear spoiler molded into boot
– Custom front spoiler
– Custom exhaust cut-outs
– LED lighting package
– Dodge Viper Green paint with black stripes
– Billet Specialities door handles, taillights and grille

PERFORMANCE:
1,200hp (est.) @ 9,000rpm

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