Since I moved from Texas to California a couple years ago, my 1969 Camaro convertible has been sitting in our shop in Texas collecting dust and losing parts to Dad’s 1968 Z/28 Camaro. But that’s all changed, because Mom and Dad brought the car with them when they came to California for Christmas. Now the Camaro is tucked away, safe and sound, in my garage, waiting for its turn to get some needed parts and repairs. It doesn’t need a lot, and the plan is to be cruising it this Spring, even though I have multiple other projects on the “needs work” list.
What the car does need is headers, exhaust, ignition, a transmission, a line-lock, and a brake upgrade since the stock drums won’t be good in Los Angeles traffic. I think I can handle all those things by Spring. I know, I know, that’s what we all say. So here’s the plan. The car currently has 4.56 gears, which sounds stupid on the street, but this was my street racer back in the day, and I like gear. It had a ‘glide with a 5,500 stall converter, but those are now in my ’72 Nova race car so I’m going to pull an M21 I’ve got off the shelf and install it. An MSD distributor and ignition are on the list, and I’ll have to scrounge up a set of headers. Everything on the engine is iron, and I’m okay with that. It helped win me a lot of street races back in the day. I’m talking stock heads, iron intake, and a Q-Jet. It used to be a Stock Eliminator car, after all. There are multiple things I would like to do to it, including fix some rust that is starting to pop up around the rear wheel wells, but some things are going to have to wait.
The Camaro was built in Norwood, Ohio, and spent most all of its life as a racecar. According to the original gauges, it had less than 20,000 miles on it when it became a drag car. In 1978 my dad and uncle bought the car from Jay and Pam Sanders in Indiana. It had been an NHRA National Stock Eliminator Champion car, and a NHRA National Record Holder. It was also just plain ugly. No really, it was a bad dark green that screamed 1970s. Yuck. Dad and Uncle Butch campaigned the car for years with a 255hp 350, TH350, and 12 bolt, running mid 12s in H and I Stock. When I was 13 it became mine, after being completely disassembled for a rebuild, and took several years to put back together. Other than the Duntov 30/30 camshaft, it’s engine is still the same Stock Eliminator legal setup we had for years. It has no “real” horsepower, but gear and converter were its friend.
There is no doubt that the Camaro is shinier than any car I own, and it’s not perfect, but this car is “the one”. It will never get away. I would sleep in it rather than sell it. I would kill someone for running into it, and it will always be the most fun to drive.
The photos are what it looked like before rolling it off the trailer and into the garage at Christmas. Stay tuned for more of the car’s history, cool historical photos, and updates, as we get closer to driving it again.
The front is a little high without the missing transmission, alternator, etc.
The front tires are too short. They came off a friends project, and are wider than anything I’ve ever ran on the car.
It’s not an SS or an RS, just a plain ’69 convertible. I like it that way.
The only deviation from Stock Eliminator legality is the Duntov 30/30 camshaft inside the 350. It probably makes no power, but it sounds like a million bucks.