Built For High-Speed Desert Driving: A Cool, Supercharged ’69 Camaro

If you’re a shop owner, it’s always exciting when a client brings plenty of money and few specific demands to the onset of a build. Not only do these appetizing circumstances give access to tip-top parts, but it allows the shop to exercise their own creativity and make something unique. After all, shops like V8 Speed & Resto Shop have seen it all. Here, they were able to craft something both gorgeous and incredibly fast when given free reign and the right kind of budget.


Photos courtesy of V8 Speed & Resto Shop

After a well-heeled client approached V8 Speed & Resto with a partially-finished Camaro, they spent spent the next day inspecting the body and realized it was seriously rusted. Though the previous shop working on the Camaro had installed a Detroit Speed front suspension and subframe, complete with their Quadralink rear suspension, they had mated these components to a rusting frame. Therefore, “after a quick cost-benefit analysis,” V8 Speed & Resto’s Kevin Oeste says, “We realized a new body would be cheaper.”

Saving Time With A New Body

They then purchased a Dynacorn body from Classic Industries. This not only saved them the trouble of cutting rusty portions from the body, but the Dynacorn’s deck lid, doors, and quarters all fit better than most reproduction bodies. Additionally, the taillight openings are much better than most reproduction tail pans—into which they’d add Fesler billet aluminum taillight lenses for a modern touch.


For a little added style, the LS9 engine wears a carbon cover from Classic Industries.

As Oeste notes with a chuckle, “The goal was to make ridiculous power, while keeping it streetable.” Mast Motorsports provided the built LS7, complete with an RHS block and force-fed by an LS9’s supercharger. All of which amounts to 803 reliable horsepower, a broad powerband, and a scintillating climb towards the top of the rev range. With this choice of powerplant, they went ahead and titled the machine “ZR9,” complete with badges in the ZR1 font.


Old meets new.

The owner lives in Dubai, and required the car to function in ambient temperatures up to 130 degrees, so V8 Speed & Resto had to attach a slew of the biggest and best coolers they could find. Trevor Spence, mechanic at V8 Speed & Resto, adds, “The challenges were minimal, thanks to modern technology. For one—the LS runs very cool from the start, so it was a matter of getting the best parts and the biggest possible intercooler.” Additionally, by using TechAFX‘s bottom-feed spoiler, the car funnels air into the coolers, thereby allowing for blasts down stretches of desert highway with the air conditioning at full blast.

Using Modern Technology

To fit the massive 335-section tires needed to put the 800-plus horsepower cleanly to the ground, they employed a set of Detroit Speed wheel tubs. While working away at the tubs, they began the installation of the Quadralink rear, which requires adding the supplied rear crossmember, as shown below. This bracket provides the mounting point for the transverse track bar, which helps locate the rear axle from side-to-side. All of this would complement the beautiful Moser Engineering 9-inch rear axle assembly, complete with 31-spline axles and 3.89:1 gears.


To help transfer all that power to the rearend, they bolted a beefy Quarter Master Optimum dual-disc clutch to the T-56 Magnum transmission, which would necessitate some cutting of the tunnel and floor to fit. Next, the crew fabricated a transmission crossmember with exhaust reliefs to provide as much clearance as possible from underneath the car.

Following that, they notched the Detroit Speed stainless steel fuel tank for clearance of the 3-inch, mandrel-bent Magnaflow exhaust, which flows from a set of Detroit Speed headers and on through a Magnaflow x-pipe. The tank contains dual Camaro SS fuel pumps and a Vaporworx pickup assembly, and would have no difficulty satisfying blown motor’s ravenous thirst.

The choice of footwear would leave most drooling: a set of beautiful Forgeline wheels, wrapped in Nitto NT05 tires; 335/30ZR19s in the rear and 275/35ZR18s in front. Inside those massive Forgelines sit Baer six-pistons ready to bring the Chevy to a stop quickly. For repeatable, dependable deceleration, they went with TechAFX‘s carbon-lined stainless hoses.

Next, the car was stripped and stuck on the rotisserie for detail welding, grinding, and media blasting. The stripped body was cleaned, seam sealed, and then sprayed with a Standox epoxy primer before the bottom side was painted black with Dupont Imron industrial coating and 3M Body Defender. Once back on all four tires, they applied a skim coat of Evercoat Quantum1 body filler to all the panels, and block sanded them to perfection.

Putting On The Gloss

The ZR9 was rolled into the paint booth for several coats of Evercoat Super Build 4:1 sprayable polyester filler. After the crew was satisfied with the straightness of the body, they sprayed the shell with guide coat, and wet-sanded everything smooth with 600 grit in preparation for color. After all numerous prep steps, the body was ready for a coat of Jetstream Blue, as popularized by the C6 ZR1, as well as a pair of black racing stripes.

All the components visible through the grille were blacked out for a stealthy look, and then the guys installed a set of Fesler turn signal lights in the lower valance, along with a pair of slatted Detroit speed RS headlights.

To match that mix of classic cool and modern muscle, they outfitted the interior with a combination of pieces to fit the retro scheme. First, they restitched the leather Recaros with electric blue, and added a set of Simpson harnesses for support and safety. They then skinned the center console with carbon fiber for a some modern style. And while they were at it, they added a set of carbon inserts to the Fesler door panels, and a carbon skin behind the custom Speedhut gauges.

Soon, the ZR9 was delivered to its owner in the middle of the desert, where he would comfortably cruise north of 160 m.p.h. Even with over 3,000 hours spent on this work of art, it’s reassuring to know that it’s regularly driven hard—just as intended.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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