Every now and again, I get the opportunity to run across a car that defies what a traditional muscle car should look like. What I mean is; one that does not look like it just left the showroom in 1969 or 1970-something and had a set of aftermarket wheels added to it. These one-off masterpieces are the true definition of modified, and they generally polarize bystanders — they either like it, or they really do not. Take for instance Mark Sagrantz’s ’69 Camaro. You will be hard-pressed to find any part of this car that hasn’t been massaged or tweaked to some extent. “My original intention was to build a typical hot rod,” says Mark. “Somewhere during the beginning stages of the build, my desired and proposed outcome changed, and I started building a full-blown custom hot rod.”
The Project Begins
Mark initially told me that he was turned on to this car when a friend informed him about it. “I have pretty much been a Camaro addict all my life, and the ’69 Camaro is my favorite,” he says. “A friend of mine told me about it, and when I first saw it, it was sitting in a small garage. It definitely needed work, but luckily, I felt it was in decent shape.” However, “decent shape” can mean different things to different people. I say that, because, Mark also says that it would be easier to tell me what metal wasn’t replaced on the car — the inner structure, roof, and firewall. “Every part on this car has been replaced with new or custom-made parts,” Mark affirms. “I did a lot of the work myself, and creating the reverse-opening hood concept was one of the hardest aspects to complete.”
When the new panels were installed and massaged, and the hood was functioning as desired, Joe Gehron of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, then mixed-up a custom shade of blue that defies traditional. “I’m not a painter, so I did have to get help with the paint and bodywork,” Mark states.
As eye-catching as the exterior is, the interior simply blows away the term conventional. One of the first things that caught my eye was the custom dash. No, wait. It was the door panels. No, wait a minute, it was the console… In a true departure from traditional, Mark worked with Marquez Designs to create the custom dash and door panels molded from fiberglass. While occupants are firmly planted in the Recaro seats, Mark is focused on the Dakota Digital gauges to monitor engine vitals. The final touch to this extravagant cockpit is the leather and suede stitched up by Futureline in Exton, Pennsylvania.
Power To Burn
As you can imagine, this is not your typical daily-driven hot rod. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from a serious dose of large-by-huge motivational goodness. For that reason. under the hood resides 598 cubic inches of Scott Shafiroff-built madness. The Dart block is fitted with a Manley crankshaft slinging Manley’s 6.535-inch connecting rods and pistons. The squeeze under the Brodix cylinder heads comes in at 11.0:1. Spinning between the pistons is a COMP Cams hydraulic roller, and perched atop the cylinder heads are a Merlin intake and a 950cfm Quick Fuel carburetor. Controlling gear changes is done manually, via a six-speed Tranzilla gearbox by Rockland Standard Gear. Rounding out the drivetrain is a 9-inch rear filled with Moser Engineering goodness and 4.10 gears. “The engine dynoed at 910 horsepower on pump gas. I run race fuel in it which allows me to bump up the tune which puts it in the high 900s,” Mark says.
As already stated, this is not a daily driver, but the suspension was still something Mark wanted to be of top-notch quality. That’s why the front is supported by a Detroit Speed subframe with Classic Performance Products (CPP) Hydrastop-actuated Baer brakes. The rear rides on Detroit Speed’s Quadralink suspension. If you’re a fan of the rolling stock — and who isn’t — rims are made by Schott Performance Wheels and measure 18×8 and 20×12 respectively. The big rims are wrapped with Nitto 245/40R18 and 315/35R20 tires.
Mark says he planned to hit the show circuit in 2020, but we all know how car shows fared for the year. After that, the plan was to enjoy the car with more driving time. We’re sure his plan will happen, he might just be a year behind.
Mark has proven that he is not one to follow a traditional path, and we’re glad, as his Camaro is a true work of art that can stand out in a sea of early Camaros.