Wednesday, January 6, 2021

69 of 69: Last 1969 Camaro ZL-1 - Sold - Crashed - Restored

 

69 ZL-1 Camaro #69

Although the ad doesn't indicate, this 1-of-69 ZL-1 Camaros is actually #69. The Hugger Orange Camaro rolled off the assembly line in early 1969 and then was shipped off to the Huebner Chevrolet and Oldsmobile Dealership in Carlton, OH. 


1969 Camaro ZL-1 #69 History 

The Camaro was sold by Archie Huebner to an unknown customer. Through the first couple of years, the ZL-1 received custom candy-coated cobb-web stripes by the famous custom vehicle painter "Greg of Akron"

ZL-1 69 Camaro




The Camaro also received a healthy 396 to replace the famous ZL-1 aluminum-block and wider wheel wells for wider rear tires. In the hands of its's first owner, the Camaro turned in a quarter-mile time of 11:29 sec. at Norwalk Raceway in Ohio. 


Norwalk Raceway


 

After a few years, the Camaro was sold to a second owner and then thrid. Eventually, the Camaro would get sold to a fourth owner in '78 with only 11,000 miles on it. He would then sell it to a friend in '81 who ended up wrecking it within a week.    

ZL-1 Wreck in Rear

69 ZL-1 Camaro Wrecked





#69 ZL-1 Camaro Restoration Time 

The Camaro sat for 22 years without no one really knowing what kind of Camaro it was. Then one day someone sent the owner a letter inquiring about the Camaro. So the owner and some friends did some research only to find out they were sitting on a goldmine. 

Camaro info #69 ZL-1

After all the research and the number checking, it was time to start shopping for NOS sheet metal, parts, and everything else that was no longer salvageable on the Camaro.

ZL-1 Camaro Restoration

 

Camaro ZL-1 Sheet metal






69 Camaro ZL-1 Paint

The 396 engine was pulled a long time before the restoration was started, but luckily for the restorers, they found the original 427 aluminum-block that matched the code for the Camaro. 

ZL-1 Aluminum Block




1969 Camaro ZL-1 Fact Sheet

Vin# 9N650977 (#69) 
  • M22 4-Speed HD Close Ration Transmission
  • A01 Soft-Ray Tinted Class
  • D55 Center Console 
  • D80 Air Spoiler Equipment
  • U17 Special Instrumentation
  • U63 AM Pushbutton Radio
  • Z21 Style Trim Group 
  • 5927 72-72 Hugger Orange
  • Sports Car Conversion
  • 9737 Tires (in place of PL5)


1969 ZL-1 Camaro


The Last 1969 ZL-1 Camaro's Resting Place

Unfortunately, I have done some research and found other documented true '69 ZL-1 Camaros, but I have yet to find this one. I've heard rumors and stories, but nothing positive enough for me to put in writing under fact. Maybe it is in a museum somewhere or held down at someone's garage? 

Hopefully, It's Safe! 










Thursday, December 31, 2020

Difference Between the Yenko Camaro and COPO Camaro

 


Most people probably know about how badass the Yenko and the COPO Camaros are, but how many people know where the names come from and what’s the difference between the two. Of course, if you are a diehard Camaro fan with a lot of knowledge of the first generation Camaros, you probably know some or all of the facts, but just in case you don’t, here is a little bit of education.



The Yenko

In 1967, Don Yenko, owner of Don Yenko Chevrolet, contacted General Motors and ordered 54 Camaros straight from the factory with a special mission in mind. That special mission was to convert those Camaros into Yenko drag strip-ready IHRA/NHRA Stock and Super Stock Camaro competitors.


(How many Yenko Camaros were built and sold from 67 through 69 is really unknown. The same goes with COPO Camaros; ask ten different experts and you're likely to get ten different answers).


When these Camaros first showed up at the Yenko Dealership, the first order of business was to take out the existing 396-cu.-in. engines and replace them with 427 big-blocks. Although a lot of numbers swirled around about how much horsepower they produced, it was estimated around 425-450-hp (depending on who you asked). Along the way, Yenko also had all Yenko labeled Camaros beefed up with other goodies like traction-bars and 3:73-positraction rear-ends. 


There was only one problem with Team Yenko’s plan to turn the Camaros into drag strip-ready Camaros, they were not allowed to race in the IHRA/NHRA Stock or Super Stock classes. These classes were strictly for cars that had no engine changes or any other big mechanical changes after they left the factory. They were not banned from all drag racing, just the Stock and Super Stock classes that the Yenko Team was aiming for, so eventually the Yenko program was canned. 


A lot of people think that the reason Yenko stopped the program was because of the inability to race in their intended classes. That was part of the reason, but most of the reasons were because Yenko was losing money on the pulled 396 motors and rear-ends they could not seem to get rid of and the program was losing even more money since GM would no longer warranty the Camaros if they were modified after they left the factory. That either fell in the hands of the owner or Yenko himself.



 

69 COPO Camaro   

It’s true, the name strikes fear in the hearts of racers who dare to pull up next to one in the staging lanes. They dominated the Stock and Super Stock classes for a long time.


COPO stands for (Central Office Production Order) and this program was invented specifically to put competitive Camaros in those Stock and Super Stock classes. If you ordered a Camaro from the central office, the build sheet would go to the factory, and when the Camaro rolled off the factory line complete, whatever you asked to be installed would be installed and considered stock. With that being said, there was nothing IHRA or NHRA could do about excluding the cars from racing in stock classes.


Ultimately, it was Fred Gibb and Don Yenko that pushed Chevrolet into making this program happen. Chevy saw the need for competitive Camaros in these classes for the use of sponsorship and of course bragging rights. They were Camaros, they were stock, and they were Mustang and Mopar eaters for a long time at the track. The 427 big-blocks made 425-hp and 460-lb.-ft. of torque, they took home a lot of trophies.  

Last Note 

A lot of people believe the COPO division was designed for the 69 ZL1-Camaro and then squashed, and then brought back in 2013 for the Camaro again. But the General Motors COPO Division has been around since GM made fleet vehicles e.i. cop cars, taxis, tow trucks, etc. All vehicles that are ordered specially from a corporation, charity, a government, or something like that are considered specialty made vehicles or COPO vehicles. (It wasn’t just a program made up for one of the baddest Camaros ever produced, the Camaros just stole the spotlight). 


  


 


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Brand New Trans Am "Smokey and The Bandit" Car

New Tran Am Smokey and The Bandit Special Edition


Update 12/2020

"Smokey and The Bandit" Trans Am


Well, as everyone excepted, the "Smokey and The Bandit" Trans Am was going to sell out fast, and that's exactly what it did. But with the Pandemic and the holidays on the horizon, keeping your eyes open for one on sale is a good idea.  In fact, this December, I've come across a couple of them for sale. I can't say rather or not they're priced to move, but they are for sale and they're collector items.  

There are some imposters out there, so to be on the safe side, take the VIN# down and call transamdepo.com to make sure that it is an official (1-of-77 Trans Am Smokey and The Bandit Special Edition cars). There is a big difference, one that could leave you on the losing side of a car transaction.


Update 2018


 


Trans Am Worldwide is announcing that they will be producing 77 Trans Am Bandit Sports Cars signed and certified by the man himself, Burt Reynolds. The reason for the off-beat number being built of 77 represents the year the movie "Smokey and the Bandit" came out in theaters (1977), and it represents the year Trans Am that was used for the movie. 

With 800+ horsepower, these Trans Ams are sure to be a little bit more fun to drive than the ones that were raced around in the movies. Probably more expensive and harder to get your hands on as well, but if you do, this would definitely be a collector car.


6/7/13



New Trans Am

 
Trans Am-Firebird

There is a lot of talk about if GM will ever come back with a Trans Am or a Firebird, but that is just what it is, talk. If GM does decide to bring it back, there would be a lot of car enthusiasts very happy with their decision. If they are planning on making this type of move, they are defiantly keeping a very tight lip on what they're going to do and when.



There is one fact that has been made very clear by GM. If they do bring back the Trans Am and Firebird, they will not be bringing back the Pontiac brand. All production would be under the authority of GM and the Pontiac name would not even be used for the Trans Am campaign. One last thing that is pretty well-known about the situation is that they would probably be produced in the same factories as the Camaros and would be sold at Chevrolet dealerships where Camaros are sold. 



Build Your Own Trans Am/Firebird


If you're someone who does not want to wait for GM's decision and you must have one no matter what, there are alternatives. Companies like Trans Am Worldwide build authentic-awesome-looking prototypes of Trans Ams, Firebirds, Hurst, and Firehawks that can be customized personally and purchased by private owners.



The process is really cool! Brand new Camaros are purchased, then ground effects, bumpers, spoilers, customer interiors, and whatever else that needs to be replaced are replaced with prototype parts for the unique styling that replicates what a new Trans Am would probably look like if GM was to start making them again. The nice thing about these projects is that they're made from new Camaros, which should be enough to ensure that these Trans Ams are built American Motor tough.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Rarest of Rarest Corvettes: Own One Without Paying A Million Dollars

 1960s Corvette Grand Sport


Some of the rarest sports cars of all time are a group of five early '60s Corvette Grand Sports built with the sole purpose of running in the GT classes at the Sebring 12 Hours and the 24-hour LaMans races. The Godfather of Corvettes, Zora Arkus-Duntov, led the crusade of light-weight race-ready roadsters that were designed to compete with the dominant Ford GTs and the rest of the field's competitors.


Duntov had planned on building 1,000 of these Corvettes, but only five Corvette Grand Sports were originally built at this time in the ‘60s. Two of the Corvettes [#001 and #002] were put to the side and three others were sent to John Mecom of Houston, TX, who eventually sent them off to three other prominent individuals in the racing industry.


Purchasing One Of These Rare Beauties

So let's say you were not lucky enough to be one of those people who received one of those five Corvettes, but now you would like to see if you can purchase one today. Well, although these Corvettes are not relevant in the 24-hour LaMans and other races anymore, fat chance of getting your hands on one for under five million dollars. A few years back, the #002 Corvette Grand Sport found its way to an auction block, and although the high-bid was $4.9 million, it was still not enough to take the blue beautiful race car home.


If you're like most car guys, you probably don't have $4.9 million sitting around for a sports car that you wouldn't even want to drive that much anyway. But getting something similar and in many cases, much more modern and driveable with an affordable price tag is definitely feasible. 


Superformance, a car-building company in Southern California pushed to get granted the licensing to build replicas of Zora Duntov’s famed Corvette Grand Sport making it possible to own one, well at least a replica of one.


Superformance was even granted original build sheets for the #002 Grand Sport Corvette. They claim that if you wanted a replica almost identical to the original, they could build you one that only experts could tell it’s not an original #002 Grand Sport. But if you are like a lot of people, you may be just looking for the look of the legendary Corvette and the performance and comforts of a newer vehicle, and that's fine too, Superformance can build something like that as well. 


1960s Corvette Grand Sport RoadsterCustomize Your Own Corvette Grand Sport

Superformance will work you up a vintage Corvette Grand Sport of your liking. Features like power steering, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows, A/C, and fully independent front and rear suspension with Bilstein suspension components can be optioned up for your Vette. There are roadster versions available, but they will look and drive more like the race Corvettes of the past, and many features and options of the coupe will be limited. But as far as power plants go, Superformance offers a variety of engines including an LS9 supercharged monster that can really make the coupe and the roadsters fun to drive.


There are actually seven engines in all to choose from. All engines come with a 2/year 50,000-mile warranty that can be serviced at your local authorized dealer. The greatest thing about the Superformance Corvette Grand Sport replica is the price tag. Depending on your options and how customized you want it, your price tag will still be just a fraction of the price you would have to pay for the real thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

1970 Buick GS Stage 2 - The Myth And The Truth

1970 Buick GS Stage 21970 Buick GSX Stage 2

1970 Buick GS Stage 2 - The Myth And The Truth


The 1970 Buick GS Stage 2 was going to be produced as a predecessor to the Buick GS Stage 1. The GS Stage 1 was already one of the most faired muscle cars in the industry and Buick was ready to double up on that fair by creating something bigger and meaner. 


Two lucky GS Stage 1 Buicks got the honor of becoming a true Buick Stage 2 prototype. One was a white GSX bought by Reynolds Buick in California, where “Pappy” Kennedy and Jim Bell (Kenne-Bell) tweaked and tested the car and all its after-market parts, and the other was a red 4-speed GS sent to races Doug Jones and Dave Benisek. 


Both teams of qualified high-performance Buick engineers/technicians went to work adding the performance upgrades like improved forged TRW pistons, redesigned heads, a valvetrain capable of 7000 rpm, and much more. The whole idea of the Buick Stage 2 prototype was to eventually turn the project into a production off-the-line streetable drag car that could compete in Super Stock classes at the drag strip. 

The Myth About The Stage 2

People who don’t know that much about the Buick muscle car era believe that the Buick Stage 2 was a production car. That idea is usually put in people’s heads because at car shows and race events, especially Buick events, people often have their GS Stage 1 Buicks labeled with GS Stage 2 badges.  


The Truth About The Stage 2

The truth is the badges are very easy to find and are inexpensive. This is not saying that the parts that replicate the GS Stage 2 Buick 455 cu-in motor aren’t under the hood, but the only originally GS Stage 2 Buicks that exist are the ones that were sent out by Buick to Reynolds Buick and races Doug Jones and Dave Benisek.


Although, with all the hopes and intent in the world of putting this monstrous Buick into production and on the track, Buick was forced to stop the program as stricter pending emissions standards were going to go into effect for sure and the Stage 2 upgrades and horsepower tweaks were never going to pass. 


The other reason why the program was going to be let go was that this was not going to be a Central Office Production Ordered Buick like the COPO Camaro, and street safety was becoming an issue. Government organizations like the Department of Transportation were none-to-trilled about the ability to title these drag strip ready vehicles. 


Buying Parts To Turn Your Stage 1 Into A Stage 2   

Buick didn’t let the roadblocks get in the way of giving their raced-crazed consumers what they wanted. You could buy a GS Stage 1 Buick and easily purchase all the Stage 2 parts you needed at any Buick dealer around. So although a lot of those Stage 2 Buicks you see out there are for the most part going to be colognes, that doesn’t mean they still can’t pack the punch of the original two Stage 2 Buicks that ran the quarter-mile at a consistent and respectable 10.7s. 


Sunday, December 6, 2020

1959 Corvette: Unbeatable Purple People Eater MKIII

  


Oddly enough, this Corvette was named after the very odd song - "One Eye, One Horn, Flying Purple People Eater”, a Sheb Wooley hit back in the 50s. 


There were two reasons for the paint job and the name for this 1959 Corvette. The idea for the paint job was because the Corvette racing team was having trouble finding their car in the pits and on the track - all the cars looked too similar to one another. Kind of like finding your car in a mall parking lot on the weekend the week before Christmas.


So a standout color scheme was born. The color scheme that was created was a metallic purple for the base color and bright white for the trim and decals. Next, they needed a name for the Corvette, so they decided on the "Purple People Eater". It was kind of a no brainer since the song itself was topping the charts in 1958-59 and the Purple People Eater Corvette was eating up all the competition on the track every single weekend.

Nickey Chevrolet In Chicago 

Back in the 50s, a lot of racing teams were owned by dealerships and this Corvette team was no different. Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago was the owner of this team and at the time, the largest factory dealership, specializing in high-performance muscle car sales and service. Their parts department functioned as a huge speed shop. 


When it came time for the Nickey Chevrolet Race Team to hire a driver and a mechanic, Nickey Chevrolet took some help and advice from none other than the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Corvette engineer and designer that made Corvette what it is today. Zora suggested they use an aggressive driver named Jim Jeffords and a talented mechanic who was known as the guy who could turn a “Javelin into a competitive race car." Ronnie Kaplan. 


The “Purple People Eater” Corvette Eating Up The Competition

The Purple People Eater Corvettes (yes, there were three altogether) raced during the ‘58 and ‘59 seasons. During that time they won the SCCA National B-Production titles and a race at Nassau Speed Week. During the 1959 season, the cars never finished worse than second place in any race, always making the Purple People Eater the car to beat at the track.


Ordering Your Own Corvette With Race Specs

If you ordered a factory Corvette with race specs in the late 1950s, you received a Corvette with heater delete, and a heavy-duty brake and suspension package. 



The Corvette came with a 283 Chevrolet V-8 with factory Rochester fuel injection and a four-speed manual transmission, the same way the Purple People Eater was raced. In an interview, Kaplan said "GM helped with some technical advice, and I got that fuel injection figured out pretty quick. It was very reliable. I told Jim to keep that engine about 6,000 rpm, and it never broke. He is a very big, strong man and was tough on equipment. I swear he could break off a shifter."  


Where Did The Purple People Eater End Up?


The last one known to exist is the “Purple People Eater MKIII”. It was sold for $800 to a Chip Miller and Ken Heckert, who raced the 1959 Corvette for a short time at Autocross events. Not knowing its future historical significance, it was parked and used as a workbench for a very long time.


After 14 years of being a garage workbench, the sharp eye of car expert/enthusiast Mike Philsbury notices that there were a few things different about some of the parts and options on the car. After some deep research, Mike, Chip, and Ken confirmed that they were eating their lunch every day on the 1959 Corvette “Purple People Eater MKIII”. 


The American Heritage Award In 2002

Knowing what they knew, Chip and Ken went to work and restored the Corvette back to its racing form - color and all. 


In 2002, the Corvette was awarded the American Heritage Award. Thanks to two guys who just wanted a Corvette to go autocross racing in, and a car enthusiast named Mike Philsbury, the 1959 Corvette “Purple People Eater MKIII” lives on.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

1956 Corvette "The Real McCoy" That Saved the Corvette Brand

1956 Corvette "The Real McCoy


Just about anybody in the world who knows just a little bit about cars knows that the Corvette was the first American sports car and is now the most popular, fastest, and most recognizable American sports car to date. But what a lot of people may not know is that this was not always true. In fact, by the year 1955, the Corvette almost saw extinction.


Rumors about the move to drop the Corvette flooded out of Chevrolet's top offices with very sad sales numbers to back-up what only seemed to be a good idea. Their competition, the two-seater Ford Thunderbird sold an astonishing 16,000 units in 1955 while the Corvette only sold a depressing 700 units.


Unfortunately for Ford, the same car that was taking so many sales away from the Corvette would be the inspiration for keeping the car in the product lineup. The idea behind keeping the Corvette and spending more money on a car that was obviously tanking was brought on by a few Chevrolet big wigs including former Corvette chief engineer Dave McLellan. He released a statement concurring that if the Ford Thunderbird was doing so well that there is obviously a market for a two-seater sports car, and with a solid change for the better and the right amount of marketing the Corvette should be able to become a moneymaker.


In an ironic twist, the very car that Corvette planned to piggyback off of, the Ford Thunderbird, had already made future plans to market the car differently by doing away with the two-seater style and making it a four-seater touring car thus leaving the American sports car market wide open.


Chevy Corvette 265 cu.-in. V8


"The Real McCoy" 
As wide open as the market was, the Corvette needed some changes for success, ideally in the form of performance and with a new body style. When Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Dutov came in, he decided that one thing the Corvette needed to bring to the table to get the public's attention was documented power achievements, but to get that first they had to design a chassis that could handle future horsepower upgrades.


With a '55 chassis, Chevrolet engineers went to work. First, they ditched the boring and heavy two-speed power-glide transmission and replaced it with an up-graded four-speed. They also took the original 265 cu.-in. motor and bored it out to a 307 that sported dual Cater carbs and a now-famous "Dutov high-performance cam." 


Many other upgrades were also included. Very rare Halibrand magnesium knock-off wheels, special heavy-duty brakes with cooling scoops, heavy-duty shocks and sway bars, an upgraded high capacity fuel tank, and more were all newly implicated to help achieve what would become some of Chevrolet's most important upgrades for the ‘56 Corvette.


After all of those upgrades, top-engineers slapped a new SR Prototype body on what was now known as project Corvette #6901. The engineers called it "The Real McCoy" and decided it was ready to head to the racetrack.

Dayton Speedway Record
The first stop was at Dayton Speed Week for a two-way flying speed mile. This is where the Corvette would make its first milestone. At the time the record for the Corvettes class was 127mph. With Dutov as the driver, the 255hp Corvette sped to an average speed of 150.58mph to crush the record. This was an extremely sufficient record because it occurred just weeks before the New York Motorama where the Corvette would be on display to many potential buyers, most of which had already heard the news of the record-breaking performance.

12 Hour Sebring Race
A few months later in March, the ground-breaking Corvette made its way to the famous 12 Hour Sebring Race. This was a race that was only made for the toughest of the toughest - the fastest of the fastest. Only cars like Jaguars, Bentleys, and Aston Martins graced the racetracks for these events. But wanting to prove that the Corvette has changed and deserved respect as a truly powerful sports car, Chevrolet did not shy away.


Race drivers John Fitch and Walter Hansgen were brought on board to take on the challenging race. When the green flag dropped the race was on. But early on in the race, the Corvette experienced mechanical problems, so much so they did not think that it would finish. But in the end, not only did it finish, the Corvette finished first in its respected class and 9th over-all. This was an incredible accomplishment especially considering 60 cars entered the event, but only 24 would cross the finish line.


This was another huge milestone and Chevrolet exploited it in printing ads praising the Corvette: "A Tough, Road-Gripping Torpedo On Wheels" and "The Most Remarkable Car Made In America Today." 


Those ads were to send a message: Corvette had finally arrived as a force in the international sportscar racing circuits, and Corvette proudly called this particular Vette "The Real McCoy."

Between all of its accomplishments and Chevrolet's ad campaigns, the '56 Corvette sold 3,467 units and in '57 they nearly doubled that with 6,339 sold. One of the main reasons why the Corvette saw such selling success was because if it were to compete in its respected class at the Sebring 12 race, every part that was changed or modified had to be documented and later made available to the public. This made potential buyers very excited about the fact they could buy a Corvette and beef it up to run and look just like the “The Real McCoy”  


In any event, if it was not for the #6901 '56 PJ Prototype "Real McCoy" Corvette, and possibly the success of the Thunderbird, Chevrolet may have never gone forward with the Corvette and the automobile industry would definitely not be the same today.