ARTICLE: Joe van Zyl
PHOTOS: Creative Rides
The 1969 Chevy Camaro has always held a spot in my heart. The aggressive lines and classic body shape are something that dreams are made of. On a trip to Creative Rides, one of the coolest car showrooms in Joburg, I came across one of the meanest looking 1969 Camaros I had ever seen. After some begging, I was allowed to take this baby for a drive.
Once back at the shop, I asked where the car was from and who had built it but unfortunately there was no information available at that time.
It has taken me over a year but finally I have the story behind this 1969 Chevy Camaro Big Block.
After numerous calls and emails, I managed to track the car back to Ian Viljoen who is based in the Strand, Western Cape. Ian has been building cars for over 20 years and fondly remembers the day that this ’69 Camaro fell into his lap. The car belonged to a friend who was a long-time client. The idea was to build the car for an event call the Cannonball Run. It was also to showcase their fabrication and building skills and quality.
Ian tells us that it was the best Camaro body he had ever started a project with. The body was completely accident and rust-free but it had years of different paint on it. The car was sent to Fineblast, where years of custom paint were removed and the body was taken back to bare metal. It was the first car that they did not have to import any body panels for.
Ian wanted to do something different on to the Camaro, so he extended the metal sills and made some cosmetic changes to the rear end, adding in different vents in front of the rear wheels.
As the car was going to be doing a road trip, Ian decided to give the suspension an upgrade as well. This would be to improve overall handling. Tubular control arms and coil over shocks were installed. The car was destined for a massive power upgrade and therefore, the brakes needed an upgrade as well. Ian opted for a full braking system which was taken from a BMW M5. Four pod calipers on the front and rear.
The 454 V8 Chevy Big Block was bought second hand via Gumtree. The motor was sent to Tygerberg Engine Rebuilders. The motor was stroked from 454 to 502 cubic inches which boosted the horsepower up to just over 500 BHP. An Edelbrock Performance Intake with a 4-barrel Holley carb and a set of Hooker Branches rounded the motor off nicely.
When it came to the interior, Ian imported brand new carpets and door panels from the USA. Other than that, it was kept original. Once again, he searched Gumtree to find some custom wheels and was happy when he found a set size 20 inch running 245/30/20 on the front and 315/30/20 on the back.
Ian remembers that the car was originally painted in a Metallic Blue with matt black stripes. The car was sold to a person in Joburg who later repainted it Gun Metal Grey. The car is pretty much the same as it was when Ian built it a few years ago and after driving it I can tell you that the suspension setup on this car is amazing. Definitely one of the best Camaros I have ever driven. That Big Block just demands attention.