Green Energy... Ol' School Style

The first generation Camaro rolled into the Pony Car wars as a 1967 model, placing Chevrolet in the mix with a variety of engine and transmission combinations.  Things started with an in-line six for buyers that were looking for value in a sporty vehicle, as well as several small blocks that included some serious horsepower, and there were big blocks that often seemed overpowering for the rest of the car, quickly finding the weak links in the power train.  Add in styling that was very appealing to the emerging muscle car market, and the basis for Camaro history was born. 

While the ’68-’69 models are very similar other than subtle changes, it was the 1969 model that emerged to truly carry the Camaro banner into the next generation of muscle car enthusiast where it found a loyal following that is still very active today.  Like a lot of high school seniors at the time, John Carnahan would cruise the new car lots as more muscle came from Detroit every fall.  It was on that new car lot that the 1969 Rally Green SS got John’s attention, as did the price.  While a pittance by today’s car standards, the new Camaro was bit much for a graduating senior.  Two years later it is a different story when he found the same 1969 Rally Green Camaro on a used car lot for $2,700.00.  

Over the next 43 years, the Rally Green Camaro has been a part of John’s life, spending some hard time on the Saturday night streets like a muscle car in the early ‘70s might do, and later doing time in the back of the garage when life got in the way.  John never gave up on the Camaro, so years later, when it was time to bring the Camaro back to its former glory, it was a long awaited project.  While the Camaro retains the stock look and functionality, it is hard not to take advantage of modern technology that is being used as more and more restomods are being built.  The car came with power steering, air conditioning, power disc brakes and an automatic transmission.  The body received a fresh coat of factory Rally Green paint applied by Select Motors in Ball, Louisiana, as well as a new white vinyl top to replace the fading factory piece.  One big advantage to keeping the car original for so long, the factory chrome, glass and badges were all in great shape for the update.  

The Camaro keeps the factory brake system, as well as the factory 12-bolt packed with a 3:73 posi rear end that has now been upgraded with a CalTracs System from Calvert Racing Suspensions that improves the factory leaf spring setup.  A new stainless steel fuel tank has also been installed, and the Camaro now rolls on a set of 17-inch American Racing wheels that are wrapped in Nitto rubber.  

Under the hood, the factory 350 cu. in. engine has been refreshed into a balanced 383 with new H-Beam rods, valve relief cut Mable flat top pistons, and one of the Comp Cams Xtreme Energy camshafts that have a nice little idle thump while improving torque and horsepower without sacrificing street time.  Up top, the small block is fed by a Holley 4150 carb that is rated at 750 cfm and mounted to a GM LT1 intake.  To update the ignition system, a MSD distributor, coil, and wires were installed.  The exhaust starts with a set of stainless competition series Hooker headers that flow back to a complete 2.5-inch PYPES stainless steel exhaust system.  Of course it can’t all be just about performance, so to provide some shine when the hood is open, the freshly painted small block sports a set of GM Z28 valve covers and a factory open element style air cleaner for the Holley.  The engine mods give the Camaro a very streetable 425 horsepower that is controlled by the PATC Level “3” Raptor Super Duty 700R4 automatic transmission while using a 3200 Stahl converter with a carbon fiber clutch.  

Without changing the factory style, the interior of the Camaro also gets a refresh of the unique color scheme that is a blend of white and black materials that include seats that are covered with a hounds tooth material.  Staying with the original factory door handles, window cranks, the dash and console is also the factory design.  Another nod to modern technology is the Grant steering wheel and a Retro Sound head unit feeding signals to the 600 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system that includes speakers in the kick panels, rear deck and even in the trunk.

For a car guy, it is that actual first one that we saved to buy and then went on the hunt for that we always remember, regardless if it was a four door sedan or a Pinto.  It was the first and it will always be ‘special’.    They say we can’t go back, and trying to find that first car is no different, even when someone tries to find one ‘just like it’.  It never is.  For John Carnahan, in Port Neches, Texas, every time his bright Rally Green Camaro rolls out of the garage, it is like the first time in 1971 all over again.

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