SILVER LINING

STUART VERNON’S ’69 CAMARO WAS ALREADY A PRO TOURING MASTERPIECE BEFORE A SLIGHT MISHAP INSTIGATED A COMPLETE MAKEOVER

STORY BORIS VISKOVIC

A ROUND 10 years ago, Stuart Vernon made the long trek from Perth, WA to the USA on the hunt for his dream car. Like many before him, that dream consisted of a ’57 Chev, but clearly something went wrong: “I went to the ’States to buy my dream car, a ’57 two-door, then came back with a ’69 Camaro. It was a supposedly a fully restored car, but it basically sat in my backyard while I renovated the house. Then the paint started peeling out of it and lifting, and before I knew it, it needed rear quarters and door skins and became a full resto from that point. It went from being a car that could freshen up and drive straight away to a fiveyear, full restoration. I ended up getting a ’57, it’s in my shed now. With the car looking a bit worse for wear, Stuart decided to get the car blasted at Stripped Bare Diamond Blast: “That’s where I met Greg Hogan [we featured his ’69 Camaro in SM, Dec ’15] and Chris Spaulding and it turned into a mild 350 with an auto. Obviously those plans changed considerably thanks to the influence of Chris, who is renowned on the west coast for turning out a bunch of killer Chevy pro tourers, usually big block-powered and riding on Detroit Speed suspension.

But before any of that fun stuff could happen, Stuart had to get the bodywork squared away and those very dodgy looking quarters replaced. “Travis Arnold put all the rear quarters on, the door skins, the panel in front of the windscreen. The floors were probably the only decent things on it, the bonnet and bootlid were fairly new, says Stuart. Someone in the US had already had a go at repairing the quarters, but it wasn’t the greatest job: “They had cut just below the top of the quarter from the tail-lights to the door and then lapped another guard on top, pop-riveted it and smeared it with bog. There were holes everywhere from where they’d welded rods on to slide hammer the dents out.

WHEELS: The wheels are a carryover from the original build but have been updated, with the centres painted body colour in a satin finish while the rims were finished in Marrakesh Brown from a BMW

INSIDE: The interior features Auto Meter Carbon Fibre gauges, a Momo wheel and clever use of satin finishes on the dash and console for a tasteful look

THE PAINT STARTED PEELING OUT OF IT AND THE BOG STARTED LIFTING, AND BEFORE I KNEW IT, IT NEEDED REAR QUARTERS

Needless to say, the job’s been done properly this time with two new repro quarters going on, but it took 80 hours of work to get them to fit! With the mild 350 and auto idea well and truly out the window by now, Stuart turned to Scott’s Performance Engines to screw together a 468ci big-block based around a brand new Gen VI 454 four-bolt block. There’s a pair of Dart Pro1 alloy heads with 325cc intake runners with a matching Dart intake manifold. Initially there was an 850 Ultra HP Holley feeding the fuel, but Stuart recently upgraded that to a FiTech EFI system that supports up to 600hp and he couldn’t be happier – although after putting it on the dyno he was bit worried about whether that was enough.

“It made 520 at the rears on the Monsta Torque dyno and when I rang FiTech, they said they underestimate the horsepower and it will safely handle 600hp, so it won’t be a problem, Stuart says. “I’ve been around Wanneroo Raceway with it and it hasn’t missed a bit, no flat spots and beautiful acceleration. The other benefit with the EFI over the carby is that it was always difficult to get to the carby due to the custom air intake which was beautifully crafted by Clint DiGiovanni at SRM.

Helping make all that grunt are CP pistons, Scat crank and rods and a hefty hydraulic-roller cam. The full stainless exhaust comprises of two-inch primaries on the headers and a twin three-inch system handled by Dom at Prestige Exhausts. There’s a Magnum T56 six-speed backing it up and that goes back to a FAB9 nine-inch on a Chris Alston g-Link triangulated four-bar. Rounding out the pro touring package are KWC Forged wheels measuring up at 18x8.5 and 18.9.5 and wrapped in Nitto 245/40 and 275/40 rubber respectively. As you’d expect, there are massive brakes on all four corners from Baer, with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front and 13-inch with four-piston calipers on the rear.

With the mechanicals all sorted the car was finished off in a silver metallic, which, after it was all said and done, Stuart found a little bit boring. Heavily influenced by many trips to SEMA – both for inspiration and parts shopping – Stuart followed the trends of the time and added a hockeystick stripe and a shopping list of go-fast stickers down the side of the car. That’s how the car stayed for several years until recently when a minor bingle instigated a fairly major update. “I reversed out the driveway and hit my wife’s Calais and damaged the rear quarter. Oops.

SECOND CHANCE

WHILE it may look like Stuart’s given his car a bit of a respray and tidy-up, a lot more effort went into it than that. The whole car was stripped back to its bare bones, put back on the rotisserie, cleaned up underneath and then reassembled with a lot more attention to detail. Although the major mechanical parts have all stayed the same, the car is completely unrecognisable from its previous guise – number plates excluded.

Stuart has kept the pro touring theme but classed it up a bit, getting rid of the go-fast stickers and bright silver paint for a more subdued gunmetal grey and ghosted factory stripes. With some paint detailing on the wheels to tie in with the body colour and extra detail in the engine bay, the car has come up a treat, and wowed the crowds at the WA Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular, taking home Top Street Machine Overal and a Meguiar's Superstars invitation.

ENGINE: A big-block Chev built by Scott’s Performance Engines has been punched out to 468 cubes and topped with a set of Dart Pro1 heads and intake. There’s a FiTech EFI system on top and all up there’s a morethan-ample 520hp at the treads

Stuart had planned to repaint the car in the original Mercedes Iridium Silver, but after some dramas trying to match up the silver paint he decided to go right away from the previous look and had Meltham Motors repaint the car in Nissan Gun Metallic – a Skyline colour.

For a bit of contrast, Z/28 stripes were ghosted on in a slightly lighter colour. “The whole car got stripped right back to the bare bones again and put on a rotisserie. Basically, it was another full resto again and I tidied up a few things that I wasn’t happy with, just little bits and pieces, says Stuart.

THE CAR HAS GONE AROUND WANNEROO IN 1MIN 10SEC AND RUN A QUARTER-MILE IN 12.4@123MPH WITH WHEELSPIN IN ALL GEARS

INTAKE: That one-off intake was fabricated by Clint DiGiovanni at SRM and is a signature piece of the car. The pipes go out through the inner fenders on each side to pick up clean cool air

ROLLING STOCK: The stance isn’t super low, but it’s spot-on for a regularly driven car. Coilovers, a DSE front end and Chris Alston g-Link triangulated four-bar rear, plus big Baer brakes on all four corners, make sure the car goes around corners and stops on a dime

My wife Rosanne for putting up with the long days and nights in the shed and being a mule for car parts; Owen and Wayne from Meltham Motors; Chris Spaulding at Banjup Customs; Clint DiGiovanni at SRM; Dave at King Auto Electrics; Dom at Prestige Exhaust; Matt Willis; Dean Shultz

STUART TURNED TO SCOTT’ S PERFORMANCE ENGINES TO SCREW TOGETHER A 468CI BIG-BLOCK

The interior remained unchanged as with the Sparco Milano front seats and door trims finished in black leather and suede tied in nicely with the new exterior colour. A Momo wheel sits in front of a Detroit Speed instrument panel filled with Auto Meter Carbon Fibre gauges and the factory console houses the Mal Wood billet shifter and switches for the electric windows – you’ve got to have some creature comforts.

EXTERIOR: Stuart recently gave the car a makeover, replacing the Mercedes Iridium silver paint and race stickers with a high-class carbon metallic paintjob. The wheels got some colour splashed on them too for a totally different look

STUART VERNON 1969 CHEVROLET CAMARO

Paint: Nissan Gun metallic

DONK

Type: 468ci Gen VI bigblock Chev

Inlet: Dart

Injection: FiTech EFI

Heads: Dart Pro1 325cc

Valves: 2.250in (in), 2.300in (ex)

Cam: Hydraulic-roller

Pistons: CP

Crank: Scat

Conrods: Scat

Fuel pump: Aeromotive Stealth

Radiator: Race Radiators custom

Exhaust: Full stainless, 2in primaries, twin 3in exhaust

Ignition: MSD 6AL, Blaster coil, MSD distributor

SHIFT

’Box: Magnum T56 6-speed

Clutch: Textralia

Diff: Chris Alston FAB9, Moser centre and axles, Truetrac, 3.7:1 gears

BENEATH

Front end: Detroit Speed

Shocks: Chris Alston adjustable coil-overs (f), Varishock adjustable coil- overs (r)

Steering: Detroit Speed 12.5:1 ratio

Brakes: Baer six-piston on 14in rotors (f), Baer fourpiston on 13in rotors (r)

ROLLING STOCK

Rims: Showwheels KWC Forged; 18x8.5 (f), 18x9.5 (r)

Rubber: Nitto 245/40R18 (f), 275/40R18 (r)

THANKS

Stuart’s plan was always to create a multi-purpose vehicle, one that’s happy to be in the show or cruise scene, and he’s definitely achieved that. “The car has gone around Wanneroo in 1min 10sec and run a quarter-mile in 12.4@123mph on my street tyres with wheelspin in all gears. It’s more economical and easier to start when it’s cold, you can take off at the lights without having to feather the throttle; it’s much more driveable.

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?