There’s a well-known show on TV these days called American Chopper. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re interested in all things mechanical, so have probably seen it. If not, it’s worth a watch.
Unlike most reality shows, there are no hot chicks; instead it’s about a father and his two sons who spend their lives building some of the most outrageous Choppers you’ll ever see. It’s not the motorbikes that make the show worth watching though, it’s the behind the scenes banter, bickering and pranks that go on between dad and kids that make it a laugh.
Now it’s likely that if there were to be a reality show about the build of this gorgeous 1969 Chev Camaro it would be much the same. Father and son team John and Shane have had a few heated moments over the last 12 months as the car came together, and enough styling disagreements to see John banned (by his wife, no less) from having any input at all into the look of the interior and exterior. And keeping things in theme with the TV show is the fact that John’s the first to admit he does look just a bit similar to American Chopper’s cranky patriarch, mustachioed gearhead Paul Teutul.
The family that plays together stays together though, and for as much grief as Shane may give his old man, the two are a great team, and have pumped out a couple of wicked cars to prove it. You’ll be seeing more on Shane’s Torana in the next issue.
If things had gone as planned (which of course they never do), there wouldn’t have been any styling decisions to be made, as in theory the car should have been in good condition when it arrived. Then again, if John had got his own way, it wouldn’t have even been a Camaro to begin with.
He’d always wanted a ’70 Chevelle — while Shane on the other hand was dead set on a Camaro — so when the hunt started for a car, it didn’t take Shane long to jump on the internet and find a few decent suggestions, none of them being Chevelles.
As soon as this car was spotted, even John couldn’t resist it. It looked perfect, and was being sold by a reputable dealer, and so the purchase was made. When it landed in New Zealand though, the lads were in for a shock. While it looked good on the surface, the old adage about a book and its cover applied and inspection up close and personal revealed that things were actually pretty rough. However, after investing a decent chunk of cash and having taken possession, there was no turning back — the car had to be rebuilt, and this time it had to be done right.
Shane had all the contacts required to transform the car into what it should have been due to his having been involved with building a bunch of top-level import show cars over the years. One of those contacts was George from Ezygee Performance, who was entrusted with all mechanical and detailing work, which included rebuilding the motor that the car came with. As the number plate gives away, it’s a 468ci big block, and the list of parts now fitted to it is as impressive as it is long. The spec list reads like a dream shopping list for most engine builders and includes Arias pistons, shot-peened rods, ARP fasteners, MSD ignition gear, large port heads, Comp Cams and Kelford valvetrain items plus more besides.
While the main aim was for the car to look good, there was a desire for a serious amount of power too (although that may have been more Shane’s desire than John’s). Both aspects of the build have well and truly been catered for, the latter with a billet belt drive set-up, HPC coated headers and exhaust, as well as a polished intake manifold and plenty of braided lines. There isn’t a standard part left under the hood — even the bonnet hinges have been replaced with billet items.
The guys (or actually probably Shane) decided that with so much power, the car really needed a five-speed box, rather than the four-speed it came with. So George made a custom crossmember, and a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed was fitted up together with a Lakewood SFI-approved bellhousing and a custom carbon kevlar clutch.
While working on the driveline, the 10-bolt diff was rebuilt with a 3.5:1 ratio. The CalTracs and Eaton diff head were some of the only parts to remain untouched during the rebuild, and the only other mechanical aspect that falls into that same category are the Wilwood brake calipers, although these days they’re operated by a Hydroboost system, which works a treat.
When figuring out what to do with the exterior of the vehicle, the decision was made to sort out the required panel repair work, and then to paint it brown… hence why John was soon removed from the decision making process and the appropriate gold chosen from the PPG range. Jason at Auto Colour Matrix was the man on the spray gun, and as you can see there really isn’t a better colour that could have been chosen.
While John may have wanted to have the car sitting nice and high, as it did when it came from the factory, Shane had other thoughts, and no doubt there was plenty of reality-show-style discussion about that issue. Eventually (and as far as we’re aware not too many things were turfed around the workshop in the process) Shane got his way and had Snell Springs make custom front coils. They drop the car around 55mm, while the CalTrac mono-leaf rear springs come down around 65mm at the back end. Some may say the height is impractical, while others, ourselves included, say it’s spot on. The perfect wheel choice helps out immensely in this department, being 19×8.5 and 20×10-inch Boyd Coddington Dictator rims wrapped with Falken tyres.
While the car is technically more John’s than Shane’s, anytime there’s an outing, it’s a case of rock/paper/scissors to see who gets to drive, with the loser relegated to getting the keys for the return trip. And of course John’s not a big fan of being in the passenger seat when Shane’s behind the wheel — not because he’s a bad driver, it’s more the opposite, he’s a competitive drifter, and isn’t afraid of throwing the car around.
It’s a shame really that there’s not a reality show about the two of them, as now that the Camaro build’s complete, they’ve started off on a few other new projects too. They’ll fight like schoolgirls, there’ll be scraps and tantrums but it’ll be a whole bunch of fun to watch along the way, and they certainly do know what it takes to produce a knockout car… sounds like not a bad family to be a part of really!
1969 Chevrolet SS Camaro – Specifications
Engine: 468ci big block Chev, 454 block bored 60-thou over, Arias forged pistons, polished and shot-peened rods, ARP fasteners, Kelford Cams camshaft, Kelford Cams lifters, large port heads, stainless valves, Comp Cams valve springs, Comp Cams retainers and keepers, Comp Cams push rods, Crower roller rockers, Stewart water pump, MSD distributor, MSD 6AL ignition, Mallory coil, Top Gun 10mm leads, billet lead holders, Quick Fuel 780cfm carb, alloy radiator, Speedflow fittings, Spal fans, Holley Strip Dominator HPC-coated intake manifold, modified billet rocker covers, enlarged sump, HPC-coated headers, custom twin 3-inch HPC-coated exhaust
Driveline: Tremec TKO-600 5-Speed gearbox, Lakewood SFI approved bellhousing, custom carbon kevlar clutch kit, 3680lb pressure plate, 10-Bolt diff, 3.5:1 ratio, with Eaton LSD head
Brakes: Wilwood master cylinder, Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve, Wilwood discs and calipers, Goodridge braided lines, Hydroboost
Suspension: Snell custom front springs, Koni shocks, CalTrac adjustable 4-link, mono-leaf rear suspension, CalTrac traction bars, Flaming River power steering box
Wheels/tyres: 19×8.5 and 20×10-inch Boyd Coddington Dictator rims, Falken FK452 tyres
Exterior: PPG Orange Glow paint
Interior: Corvette Z06 inspired leather retrim, Auto Meter Ultralight dash cluster, Vintage Air air conditioning controls, Pioneer head unit, Alpine speakers
Performance: 420hp at the wheels
John and Shane Poulton – Driver Profile
Age: 57, 28
Occupation: JP Cartage owners
Previously owned cars: HT Monaro, 2x 1948 Ford Bonus, VK Brock Commodore, VL V8 Calais
Dream car: ’69 Camaro and ’70 Chevelle
Why the Camaro?: It was a compromise between this and a Chevelle
Build time: 1 year
Length of ownership: 1 year
John and Shane thank: Ezygee Performance, Auto Colour Matrix, Auto Safe and Sound, North Shore Mag and Turbo
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy
This article is from NZV8 Issue 84. Get your copy here.
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