Kent Kennedy’s ’69 Ca­maro is proof barn finds are still out there

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT: Evan Perkins | PHO­TOS: Grant Cox

Kent Kennedy’s ’69 Ca­maro is proof barn finds are still out there

If you’re a Chevy High reader and you can hon­estly say that you’ve never had eyes for a ’69 Ca­maro, we can’t be friends. Also, you’re ly­ing. The ’69 is an icon, with style decades ahead of its time, an amaz­ing as­sort­ment of fac­tory-of­fered per­for­mance op­tions, and a face ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of Chevy gear­head from grandad to grand­son sali­vates over.

Most of us want one; few of us will ever have the chance. If you had asked Kent Kennedy if an orig­i­nal ’69 Ca­maro Z/28—hid­den away on the other side of town, no less—was in his fu­ture, he prob­a­bly would have laughed. But when a cus­tomer in­formed him of a lit­tle-known spec­i­men tucked away in a ware­house he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. This sce­nario proves two things: barn finds of all makes and mod­els still dot this planet and if you have a chance at a ’69 Ca­maro … you take it.

“A friend of mine told me about the car,” said Kennedy. “It was truly a barn find, tucked in the back of a build­ing.” The car had been sit­ting for sev­eral decades, col­lect­ing dust and act­ing as an in­vol­un­tary ro­dent ho­tel. “It hadn’t been li­censed since 1981,” he said. “I still have that lit­tle piece of pa­per: a safety in­spec­tion sheet from the state of Mis­souri.”

It took over a year to fi­nal­ize the pur­chase of the car from the owner, but he per­se­vered. When the hag­gling was done and Kennedy wheeled his tro­phy home it be­came clear it wasn’t the dust-off-able time cap­sule he ini­tially thought it was. “It looked like a pretty solid car but when we got it home we re­al­ized it was a mouse nest,” he said. “I me­dia blasted it ... it got a lot worse.”

Kennedy en­listed the help of The Resto­mod Store on the build and they re­placed ev­ery bit of sheet­metal ex­cept the quar­ters, cowl, and roof. In the process they also mini-tubbed the rear.

What do you do with a gen­uine Z/28? It’s quite the fork in the road. Ul­ti­mately, Kennedy came to two con­clu­sions: he wanted to make it what he likes and he wanted it to look like a mus­cle car. Oh, and he didn’t want an LS en­gine.

“Ev­ery­body does this LS mo­tor stuff and I just wanted to stay so far away from that,” said Kennedy. “I kept it car­bu­reted; an old-school, orange small-block like I wanted.”

“When we found [the car], the

302 was miss­ing,” said Kennedy.

“The Mun­cie trans­mis­sion was still at­tached to the cross­mem­ber, and the tachome­ter was miss­ing, too. Some­body knew what they wanted to take.”

To fill the DZ302-shaped void, a 400ci small-block en­gine was sourced from a ’69 Chevelle. It’s a stock-style re­build with iron heads, roller rock­ers, and 10:1 com­pres­sion. Kennedy’s car­bu­re­tor of choice was a 750-cfm Hol­ley dou­ble-pumper. Bil­let Spe­cial­ties valve cov­ers add some

flare to the “orange” small-block and a PerTronix dis­trib­u­tor with Ac­cel wires han­dles the ig­ni­tion du­ties. Up front, a March pul­ley sys­tem takes care of the var­i­ous util­i­ties.

Be­hind the en­gine is the orig­i­nal Mun­cie M21 trans­mis­sion and a stock-style fly­wheel with a Cen­ter­force clutch and—of course—a Hurst shifter. A stock drive­shaft fun­nels power to the orig­i­nal 12-bolt dif­fer­en­tial, which is packed with 3.73 gears and Moser axles. Kennedy says it gets a lit­tle buzzy on the free­way with those gears and no over­drive, but that doesn’t stop him from driv­ing the car.

There was so much that Kennedy loved about the car, but the orig­i­nal sus­pen­sion didn’t make the cut.

“I left the orig­i­nal cross­mem­ber af­ter clean­ing up the welds, but ev­ery­thing else is mod­ern.”

Tubu­lar Detroit Speed up­per and lower con­trol arms re­placed the fac­tory stamp­ings, and big, fourpis­ton Wil­wood brakes adorn each cor­ner. The fac­tory coils, shocks, and leaf springs are gone, and in their place live QA1 coilovers. Out back re­sides a TCI torque arm sus­pen­sion that gives the car far bet­ter han­dling dy­nam­ics than ’60s’ engi­neers could have imag­ined. The rolling stock con­sists of Boze wheels wear­ing Nitto Invo tires, 18s front and 19s rear to give the car an ag­gres­sive rake.

Inside, Kennedy wanted to re­tain as much of the ’69 Ca­maro vibe as pos­si­ble. “I tried to stay as close to orig­i­nal as I could, other than con­vert­ing it to black,” he said. “It was just too much blue.” The only ex­cep­tions are a com­ple­ment of Au­toMeter Cobalt gauges and a set of Ken­wood speak­ers—vitals and tunes.

Over­all, the project took three years to com­plete. On its first out­ing, to the World of Wheels show, the Ca­maro placed Sec­ond in its class. “It wasn’t even fin­ished yet,” laughed Kennedy. “We just wheeled it in there and won.” Since then, the car has been to sev­eral other events, and Kennedy keeps rack­ing up the miles. “It’s a real Z/28, but I just drive it and en­joy it.” CHP

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