FAST AND BEAU­TI­FUL

But a Dis­ap­point­ment to Its Orig­i­nal Owner

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Drew Hardin Photos: Richard Prince

But a dis­ap­point­ment to its orig­i­nal owner

Mike Stivi­son wanted to go rac­ing, so he went to Merol­lis Chevro­let, the pop­u­lar Detroit-area dealer, and worked the Cen­tral Of­fice Pro­duc­tion Or­der form to build a 1969 Ca­maro that would be fast

and beau­ti­ful.

The fast would come from check­ing off the ZL1 en­gine op­tion, 427 ci of al­loy good­ness very con­ser­va­tively rated at 430 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Be­hind it would be the heavy-duty Mun­cie M22 four-speed gear­box, the whine from the straight-cut gears earn­ing it the Rock Crusher nick­name.

As for the beauty, Mike or­dered the Ca­maro with the Z22 Rally Sport pack­age, its sig­na­ture head­light doors now restyled with three slits as part of the Ca­maro’s 1969 re­design. The new head­light doors and RS grille were com­ple­mented by an En­dura front bumper which, like the rest of the car, was painted a rich Bur­nished Brown.

In terms of crea­ture com­forts Mike went for the Deluxe in­te­rior and tinted glass, but passed on a con­sole and any­thing fancier than the sim­ple push­but­ton AM ra­dio. Most likely to keep the car’s weight down, he ticked off a space-saver spare for the trunk.

You can imag­ine the an­tic­i­pa­tion the young man felt as he waited for his street war­rior to ar­rive at the deal­er­ship. You can also imag­ine the dis­ap­point­ment he felt when the car was de­liv­ered not with the ZL1 but an iron L72—still a stout en­gine to be sure, but not the race mo­tor he was ex­pect­ing.

Mike was so dis­sat­is­fied with the

Ca­maro, in fact, that he kept it for just two months be­fore selling it to his friend Ken Ivin­son. Ken then fol­lowed through on Mike’s orig­i­nal plan: He raced it. Along the way the orig­i­nal 427 was lost, as was the orig­i­nal M22. In 1978, Ken took the car off the road, the odome­ter show­ing fewer than 11,000 miles.

Three and a half decades later, Glen Spiel­berg caught wind of a COPO Ca­maro for sale thanks to a tip from a friend of his. The paint was an im­me­di­ate draw. Glen says he loves Bur­nished Brown Ca­maros and al­ready had in his sta­ble a 1969 Z/28 in the same color. When he saw the COPO he re­al­ized “it had great po­ten­tial. It was run down and had been beat to death rac­ing, but it had great op­tions, fac­tory pa­per­work—which is un­heard of—and it had a com­pletely orig­i­nal in­te­rior that was ab­so­lutely per­fect.”

Glen runs a col­li­sion re­pair busi­ness on Long Is­land, so he launched his own ro­tis­serie restora­tion. Strip­ping the body re­vealed very lit­tle rust, other than around the right quar­ter-panel. It had been re­placed in 1973 when the car was side-swiped. “The door wasn’t touched” in the ac­ci­dent, he says. “It and the deck­lid still had the orig­i­nal paint. But they did a hor­ri­ble job re­plac­ing the quar­ter, so I put an N.O.S. quar­ter on.” He also straight­ened the wheel­well lips that had been banged up to fit street-race rub­ber. Glen filled the empty en­gine bay with a date-code-cor­rect 427 that was ma­chined 0.030 over by his friend Lee Bandrow at Lab Ma­chine in Lin­den­hurst, New York. Check out the photos to see

Glen’s at­ten­tion to pe­riod de­tail,

“It’s missing one key com­po­nent”

down to the cor­rect wires and clamps.

The only up­date the en­gine re­ceived was a roller val­ve­train “just for main­te­nance’s sake,” he says.

There’s an M22 be­hind the mo­tor again, a lucky find thanks to Ca­maro guru Ian Johnston, a friend who lives in Florida. “It matches my Pro­tect-O-Plate,” says Glen. “It was built on the same day as the orig­i­nal trans­mis­sion, for a car 40 VINs away from my car. It was an orig­i­nal, low-mileage case that had never been take apart. What are the chances?”

Un­like the front of the driv­e­train, the BE­code rearend was orig­i­nal to the Ca­maro. That fact was con­firmed not only by the fac­tory doc­u­ments but also when Glen spot­ted a decade-old post on the Yenko. net fo­rum from Ken Ivin­son’s son, who at the time was look­ing for the car. One of the iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures he men­tioned as a clue to the car’s iden­tity was the welded axle tubes, still ev­i­dent when Glen bought the car. “I left it that way,” he says. “It tells the story of the car.”

The restora­tion took Glen about a year and a half. The once-un­wanted COPO Ca­maro is a show­piece now, though it’s missing one key com­po­nent: a re­place­ment for the space-saver spare. “It’s tough,” he says. “I’m still look­ing for a date-cor­rect one.” Any leads will be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated and passed on to Glen.

“It was run down and had been beat to death rac­ing”

n “It was all there, but it was run down,” says Glen Spiel­berg of this COPO Ca­maro’s con­di­tion when he found it in 2012. It’s the sec­ond Bur­nished Brown Ca­maro he has owned. The other, a 1969 Z/28, has since been sold, “but I’ll likely get it back.”

n The orig­i­nal COPO 427 fell vic­tim to the Ca­maro’s rac­ing past. Glen re­placed it with a date­code-cor­rect 427 that’s re­stored to stock spec ex­cept for a 0.030 over­bore and roller val­ve­train.

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