Custom Cruise Friday
Gerry Gionet, owner of this week’s Custom Cruise Friday featured vehicle, a restored 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28, can do just about anything in his car. He can hit incredible speeds, carve up corners and put enough power to his tires to turn them to jelly in matter of seconds. However, he is not doing any of these things quietly and without drawing an admiring crowd. Gionet first fell for the high-performance Chevy coupe as a young boy. However, this wasn’t destined to be a quick courtship. It was only after he had finished raising a family that he was able to bring his dream car home.
Other Custom Cruise Friday Camaros
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1967 Camaro Convertible[/wrc_column][wrc_column grid=”4″ width=”1″]
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“Since I was a kid my favorite car was a 1969 Camaro Z/28,” Gionet said.
Running down a dream
Gionet and his wife Elizabeth have three daughters. Once they were grown and out of the house, it was time to take the next logical step – track down his dream 1969 Camaro Z/28, which happens to be one of the most popular and collectable models of the muscle cars ever produced. Holding on to a dream for this long will drive a person to travel far and quickly to reach realization. His search ended with a trip to a city south of Detroit to pick up a fairly stock numbers matching 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28. However, travelling and transporting a car across international boundaries was about to prove to be the least problematic part of fulfilling a childhood dream.
Be careful of what you wish for
With one major hurdle cleared in owning his dream car, Gionet set to get over the next obstacle which was restoring the car to exactly how he wanted it. He chose to go the “resto-mod” route which keeps many visible elements fairly close to stock, but also has the advantage of adding modern equipment for the powertrain as well as up-to-date convenience features like power window and air conditioning.
Problems began to surface almost immediately when the existing metal was being stripped from the frame. Rust issues, undoubtedly due to the harsh winter conditions associated with living in the Upper Midwest of the United States, were clear. Undeterred, Gionet ordered local Edmonton restoration shop, Joey’s Place, to start the process of performing metal surgery and replacing the unusable metal.
At the end of the restoration process, the experts at Joey’s Place spent 2,200 hours getting the car restored to dream quality. This included replacing the metal for the quarter panels, doors, fenders, trunk pan and adding a new firewall.
Once all of the structural issues were completed, it was time for the cosmetic restoration to begin. Gionet chose Dupont’s Hot Hues brand paint in the very subtle but still very sharp Cosmic Dust color. The 1969 Camaro Z/28 sits on four Budnik billet aluminum wheels measuring 8 by 18 inches in the front and 13 by 18 inches in the back. Those wheels are wrapped with BFGoodrich T/A G-Force tires.
What’s under the hood
One of the key elements of Gionet’s 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28 being a “resto-mod” is having a modern engine using the latest available technology to get as much performance as possible. Powering the classic coupe is an all-aluminum supercharged, LS2 V-8 engine that has been bored out to 402 cubic-inches and features LS3 heads. The moment of truth came with the car was placed on a dynamometer, which revealed that the 1969 Camaro will produce 750 horsepower and 650 foot-pounds of torque. Reports indicate that the ground shakes when the car starts and sounds like something between a professional stock car and jet engine when coming down the road.
A Tremec five-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter is used to send power from the engine to the wheels. The bucket seats and console were borrowed from a 1996 Camaro and was retro-fitted to have a more classic look when installed into Gionet’s dream machine.
“It was a fulfilling experience,” Gionet said. “It’s an awesome car with some real power.”
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