The Zleeper: a 745bhp 1969 Camaro Z-28
This wicked ’69 Z-28 RS packs a mighty Shafiroff punch
Pictures and story by Chuck Vranas
Regardless if you are into muscle cars, hot rods, or customs, there is one common thread that binds us together. . . your first encounter with a sleeper.
No we’re not talking sitting in a classroom during a boring lecture, or being subjected to more than one bad drive-in movie. We’re talking about the surprise you got when you pulled up to the lights and literally got your socks blown off by a mundane competitor in the next lane. You know the one. . . the ride with a nondescript exterior hiding a wicked badass combination under the hood.
You can only imagine just how many greenbacks have exchanged hands to the driver of a car that looked like it couldn’t race you to the corner if you gave it a formidable lead.
Brett Steven’s saw more than his share of hopped-up cars running the strip in his hometown during the heyday of the muscles car explosion in the ‘60s. Everything from blown and injected big-blocks to high-strung small blocks made the scene, but the cars that caught his attention most were those that were subtle and unassuming. For Brett, the ultimate killer combination was that of a ’69 Camaro wielding an unknown V8 under its hood looking for action on a Saturday night.
The original plan was to build a neat ’69 Camaro. The search was on for a workable ’69 which the pair could get cleaned up in a short period of time as a low-buck project. He put the word out and in a snap he had located a base ’69 in Ohio while doing some racing.
A deal was made and the ’69 was driven back from Ohio to Brett’s home garage. While it was an original numbers matching car, a thorough evaluation proved that it was in need of far more than he had planned.
The car still proposed a challenge and he began its disassembly with an eye on what style the rebuild would take. Brett reached back into his memories and decided the car would be reborn as a Z/28 RS with an edgy attitude and a secret lurking under the hood.
With the car partially disassembled in the garage, Brett enlisted the help of ace fabricators Tom Flash and Javier Torres of Burtonsville, Maryland, to complete the teardown and begin the arduous task of reconstructing the body.
After evaluating the panels and seeing that very little was worth saving, a call was placed to Denny’s Camaro Parts in Mountville, Pennsylvania, to order up fresh stock including floors, rear quarters, doors, fenders, trunk, dash, and hood.
As Brett told us “if there was a replacement sheetmetal part available, I bought it”, not wanting to cut any corners on the build. With sparks flying and welders working overtime the ‘69’s body was whipped back into shape as the pair worked tirelessly to kick-start the resurrection.
With the body beat going strong Brett called on Rob Morris of Mount Airy, Maryland, to massage the steel to perfection while ensuring every line was razor sharp. Rob laid down a decadent coating of PPG Red Jewel vibe accented by white Z-28 stripes which he buried in the clear coat.
Once the body was gleaming with fresh flavor, it was time to address the mechanical side of the build. Having worked with Robert Norris of R&C Fabrication of Westminster, Maryland, before on his Chevelle, Brett knew that Robert would share his vision of creating a low-slung razor sharp ’69 with loads of attitude.
Robert signed onto the build and laid out a base which would get the car down low and ready for action. Up front the original subframe was blasted clean, powdercoated, and treated to Hotchkis tubular upper and lower A-arms combined with SSBC 2-inch dropped spindles complimented by QA1 adjustable coilover shocks.
Out back a Strange 12-bolt rear filled with 3.73:1 cogs is suspended in place by Calvert Racing’s split monoleaf springs and CalTracs traction bars combined with QA1 adjustable coilover shocks.
To bring it all to a halt, 11-inch SSBC rotors and calipers up front and factory drums out back get the job done. Sealing the cars newfound stance a set of Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels shod with Mickey Thompson Sportsman rubber keeps it planted to earth.
Knowing the car would now have the look; Brett wanted to make sure any stoplight challengers would get their moneys worth. He contacted Scott Shafiroff to build a pump-gas beast that would leave your guts on the floor once the go-pedal was planted.
The result was a 582ci stroked Rat packed with endless innovation Shafiroff is well-know for including an Eagle crank and rods, JE 10.5:1 slugs, Comp Cams stick, and Dart Pro aluminum heads. A 950cfm Holley sucks air and fuel through an Edelbrock Victor Series intake with spent gasses getting dumped through a set of Hooker headers.
The V8 pulled 745bhp on the dyno which is enough to peel back anyone’s eyelids! Still warm from the dyno, Robert laid it in place linked to a Coan Extreme 400 Pro trans and B&M Quicksilver shifter to handle the abuse.
At this point, Brett began the final assembly stage working with good friend Carl Davidson taking on the painstaking task of getting all of the cars systems up including wiring, fuel, brakes, cooling in order to prepare the car to be fired up.
Once the behemoth woke to shake the earth, the interior was finally glammed up with the seats being recovered in black and white houndstooth by Todd Meyers while Robert Norris returned to install the balance of the interior. Classic touches like a rosewood steering wheel and trim melds perfectly with Auto Meter gauges and carbon fiber dash accents.
The completed car exemplifies what a clean yet subtle execution in a build can bring to the table. All we can say is that Brett’s modern interpretation of a classic sleeper pack’s plenty of heat once he pulls away from a stoplight and that’s just plain bitchin’.