STEVE TEMPLE May 25, 2022 All Feature Vehicles
Late ’60s Camaros had a lot going for them: great looks and neck-snapping acceleration all at a good price. But handling and braking were hardly their strong suits. If you wanted to turn and stop, the Europeans were way ahead of things back then, with a focus on roaring around a road course rather than bombing down a drag strip.
So what if you took the best of both worlds to make a world-class Camaro? That’s exactly what Dave Brandt did with his ’69. “I’ve always been a European car guy,” he admits.
Having an appreciation for foreign exotics, but not wanting to betray his all-American roots, he had Steve Keefer of East Bay Muscle Cars put a staggering array of continental refinements into a Detroit-bred, mean-streets machine, so that it would drive as good as it looks.
Easier said than done, of course, especially when you know that when he purchased this 396 four-speed Camaro Brandt says it was “in an absolute shambles.” Even so, Keefer took the fit and finish to an unprecedented level of detail on this motorized masterpiece. It’s subtle and sensational at the same time, with a dignified titanium color scheme.
That approach fits right in with Brandt’s profession as a model for prominent men’s clothing stores, giving him a discerning eye for style and attention to detail. Considering all of the performance upgrades underneath, the visual impact of Tenacity (the car’s moniker) is like a big-muscled thug dressed in a fitted gray flannel suit. You can dress it up and take it out for a ground-pounding ride.
This Maximum Drive experience comes courtesy of a 630-hp LS3 and a Mast Motorsports’s Black Label SS 6.8L. Set back 8 inches for an exact 50/50 weight distribution, it’s paired with a Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed that funnels all of the power to a quick-change Winters rearend with 4:12 Posi gears.
That’s all well and good for a solid punch off the line, but how about the handling? To give the Camaro a truly serious suspension, Keefer customized an Art Morrison MaxG chassis designed with FEA (Finite Element Analysis). The front clip is markedly stiffer, yet significantly lighter than the bulky OEM unit. It boasts reduced unsprung weight, forged aluminum C6 Corvette control arms, a shortened front-view swing arm, modified caster and adjustable coil-over shocks. In the rear resides a 3-link setup with a Watts linkage, all of which makes for a tenacious grip when carving corners, while Exotic Air lifters ensure a glove-soft ride.
All of these performance upgrades required a commensurate treatment to the body and cockpit as well. The body was dropped a full 3 inches over the frame rails, and the doors, quarter panels, front spoiler and valance were all extended, as well. Exterior obstructions, such as door handles and drip rails, were shaved off, for a look as smooth as the fit of custom-tailored Italian suit.
“The initial concept when designing the car was to incorporate influences from the exotic car world without losing the iconic ’69 Camaro features. We wanted it to stand out, but at the same time give it a more refined Euro look, kind of a Ferrari-meets-Camaro blend.”
As for the interior, it too received a complete going-over, using a 1967 Camaro dash extended 4 inches, plus a Cadillac CTS console. Numerous panels were custom molded, and the Recaro seats were modified, as well.
All told, every square inch of this car received some personal attention and exotic enhancement. It’s exactly the level of persistence and passion that you’d expect from a Camaro called Tenacity.
DAVE BRANDT, LOS ANGELES, CA
REASON FOR BUILDING THIS PARTICULAR CAR:
INFUSE AN AMERICAN PONY CAR WITH EXOTIC REFINEMENTS.
BUILDER: East Bay Muscle Cars, 560 Valdry Ct.,
Brentwood, CA 94513 925.516.2277
FRAME: Art Morrison MaxG modified by East Bay Muscle Cars
SUSPENSION: Front: Corvette C6 forged aluminum A-arms: rear: 3-link assembly with TMI Watts linkage
BRAKES: Baer 14-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors with six-piston calipers
WHEELS: 15 x 7 and 15 x 8 Wheelsmith and stock hubcaps
TIRES: Front: Michelin 285/35ZR19; rear: Michelin 335/30ZR20.
ENGINE: Mast Motorsports Black Label SS 6.8L LS3 630-hp
BODY AND PAINT COLOR: PPG two-stage Audi Lava Gray/Matte Titanium
INTERIOR: Camaro dash extended 4 inches with custom Cadillac CTS console and removable transmission tunnel, molded cockpit panels, Momo wheel, Recaro seats, leather and micro suede upholstery
AUDIO: Pioneer CD/DVD/receiver with LCD screen, Memphis amps and component speakers