Behind New Zealand's best-built Camaro

Posted in Cars

Chevrolet’s first-generation Camaro is one of the most popular cars from the muscle car era of American auto manufacturing. Ask any non-car person what classic American vehicle they’d most like to own, and it’s probably going to be a ’69 Camaro or Mustang. 

This means that when it comes to custom building a first-gen Camaro, it doesn’t really matter what style you’re aiming for, it has already been done — and to the highest of standards — in some part of the globe. And, since style is very closely tied to taste, everyone has different opinions on how a car should be built. 

Auckland’s International Performance Classics (IPC) don’t care about any of that, though. When they were commissioned to build a ’69 Camaro that went like a cut cat, rode and handled as well as any modern GT car, could comfortably seat four adults, and was built to the finest standards, they got straight to work. What you’ll have read about in our latest issue is the end result, but this is a look into what makes it the best-built, best-finished, and best-presented Camaro in New Zealand. And that must — objectively speaking, at least — make it the best Camaro in New Zealand. 

As IPC are part of International Motorsport, who deal primarily with top-tier New Zealand endurance racing, they have access to serious knowledge when it comes to making vehicles handle properly. The front suspension geometry has also been completely redesigned, with the aftermarket front subframe re-fabricated in pursuit of near-perfect geometry, and a ride height that is as functional as it is low. 

The low ride height wasn’t a fluke — it’s been specifically engineered that way from the get-go, at both ends, for perfect handling characteristics and an aesthetically pleasing stance. Here, we can see a beautifully crafted mandrel-bent exhaust, custom triangulated four-link, splined sway bar, fabricated Currie nine-inch diff housing — filled with all the goods — and a drum-style parking brake, operating on custom-machined hats for the Brembo two-piece cross-drilled and slotted brake rotors. 

And those headers are just as custom as the suspension — handcrafted, equal-length works of art, painstakingly constructed over the course of a fortnight. 

Then we have the bodywork. The custom fabrication here is subtle and extensive, performed in order to change the overall aura of the car without taking anything from the distinctly ’69 Camaro lines. The full list of modifications is included in the full feature article in NZV8 Issue No. 130. 

Speaking of those ’69 Camaro body lines — they’re only ’69 in appearance. This is a brand-new car, right down to the body, which is a Dynacorn reproduction shell. Of course, this car has been crafted to a standard far above where off-the-shelf parts are acceptable, and the body has been cut apart and re-crafted until it met IPC’s exacting standards. 

Inside, it’s just as well finished as the rest of the car. Is there anything that looks unusual in this photo? Maybe it will give you an idea of what the interior is like now that it’s finished, maybe it won’t. Believe us when we say it's every bit as well done as a car of this magnitude deserves.

And remember that it was a build requirement that the Camaro would comfortably seat four adults. That has been achieved, believe it or not, and it’s thanks to some trick fabrication work in the seat frame, and clever positioning of the front buckets. 

The fun part is also the easiest to knock out of the way, writing-wise. Power is provided by a GM LS9 crate engine — reliable and abundant power, what more does such a car need?

Of course, it’s a little better presented than your average crate engine. Attention to even the tiniest of details has been a pervasive factor throughout the build of this car, and it sure shows. We’ve never featured a car built to this standard in NZV8 before, and whether we ever will again is a question that we’re unable to answer. Have we done it justice in our feature of it? You’ll have to tell us — grab a copy of NZV8 Issue No. 130, and let us know what you think. Check out the full gallery below!