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Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Camaro Has Absolute Power, Corrupts Us Absolutely

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Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Chevrolet Camaro front 3/4 view

As classic muscle cars go, the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro is easily one of the most popular among collectors, restorers, customizers and enthusiasts. On the one hand, we’re happy that’s the case, because it’s such a great looking body style (Fun fact: Delays in the introduction of the second generation Camaro forced Chevrolet to continue building the 1969 body style into early 1970; hence, the initial second gens are commonly referred to as “1970½” models.) and there’s such an abundance of parts (including complete reproduction bodies) available. On the other hand, there are only so many ways to build such a ubiquitous car. Modern wheels and tires, LS-series engines and snazzy paintjobs have, alas, become like belly buttons.

So how can anyone make a ’69 Camaro really stand out from the herd? Well, one good way is to give it a powerful engine. And when we say “powerful,” we mean “exponentially more horsepower than anyone could ever need.” And the murdered out, RS-grilled coupe built by Nelson Racing Engines you see here definitely qualifies in that regard.

Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Chevrolet Camaro rear 3/4 view

The alterations to the exterior aren’t that much different from those made to any other modern “pro touring” Camaro. The body is basically stock, save the removal of most of the trim and the bumpers being painted black to match the body. The wheels are from HRE, and the ride height has been lowered thanks to Detroit Speed upper and lower control arms and Koni adjustable coilovers. Stopping power comes courtesy of a quartet of Baer discs with an electric power booster. Nothing out of the ordinary, but why mess with what works?

Inside, there’s a set of modern low-back bucket seats, a custom center console, modern gauges, sport steering wheel, drilled aluminum pedals, a 1,000 watt sound system, Vintage Air A/C system, and a partial roll cage over the rear seat area. (The roll cage is almost a necessity, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) Again, all upgrades and changes are what you’d find on most “resto-modded” ’69 Camaros assembled in the last five years or so.

Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Chevrolet Camaro interior view

But what about what’s under the hood? Well, that’s where this shocking Chevy breaks with recent hot rodding tradition, and where you realize why Nelson Racing Engines isn’t just another shop that puts together American V8s. Tom Nelson and the team at his Chatsworth, California shop specialize in building immaculately-finished, high-powered Small Block Chevrolets, Big Block Chevrolets, LS-series Chevrolets, Small Block Fords and second generation Chrysler Hemis for a variety of street and racing applications. For this Camaro, Nelson settled on a twin-turbocharged 572 cubic inch (9.4L) Chevy Big Block. To increase power without decreasing drivability, NRE fitted the engine with an “Octane on Demand” system. Check it: There are two fuel injectors feeding each cylinder. One squirts plain ol’ 91 octane premium gas you can buy at pretty much any filling station here in California (Other states’ 92 and 93 octane blends are obviously even better.); the other squirts 100+ octane racing gasoline (drawn from a separate, smaller tank) when the driver stomps on the accelerator to summon serious boost from the turbos.

Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Chevrolet Camaro engine view

The result of this and other power-making tricks? Try 2,000hp. No, that’s not a typo. Yes, you read that right. Two. Thousand. Horsepower. And instead of entrusting an industrial strength automatic transmission like a Turbo Hydramatic 400 with sending all that power to the rear wheels, the build team bolted up a 6-speed manual transmission lifted from a Dodge Viper and a 10.5” twin-disc clutch. Yeah, this car will put hair on your chest, even if you’re a woman. Or a bird. Or a reptile. Or a fish…

Anyway, want to build a Camaro as cray-cray as this one? Be ready to spend a buttload of money. Nelson isn’t saying how much he has in this thing, but we’re guessing it’s a number that’s an officer in the Six-Figure Club. Of course, if you can settle for less than 2,000 homicidal horses, the bill for your NRE engine will be smaller. But rest assured that said engine will still be making big numbers for what it is.

Source: Nelson Racing Engines



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  1. 2000-horsepower Nelson Racing Engines 1969 Camaro

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