Is that fake? That’s one of those Thermo King V-800 compressors with a standard swash plate and Smart Reefer controller. Right? No? Then what is it?
As we stood staring at Tim Arkebauer’s 1969 Chevrolet Camaro in the middle of a moist, buzzing field in southern Illinois, we overheard some absurd declarative statements from the local Camaro cognoscente. No one had seen this. No one knew what to do. In a world of 1969 Camaros, this one was truly different.
“My neighbor had a Cortez Silver Camaro,” Tim explained. “I heard that car start every morning when I was young.” With the echoes of a 1960s big-block rattling around in his head, Tim had to go through life with a fuzzy vision of what kind of Camaro he needed to build. His dad didn’t help. “My dad was in the body and fender trade, so we hung out with [him] and fixed cars. No sports or anything like that.” He tried to quiet the voices with a Chevelle wagon that he drag raced, “But I always wanted a Camaro.”
Years later, Tim found a Camaro body in Tipton, California, for $1,500 and began a 12-year build that included about every life-changing experience possible. “My dad died, and then my mom, then I had a heart attack and needed a pacemaker,” Tim said. “But I kept on going. The project was my motivation to recover from [the] heart attack and losing over 100 pounds.”
Tim had been heavily influenced by a drag racer from the early 1970s that campaigned a 10-second 1967 Nova with an inline-six-cylinder engine with three 500-cfm 4-bbl carburetors. “I remember it like it was yesterday, his name was Cotton Perry from Ringgold, Georgia, and he ran in H Modified Production with a 305-inch six. I still had the vision that the [Camaro] should have a Lenco and an inline-six, all the levers, and a great big transmission. When that didn’t pan out, we went for the big-block Chevy.”
Tim looked at a 14-71 from the Blower Shop and soon realized he was building the vanilla Chevy that he was trying to avoid. “I decided that everyone has a roots-style, blower so I called Rodger from PSI blowers and he helped me create the manifold and pulleys and brackets to make [a PSI supercharger] fit. Typically, these are used for off-shore twin-engine boats or IHRA Pro Mod racers.”
Tim runs the engine on E85 with 80 percent overdrive and guesses with the 300 shot of nitrous and 25 psi it makes 1,800 hp, give or take a few hundred. The car is primarily for fairgrounds cruising and car shows so you are not going to see it at any racetracks. Pacemaker, remember?
Who: Tim and Cindy Arkebauer
What: 1969 Camaro
The Blower: The PSI 206B supercharger is screw-style, so it compresses air in the case instead of just pumping air into the engine. As a result, the supercharger is more efficient than other designs with the same displacement. It’s also huge. All the lines and fittings are for the 300-shot, plate-style NOS fogger.
Engine: The Dart block has a 4.530 bore and 4.500 stroke for a total of 580 inches. The billet crank is from Crower, the billet rods are from Oliver, the billet cam is from Isky. The compression ratio is 9.0:1, so Tim can get away with the relatively low 105-octane E85 pump gas and run 25 psi of boost on the street. The heads are massive Dart 380s with a CNC port job and a T&D shaft rocker system. It ain’t low-buck, but it makes 2,000 hp look easy.
Drivetrain: To get a “great big transmission,” Tim turned to a Lenco CS2 with five-speeds and a reverser. The bellhousing is from Lakewood and the clutch is from Titan. In the rear is a Fab 9 housing with Strange gears and Mark Williams 40-spline axles.
Paint: “I saw an all-black Camaro with gold wheels a long time ago,” Tim said. “So I got with the guys who do all the anodizing for Earl’s and had them make a custom color for the wheels.” For the record, the company is Colors Inc. in Indianapolis. The front end and the hood are fiberglass, and the wheeltubs are carbon fiber. The paint was sprayed by Josh Lester at Rocket in Monmouth, IL.
Chassis: The car is certified to go 7.50, but Tim assured us that it is 100 percent street car with working lights, blinkers, and a horn. For Tim, street cars include Heim joints instead of bushings, Art Morrison struts, Afco Big Dog coilovers and a four-link, and Wilwood brakes. Most of the suspension pieces were nickel-plated or polished by Jefferson County Metal Polishing.
Interior: Inside is a 25.2 SFI Funny Car cage made from chromoly tubes. The dash is aftermarket fiberglass designed for a Pro Stock car. The gauges are from Auto Meter and the flamed shift knobs were made by the guys at SpeedDawg.com. After staring at this for a while, yes, it does like the interior from a Pro Stock car. Yet, the black vinyl seat covers with houndstooth inlays on the aluminum seats say, “Let’s go get a taco.”
Wheels/Tires: This would be considered a “big-tire” car. The rears are 33×22.50-15LT Hoosier Quick Time Pros on 15×17-inch Weld Magnum 2.0s. The fronts are 15x3s with a 26.0 Hoosier.
Thanks: Josh Lester at Rocket; Metal Crafters; Joe Miller; Jay Hobson; Legends Racing; and his wife, Cindy.