1969 Camaro Z/28 Pro Touring Build Has 266 MPH Top Speed
‘Big Red’ Camaro packs 2000 horsepower, credited with starting the pro touring movement in the muscle car world.
When someone says that they are doing a pro touring build on their muscle car, a certain visual image is painted, immediately. We think lowered ride heights, flared fenders, wide wheels and aerodynamic upgrades, which are often period correct. We also tend to think of a massive V8 engine being jammed under the hood. But where did it all begin? How did this become such a prominent archetype?
Well, the team at Hoonigan have the answer, because they have tracked down the godfather of the pro touring movement. His name is RJ Gottlieb, and in this video he brings his “Big Red” Camaro to Hoonigan HQ in Long Beach, California.
According to Gottlieb, this ’69 Camaro has been an on-going project with his father since 1987. He goes on to explain that many people consider this Camaro to be “Pro Touring Car #1,” on account of being used in the La Carrera Classic road race in Mexico. Gottlieb says that, at the time, no expected an old muscle car to so thoroughly trounce all of the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the like, so people took notice, and, thus, the pro touring style was born.
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Gottlieb then went on to establish the Silver State Classic road race, after being banned from returning to the Carrera Classic. He says that while his car easily cracked 200 MPH in the Carrera Classic, his car averaged 198 MPH over 96 miles in his own Silver State Classic. Since then, Gottlieb has used Big Red prolifically in both time trials and road racing, though it is currently set up for top speed runs. It ran a confirmed top speed of 266.2 MPH at the Mojave Magnum event. It’s also done such events like Pikes Peak and Bonneville, among others.
Needless to say, this Camaro has gotten around, but what’s the secret to this insane speed? Well, no part of this Camaro has been left untouched.
The aerodynamics are a mixture of period correct Trans-Am racing and modern wind tunnel-tested components. Naturally, the major elements are all adjustable, depending on what type of event Gottlieb is running in. Of course, there’s a crazy finned wing at the back, which has twin parachutes tucked in behind it.
The inside is no less thorough. A full NASCAR-inspired roll cage, with door nets wraps around the inside of this Camaro. Check out the center windshield reinforcement, which is needed to prevent excessive flex at sustained speeds of over 250 MPH.
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The chassis and suspension setup is almost identical to a 1983 Trans-Am racer, Gottlieb’s team claims. Double A-arm suspension features spherical bearing everything and the Ford stockcar-style blade sway bar setup. The team says that there is literally no more room, or physical space to innovate or change this setup. Interestingly, the transmission is made to be quick-change, as the car runs either a 4-speed manual dogbox for road racing, or a 4L80E for drag and top speed events. The rear suspension is a four-link system with a panhard bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a late model Mustang, or similar, before they went with IRS.
Of course, all this, seemingly pales in comparison to what lies under the massive cowl hood. It’s a ProCharged 555 cubic-inch V8 that produces around 2,000 horsepower. Gottlieb’s team of technicians say, in no uncertain terms, that there’s more left in it, and that was done intentionally. That monster motor has no radiator, and is, instead, fed straight methanol from a 55-gallon tank in the trunk.
It’s an insane build, from top to bottom, and we highly recommend you check out this 266 MPH, 2000 horsepower Camaro video, in full.