Story: Jonathan Millstein
Photography: Will Stern
The 1960s are usually thought of as the decade that brought forth peace and love; however, they were also the years that gave birth to speed (not the drug, hippies) and horsepower. It was in the mid ’60s that Ford released the Mustang, and Chevrolet countered shortly thereafter with the Camaro. The F-Body ’Maro has been highly sought after ever since, so much so that Chevy based its current fifth generation off the ever-popular original. Further evidence of the Camaro’s popularity is the one-of-a-kind ’69 built by Joe Labon and Ultimate Auto in Orlando, Florida.
When Joe began work for his client on the Camaro, it was anything but ordinary. “There was no car when we got it,” says Joe. Not “no car” in the sense that they hadn’t found the right one to resurrect, or that the trailer was stuck in traffic, but literally no car. “The whole thing was [built] completely from parts,” explains Joe.
It’s an incredible undertaking, but when you are working with a client who has endless pockets, incredible becomes somewhat the norm. “He wanted luxury and exotic to match what he owns,” says Joe. Attempting to match a vintage muscle car to a fleet of luxuries is no easy task, but the boys at Ultimate Auto had a vision for this F-Body. “The ’69 is a classic and retro, but we wanted to clean it up with all Frenched glass and a refined custom grille.”
In order not to lose the retro look as the car became more and more modern—with the help of a molded spoiler and smoothed panels—Joe decided to keep classic wheels on the ’Maro, adding one-off three-piece wheels to reaffirm the muscle car stance. The outside definitely pops with the mix of new and old, not to mention the Dodge Viper Green paint. But like a true car guy, Joe downplays the exterior in favor of mechanics. “Underneath, what you don’t see is way prettier than the exterior,” he says. “A lot of cars have nice paint but factory interior, or nice paint but the motor is so-so.”
Packing a 606 big block, the ’Maro’s powerhouse is capable of pumping out over 1,200 horsepower with nitrous and hitting 9,000 rpm. With that kind of power under your hood, you’re more likely to find yourself inside the cockpit of a racecar. The interior features leather and wool carpeting, and, as you may expect, it is completely customized to the car. “The interior was built entirely from hand, from scratch,” Joe explains. “There was zero interior in the car, so we built all of it.”
Setting out to revamp a classic in order to complement a stable full of luxury whips isn’t easy, and doing it literally from the ground up is damn near unheard of in the car world. “It was done to a high level you only see on SEMA cars, not consumer ones,” Joe says admiringly. If Joe and Ultimate Auto are any indication of the lengths to which owners are going for their rides, we can’t wait to see what the shops have in store for SEMA this year.
Spec The Technique:
Year/Make/Model: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Performance: 606-cubic-inch all-aluminum big block; 8-way direct port nitrous oxide kit; TCI 4L80E transmission; COMPUSHIFT transmission controller; narrowed 12-bolt rear end; March Performance Serpentine belt system; custom ceramic-coated exhaust system; Dakota Digital A/C system; ABS Power Brake electric boost system; Detroit Speed complete front subframe with tubular control arms, 4-link rear suspension with matching coil-overs
Exterior: Dynacorn body; window drip rails shaved; front and rear windshield are flush fit; bumpers are narrowed and tucked into body; rear fender vents are cut out and made to be functional; rear spoiler molded into trunk; custom hand-fabricated front spoiler; custom exhaust cutouts ahead of rear wheels; LED lighting package; Dodge Viper Green paint with Mercedes black stripes; Billet Specialties door handles, taillights, grille and “Monster” emblem
Interior: 20 hides of Mercedes black leather; custom door panels with aluminum; keyless RF ID ignition system with push-button start in overhead console; custom center console with aluminum-trimmed armrest; matching overhead console with all switches and nitrous gauge, plus LED ambient lighting; Pontiac GTO bucket seats with custom matching rear buckets; roll bar wrapped in leather; Mercedes wool carpeting; Billet Specialties steering wheel
Ice: Pioneer Avic-Z130 head unit; JL Audio C3-650 components front and rear, two 10W3 subwoofers in a bandpass box, HD600/4 and HD 750/1 amplifiers
Wheels/Tires: 20-inch custom NC Forged wheels; Nitto Invo tires, 245/30/20 front, 345/25/20 rear