Every year for the SEMA Show, engineers and designers at Chevrolet showcase staff-developed performance parts and accessories by installing their latest and greatest into a classic car. They did it again this year, but weren’t content just to do one.
Thus the 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle and 2017 Camaro “Slammer” concept cars parked next to each other on the Chevrolet stand in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“We try to do a heritage build every year,” Todd Parker of the GM Design staff told Classic Car News.
“This one came first,” added engineer Rich Downing, indicating the Chevelle, “but as we talked, we came up with the Camaro, too.”
He explained that as the Chevelle was being built, the team realized it could apply the same classic hot-rodding techniques to the new Camaro.
“We used the same design recipe,” Parker said.
Part of that recipe includes going “over the top,” the designer admitted as he stood between the cars, which share their Dazzling Black paint, air-adjustable suspension architecture, custom-created billet aluminum wheels (18 front and 20 rear on the Chevelle, 22 front and 24 rear on the Camaro), Brembo brakes, Adrenaline Red interior color theme (the entire Camaro interior was dipped into the red-hued paint), even their sixth-generation, leather-covered Camaro seats.
The cars also have Adrenaline Red trim under their hoods, where the ’69 Chevelle has an LT376 Chevrolet Performance crate engine and 4L75E transmission while the Camaro retains its LT1 6.2-liter V8.
The Chevelle also got Bluetooth audio and keyless entry technology, electric power steering, a modified horseshoe shifter, a front spoiler, LED lamps, polished grille inserts, and bumpers that were “minimized.”
The Camaro build included a ground-effects exterior kit — sans the rocker panels — as well as a performance exhaust, engine cover, and one-off aluminum upper and lower grilles.
Downing also pointed out that it was something of a miracle that the ’69 Chevelle was available to the team. Originally yellow with black stripes and featured in a series of car-enthusiast magazine articles, the SS 396 has been owned by Chevrolet for several years and used for dynamic testing — read, drag racing — of various Chevrolet crate engines.
Like so many test vehicles, it was scheduled to be crushed, but it was hidden away by the engineering team in hopes of bringing it back to life in another guise. That guise is on the show stand this week at SEMA.