The build of this car started when I was young. My mother had a 1968 Camaro when she was 16 as her first car, so I guess it is in my blood. When I was 14, as a car guy I started dreaming of what my first car would be. My mother kicked in that her first car was a ’68 Camaro. In 1994 the thought of a 16 year old having a 1968 Camaro is way out there. However, I did some digging and actually located the exact same car my mother drove in 1968. I was able to purchase it for $1500 and my father and I restored that car together. My mothers first car and my first car were the same 1968 Camaro and I still have that car today. So, Camaro runs deep in my family.
Flash forward to 2017 and I now own Heartland Customs in Purcell, OK. We made a big name for ourselves in the Corvette world for high end restomod C1, C2 and C3 Corvettes since 2007. At this point we had a comfortable multi-year waiting list on our restomod Corvettes, but I still had that muscle car itch. When we build our Corvette restomods, I set it up like GM. We had multiple levels of builds. As the horsepower went up, the brakes got bigger, the rear tires got wider, and the price went up etc. I wanted to do the same thing with the Camaro and Chevelle. So, I set up the Camaro and Chevelle Program so that you could build a Base, SS, and Z/28. All of which could have the RS package and include modernized versions of the original options GM offered. I wanted to offer a top of the line model that was loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. It of course had to be the Yenko! This was the pinnacle of muscle car awesomeness in the late 60’s.
I didn’t want this to just be a Yenko clone or tribute car. I wanted it to be the real deal. I did some research and was able to contact GMCI who owns the Yenko licensing rights. I explained to them my plan and showed them the quality of vehicles that we produce. After engineering drawings, vehicle specs as well as renderings and marketing plans were discussed, GMCI granted us the Yenko Endorsed Product license for our Yenko Camaro and Chevelle builds. Now our customers can have a fully modernized and licensed by Yenko version of the king of the 60’s muscle cars. The same fit and finish, high end parts and materials that we use on all of our builds will go into these cars and we use only original Camaro and Chevelle bodies, no aftermarket kit bodies will be built here.
We wanted to completely redesign every aspect of the car that wasn’t up to 2019 standards but keep the look of the car on the exterior, interior and even the engine compartment looking factory stock. We started with the chassis. The 1969 Camaro was a unibody subframe design with much to be desired in handling and ride quality. We teamed up with the Roadster Shop in Mundelein, IL and used one of their full SPEC Chassis. This gave the car a full bolt on chassis with modern drivetrain mounts, big 14” six piston Baer brakes, stainless brake and fuel lines, rack and pinion steering, sway bars etc. in order to make the 1969 car ride like 2019.
Next, we had to tackle the drivetrain. We knew we wanted the tested and proven LS engine platform, but we needed to stay true to what made a Yenko a Yenko. The 427 big block is what set the Yenko apart and we wanted to stay true to that. We went to Don hardy Engines in Texas and had Don build us an LS7(427) with custom internals and tuning to give us a daily drivable 600hp and 560 ft pounds of torque. Then we took it a step further and even made it look aesthetically like the original big block 427. The engine breathes through the factory air cleaner and into the Holley terminator throttle body. The coils are hidden under the valve covers and the spark plug wires exit from the rear, so they look like they are coming from the distributor and pass through the factory wire looms. We designed head adapters to bolt to the LS7 heads using an o-ring and convert the size and bolt pattern to the original big block 427 valve covers. We even plated the Holley throttle body to have the original nickel cadmium look in case someone decides to look under the air cleaner. The engine got a beautiful coat of Chevy orange and all other finishes were kept looking original including the cast alternator housing. We also were able to make the PCV functional with a double male PCV valve in the driver’s side valve cover that uses the factory PCV hoses to recirculate the vapors back into the throttle body. We finished off the engine compartment with factory decals and even changed the decals with part numbers to reflect the modern part numbers now in the car. T-56 six speed manual from Bowler Performance that uses the Hurst shift and factory lever and shift knob (now with a 6 speed pattern)
The exterior we kept looking completely stock with PPG basecoat/clearcoat and lots of hours of cut and buff to make it look like it does today. We had Wheel Vintiques make us a set of 18” Atlas Mags like the ones Don Yenko used in 1969 with of course the Yenko logo on the centercap. With all that power, we now mini tubbed it to give room for the 12” wide rear wheels and 335mm Nitto drag radials.
On the interior we had our go-to interior shop Sculpt Garage in San Marcos, TX design us a completely custom interior that mimics the original. Every single piece was made by hand to look stock but fit perfectly using Moore and Giles high end leather. This is the same leather that Gulfstream uses in their 78 million-dollar G650 aircraft. Sculpt put together a one-piece Alcantara headliner to delete the old droopy headliner and give the interior a luxury feel. All the instrumentation looks exactly like it did in 1969, but now houses custom Yenko Dakota Digital analog gauges and small LCD screens to display auxiliary gauges as well as other information like outside temp. Vintage Air keeps everything comfortable and Retrosounds digital version of the original stereo pumps tunes through the Kicker sound system while enabling Bluetooth connectivity and hands free calling.
A legend reborn!
- AFCO Racing Products - Shocks
- American Autowire - Wiring Harness
- Baer Brakes - Pro 14+ 6-Piston Brakes
- Billet Specialties - Front Drive System
- Borla Performance - Stainless Steel Exhaust Tubing and Mufflers
- Bowler Performance - Transmission - T-56 Six Speed Manual
- Covercraft - Car Cover and Unveil SEMA Booth
- Dakota Digital - Gauges
- Detroit Speed, Inc. - Rack & Pinion Steering
- Don Hardy Race Cars - Engine - Built LS7 (427)) 600hp
- Flaming River Industries - Steering Column
- Griffin Thermal Products - Radiator
- Holley Performance Products - Fuel Injection and Engine Management
- KICKER - Sound System
- Moore & Giles - Leather
- Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. - Tires
- PPG Industries Inc. - Paint Manufacturer: Deltron Base/Clear
- Prestone - Fluids
- RetroSound - Vintage Stereo Head Unit
- Rick’s Tanks - Fuel Pump, Fuel Tank, Fuel Management
- Roadster Shop - SPEC Chassis
- Vibro Solutions - Sound Deadening Material
- Vintage Air - A/C, hEAT
- Wheel Vintiques - Wheels - V45 - Front Wheel Size: 18"x 8", Rear Wheel Size: 18"x 12"
- Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome Plating - Chrome