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Friday, August 19, 2011

69 Camaro Red Devil Tested: 756 HP, 804 LB-FT, 4.1 to 60!

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Red Devil Pro Touring - Review - Car and Driver #pallet {margin:0;}#echoice li.category {margin:0;}Car and DriverIntelligence. Independence. Irreverence. VehiclesReviewsNewsFeaturesBuyer's GuideFollow UsSubscribeSearch Car and DriverHome › Reviews › 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Red Devil Pro Touring - Specialty File

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1969 Chevrolet Camaro Red Devil Pro Touring - Specialty FileMark Stielow took a ’69 Camaro body and packed it full of modern-day performance. Behold Pro Touring’s dry-aged wonder.BY DON SHERMAN, PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROY RITCHIE
June 2011


1969 Chevrolet Camaro Red Devil Pro Touring

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We’re visiting an odd spot in the universe where level-headed civility doesn’t pertain. This is a dream destination where the unlikely is the norm and the preposterous is the rule. Here, the ride of choice is a vintage Chevy Camaro packing Corvette ZR1 speed and handling.

True believers call this sect of the car faith Pro Touring (PT). On the sacred tree of motoring, the PT branch thrives several limbs up from hot rods and a couple over from restomods. The essential ingredients are outrageous power, 1.0-g cornering and braking capabilities, and stock sheetmetal. The “Red Devil” Camaro constructed by GM engineer Mark Stielow [see below] is a PT track star masquerading as a street-legal F-body.

In case your subscription to Car Craft has expired: The ’69 Camaro is now and forever the most cherished muscle car ever made. This model year’s combination of classic beauty, tidy size, and ample underhood space makes it a favorite starting point for tuners and collectors. GM vice-president of global design Ed Welburn not only owns one, he all but cloned the ’69 Camaro to renew Chevy’s fight with the immortal Ford Mustang.

The Red Devil is No. 11 in a series of ?’69 Camaros massaged by Stielow over the past 23 years. To the casual observer, it’s a survivor that rolled off a GM assembly line the year mankind made its giant leap to the moon. But don’t be fooled: This Camaro packs double the ammo provided by the General back in the day, along with the chassis fortifications needed to taunt the bluebloods from Stuttgart and Maranello.


Proving that he’s seriously hooked on speed, Stielow loaded the Devil’s engine bay with a sinful combination of LS7, LS9, and aftermarket power parts. His 7.0-liter Corvette Z06 ?block is topped with a ZR1’s cylinder heads, valvetrain, and supercharger. Inside, the best catalog parts money can buy are force-fed 12 psi of ?boost by an Eaton TVS supercharger spinning 30 percent faster than stock. ?A Tremec six-speed transmission sends an estimated 756 horsepower back to a 3.25:1, nine-inch solid axle fitted with a True­trac limited-slip differential and located by a Detroit Speed suspension system. That same vendor also supplied the hydroformed subframe, the front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering ?gear, and coil-over dampers fitted at all four corners.

The surprise is how calmly the Red Devil behaves. The engine fires instantly and settles into a polite 750-rpm idle, temporarily suppressing its wild side. The clutch is light, progressive in its takeup, and easy to sync with the throttle for a composed creepaway. The pedals are ideally positioned for heel-and-toe footwork, and Stielow’s shifter knows the quick way ?through the fortified T-56 gearbox.

To dial in the steering to his liking, Stielow trial-fitted three rack-and-pinion units before settling on one with low friction and decent feedback. A similar procedure was used for tires. Testing on a Michigan race circuit, he trimmed precious seconds of ?lap time moving from ­BFGoodrich to Michelin radials before installing the final set of Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 rubber. These 18- and 19-inch run-flats team the standard Corvette Z06 sizes with next-generation construction.

Chilly test conditions kept the Goodyears from delivering their last increments of performance. On our 300-foot skidpad, the Red Devil cornered at a still impressive 0.98 g with minimal body roll and just a touch of understeer. With slight additional throttle pressure, we could easily coax this Camaro’s tail into a stable neutral drift. The securely located rear axle and the effort Stielow invested tuning his dampers, anti-roll bars, and steering system have trained an arthritic Camaro into an agile cornering champion. A few hot laps around the road course and through our slalom cones confirmed that impression. The Red Devil turns in obediently, confidently grabs the cornering line, and exits bends with the steering straight and the rear tires alight.

To achieve modern stopping perform­ance, Stielow added a Corvette Z06 anti-lock system to the Brembo drilled rotors and calipers he fitted to the Red Devil. In spite of a slightly spongy pedal (attributable to imperfect bleeding, says Stielow), we measured consistent, 171-foot 70-to-0-mph stopping distances with no hint of wriggle or fade.

Launching any 756-hp missile without electronic assistance is not for sissies. In spite of the cold pavement and a restricted number of runs, we recorded acceleration figures within sniffing distance of a Corvette ZR1’s: 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds (versus 3.4), the quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds at 127 mph (compared with 11.5 at 128). For a home-built riding on narrower tires and weighing an additional 267 pounds, that’s impressive. And we’re convinced there’s more to be had, but we terminated acceleration and top-speed tests when an overworked supercharger pulley ?failed, consuming the engine’s serpentine belt. Another interesting comparator is the ’69 Camaro ZL-1 we tested several years ago [December 1997]: That rubber-challenged survivor clocked 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and the quarter in 13.8 seconds at 105 mph.

When the Red Devil’s throttle is down, the din inside rattles wax from your ears. Spectators a quarter-mile away scatter, fearing that a berserk locomotive is heading their way. Yet this Camaro knows how to behave. It has comfortable Recaro bucket seats, informative instruments, effective climate control, and a reasonably relaxed ride. The three-inch exhaust pipes don’t hiss, rattle, or roar until they’re asked to do so. Overall, the Red Devil drives like a refugee from the GM proving grounds.

For the most part, Pro Touring is a credit-card and catalog exercise. You start with a clean core, choose your parts and subcontractors wisely, and exercise patience constructing the car of your dreams. If you’re lucky, you end up with a car half as good as Stielow’s.

In this instance, that old saw about the devil and the details actually fits. With a dozen Camaros to his credit, Stielow has perfected his craft. His underhood presentation is a van Gogh in matte black, red, and zinc plating. To prepare the ZR1 intercooler lid for its new life, he milled off the factory “6.2L” label to install new “7.0L” lettering. The engine shroud that originally boasted “CORVETTE” now reads “CHEVROLET.” When Stielow advances the Pro Touring cause with his next hero car, count us in for another go.

The Red Devil’s cockpit is furnished with Recaro seats, Sparco belts, a Momo steering wheel, Auto Meter instruments, and Vintage Air climate control. Stielow fabricated the roll bar and instrument panel.

By day, he fine-tunes future suspension systems as GM’s vehicle-dynamics authority. At night, he constructs the sweetest ’69 Camaros big money can buy. Mark Stielow, Pro Touring’s 46-year-old pope, coined the movement’s name and co-wrote its bible with how-to author Will Handzel (Pro Touring Engineered Performance, $26.95,

Stielow’s path to hot-rodding fame started in the garage of his father’s Kansas City garbage-hauling business. While he was a mechanical-engineering student at the University of Missouri, Stielow captained the school’s Formula SAE team, which he parlayed into a job tracking Camaros racing in the SCCA’s Showroom Stock series.

After receiving his engineering degree in 1991, Stielow joined GM as a Chevy Caprice development engineer. He graduated to GM’s motorsports technology department before becoming Summit Racing’s chief product-development engineer in 1995.

Stielow returned to GM in 1999 to design and develop . . . door handles. In 2000, he was mercifully promoted to a ride-and-handling development job at GM’s Milford proving grounds where he collaborated with the legendary John Heinricy on the development of the company’s SS and V-series models. In his spare time, Stielow built “Mule,” his eighth ’69 Camaro, with which Popular Hot Rodding mesmerized its readers in 22 how-to installments. It was Mule more than any other single car that set the mold—and the bar awfully high—for the burgeoning Pro Touring world. Mule also visited GM’s design studio during development of the current ’69-inspired Camaro.

Building the Red Devil put a six-figure dent in Stielow’s savings and consumed 24 months of his evenings and weekends, time and money he considers well spent. “This is my ultimate hot rod, the best Camaro I’ve built to date,” he notes. “It’s fast, it handles well, and it’s a comfortable cruiser.”

Stielow has no intention of selling Red Devil. If you want a clone, he’ll refer you to his allies Kyle and Stacy Tucker at Detroit Speed. Their estimated cost? $250,000.

Too pricey? Eventually, you’ll be able to race a digitized version of the Red Devil in a future Gran Turismo video game.


VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe


ENGINE TYPE: supercharged and intercooled pushrod 16-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 428 cu in, 7008 cc
Power (SAE net): 756 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 804 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 108.0 in Length: 186.0 in
Width: 72.3 in Height: 51.0 in
Curb weight: 3617 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 4.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 7.8 sec
Zero to 140 mph: 14.1 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 4.2 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 11.8 sec @ 127 mph
Top speed (mfr's estimate, drag limited): 193 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 171 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.98 g

TEST NOTES: First gear tops out barely above 60 mph; an early shift adds 0.2 second there. It takes practice to manage wheelspin for a perfect launch. Unfortunately, our best run was our last. We hit 60 in less than four seconds right before the supercharger drive pulley broke.


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