We’ve featured some pretty amazing pro-touring early Camaros lately here at Muscle Cars Blog, but when you start giving cars names, you know they’re getting serious. Built by the artists at GelPro Rod & Muscle, his 1969 Camaro is known as “The Punisher” and given the performance credentials and stunning execution, it’s entirely appropriate (yes, comic book fans, we know The Punisher drove a GTO, not a Camaro, so save your E-mails; it’s just a name). Pro-touring is all about integrating modern performance equipment with vintage sheetmetal, and this pro-built car delivers on every level-it has already been voted the runner-up in the 2009 GoodGuys Muscle Car of the Year competition. Power comes from a modified LS2 V8, the suspension is heavily upgraded, and it spins a modern 5-speed transmission, not to mention all the creature comforts that are part of the deal. If ever there was a car that has legitimately earned its name, it’s this one-it will definitely punish competitors on the street as well as the show field. Click on read more for fantastic photos!
The 1969 Camaro will never go out of style, and until we saw this car, we figured we’d seen just about every trick in the book. But the guys who built The Punisher pulled out some new ideas and the execution is professional on every level. That classic Camaro profile remains and it’s instantly identifiable, of course, but the details are what get you. In profile, the first thing you’ll notice is that rear spoiler, which is not a ductail or some cheesy tacked-on wing, but a completely integrated reshaping of the rear of the car. The quarter panels and deck lid have been modified in steel to create the look you see here, and it creates a kind of kamm-back profile that was used so effectively on cars like the Ferrari 250 GTO and Shelby Daytona coupes. The finish is so seamless, you can’t find the modifications, and it works extremely well with the car’s aggressive looks. Other modifications include a reshaped scoop ahead of the rear wheels, taking the place of the factory “gills.” Low profile and subtle, it’s something you don’t notice right away but that will delight you when you finally see it. You’ll also note that the door handles were shaved, along with the side window trim, side marker lights, and all the emblems, making The Punisher slick and clean. The paint is gorgeous Hot Hues “Silva” and basic high-gloss black, with a red pinstripe separating the two. A steel cowl induction hood received airbrushed graphics advertising the 550 horsepower LS2 V8 under the hood, and Punisher emblems were added on the front fenders and between the tail lights. It’s a good thing this car is brutally fast, because it looks NASTY.
The details that do remain, however, are expertly refinished. The bumpers are still chrome, and while they’ve been tucked in tight to the body, they’re unmistakably Camaro pieces. The front valence holds a pair of driving lights and there’s a billet grille in place of the original RS piece. LED tail lights and exhaust tips that poke out through the rear valence give the other guy something to look at while you’re pulling away, especially since the eyes of the Punisher emblem are miniature LEDs that light up with the brake and turn signal indicators.
This car does plenty of advertising for the 550 horsepower LS2 V8 under the hood. Extensively reworked by the pros at Turn Key Engine Supply, it still runs like a factory piece and is driven by electronics instead of a carburetor-the essence of the pro-touring movement. A custom fabricated intake manifold and coil covers are the first tipoffs that this isn’t a garden variety engine swap, and the heavy doses of chrome and polished bright work make it a show-stopper. Other trick details include the billet aluminum air cleaner with a matching Punisher logo, a smoothed and filled firewall, custom inner fender panels, and a lot of time spent hiding the wiring and plumbing. There’s a massive Be Cool aluminum radiator keeping it cool and this car will run at high speeds for hours on end without breaking a sweat. Fire it up, and there’s no question that there’s a big cam loping away under the hood, and it barks and snarls through a pair of custom long-tube stainless steel headers. Other trick pieces include the custom master cylinder, billet aluminum hood hinges and matching fender support brackets and the serpentine belt system.
On a pro-touring car, the chassis is where the bulk of the time and energy are spent, upgrading a nose-heavy muscle car into a world-class sports machine, and that mission has been accomplished with The Punisher. The transmission is a Tremec TKO600 5-speed manual spinning a narrowed Ford 9-inch that was custom built for this car and filled with 3.90 gears on a limited slip. The suspension has been heavily modified with Detroit Speed tubular A-arms and Koni coil-over shocks up front, along with a power rack-and-pinion setup that makes the steering track like a laser-guided missile. That front suspension alone cost nearly $9000, and allows the use of massive 10-inch wide front wheels. The rear suspension is a modified 4-link with a panhard rod and another pair of Koni coil-overs. There’s a vented and cross-drilled Wilwood disc brake at each corner, with six-piston calipers up front, and two-piston units out back. The exhaust system is borderline artwork-polished stainless steel that fits beautifully and gives The Punisher just the right tone of voice. The custom-made floors are beautifully finished and completely smoothed like the firewall, and there are heavy-duty subframe connectors that make a notable improvement in the overall rigidity of the car. Out back, mini tubs make room for the custom 18×12 3-piece alloys were fabricated just for this car, with black centers and polished rims, along with the requisite Punisher emblem on the center caps. Tires are extremely trick 275/35/18 front and 335/30/18 rear BFGoodrich radials with buffed sidewalls and red stripes that tie the entire car together perfectly.
Open the door and this car gets even better. Every single component in the interior has been customized and hand-fabricated just for The Punisher by the guys at LB Custom Interiors, and you’ll be stunned by the acres of supple red leather with ostrich skin inserts. I think it’s probably safe to say that not a single piece of 1969 Camaro trim remains inside this car, and it’s all beautifully crafted. The seats are custom buckets that are far more supportive than the original Strato buckets, and the back seat has been heavily recontoured to match. The headliner, center console, and door panels were created to work as a group, and their simple, elegant design adds to the car’s remarkable levels of detail-note how the stitching in the lower door panels extends into the kick panels under the dash. And speaking of the dashboard, it is a custom twin pod design that owes a tip of the hat to earlier cars like the Corvette, although it’s far more subtle. The driver gets a custom gauge panel full of Auto Meter carbon fiber gauges, while the passenger gets another Punisher emblem on a carbon fiber panel. A trick touch-screen entertainment system is front and center, and includes navigation, the ability to play DVDs, and a back-up camera whose lens is mounted underneath the rear license plate. Right below are the controls for the powerful Vintage Air HVAC system, and the billet vents scattered throughout the interior ensure fresh air for all passengers. In a car of this caliber, the trunk wouldn’t be just cheap spatter finish paint; instead it carries matching upholstery and carpets that hide the wiring, stereo amplifiers, and battery.