South Bend, Indiana’s Tony Karamitsos has one heck of a cool job. The Die-Cast Brand Manager and Designer for Johnny Lightning, Auto World, American Muscle, and Racing Champions is instrumental in turning cool real-life rides into small scale replicas for collectors and enthusiasts. But he doesn’t just build the small stuff.
He builds the real stuff, too. “I actually had another ’69 Camaro that got hit and totaled. After the accident, a friend knew I was in the market for another, and he told me that another friend actually had a ’69 Camaro project of his own,” he said.
It was a 1969 Camaro in principle and in title only.
“The car was a total basket case,” Karamitsos recalled. “It didn’t have quarters, a rear valance— no doghouse—not much of anything. But it was a start,” he added.
After acquiring the car in 1996, the build commenced. By 1999, the car was back on the road but it has remained a steady project in progress ever since. Karamitsos handled the body work himself with help along the way from friends Brad Curtis, Shannon Montgomery, and Adam Podell. The car was treated to all new replacement steel along with a fiberglass cowl hood before Tony laid down a mile-deep coat of DuPont Blue Pearl Metallic. White rally stripes went on next before several coats of DuPont clear sealed off the whole slippery, iconic first-gen Camaro envelope.
Chassis mods for the car are relatively straightforward but effective. Up front, TRZ tubular upper and lower control arms work in concert with Afco double-adjustable coilover shocks while custom disc brakes manage the braking chores. Custom subframe connectors work with a mild steel 8.50-cert cage to add stiffness (a newly-updated 6.50-cert cage is in the works for the off-season to get the tech inspectors off his back after blasting another 7-second pass)….
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