SEMA 2013: Twin-engine ’69 Camaro Certainly Rejects the Norm

Yes, those are two 427ci LS7 engines mounted inline under the hood of a ’69 Camaro.

So, why build a twin-engine Camaro?

“I first thought about a mid-engine design,” says Gary Higginbotham of American V8 Classics & Customs (AV8) in Alpharetta, Georgia. “That didn’t work out but I still wanted to build the ultimate sleeper.”

Higginbotham had a friend who was familiar with vintage twin-engine dragsters, and after a little bench racing decided that a Camaro body would fit over a custom frame outfitted with a pair of 427ci V8 engines mounted inline. That equates to an 854ci V16 power combo. And that’s not all that would make this project completely distinguishable from “just another ’69 Camaro.” Higginbotham utilized aluminum bodywork in the hood, fenders, deck lid, valance and bumpers from Auto Metal Direct. It’s all been squirted with PPG paint and accented with AV8 polished aluminum striping.

The engines are mounted on an Art Morrison frame that is mated with a Z06 rear cradle to support the differential and suspension. The Camaro body was welded to the frame.

But more on the powertrain. The 427ci LS7 engines were custom built with Callies, JE Pistons, Comp Cams, Fluidampr and ARP components and come within five horsepower of each other on the dyno: 600 and 595.

“You lose a little horsepower going through the second engine,” Higginbotham tells EngineLabs, “but the torque doesn’t change. Starting at 2,500 rpm, you have more than 1,100 lb-ft of torque.”

A shot underneath reveals the dissimilar oil pans. The seats were moved back slightly and the dash extended to clear the enlarged firewall hump.

“The engines are perfectly aligned and timed,” adds John D’agata, who fabricated the coupler system and says it’s cushioned to reduce vibration to cockpit. “The marine industry’s been doing it for years. It’s not overly complicated.”

The engines are linked to the Corvette rear differential via a torque tube and 4L60e transmission

There some differences in the engines. The front has a 6.5-quart oil pan while the rear can open up to 7 quarts. A custom 2-in-1 radiator was fabricated by AutoRad. The Concept One pulley system drives a standard water pump for the front engine while an electric pump handles the flow for the rear engine. Finally, each engine will have a separate headers and exhaust. The front engine will exit just in front of the rear wheel while the back engine sends its spent fumes all the way to the rear. Powermaster, however, cranks over both engines.

An early shot of the construction.

A torque tube extends from the rear engine to a 4L60E transmission modified by RPM Transmission to fit a Corvette Z06 differential and rear axle/suspension setup. In fact, the Art Morrison frame was designed to mate up perfectly with the Z06 rear cradle. The familiar quarter panel side louvers were turned into working vents to feed air through the transmission and diff coolers.

As you can see, the car’s build is still in progress. Cooling and fuel lines still have to be plumbed, and there may be room for a few nitrous bottles behind the seat. Plans call for cruising on the street, but there will be some acclimation and orientation for the driver. The dash had to be extended a few inches, and there’s a rather large tunnel hump under that dash. But otherwise, it just looks like another ’69 Camaro!

About the author

Mike Magda

Mike Magda is a veteran automotive writer with credits in publications such as Racecar Engineering, Hot Rod, Engine Technology International, Motor Trend, Automobile, Automotive Testing Technology and Professional Motorsport World.
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