There it was glistening in the lights of the display at the Detroit Autorama. We first saw this 1969 Camaro ZRS Pro Touring custom muscle car while covering the Ridler Award competition at the Autorama in 2014. The custom Camaro stood out because there had never been one in the Ridler Award competition before. Cars-On-Line.com was covering the 2014 Detroit Autorama when we discovered this muscle car gem among the Great 8 Award winners that year. It was a ground breaking build, the first time a Camaro had won a Great 8 Award in Autorama history.
The Detroit Autorama is the home of the Ridler Award, the most coveted trophy in the custom car building hobby. Legendary custom car builders such as Chip Foose will often compete for the Ridler Award. Winning the Ridler Award sets you atop the custom car building world. To win the Ridler you must first be selected to the Great 8, the top eight cars to be judged for the Ridler Award trophy.
Being a Great 8 Award winner meant the Camaro had to have been totally custom fabricated, and this one was. Jim Ganos, a Wisconsin Camaro enthusiast, wanted to build the ultimate Camaro Show car, so he enlisted a litany of the top custom car builders in the country to help him realize his dream build. Built with a Pro Touring theme, Ganos wanted his car to be able to run autocross and compete with the top cars in the country. So he started on his quest to acheive a Great 8 and go on to compete in the Ridler Award competition.
Remembering the 1969 Camaro ZRS Pro Touring car from that Ridler Award competition in 2014, we were surprised to see this incredible show car turn up for sale in our Camaro Section yesterday. It is being sold by MGM Classic Cars in Addison, Illinois. (Click here to view dozens of detailed photos.) Be sure to watch the informative video they did. This is a “must see” video.
Ganos discovered the ’69 Camaro RS Z/28 in a custom car shop in Chicago in need of restoration. Come to find out, it had once belonged to Chip Foose from the Overhaulin TV show.
From there the story just got more interesting. He decided to start the custom build with a Bill Mitchell, Gen 1 World all aluminum 427 small block … same power as a big block but much lighter and better for autocross. If you look at the photos in the ad you’ll see a one-off custom intake on this car. They found a rare Smokey Yunich piece that Smokey designed and had made for road racing Covettes in the mid sixties. It reminds you of the intake on a modern day Ferrari. The transmission chosen for the ZRS is a Tremec T56 6-speed, assembled by Bowler.
Soon Ganos decided that Wayne Due would make the custom sub frame and Bob Thrash was called upon to fabricate much of the front and rear suspension. Bob mated his fabricated pieces to a complete C-4 Corvette independent unit which gives this street machine excellent handling, again, for autocross.
Larry Williams of Williams Graphics was the artist that Jim decided upon to do the renderings for the build. Jim Hubbell was the builder, who, with Williams, crafted the design. Lots of hours were accumulated performing body mods and Ganos handled all this body work in his shop in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Greening Auto Company made the wheels. Tires were 225/40 ZR18 in front and 345/30 ZR19 in the rear. Chip Foose’s friend Charley Hutton did the paint and body. The interior was done by M&M Hot Rods; Greening Auto Company did the machine shop fabrications and Advance Plating did the chrome and powder coating. With that lineup of star builders you can understand why this Camaro won the Great 8 Award. You can see the “ZRS” theme integrated in the custom graphics.
We never thought Ganos would sell this car. When we talked with him at the Detroit Autorama back in 2014 he was so proud of it. It was one of the cars that changed the attitude of the judges at the Autorama to include Pro Touring cars into the Ridler Award competition. So, it rightfully has a place in automotive history.