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Published: 6/13/2023

Quintessential Restomod Camaro: Kenny Brazell's 1969 Model Features Modern LS3 Power

Author: DAN HODGDON

Photos: LUCAS PRIAMO

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Kenny Brazell's 1969 Camaro has been in his family for almost 50 years. Along the way, it has undergone a variety of changes, even nearly becoming a drag car at one point. However, the Camaro's classic style has remained intact, and now, LS3 power sits in the engine bay.

 

A look at Kenny Brazell's beautiful LS-swapped 1969 Camaro.

 

Brazell hails from Blythewood, South Carolina, and attended the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association's Griot's Garage North Carolina Nationals at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh this spring. At the show, the blue car's popped hood and LS3 badging left no doubt as to Brazell's go-to-power plant.

"(I wanted) to make it ride and drive like a new car," said Brazell, who runs a landscaping company. "When I started building it I'd been to a bunch of these shows and was trying to get what I wanted. I wanted to keep the body style pretty much stock appearing with the new drivability in the car. That's where the LS came from. 

"I've got 7,000 miles on it and it hasn't been touched. It can sit in the shop for a month and I can just get in it and take off. I tell everybody, if you're even thinking LS, then go for it because this is definitely the way to go."

The powertrain is from a 2014 Camaro and features the LS3 engine and a 6L80E six-speed automatic transmission, which now has a modified shift pattern. Brazell tackled the entire project six years ago and did the vast majority of the mechanical work himself.

 

The LS3 engine is out of a 2014 Camaro.

Brazell's dad bought the car in 1976 and his son drove it in high school, when the car still featured its original 327 cu.-in. Small-Block engine and four-speed transmission. Back then it was Le Mans Blue color and had black vinyl top from the factory.

However, being in a family of drag racers, the car was once close to living out its days on the quarter-mile.

"That car was raced a little and as a matter of fact we were fixing to cut that car up back in the '80s and make a race car out of it," Kenny Brazell said. "My father found a Super Stock Nova that we got and started racing it. Then we ended up building a 1984 Camaro that we ran. But that car was fixing to be cut. I'm glad now we didn't. But we've done a lot of drag racing."

Eventually, Brazell decided to take advantage of the advances in modern performance and LS swapped the '69 Camaro. He also utilized a few aftermarket goodies including a COMP Cams camshaft and a 3500-rpm stall torque converter. The car now makes 485 horsepower at the rear wheels. It also features a 12-bolt rear end with 3.73 gears. Stopping power is provided by Wilwood disc brakes.

LS3 badging adds to the car's restomod vibe.

The car remains on its stock sub-frame, but Brazell added Detroit Speed control arms and other suspension components along with QA1 coilover shocks for improved handling.

Even utilizing the original sub-frame, Brazell found that swapping the powertrain from a Gen V Camaro to a Gen I didn't pose as great a challenge as one might think.

"I bought all my stuff from a place called Muscle Rods, the mounts and everything," Brazell said. "It went in super easy. It slid right in. … It was simple and that was the first one I'd ever done. It was a piece of cake. I sent the computer off to a place called Hotwire that made my harness, and they reflashed the computer, but it went in well and everything's just been perfect."

The exterior of the car is painted in a blue color from a Dodge Challenger with a bit of Mercedes gray for the stripes. The paint is complemented by Billet Specialties wheels and Ringbrothers accessories. The car also features carbon-fiber accents with spoilers from Ultra Carbon.

Brazell enlisted his friend Brett Kimbrell of Kimbrell's Paint & Auto in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, for the painting process.

For the interior, Brazell and his team took the seats out of a 2014 Camaro and cut off the headrests to make them fit. In addition, they added a Dakota Digital dash and Vintage Air, along with the console from a 2014 Camaro which has a similar setup to the Gen I version. The result is a true restomod look.

The Camaro sports a custom Gen V Camaro interior.

 

Brazell and his wife, Tammie, also own a 1969 C10 pickup (which is soon to be powered by an LS or LT4 engine) and a 1973 Camaro. They attend a variety of big shows in the Southeast throughout the year.

Their 1969 Camaro is the recipient of a variety of major awards in restomod categories. But while the accolades are nice, they aren't Brazell's favorite part of each event.

"I've got friends now that I've met since we built this car that are really good friends and just good people," he said. "That's the biggest thing I enjoy."

 

The car has been in Kenny Brazell's family since 1976.

 

Brazell is also a lifelong Chevrolet fan, with the Bowtie passion instilled in him by his father.

He returns to his belief in the brand with his advice for anyone looking to take on their own project.

"Buy quality parts, buy GM stuff, buy good-name stuff, that was the key thing," he said. "My buddy that painted the car, they build cars and he also helped me a lot. And sometimes don't be overwhelmed by something, just use common sense. But the biggest thing is just buying good key parts."

That philosophy has served his Camaro well.

Keep watching The BLOCK for more from Goodguys shows throughout the United States.

 

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