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2 Fast 2 Furious: 1969 Yenko Camaro

The torque of the day

For those throwbacks still stuck reading "Car Craft," "2F2F" included some classic musclecars in its mix of automotive lust. Somewhere in the story, they found room to shove in both a big-block '69 Yenko Camaro and a '70 Dodge Challenger powered by the legendary 426 Hemi V8. The Dodge didn't make it out to Fontana for our test, but the Camaro was there in all its fuel-swilling, primitively suspended, lousy-braking glory.

First, this is not a genuine Yenko Camaro, a breed which is very rare and very expensive, but a clone built to duplicate the car down to the smallest haphazard construction error. That means just like a real Yenko, this Camaro is powered by a 427-cubic inch (7.0 liters to those of us comfortable in the 21st century), iron-block, cam-in-block, overhead valve V8 making 425 hp despite relying on a giant fuel-leak called a "four-barrel carburetor" for induction. The transmission is a brutish Muncie four-speed, the steering is as much by blind luck as it is by a recirculating ball and the solid axle on leaf springs rear suspension is about as supple as a cinder block being slammed into an old Norge freezer.

Despite its absolutely prehistoric underpinnings, the Camaro is a blast to drive. There's so much torque available from the engine we half expected it to walk away on its own pound-feet. Burnouts were long and easy, throwing the tail out in corners was easier than actually trying to steer around them, and there's no denying that this is one great-looking car. Sure it's so loud and crude it feels like the driver is actually riding atop the air cleaner and the flat seat offers such little support, it could've been French. Yeah, the rim of the steering wheel is ludicrously thin, the instrumentation stupidly laid out and the driver sits so low, it's like looking out of a munitions bunker. But was it fun? God, yes.

"This car is indifferent to every control input, except the throttle," Josh said after his speed runs in the Camaro. Yet for a 34-year-old car that had been brutalized for a film, this car was in surprisingly good shape. There were plenty of rattles and air leaks around the windows, but the car probably came from Chevrolet with those, and the structure felt solid.

It was also the quickest car we tested that day, gutting the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 106.9 mph and getting to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. If it wore slicks and was tuned to calm down the suspension's conniptions, this car could have easily run low 13s and maybe 12s. Nostalgia is never a good thing to wallow in, but if you're determined to wallow it might as well be in a car like this.

The Camaro's handling is just as lousy as anyone would expect. Modern BFGoodrich Radial T/As can only do so much to counter the suspension, which was state of the art in 1897, and that iron lump of an engine puts all the weight in the wrong place, so the 0.73g skidpad performance was about as good as any Canestoga's. But put the window down, light up a Pall Mall and cruise off toward the horizon and this Camaro works fine.

And the brakes, which are a combination of front discs and rear drums, were really scary. Although they managed to stop this thing in a fairly respectable 138 ft., they heated up quickly, and hardly worked after two hard stops.

All the Camaros and Challengers used in "2F2F" weren't real Yenkos or weren't originally equipped with Hemis. In fact, the Camaro seen jumping onto a boat in the film actually had a crummy small-block V8 in it and some of the Challengers in the show were powered by less exotic 440 V8s or smaller. If you're a muscle freak, it's bad enough when any Camaro or any Challenger is destroyed, but at least these were never particularly rare ones in the first place. That might be small comfort, but it's all the comfort you're getting.

"2 Fast 2 Furious" Brian
1969 Yenko Camaro
Engine
Engine Code:L72
Type :V8, iron block, iron heads
Internal Modifications:None
External Modifications: Headers, Flowmaster mufflers
Engine Management Mods:None
Drivetrain
Layout:Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Drivetrain Modifications :None
Suspension
Front:Stock
Rear:Stock
Brakes
Front:Stock
Rear :Stock
Exterior
Wheels:Cragar S/S
Tires:BFGoodrich Radial T/A
Performance
Acceleration
Quarter Mile Time:13.7 sec.
Quarter Mile Speed:106.9 mph
0-30 mph:2.8 sec.
0-60 mph:5.8 sec.
30-50 mph:1.7 sec.
50-70 mph:2.3 sec.
Handling
Lateral Grip (200-ft skidpad):0.73g
Braking
60-0 stopping distance :138 ft.
Interior: Stock

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