1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Cut Away Display Car
1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS Cut Away Display Car
For your consideration, the 1969 Camaro Autorama Cutaway Car which toured with the Detroit Auto Show to promote the new 1969 model. Also known as "The Double Header Car," it is the actual car that represented the most popular Chevy muscle car ever made. The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro is hands down the most sought-after iconic signature car of all of the Chevy muscle car lineup.
What is a Cut Away Car?
This 4th week of August built Camaro was one of the actual cars used to persuade spectators into going to buy one just like it. No one can dispute that just like the body design, the display itself was purely an engineering marvel and a work of art.
Once the car left the assembly line, it was sent to GM Creative Services to be modified into the cutaway display. The cutaway engine was built in advance of production for time saving measures and was a 1968 engine. The car does retain much of its "original" 1968 engine.
The display was mounted on three turn tables, two of which had the front ends mounted on them. One being the RS/SS, 350 Cubic inch engine, TH350 front end, and the other standard 230 CI 6-cylinder Power Glide front end. The third turn table had the main body of the car mounted to it. The rear axle was affixed to the stage. The body was chain driven off a sprocket mounted to the rear axle pinion and would pivot off the rear axle to raise and lower the body onto either front end as the turn tables rotated and synced into the proper orientation. From the control panel, the spectators could also make the lights flash, the horn beep, and open and close the headlight doors with the assistance of a small compressor mounted behind the grill.
The main body is optioned as follows:
Lemans blue, White Vinyl Top, Rally Sport, SS-350 / TH350 Automatic Transmission, Power Steering, Endura Front Bumper, Deluxe White Houndstooth Interior with Bucket Seats, Center Console with Gauges, Tachometer, Tinted Glass, Rear Window Defroster, Power Disc Brakes, Walnut steering wheel, Tilt Steering Column, Console 8 Track Tape Player, AM/FM Blue Light Stereo Radio, and Deluxe Seat Belts.
Something else that adds to the uniqueness of this amazing car is that it only has 2.4 original miles, which is documented on the original title. It is believed to be the lowest mileage 1969 Camaro in existence. This Camaro was on display into the early months of 1969 and was allegedly last on display in the Coliseum in New York. Verbal history reports that an automotive facility was the first owner after it was removed from display. The car passed through several owners through the years while it remained in storage.
Recently Heartbeat City Camaro's owner purchased this incredible car from the previous owner who performed a very tedious 10 year restoration and preservation. Sometime throughout the life of the car, the V8 engine was completely taken apart and reassembled. This turned into a very challenging project, because some of the parts were missing. The car’s numbers and date codes were of no importance, because GM polished and removed all markings and numbers until smooth, including the numbers on the rear axle assembly.
After purchasing the car, the previous owner’s priority was to locate more pictures which was the key to the correct reassembly of the car. He soon discovered that there were very few original display pictures of this car. The lack of photos is really hard to believe with today's internet capabilities. In nearly 10 years, the previous owner only found seven actual display photos, four of which were taken by the same person. Even the GM archives only had one photo.
Some sources report that there were only three to five Cutaway Cars built. Other reports were that eight cars were converted for display, which is hard to believe. With the lack of photo sources and the complexity of this display, three to five cars built is the most probable number.
Through the use of the photographs, a list was compiled of the missing parts. Imagine trying to put a puzzle together that didn't come with all the pieces. You have to go find pieces that not only fit, but that are also in the appropriate condition. Every effort was made to use original GM parts or NOS parts whenever possible, but some of the parts had to be reproduced. The originality of the car helps to confirm its authenticity. One had to look past bumps, bruises, scratches, dings or dents in an effort to preserve the originality and authenticity. Touch ups rather than a complete repaint were performed, with the exception of the hood and header panel which was unavoidable.
The V8 engine and transmission parts were located, fabricated, refinished, and reassembled. This was time consuming labor that was prolonged due to the staggering cost of the chrome plating. Chrome plating the connecting rods, crankshaft, rocker arms, springs and push rods added up quickly. All new Nylon wrist pins, Teflon rod bearings, Nylon piston guides, and lifter pads were machined by the owner. The crank and camshaft are fitted with roller bearings. These parts were originally installed so it could rotate about 10 RPM without oil. The oil pan, timing cover, and valve covers were reproduced in clear acrylic because the original parts were heavily fogged.
The main body of the car retains 85% of the original paint from GM Creative Services who resprayed it after they modified the body. Disassembly, detailed cleaning, and reassembly of the car began and were followed by touch ups. The V8 front end had plastic front coil springs to allow easy adjustment of the height of the front end when mounted to the stage. The original driveshaft is still bolted up to the rear, but hangs from a bearing and a stud mounted to the floor pan in the front. This allowed the body to be raised to view the driveshaft spinning along with its chrome u-joint. The internals of the rear axle were heavily modified with special axles, tapered hubs, and drive keys to facilitate lifting the body.
The TH350 transmission was missing, so another cutaway transmission was located in North Carolina and a case was modified to match the original. The internals from the newly located transmission were then transferred into the properly modified case.
With the exception of the dash pad, headliner and rear package tray, which had to be replaced for cosmetic reasons, the interior is original to the car. The car also retains all of the electronic control panels and switches for the display throughout the car.
When the main body was finished, a decision had to be made as to rebuilding the 6-cylinder front end which had been discarded many years before. Throughout the restoration of the main body, GM parts were collected to build the 6-cylinder front end including one of the original L6 cutaway engines, which was located in Roanoke, Virginia. The owner believes that the uniqueness of the car is due to the double header car and the 6-Cylinder nose shown in the archive display photo. After fifteen months, 100's of hours in labor, and a staggering chroming bill the car was completed. The great detail, no expense spared, new acrylic valve cover, timing cover, lifter covers and starter housing made it the exhibit it is today. Once again, it matches the archive photo and it looks absolutely fantastic!
The stage that the car was originally mounted on is long gone. The car currently rests in a static condition and has stands bolted to the body mounts to keep the body raised for easier viewing of the drivetrain. Several of the original GM blueprints from GM Creative Services were located and are included with the car as well as the heavy car cover for the main body that was used when the car was transported while on the Autorama tour.
To remove any doubt about the car’s authenticity, it is also certified by Camaro authority Jerry MacNeish.
Previous Owner’s Perspective
This project was way more complicated than meets the eye, but in the end it all came together as you see it. Seeing people’s reaction to it is one of the most rewarding parts of owning the car. The seasoned enthusiast normally let out a “WOW!”, is this really the factory Cut Away car ???.... followed by a long pause. The less experienced car people are totally confused by it and require the history lesson. For some reason someone always asks if it runs, which just makes one shake their head in disbelief. In all, it is hands down the most unique 1969 Chevrolet Camaro one could possibly own and the center piece for any prestigious muscle car collection or museum!
Heartbeat City retains a considerable Camaro collection, we simply do not have the available space required to house and display such a rare and significant piece of Automotive history. We firmly believe this Camaro belongs in a museum and or a collection where it can be proudly shown.
We are open to possible trades for other Rare First Generation Camaros and or large parts collections.
For more information about the Cut Away Camaro please email Jim directly @: Heartbeatcity427@aol.com