Fresh Take on a Seldom Seen 1979 Chevy Camaro Berlinetta

By Scotty Lachenauer   –   Photography by the Author

“I grew up loving the second-gen Camaro body style. To me they always looked fast while standing still; knowing that, my dad picked up this ’79 Camaro for me when I was 15. I didn’t even have my driving permit, but it was a smart move to grab it while it was available. We both knew we could build it into a dependable street/strip car,” Nick Trial of Babylon, New York, says.

- Advertisement -

The young gun felt like the luckiest kid in the world when his dad, John, had the wherewithal to purchase this ’79 Berlinetta for his very own. “The Camaro was a clean, original ride, with a spotless interior and a 350 underhood. It had sat for over 25 years, but my dad saw the potential. I remember the day he brought it home. I waited up till 3 a.m. to see it. Even with two bent pushrods I got the chance to drive it around the block,” Nick states.

003 Speeding 1979 Chevy Camaro

Read More: Paul Coppola’s 2002 Z28 Camaro

- Advertisement -

Nick definitely had a good partner in his father who had already had cars featured in several magazines and won a number of awards for his spectacular Oldsmobile builds. Having Pop by his side would help give Nick the confidence he needed when tackling the build of his own high-powered, Chevy ride. Game on!

005 Fully Built 1979 Chevy Camaro

Over the next year, Nick and John started a frame-on restoration. The undercarriage was coated in POR-15, brakes rebuilt, fuel delivery gone over, and the front suspension rebuilt. They also partially disassembled the small-block to detail it and replaced the pushrods. After that minor surgery, the 350 ran like a top. The original paint was buffed out and a new set of wheels were added for a little bling at the corners. Luckily, the interior was in amazing shape and needed little to get it looking showroom new. “This was a fundamental time for me as it was my first step in muscle car education,” Nick states.

009 Custom Front End 1979 Chevy Camaro

- Advertisement -

By the time the Camaro was ready, Nick was finally old enough to get his driver’s license. “This was monumental for me, as I drove the car everywhere from that point onward,” Nick recalls. However, during this time, the car was hit while parked at a friend’s house. Luckily, during his last Olds 4-4-2 build, John had become friendly with the crew over at Northpoint Restoration in Westbury, New York, and figured they would be the place to help put a new skin on Nick’s Camaro. “I spent a month in that shop after school learning how to sand and do bodywork,” Nick remembers. “I also added a Z28 scoop, side vents, and wing to the car.”

010 Custom Rear End 1979 Chevy Camaro

Read More: Mike Berchick’s 1984 Monte Carlo SS

When it came time for paint, Nick knew what he wanted. “The car’s original color was Carmine Red, so I went with a third-generation Camaro color called Flame Red. It was a similar hue, but I had the guys at Northport add some extra flake for additional pop in the sunlight,” Nick says. “My Uncle Angelo’s IROC is painted that color, so I knew what it would look like.” Once completed, Nick took the car to several car shows and started getting involved in the local car scene. “I was hooked. I loved wrenching on cars and the community around it,” Nick adds.

Nick would dig deeper into the hobby a few years later when his buddies convinced him to run his Camaro at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. “After the first pass I was once again hooked. I knew then what the future held for this Camaro,” Nick excitedly says.

012 Custom Engine Bay 1979 Chevy Camaro

In 2018 Nick got a call from a friend about a 383 stroker short-block for sale. Nick bought the engine and sent it to James at JA Performance in Lynbrook, New York, to get it freshened up. While that was taking place Nick pulled the original engine and transmission to further detail the engine compartment. At that point, Nick relocated the battery to the trunk, rewired the engine compartment, and upgraded the factory gauges with Dakota Digital pieces. The TH350 transmission was then sent out and rebuilt with a full manual valvebody by Fred Brown at FB performance in Bay Shore, New York.

016 Custom Red Interior 1979 Chevy Camaro

Read More: This 1988 Camaro IROC-Z is a Pro Touring Masterpiece

Next, the engine and trans were brought to Moonlight Garage in New Hyde Park where Nick assisted with the top-end assembly. The short-block received some add-ons, including Edelbrock Performer RPM heads and Performer RPM Air Gap intake, which were both ported and polished by Frankie Ford. Richie Hoffman custom built a Holley 750-cfm carburetor, which supplies this stroker the go-juice it needs. Nick then took the engine back home to bolt on the Eddie Motorsports V Drive V-Belt engine accessory drive system prior to installing the mill back in the Camaro.

015 Carburator 1979 Chevy Camaro

Once buttoned up and fully assembled, the car went back to Moonlight garage where they handled mostly everything else, including a rebuild of the original 10-bolt out back. Tommy Perito and Hoffman executed the work with perfection, as the twosome plowed through a hefty “to-do” list on the Camaro. They rebuilt the front and rear suspension, added in subframe connectors, and dialed in a Hurst Quarter Stick shifter. Once finished, they broke in the engine by bringing the car out in front of the shop for its first official burnout.

020 Custom Hood Scoop 1979 Chevy Camaro

I loved the original Z28 hood scoops and I wanted to keep the look, but I needed clearance for the engine,” Nick states. “So, my good friend Steve Wider built me a tall, widened, and functional Z28 hood out of fiberglass. He made the scoop by sectioning two Z28 scoops and glassing them to the 2.5-inch cowl hood.”

021 Custom Drag Slicks 1979 Chevy Camaro

Read More: Jay Breitmaier’s 1971 Camaro Proves That Pro Street is Alive and Well

Once completed, Nick looked back on the build. “The car is exactly how wanted it to be: simple, aggressive-looking and sounding, and built to be driven hard,” Nick says. “My intention was to finish the car in time for the 2019 Super Chevy event at Maple Grove Raceway. I did in fact finish in time and ever since it has been a tradition of mine to race every year surrounded by my family and friends.

019 Custom Speedo 1979 Chevy Camaro

“This car constantly reminds me why I love hot rods. Not only from the sound of a healthy V-8 and the smell of race gas but learning about muscle cars and how to restore them at a young age with my father, to building it into my dream car, and now driving the wheels off of it,” Nick declares. “Muscle cars, the Camaro specifically, have been and will remain one of my life’s greatest passions.”

011 Passenger Side 1979 Chevy Camaro

Tech Check:
Owner: Nick Trial, Babylon, New York
Vehicle: ’79 Camaro Berlinetta

Engine:
Type: Small-block Chevy
Block: Original GM four-bolt main (not original to the car)
Displacement: 383 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Bore: 4.030
Stroke: 3.75
Cylinder Heads: Edelbrock Performer RPM, ported and polished
Rotating Assembly: Eagle crank, I-beam rods, SRP pistons
Valvetrain: DLC-coated stamped rockers, Comp Cam springs
Camshaft: Comp Cams flat tappet
Induction: Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap ported and polished, Holley 750-cfm carburetor
Ignition: DUI
Cooling: Ron Davis aluminum radiator with dual 13-inch SPAL electric fans
Fuel delivery: Stock tank, mechanical fuel pump
Exhaust: Headman Hedders long-tube headers to 3-inch exhaust with X-pipe over rear axle
Ancillaries: Eddie Motorsports Billet V Drive V-Belt pulley system, valve covers, and hood hinges
Output: N/A

Drivetrain:
Transmission: Original TH350 housing, rebuilt, Manual valvebody, 2,800 stall converter
Rear Axle: Original 10-bolt housing reinforced, Moser axles, Eaton Detroit locker, 4.56 gear

Chassis:
Frame: Stock with subframe connectors
Front Suspension: Stock, modified stock springs, KYB shocks
Rear Suspension: Global West drag racing leaf springs, KYB shocks
Brakes: Stock discs front, stock drums rear
Wheels: Weld Vitesse, 15×6 front, 15×7 rear
Tires: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, 215/70R15 front; Mickey Thompson ET Street SS 275/60R15 rear

Interior:
Upholstery: Stock
Seats: Stock
Steering: Red Head steering box
Shifter: Hurst Quarter Stick
Dash: Stock with Dakota Digital gauges
Sound System: RetroSound stereo with two 10-inch kicker subs in rear deck, two trunk-mounted amplifiers

Exterior:
Bodywork and Paint: Northpoint Restoration (Westbury, NY)
Paint: GM Flame Red with metalflake
Hood: Custom 2.5-inch fiberglass Z28 by Steve Wider
Bumpers: Stock

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Fresh Take on a Seldom Seen 1979 Chevy Camaro Berlinetta.

acp january 2024

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

Search Our Site

More Chevy Performance

Fresh Fuel Delivery for a Crusty 1977 Nova

By Tommy Lee Byrd   -   Photography by the Author If...

Double Dose of 1969 COPO Camaros With Different Personalities

By Scotty Lachenauer   -   Photography by the Author We’ve all...

Suspension Upgrade: Aldan’s Coilover Kits for C2 and C3 Corvettes and Full-Size Chevys

By Ron Ceridono   -   Photography by the Author Hot rodders...

Totally Custom Pro Touring-Style 1967 Chevy Chevelle

By Nick Licata   -   Photography by John Jackson Growing up...

Firing Up — All Chevy Celebrates its Third Anniversary

With the Jan. ’24 issue of All Chevy Performance...

The Tools You’ll Need for Building the Chevy LS Engine Family

The Tools You’ll Need for Building the Chevy LS...
More Chevy Performance

Longevity

Tom Schauppner’s ’56 Chevy Bel Air By Nick Licata   -  ...

Chevy Concepts – 1970 Camaro

Artwork by Tavis Highlander Instagram @tavishighlander TavisHighlander.com Vehicle Builder: Vintage Fabrication, Independence,...

Back to Basics

Keeping Drum Brakes in Service is Simple and Affordable By...

Zora Inspired

Mike Schultz’s 1965 Corvette Grand Sport Tribute By Nick Licata  ...

Differential Dissidence

Assembling a 9-Inch Rearend for an LS-Powered Tri-Five By Ryan...

Haulin’ SS

Rich Dandolo’s ’70 El Camino By Nick Licata  -   Photography...