Burgundy Brawler – Chris McPhie’s ’69 Camaro Takes Home PPG 2020 Street Machine of the Year Win
If you’re looking for a snapshot of what the high-end street machine scene looks like in 2020, Chris McPhie’s ’69 Camaro is a stellar example. Built by Dutchboys Hotrods in Michigan, the Camaro wears an array of modern custom body mods, has a chassis and drivetrain that deliver supercar-level performance, and sports an incredible competition-themed interior. It’s the right combination to rise above an incredible field of contenders to capture the Goodguys PPG 2020 Street Machine of the Year title this past weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, at the 29th Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals presented by BASF.
The project was actually started by Steadfast Hot Rods – a shop that was also represented in Des Moines with a Deuce coupe competing for Street Rod of the Year. Steadfast owner Henry Richards decided to part ways with the project in 2017, and it made a perfect starting point for Paul VanNus at Dutchboys Hotrods to take to the next level for customer Chris McPhie.
The first goal for Paul and the Dutchboys team was to make the car ultra-low, while having it function and handle at an exceptional level. They used Detroit Speed front and rear suspensions to get the desired handling prowess and raised the floor to drop the body even lower. They even set the engine back 6-inches to achieve better balance for optimum handling and incorporated a built-in air jack system to allow for quick and simplified maintenance. Massive Brembo carbon fiber brake rotors add an exotic touch behind the carbon-hoop Forgeline 19×11- and 19×12.5-inch wheels wrapped in sticky Michelin 295/19 and 345/19 rubber.
The quest for big power and big cubic inches in a modern package turned the team to Wegner Motorsports for a potent 427c.i. LS7 engine cranking out 675hp. A combination of Holley and MSD induction and injection components is fed through a carbon fiber air intake, with spent gases exhaling through Detroit Speed headers and a custom exhaust with Borla mufflers. A Dailey dry-sump oiling system ensures proper lubrication, even during hard cornering or acceleration. A Centerforce clutch connects the engine to a Bowler-prepped T56 six-speed transmission.
Stuffing those massive wheels and tires into the Camaro envelope involved widening the front fenders and rear quarters. On top of that, the Dutchboys crew extended the rockers, had a one-off hood made from carbon fiber, built a custom front valence and tucked bumpers, and crafted one-piece window trim. A custom rear spoiler with a carbon fiber extension, rear belly pan, and soft-close door latches were also part of the equation. Joe VanNus and Jeff Thomas covered all the custom bodywork with a beautiful special-blend BASF maroon paint.
Avant Garde worked its magic inside, crafting custom computer-designed panels using a combination of leather, carbon fiber, and 3D-printed components. The entire interior can be disassembled in 20 minutes for easy serviceability. Tillett carbon fiber race seats add to the race influence, as does the Racepak gauge panel in a 3D-printed dash, and the MPI steering wheel atop the IDIDIT column. It’s not strictly business, though – a Vintage Air system provides some comfort for warm-weather cruising and track days.
There’s no doubt this Camaro has some incredible performance potential, and we got a small taste of it during the Street Machine of the Year AutoCross runs on Friday afternoon in Des Moines. Back that up with beautiful fabrication and bodywork, and you’ve got an awesome F-body that went up against some stellar PPG 2020 Street Machine of the Year contenders in Des Moines, including Kent Matranga’s ’71 Cuda, Tim Wheeler’s ’69 Camaro, Gumer Alvero’s ’69 Camaro, and Greg Noble’s ’59 Corvette. Goodguys would like to congratulate Chris McPhie and the Dutchboys Customs team for crafting a custom Camaro capable of capturing the Goodguys PPG 2020 Street Machine of the Year crown!
Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee