The Keeper – After nearly 50 Years, Mike Chronister Still Has His High School ’69 Camaro
How many times have you heard someone lament about selling their high school car? It’s fair to say that most of your car-guy friends all have a similar story about having a GTO, Charger, Mustang, or a now-classic pickup that was the fastest thing in the school parking lot, and then having to sell it. Well, let us introduce you to Mike Chronister, one of those rare guys who had the foresight – or just plain good fortune – to hold onto his first ride.
Mike still owns the same ’69 Super Sport Camaro he owned in high school – 48 years ago. We’re talking about a low-mile, legit 396-powered, Muncie-shifted, high-geared muscle machine! What’s more is that the car is basically a time capsule from the early-’70s, when Mike purchased the car in May of 1974 from a school chum. The icing on the cake is all of the “day two” speed parts and accessories that are still on the car, which is really what caught our eye during the Goodguys 2nd Grundy Collector Car Insurance Great American Nationals.
When Mike bought the Camaro, it was already equipped with the 15×8-inch American Racing aluminum slots, though they were wrapped in slippery Polyglass tread back then. The C2 Corvette side pipes were also there, which are connected to a chambered exhaust system, and did you notice the vintage Lakewood traction bars peeking out from the underneath? Pure early-’70s speed equipment glory.
Under the hood is the rare L78 big block rated at 375 horsepower from the factory. That was before a set of Hooker Headers was added to free up the exhaust. Naturally, the stock air cleaner was tossed in favor of a better-breathing fly-eye element to feed more air into an upgraded 850cfm double pumper Holley carb. Note the Chevy over-the-counter heat shield between the factory aluminum intake and the carb to help prevent vapor lock (and conversely, a mechanical choke for those cool mornings.)
The original Olympic Gold paint is complemented by a pair of hockey stick stripes on the sides of the SS while a single black stripe centered on the hood was applied by the dealership before the car was ever sold. Pulling open the door greets you to a stock interior along with a couple popular add-ons such as the Sun Super Tach that Mike installed on the column, plus an under-dash Pioneer 8-track mounted to the right of the factory console gauges (complete with Rush’s classic “Fly by Night” tape).
Mike is only the third owner of this Camaro, which was purchased new at Schultz Chevrolet in Hanover, Pennsylvania, at the end of January in 1970. He’s spoken to the original owner before and he only lives about three miles from his buddy, Mark, who sold him the car. In short, he knows the history of the car inside and out!
If you’re reading this and thinking about all the cool cars you had years ago but sold off along the way, here’s one last bit of salt to rub in – not only does Mike still have the car, but he still has the girl! That’s right, Mike and his bride-to-be, Kathy, went to prom in his Camaro and even drove off in it after their wedding! Did you notice the graduation tassel dangling from the rearview mirror? You guessed it – also the original!
Photos by John Jackson & Todd Ryden
Lead Photo by Scotty Lachenauer