Build Feature - Don Abenante's AWD 1969 Camaro

1969 Camaro, all wheel drive, awd, Camaro, CCW, custom, don abenante, fabrication, fabricator, featured build, hot rod drag week, LS, LSX, pro touring, sobriety, SS, SS Trailblazer, Torsen, Trailblazer, welding -

Build Feature - Don Abenante's AWD 1969 Camaro

There's something about a wildly unique build that just gets us going over here and today we're bringing you something that's definitely unique.

Meet Don Abenante.

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

Oh, and meet his '69 Camaro, pre-chopping it up to make room for a wild drivetrain.

He's 30/m/FL (yeah, you just got A/S/L'd), a mechanical engineer and a big fan of old iron.  Oh, and you can't overlook the striking resemblance to Tony Angelo of Hot Rod Garage and Formula D fame.  Sorry Don, couldn't continue without pointing that out.....

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

Enough of my dated corny jokes.  Let's let Don tell you a little bit of the story behind the car selection before we break this build down.

"So it all started with my dad.  He absolutely loved '69 Camaros he would always show me the pictures of the one he built in high school and his deep rooted love for the car always stayed with me."

"When I was young, I purchased a 1970 Chevelle to build in his name and I still have that car.  But something was missing..."

"As I got older I knew I wanted to build one (69 Camaro) but i did not want the same old mundane build.  Another thing I learned about myself was that I never liked any of my dailys unless I built it!"

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

Now, Don's already got a built Chevelle, to the tune of just under 1000 horsepower with drag suspension.  But he had the bug for something that handles.

He wants to conquer Hot Rod Drag Week, tow his camper and carve up an auto cross. 

But there's even more to the story and it's one of the most motivating parts of our talk with Don....

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

"So over a year ago, I made the journey from a fierce whiskey drinker to the land of sobriety.  One of the hardest decisions I've ever made."

"Honestly, I was very scared about it all.  Then the light went off!  Let me build my dream car and focus all my energy into something that i have always wanted to do but thought was crazy! And boom!!"

He subsequently dove off into books and forums studying racing suspension and chassis set up.  After struggling to connect the dots, he stumbled upon information regarding the drivetrain of the Trailblazer SS, an LS powered AWD SUV.

It uses a Torsen front differential and 1:1 transfer case.  Then, it was on....

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

He immediately, and by immediately I mean THAT NIGHT, found a car and started gathering parts.

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

He started with an Art Morrison front subframe which is nearly unrecognizable now.

Don used custom engine mounts, a mid plate and all custom mounting points for the sway bar and steering rack.

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

As of a week or so ago, Don finished the short block for the car.

Here's a few specs for the bench racer in all of us:

416ci LSX bottom end 10.5.1cr
4.065 piston 6.2 rod with 4 inch stroke
F.A.S.T. Dominator stand alone 
e85 with meth injection 
Custom Shearer intake to fit the modified engine height
Rebuilt front Torsen Differential
Z06 upper and lower control arms 
Custom CVs from the Drive Shaft Shop
RPM Level X 4l70e
Cyro treated transfer case rebuilt by Don
18x10 CCWs wrapped in Nittos
All Fab and Metalwork done by Don

Don Abenante builds his dream 1969 Camaro using the all wheel drive drivetrain from a Trailblazer SS and a ton of custom fabrication and in the process finds sobriety while building an awd monster.

After attending Holley's EFI school, Don's ready to tackle tuning and reaping the fruit of all the labor.

Another note in his own words....

"Damn thing helped me stay off the whiskey for a year so I am very grateful!"   

Don plans to drive this car every where and we can't say that we blame him.

As we get updates from Don, we'll share them right here.

Stay tuned and as always...

Go do work, son!

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