Kyle Tucker claims SEMA Battle of the Builders with ’69 Camaro

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Kyle Tucker and his team at Detroit Speed took home the 2018 SEMA Battle of the Builders title for their 1969 Chevrolet Camaro nicknamed Tux. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.
Kyle Tucker and his team at Detroit Speed took home the 2018 SEMA Battle of the Builders title for their 1969 Chevrolet Camaro nicknamed Tux. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.

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Kyle Tucker won the annual SEMA Battle of the Builders competition for his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro project, the Special Equipment Marketing Association said.

Among those Tucker and his Camaro beat to claim the prize with the other finalists, including a 1932 Willys aircraft refueling truck designed by Eddie Pettus, a 1972 Mazda R100 built by Rod Nielsen, and Kyle Kuhnhausen, whose 1972 Nissan 240Z won SEMA’s Young Guns competition.

The ’69 Camaro, nicknamed Tux, was built by a team at Mooresville, North Carolina-based muscle car parts supplier Detroit Speed. Tucker is the president of the company.

“This car is special in so many ways that it looks like a ’69 Camaro but we wanted it to perform,” Tucker said in a Facebook video earlier this year.

The Camaro has a very low stance. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.
The Camaro has a very low stance. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.

Tucker and his team found the Camaro that would become Tux in 2005. The car, then in Louisville, Kentucky, was green-on-green and had a 307cid V8 paired with a Powerglide transmission.

More than a few tweaks — most of them custom — were made during the multiyear build. Tux has hydroformed frame rails and a Detroit Speed front subframe. A QuadraLink rear suspension was attached to the custom rear frame rails. A nine-inch center section from GearFX and big Baer brakes were also added.

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Under the hood sits a Kurt Urban-built LS3 equipped with a Harrop supercharger. Custom valve covers and Chevrolet orange paint give the powerplant visual appeal, enhanced by the Detroit Speed headers mated to a custom exhaust. The engine is paired with a Bowler Performance six-speed manual transmission.

The engine polishes up very nicely. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.
The engine polishes up very nicely. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.

Outside, Tucker and his team modified the rear quarter panels and front fenders, shaved the drip rails and added a bolt-on drip rail trim and a custom hood was fitted, among other tweaks. The car was finished in a deep black. The car sits on one-off Forgeline wheels.

Inside is a custom leather interior designed by M&M Hot Rod, complete with modified Recaro bucket seats. Vintage Air was installed, as were one-off gauges made by Classic Instruments. A center-mounted touch screen lets the driver connect with a vehicle-wide electronics system.

The interior was finished off with a custom Detroit Speed steering wheel that reads “TUX.”

The interior features plenty of clean lines. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.
The interior features plenty of clean lines. | Flickr photo/Detroit Speed Inc.

The Camaro was the fourth created for customer Stuart Adams, though he likely hasn’t had much time behind the wheel. Tux has been traveling from show to show and picked up awards on the way. Super Chevy reported the car was named Goodguys Street Machine of the Year and the Best Street Machine at the Painless Performance Products Triple Crown of Rodding presented by Street Rodder.

Keep an eye out for Tux and the other SEMA contestants on the SEMA: Battle of the Builders television special to air January 7 at 10 p.m. on Velocity.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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