“I was not attempting to create a new genre of cars. I was attempting to harden an old Camaro enough to survive One Lap of America.”
Unless you’re already familiar with Mark Stielow’s creations, there’s nothing to hint at the significance of the the car in the photo above. On the outside, it might look like a very nice custom 1969 Chevrolet Camaro with some modern wheels and tires. It is, however, much more than than. This is the car, nicknamed Tri-Tip, credited with starting the Pro-Touring movement. And, as the headline says, it’s for sale on Hemmings Auctions with no reserve. It also will be on display in the Lingenfelter booth at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The first of any kind is hard to define from an evolutionary perspective, especially when it comes to custom cars. New ideas are often inspired and adapted from the past. But certain cars serve as reference points, either popular or significant enough to inspire others to follow in the same mold. Tri Tip was not the first time someone beefed up the suspension or put modern running gear in a Camaro, but Stielow’s attention to detail, combined with the car’s competitive results, gave it plenty of attention. (Later, Stielow literally wrote the book on Pro-Touring.)
The initial 1993 One Lap campaign ended early, with a fire a the rear of the car. After some quick repairs, Stielow entered and won the Car Craft Real Street Eliminator competition. The car was then upgraded for 1994 with an all-aluminum engine built by John Lingenfelter, which helped secure a class win and 6th place overall in the 1994 One Lap of America. In 1995, Stielow returned to the One Lap and finished fourth.
As the opening quote suggests, Tri Tip wasn’t made at a customer’s request; Stielow initially builds his cars for his own use. As such, it was never treated as a show car, or with any historical reverence. So, later in 1995, Stielow sold the white car and moved on to the next project. Three owners later, and with almost three decades as a growing legend, it will now go on sale to the highest bidder.
We’ll take a deeper dive into the history of the car next week. For now, have a look at the auction listing for the Tri-Tip 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, and think about taking out a home equity loan. Bidding begins on November 4th.