Mother-Son Muscle: The Story of Becky and Derek Luck’s 1969 Camaro SS

Family projects are common in the car world, but mother-son collaborations like Becky and Derek Luck’s 1969 Camaro SS are a rare and special occurrence. This classic piece of American muscle, powered by a Big-Block Chevrolet Performance 502 HO crate engine, is a testament to their shared passion for cars.

“I was born a gearhead,” Becky shared at the Goodguys Griot’s Garage North Carolina Nationals in Raleigh. This love for cars was passed down from her father, and now, she shares it with her son Derek. Both residing in Virginia, Becky in Louisa and Derek in Charlottesville, they often work together in her garage, refining their prized Camaro.

Becky’s journey with cars started early, with her first car being a 1970 Pontiac GTO. Over the years, she owned several Corvettes, memories of which Derek fondly recalls. “I remember helping my grandfather polish cars and riding with my mom in her Corvette. One day, she floored the gas, and the thrill of it got me hooked on horsepower,” Derek reminisced.

The Camaro project started as a way to celebrate the car’s 50th anniversary. Derek, who works at Taylor’s Auto Body in Charlottesville, used his collision repair skills to breathe new life into the car. Alongside his mother, who works in the petroleum industry, they spent over a year meticulously working on every detail, from the powertrain to the body.

Their vision was clear: to preserve the timeless look of the Gen 1 Camaro while enhancing its performance with modern upgrades. The original car featured a 396 cu.-in. Big-Block with a four-speed manual transmission, elements they wanted to retain. This led them to the 502 HO crate engine, which fits perfectly and cranks out an impressive 461 horsepower and 558 lb.-ft. of torque.

“You can’t build that motor cheaper than you can buy it from GM,” Derek noted. The engine, with its custom radiator and March pulley system, fits snugly in the bay, accented by valve covers etched with “502” and a Holley Sniper EFI system.

The exterior remains true to its 1969 roots, with PPG black paint—the darkest shade, according to Derek—and chrome “502” badges. The interior, featuring a houndstooth pattern, will be updated next, followed by wheel and tire upgrades.

This project, a true labor of love, has strengthened the bond between Becky and Derek. Their dedication was recognized when they won the Homebuilt Heaven category in Raleigh. Becky summed up their journey with three simple words: “It’s our baby.”

Their story is a beautiful example of how a shared passion for cars can bring family members closer together, creating cherished memories and remarkable achievements along the way.

1969 Camaro SS – Becky and Derek Luck’s Build Specs

  • Engine: Chevrolet Performance 502 HO Big-Block Crate Engine
    • Horsepower: 461 hp
    • Torque: 558 lb.-ft.
    • Block Material: Cast-iron with four-bolt main caps
    • Internals: Forged
    • Camshaft: Hydraulic roller
    • Induction: Holley Sniper EFI system
    • Front Drive System: March pulley system
  • Transmission:
    • Type: Muncie four-speed manual (rebuilt during restoration)
  • Exterior:
    • Paint: PPG black (darkest shade)
    • Original Features: Cowl hood, black paint with white stripes
    • Badges: Chrome “502” on front fenders
  • Cooling System:
    • Radiator: Custom with a catch can on the side
  • Interior:
    • Current Pattern: Houndstooth
    • Upcoming Upgrades: Interior specialist to maintain 1960s look with modern standards
  • Future Plans:
    • Interior updates
    • Wheel and tire upgrades

Source: Chevrolet/The-Block
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