Detroit Speed Celebrates 20 Years With A Very Special Gift To Their Founder

10 min read

Detroit Speed Celebrates 20 Years With A Very Special Gift To Their Founder

10 min read

“The idea that every citizen of the United States should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative,” the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the American Dream.

A first-generation Camaro side project built in a home garage evolved into an award-winning hot rod shop and performance-parts manufacturer that’s now 20 years strong. It’s the American Dream solidified. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Detroit Speed did something special for its founder, awarding him serial number #1969 subframe as a thank-you in honor of 1969 Camaro project he sold to start the company.

Kyle Tucker met then-wife Stacy while working as GM Engineers in Michigan. Using Kyle’s Camaro, a car he’d owned since he was 19, they began building a Pro Touring car before the term even existed. In the late ‘90s, aftermarket support was limited, so they fabricated what they couldn’t find. They then began to make extras and began selling them. Detroit Speed (DSE) grew out of their home garage and over the years, has blossomed into the business it is today, with a 35,000-square-foot facility in Mooresville, North Carolina and over 50 employees. Recently, Detroit Speed joined forces with Holley.

In 2000, while the company was still run out of small operations in Michigan, Kyle sold that Camaro, nicknamed Twister. “We had bills to pay,” said Kyle. “It debuted right before SEMA that year, and it was sold before we got home.”

Detroit Speed "Twister" Camaro (the original)

Meet the car that started it all, the "Twister" Camaro that debuted on the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2000. The Camaro was built over two and a half years, making parts that were not available on the aftermarket that met their demanding criteria, and inadvertently created a business that is still going strong.

The Twister Camaro helped develop Detroit Speed’s subframe kits for first-gen Camaros and ’68-’74 Novas. The powder-coated hydroformed subframe features DSE’s unique suspension geometry. The complete kit includes tubular control arms, coilovers, splined anti-roll bar, forged DSE spindles, and rack and pinion steering. It’s bolt-in performance that drastically changes the driving characteristics and handling potential. It accepts small-block Chevrolet, big-block Chevrolet, and LS engines and up to 10-inch wide wheels without modification. Unveiled in 2008, every subframe features a unique, numerical serial number.

A few months ago, a Facebook fan suggested DSE do something special as they approached serial #1969. This got the staff thinking: Who deserves this piece of DSE history?

Last Monday, during a staff Halloween party, Kyle was surprised with that subframe. “DSE was founded when Kyle Tucker took a leave of absence from his engineering job at GM and took a leap to small-business ownership,” said General Manager Bob Bowe during the unveiling. “That leap has grown from working out of his home shop… to the enterprise we’re standing in today, and it continues the path to exponential growth.”

“Because [serial #1969] is so unique and has such a significance, we want to use it as recognition and appreciation of taking that leap,” said Bob. “On behalf of all DSE employees past and present, Kyle, sub-frame number 1969 belongs to you.”

Baer Brakes made custom 20th Anniversary of DSE XTR calipers and splined hubs. JRI shocks provided a set of Double-Adjustable Remote-Canister shocks. The kit is bolt-in ready with badging commemorating the anniversary.

This was a total surprise for Kyle. “Thank you all for what you do and to your families. This is a great team and a great brand, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it still,” said Kyle. “I’m starting to make to-do lists on my projects, and to be able to put this under another yellow ‘69 Camaro will be cool.”

The original Camaro belongs to a friend of Kyle’s, in the mountains of North Carolina. “I’ve stashed some projects over the years; I have another yellow ‘69 Camaro, a really solid car. This is the first major part of it.”

The car is currently in that fun stage of bench racing and daydreaming, with only the general vibe figured out, “I have some ideas. The visual will be a throw-back Pro Touring car,” said Kyle. “Something easy and fun to drive and remind us why we all like to get out and drive our cars.”

However, the drivetrain is still undecided. The front hubs are splined, meaning there’s still a possibility of all-wheel-drive. “Yeah, that’s a possibility, maybe an LT5,” said Kyle. When we probed him on the option of an electric drive train, he responded, “I haven’t ruled it out.” No matter the drivetrain, this Camaro won’t be on the auction block ever. “It’ll stay here, that’s for sure.”


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