The Vehicles Don’t Disappoint at Virtual Young Guns Competition

By Rich Hail

Joe Wilder
Joe Wilder was named the winner of the SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns virtual southeastern regional qualifier competition with his ’69 Chevy Camaro SS/RS build.

The SEMA Battle of the Builders Young Guns virtual regional qualifier competition hit the southeastern states where Joe Wilder was named the winner with his ’69 Chevy Camaro SS/RS build.

Former Battle of the Builders competitors Kent Waters, Dave Tucci and Jesse Greening served as judges for the virtual corral, interviewing each builder with in-depth questions about their vehicles. Wilder and the other builders each had nine minutes to walk the judges through their builds.

For Wilder, the project was nine months in the making. He started with a Chevy 502 featuring an Edelbrock polished intake, COMP Cams camshaft, FAST EZ-EFI 2.0 and a Concept One pulley system. The Camaro’s big block is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with a RAM dual disc clutch upgraded with a McLeod hydraulic clutch kit.

Wilder also installed a Unisteer rack and pinion, Hotchkis front and rear sway bars and Sport Suspension springs, along with a Hydro Boost hydraulic brake assist paired to a Wilwood Master Cylinder and brake kit.

According to Wilder, the goal was to keep the Camaro looking mostly like a factory car, but to modernize its amenities and driveability. Wilder completed the interior with Vintage Air A/C, upgraded gauges and a Classic Car Stereos head unit and custom houndstooth seats.  

Wilder plans to take over his dad’s fabrication shop one day and said he wants to “learn as much as possible [from people in the industry] and one day to be able to pass it on to my kids, and fit in as much racing as possible.”

The Battle of the Builders competition celebrates the amazing craftsmanship and talents of people who create and build some of the most unique cars in the world. The “Young Guns” classification is exclusive to up-and-coming builders that are under 27 years old who have performed the majority of the work on their vehicles. For more information about the SEMA Battle of the Builders competition or the SEMA Young Guns program, visit or