As Marc Bodero approaches his 30th year, he reflects on the cars he's had. At first it was imports, lightweight weapons like the Civic Si, Corrado SLC (supercharged), and the '70 BMW 2002ti, all of them exponents of agile handling, exemplary road manners, and almost enough grunt to get him in trouble. Though woefully underpowered compared to a muscle car, they were the instruments that taught him about vehicle dynamics, where power matched the capability of the chassis. There were others, of course, but he never forgot what he learned from those experiences. Now, he makes his living as a master tech at a BMW dealership.
Somewhere along the line, a paradigm shift occurred, a change in his way of thinking. After seeing his high school buds laying rubber and taking names with their deep-throated American muscle, Marc went domestic.
It was then he found a '74 Camaro, straight body and a straight-six motor. He sold the Honda for $5,000 and bought the Camaro for less than half that. His parents weren't happy but they saw the joy in him and let it pass. He'd had an excellent argument, too. He'd use the car as his senior project. Ostensibly, the theme was how the trials and adversity of the project had helped him grow. Marc embraced an entirely different agenda. That was in 1999.
He'd be growing his muscle car. He tore the straight-six asunder, sliding a 355 ci and a Turbo 350 in its stead. He fixed the 10-bolt with an Eaton differential, for there was much rubber to burn and a peg leg would have royally sucked. He covered it in suede and drove the hell out of it. Then fate stepped right in front of him. Three months before he was to reveal his assignment, "Some nice guy decided to run into my car-when I had the right-of-way!" Adding salt to the wound, his insurance only paid out a whopping $2,500 for his rumpled mess.
The project deadline loomed like a buzzard on his roof. He began a frantic search but soon found the car in a trailer camp. The 3 inches of water in the trunk hosted a mosquito theme park. The "interior" was crushed velvet. Marc was happy. "It had a six-cylinder, too, but it didn't matter because I still had the wreck in my garage and knew I could pirate almost everything I needed for the new car." Enter good friend Bill McCool. "I built 90 percent of the Camaro myself with Bill's help and guidance," Marc declared. But certainly, life wasn't that simple. "I had an after-school job, a girlfriend, and was relying on buddies for rides to school."
Marc and McCool thrashed for two solid months, mostly at night. "I learned a lot during that whole process and was able to finish the car with a week to spare. I got an 'A' for my effort and got to drive the car for the last month of school. When I look at those photos from 1999 today I'm amazed at how far it's come. It's on its fourth motor, third transmission, and second rearend."
Always hungry and always inspired, Marc continued to refine his ride, mostly with a straight-line, dragstrip vibe, but a lot can transpire in 10 years, including dispositions about what the car was meant to represent then and what it is now. For the past two years, the Pro Touring ethic has eaten its way beneath our protagonist's epidermis. Since then, he's made the shift, happier to cruise around with his wife Lara and their young ones, Chenoa and Kylee, than rattle the citizenry with boom, smoke, and fire.
"I have to thank my car because it pushed me and gave me the confidence to work at a profession that has supported my family and recently afforded me to buy a house. I'm just glad that my girls have great interest in it and are never short of questions about how things work, and show me what someone can do on their own if they want it badly enough. I think I could build it all over again for $18-20K." Young guns, please take notice.