1968 Chevrolet Camaro - My Reason

When Rob Chandler Drives, He Likes to Hear the Engine Ring

Ro McGonegal Jul 8, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Have you heard the one about the long-time commercial roofing consultant who lost his employment via the current recession but ultimately became a fabricator at Marquez Design? Yeah, sure he did. But it’s the truth. How’d this happen? Proximity. It would appear as if Rob Chandler has good karma; he was in the right place at the right time.

1109chp 01 O  1968 Chevrolet Camaro Front 2/13

“I found this ’68 up in Cameron Park, California [Rob is a resident of Roseville, just north of Sacramento]. I wanted to make sure it was a West Coast car to avoid major rust issues. Bought it August 7, 2007, drove it to my garage, and left it for about a year. I mapped out what I wanted to do and purchased everything I would need all at once (thankfully). I was just going to take my time and tinker on it at night after work,” Rob says.

“Well, in February 2008, I lost my job,” he says. “I’m a commercial roofing consultant and construction in California came to a screeching halt.” Rob spent the next few months looking for work, going on endless interviews, and becoming more and more frustrated by no action. His wife could see him giving up. She encouraged him to take a break. He plunged headlong into the experiment, working 10 to 12 hours a day in his garage. Were there a fly on the wall, it could have seen the approach of the perfect build: properly motivated owner, a wall of support from his wife, Michelle, the certainty of a father-son collaboration, and collects all the right aspects with some other brilliant indicators. It was a time for testing fortitude and devotion.

1109chp 02 O  1968 Chevrolet Camaro Engine 3/13

His son, Ryon, stepped up for the initial deconstruction but soon lost interest. “He is of a different generation,” Rob says. “He owns a Mitsubishi EVO and has friends who are into drifting. Ryon later joined the force as pit crew, making sure everything is in place or at the ready for the next road challenge, wherever it may unfold.

“I was a bit apprehensive when I made the first cut for the tubs, but after that it all started rolling into place. I like things clean and simple, so I hid the wiper motor and the radiator hoses in the fender and moved the Optima battery to the trunk, resulting, I think, in a very clean engine compartment.” Know that Rob did all the work at home (tubs, suspension/chassis, complete assembly) save for the engine build and paint and body. The car was more or less complete in December of 2009. Rob and crew took it to a few car shows. Then, they did their first SCCA Autocross. Rob was hooked.

1109chp 03 O  1968 Chevrolet Camaro Belts 4/13

Since the original “paint” was coming off with the tape Rob had used to tarp the car, the job went to Mario and Bill at Novelli Rod & Custom in Loomis. The deeper the Novellis dug, the more discrepancy they found. When all the panels were cleared of suspicion, meticulous Mario made all the seams and gaps reasonable and tight. After only five months on its head in paint jail, Rob was thrilled with the result.

He wanted to instill some detail through the use of Marquez Design jamb vents, door strikers, and 3-D taillights. He went to the Marquez shop and got to know the guys there. About a month later, he was cruising www.lateral-g.com and saw that Marquez was looking for a fabricator. “Again, my wife encouraged me to apply. With my build book as my résumé [the car was in paint at this time] I showed up and said ‘I’m your guy.’ ” Strangely, Rob got the job.

“I wake up every day excited to go to work,” the 52-year-old says. “I wish I’d pursued this 30 years ago! They say that things happen for a reason. Well, this car became my reason. Now, I plan on enjoying and driving the heck out of it and would like to finish it one day with a cool Marquez interior. Oh, and my son? He loves it, too.”

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