There comes a time for some Bow Tie enthusiasts when driving your pride and joy on and off a trailer becomes boring and unfulfilling. And if you've ever built a numbers-matching, stock restoration, you've probably experienced the more rabid enthusiasts who know more about factory chalk marks and paper tags than they do about their own kids. While said persons are a wealth of amazing knowledge, their passion for exact, 1,000-point correctness can be a bit overwhelming.
Bruce Paul had restored a beautiful NCRS-quality '66 427/425 HP Corvette, and an equally well-done '69 Z11 Camaro Pace Car. Both won tons of awards, but made Bruce weary when it came to dealing with the nitpickers crawling over his cars. After seeing what was going on with Pro Touring-style builds, Bruce sold both the Corvette and Pace Car, and picked up a '68 Camaro to start his newest project.
The F-body came out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and was bought per a friend's recommendation. Before arriving to pick the car up, he had it sent to a local upholstery shop for a new interior. Upon arrival though, the automobile that Bruce beheld wasn't what he expected. The door and panel gaps were all off, the rockers ill fitting, and the trunk and decklid fit poorly. For a man who had previously built an NCRS-quality Vette, this wouldn't do.
On the way to back to Miami. Bruce stopped at Harbor Auto Restoration in Rockledge, Florida, and left the '68 in the skilled hands of Frank Tetro and his skilled group of automotive artisans. After Bruce and Frank discussed things with designer Eric Brockmeyer, a plan was set, the Camaro was completely blown apart, and its rebuild begun.
All the panels were fixed and aligned properly, along with removing the side marker lights and filling in the cowl panel area, eliminating the windshield wipers and providing a much smoother look. Once the body was blocked within microns of perfect straightness, it was wheeled into the paint booth, and bathed in House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl paint.
The interior installed in Knoxville by Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors was about the only thing that didn't get redone, with everything including the custom fabricated dash wrapped in Autumn Brown leather. The bucket seats came from a Nissan, Classic Instruments gauges keep tabs on the engines vitals, and a Vintage Air climate system keeps Bruce comfy while driving to his show destinations. Setting off the paint are a set of Billet Specialties Bonneville G wheels.
For power, things were kept traditional, with a blueprinted and built 355 rumbling under the hood. It has 11:1 compression, Edelbrock alloy heads, Comp Cams hydraulic roller, and an Inglese eight-stack EFI induction system controlled by a FAST EZ-EFI system. Behind that is a built 4L60E trans that helps spin a Strange 9-inch pumpkin. The brakes are Wilwood four-piston binders at all four corners.
To make the car handle as well as it looks, Detroit Speed control arms and coilovers were bolted to the factory subframe up front, while out back DSE leaf springs and upgraded shocks keep the 9-inch stable.
After trailering the car around for two years and garnering numerous awards, including a Super Chevy Show Gold Class trophy, Bruce stopped to look at his creation as it sat on the trailer behind his truck. That was the turning point when he decided the awards he'd earned were enough, and it was time to truly enjoy the vehicle. Truck and trailer were quickly sold, and the miles behind the wheel started adding up.
"Now my decision for going to a show is, if the car can't be driven to the show, I'm not going!"
Even with putting some miles on the Camaro along with the associated wear that comes with it, the '68 still wins a fair number of awards. Suprisingly, keeping the car clean isn't as much of a chore for Bruce as you'd think.
If the car can't be driven to the show, I'm not going!
"I pretty much powdercoated everything underneath the car, so all it takes is some simple wiping to clean things up. I try to avoid driving in the rain, because the car has no wipers, so that helps, too."
Traveling across the country to the various shows, we always wonder how owners with fantastically built, trailered show cars resist the urge to ditch their car haulers and climb behind the wheel for a spirited drive in their creations. Finding Bruce Paul, we met someone who couldn't resist that temptation any longer.