Back in the ’90s our Chevys were still super, but the build style was quite a bit different. We didn’t have billet hood hinges and carbon fiber was found only on race cars. Even items like tubular control arms were considered exotic. Guys cruised their hot-rodded cars and thought more about burnouts at stop signs and the local show-and-shine than how to get faster lap times on a road course. It was a different time when cars were nice because of hard work more than expensive parts.
Eric Sorenson’s 1967 Camaro has been in his family a long time, and, as you can imagine, there’s a cool story behind how it came to be his. As Eric told us, “It was 1980 and I was looking for my first car. My Aunt Peggy had a 1967 Camaro that she had owned since new and that was my first choice. You see, she graduated from college in June of ’67 and when she walked outside after the graduation there was this bright and shiny red Camaro parked right out front. Her dad said ‘Congratulations. Here’s your present!’ Aunt Peggy’s dad bought her the Camaro with the pacesetter package as a graduation gift. In December of ’67 Aunt Peggy got married and this same Camaro was the car they drove away in with ‘Just Married’ and wedding graffiti written all over it.”
Fast forward to 1980 and Eric was working hard at trying to talk his aunt into selling him the Camaro, but no dice. So, to fill the void he bought a ’72 Vega with his dad and that served as transportation up until 1982 when Aunt Peggy finally gave in and decided to sell Eric the car.
“The Camaro still had original paint, interior, and the 427 V-8 and Powerglide combo. The very first thing I did was to blow up the Powerglide, so out it came and in went a TH350 trans. In ’83 I graduated and soon I was in Kansas as a mechanic for Don Hattan Chevrolet. My boss, Jack Tanner, had one of the fastest street cars in town, a ’55 Chevy that ran mid 10s in the quarter. We became friends and started really working over the Camaro,” recalled Eric. Lots of nitrous, a 383 stroker, and 4.11 gears netted Eric a best run of 10.90 at 128 mph. Eric raced the Camaro every chance he could, but it still was a street car. Things for Eric and his Camaro really changed in the ’90s. “One night I was on a date with a friend’s sister and she asked if she could drive the Camaro. I said, ‘No gal is going to drive my car unless I marry her!’ She drove the car that night and even beat a guy driving a ’69 Camaro. We’ve been married 24 years now and she still likes to burn the tires off the car;” remarked Eric.
Shortly afterwards, the Camaro received a complete teardown and rebuild. The body, frame, and suspension was mediablasted. The plan for the Camaro was for it to stay red and the hot ticket in the early ’90s was for the body color to be used everywhere possible. Back then, if you wanted your suspension to look custom you chromed it or painted it. Billet wheels were hot, but nobody was churning out the wide array of dress-up parts you see today. The 383 was freshened up with TRW forged pistons and massaged GM 441 heads to make 425 hp and a whopping 485 lb-ft of torque. Backing up the 383 is a Buick 200-4R overdrive trans with an Art Carr 2,400-stall converter. With the 3.42 gears it’s not as fast as it was back in its drag race days, but it’s sure a lot nicer to cruise. The suspension is stock with some aftermarket shocks, a 3-inch front and 4-inch back drop, and a set of now-vintage Baer disc brakes that reside behind the Budnik Famosa 17-inch wheels.
In keeping with the build style of the day, the stock interior was wrapped in yards of tan leather and a Dakota Digital dash was installed to track the engine vitals. The Camaro was finished in 2002, just in time to hit the Hot Rod Power Tour. Not much has changed since then aside for another engine refresh and a gearing change. Right now it’s a cool look back at how it was done and a reminder that you don’t need the latest-and-greatest to have a blast in your hot-rodded Chevy.