"From the time my uncle parked his 1967 Camaro in the garage in 1982, I probably saw it one time, like in the mid '90s."
In 2013, Sonny Mitchell returned to the old house after Uncle Tom passed away. "I was over there with my dad. We went out in the garage and just stared at the old car. It had a bunch of stuff piled on it, like a bassinette and some plastic chairs."
Sonny had been after the Camaro since he was in high school. His uncle, born in 1948, purchased the car brand new from Ron Shafer Chevrolet in nearby Anniston, Alabama. "He got it when he was 19. He was going to school at Jacksonville State University. He drove it through college and when he started working. He didn't become a lawyer until later in life."
This 1967 Camaro was not a big-block, a Z/28, or even a small-block Super Sport with a hot set of stripes. So, what is left in the lineup to build a muscle Camaro?
Chevrolet's little-known formula was the combination of "L30 and M20," still obscure today, and certainly not high-profile when new. The SS came with a base 295hp 350 and became popular with badges and Super Sport logos. The L30 was unheralded, but just 20 hp less in a four-barrel 327, and fun to drive with the Muncie M20 four-speed transmission.
"My first car was a 1974 Camaro that I had in high school, but I always admired that '67 sitting there," says Sonny. "I would beg my uncle to sell it to me or give it to me. And he wouldn't."
Tom's answer was not a blunt no but a soft, "Nah, look," as if to imply the kid really didn't need this 275hp muscle Chevy with a four-speed and a Positraction rearend.
Sonny Mitchell looks back today and says, "If he had given it to me when I was in high school, I probably would have ruined that car by hot rodding it and doing all kinds of things to it."
Instead, Tom parked the Camaro in a single-car garage at his home in 1982. Apparently the car had been "hit twice in pretty quick order," and thus its hibernation.
Sonny didn't give up trying to buy the old Camaro, partly due to encouragement from a vocal group of his friends from high school. "All those guys through the years had talked about the car and dreamed about it."
One guy was a "Camaro-head" with a 1969 SS/RS. Sonny says, "He kept telling me, 'Man, that car is unique with the features it's got,'" apparently in reference to the L30/M20 option combo.
Today, the Camaro Research Group has ferreted out seven variations of the L30 with a M20, including some with 12-bolt rearends, right-side radius rod, and other extras. Tom's 1967 Camaro, being early production, is the first type of the seven—no 12-bolt rearend or radius rod. However, his 1967 model does have a Positraction with standard ratio 3.08 gears in a 10-bolt.
Tom hung onto the car until his death in 2013. Sonny's father inherited the Camaro. That's when Sonny got to see the car for the first time in decades. He became very emotional when they found in his uncle's belongings negatives of 1967 photos showing his sister and him with the Capri Cream 1967 Camaro.
"I remember my uncle taking me on trips in the Camaro. I went to Chattanooga with him in it, and Cincinnati. He drove that car. It was his daily driver for years in the 1970s. So it was just like it was part of the family, you know? And he always took really good care of it."
In 2014, Sonny inherited the Camaro when his father passed away. The week after Thanksgiving he rounded up his friends from high school to unearth the L30. "We had talked about the car since high school. You know, it would come up periodically. So I contacted all those guys—we stay in pretty good touch—and planned a rollout of the car."
Sonny has no plans to ever sell the Camaro. He sent the car to Seth Wood at Lucky's Restorations in Athens, Alabama, for a full rebuild.
When Sonny Mitchell retrieved his uncle's Camaro, he pulled off the old wheels to mount used tires that would hold air so his friends could roll it out. The body was mostly in primer, with body damage on the passenger side.
An obscure muscle engine is the 275-horse 327, seen here dusty but unmolested—with no A/C, of course.
The interior is gold. The odometer showed 38,000 and had rolled over once.
Very nostalgic are these vintage photos of Sonny and his sister Lisa, 3 and 5 years old, in 1967 posing with their uncle's brand-new 1967 Camaro.
Sonny (third from left) poses with his friends from high school who came out for the Camaro rollout the week after Thanksgiving 2014.
This original invoice from Ron Shafer Chevrolet documents the options and accessories on the 1967 Camaro.
Early Production Details
Seth Wood at Lucky's Restorations has started refinishing Sonny's Camaro and found some interesting details, traits of an early-build Camaro.
Underneath the headliner covering the entire inside of the roof was "a weird jute material that was on the roof panels before they were welded on, almost like insulation," says Wood. He had three 1967 Camaros in the shop at the same time and has never seen this material before on a Camaro.
Another early production sign on this '67 Camaro is this red tag near the fill port on the 10-bolt. Red tags "were on Impalas and Corvettes," Wood says. Camaros came with square tags.
The cowl tag on the firewall reveals the Camaro was early production. The "01B" stamp decodes as the first month of 1967 (01) and the second week (B). This cowl tag does not have GM's mysterious "4P" stamping, which some of the L30 variations with 12-bolt rearends and radius rods did have.
The matching-numbers L30 is looking new again. The four-speed turns out to be a Saginaw with a Muncie shifter. Wood says, "What's unusual is the window sticker says Muncie M21." The VIN is stamped in the Saginaw steel case, so the Saginaw is original to this car. "From what I understand, that happened frequently in the early years of these cars because the Corvettes were deemed priority for the M21, and the Camaro got sacrificed."