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Starting A New Car Project - Project Purple Haze: Part I

A budget 3rd Gen Camaro project that anyone, yes, anyone, can afford

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With all the high-dollar projects around these days, it can be prettydiscouraging for those of us with budgets smaller than the value menu atMcDonalds. When you read about someone dropping $5000 on car, then$10,000 for a motor, another $10k for drivetrain stuff, and anotherfive-figure amount for paint, body work, interior, and electrical stuff,you can't help but wonder if there's anything you can build that'll fityour budget. Well, here's proof that you can!

To set the stage for this project, you have to go back to April 2006just after the Year One Experience. I had stayed in Georgia an extracouple of days to visit my brother and a friend of mine. A friend of mybrother's called him about a '92 RS Camaro she wanted to get rid of. Thecar belonged to her late husband, and she wanted it out of the driveway.Asking price was $800.

Curiosity piqued, my brother and I drove down to Sharpsburg to lay eyeson the car. Underneath the inches of pollen dust and maple leaves was a'92 RS Camaro, with T-tops, automatic, and a 305 V-8. With a pair ofjumper cables and my brother's Ranger, we jump started the car. The 305sprang to life in an instant, with no smoke, no death knock, and a nicesmooth idle. This was very impressive considering the car was showing205,000+ miles on the odometer! Besides the pungent scent of cigarettes,the interior was in great shape, with the multiple cracks in the dashpadand the cracked driver's side t-top being the only major things wrong.

After a brief discussion with my brother (brief being measured inseconds!) we agreed to buy the car. A few weeks later the Camaro wasparked at my brother's place, and a new project was born!

Fast forward a year later. I was back at the exciting Year OneExperience, and after the event, did some quick prep work to drive theCamaro back to Tampa to begin the process of re-habbing our tired 3rdGen back into street warrior condition. This mainly involved cleaningout the inside, topping off fluid, filling tires, and getting the A/Csystem working since the windows were non-functional. The A/C system hadbeen converted to R-134 at some point in the car's life, so all that wasneed was a quick charged of freon, and ice cold air came out of thevents. The drive from Atlanta to Tampa was uneventful, with the 305cruising smoothly at 75 MPH, while spinning about 1900 RPM! Thisresulted in highway mileage of 23-25 MPG. Considering there's riceburners with V-6s out there that can't post numbers like that, you gottabe impressed with that kind of efficiency from a high-mileage 305 V-8!

Once back at our Tampa office, it was time to clean up the car'soutside, and put it on the lift for a thorough examination to startmaking our project's to-do-list. The gameplan for this project issimple: budget performance with a do-it-yourself theme, with most thingsbeing done in a 24-48 hour time span, so if your 3rd Gen is your dailydriver, you won't have to bum a ride to work on Monday. We'll also bekeeping tabs on cost of parts, so along with the price of our projectcar, you can see just how affordable building a 3rd Gen Camaro can be.

Check out the photos below, and stayed tuned to superchevy.com (and thesoon to be live camaroperformers.com) for new installments of our PurpleHaze project. And, if you've got comments or suggestions, log on to theSuper Chevy message board and post to the Project Purple Haze section.

This is how our project Camaro looked after the drive from Atlanta,and sitting under oak and maple trees for a couple of years. Underneathall the pollen and road grime, you can see hints of the factory PurpleHaze paint. With 206,000 miles on the clock, this car is pretty straightwith no rust, and the plastic nose cone and bumper cover intact and ingood shape.

To scrub off the years of accumulated crud. We used Turtle Wax's Icecar wash. As you can see in the next photo, it made quick work ofcleaning the '92 RS up. Along with the car wash, the Ice product linefeatures a liquid clay bar system, liquid wax, spark on foam quickcleaner/detailer, and paste and liquid wax. Once we get our paint jobpolished back up, we'll use the other parts of the Ice detailing systemto show you the benefits of Turtle Wax's product line, and why youshould consider it for use on your car.

After using Turtle Wax's Ice car wash, the Camaro was looking tentimes better. This car was is part of Turtle Wax's new Ice line ofdetail products, featuring easy application, low cost, and high quality.The Ice car wash cut through all the love bugs, pollen, road tar, grime,and dirt with easy. After the car was rinsed off, we even saw some shinereturn to the 15 year old paint! In a later story, we'll use Turtle Waxrubbing and polishing compound to see how much we can bring our factorypaint job back to life.

Despite the fading paint, our plastic nose cone is in excellentshape, with no cracks, dents, or other flaws. This part can easily beremoved, cleaned up, and repainted to look like new again. With thenewest 3rd Gen now being 15 years old (like ours) finding cars withthese plastic parts in good shape can be difficult, but far fromimpossible. In the worst case scenario, the aftermarket offers newreplacements for these parts if the car you've got needs new ones.

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