Purchasing a car sight unseen is a big-time gamble, and finding yourself on the bidding end of on online auction poses the same amount of risk. But for some reason stubborn car junkies, like ourselves, have no problem rolling the dice on a car we know very little about. With no actual vehicle history report and no character reference of its previous existence, you may be looking at the perfect breeding ground for hidden blemishes, rust, and corrosion -- internally and externally. Not even a top-of-the-line high-def computer monitor can reveal what may be lurking underneath that slab of Bondo.
It’s a little scary how that rose-colored screen can have such an influence on making us purchase a car we wouldn’t have given a second glance at a local auto swap meet. But the adrenalin rush of buying a classic car can be intensely overpowering. It’s just how the male species are wired, and we just can’t help it, it’s all about the thrill of the kill. By the way, that ’69 you’ve been looking at on eBay for the last two days; it’s the car of your dreams−or is it?
Bill and Larry Amsley−car guys through and through−began an online search for a low-buck ’69 Camaro they could bring home, follow up with a few minor repairs, dial in some upgrades, and have a cool cruiser to enjoy on the weekends. At least that was the plan. Unfortunately, their digital dilemma began when they won an eBay auction. As Bill explains, “Not thinking I’d actually win, I threw down a pretty low bid on a car that was described as a “nice driver.” As the auction was winding down I was certain someone would post a higher bid, but it didn’t happen.
After taking delivery on this car, I immediately noticed it had more internal issues than a teenage Hollywood celebrity.” Bill decided to hedge his bet and flip the car in hopes of getting back what he’d paid. He re-listed the car on the same auction site and set the reserve at his original winning bid, but as luck would have it, there were no takers. Needless to say the Amsley’s were stuck with a Camaro that was worth a whole bunch less than what they had paid.
Being the owner of an auto collision repair business and self-proclaimed metalworking junky, Bill informs us. “I told my dad, Larry, since we can’t get our money back on this car, we have no option but to just build it.”
After tearing apart the car, closer inspection of the sheet metal revealed shoddy bodywork repair and more holes than a block of imported Swiss cheese. “Fortunately, my Dad and I really enjoy working with metal,” states Bill, “so, we decided to go with something a little outside the box.” Needless to say, the Father and Son duo didn’t just replace the rotted sheetmetal with off-the-shelf product. Nope, they went in and sculpted some very cool, custom pieces.
It took four long months of working weeknights and weekends, but the outcome definitely paid off. What they ended up with is a uniquely-styled, custom ’69 Camaro that is full of subtle, but tasty nuances that even the most versed Camaro freak would need to take a couple extra laps around to fully notice. Most notably, the ‘69s scallops on the quarter panels have been replaced by aggressive-looking air vents. Camaro purists would certainly consider this a risky move, as messing with perfection can easily bite you in the ass. But the Amsley’s pulled it off. Continuing with the one-off pieces are a custom chin spoiler, front valance, rocker trim, and firewall, and they even extended the cowl hood 3-inches. The dash and roll bar are fully custom, as are the rear body panel and spoiler.
“My Dad and I wanted to make sure when we pull in to a car show and park next to another ’69, our Camaro will stand out from the rest−just not too exaggerated or freakish,” says Bill. “I spent over 20 hours doing different spray-outs to get the color combination just right, but we think the most unique features of the ’69 are the gills on the quarter panels. We just took what was there, ran with it a little and made them vented. That’s half of the reason we came up with the name Vented 454. The other reason? That’s pretty simple−the 454ci big-block.”