Accidents happen. It’s just part of life. There’s even a t-shirt that pays homage to the fact (only the terminology is a bit more crude). And there’s usually no indication of it being a happy one or one that might haunt you for the rest of your life. Fortunately, for Danny Thomas he was accidentally led to a ’67 Camaro—one that he’ll be able to drive and share with his son for years to come.
It all started when Danny and a couple of friends made the trek from the hills of Tennessee to the mountains of Utah so he could put to bed a bad deal on a vintage ride that had gone a bit south, very south actually. With business finalized, he and his traveling buds, Bill Howell and Yancy Johns, decided they’d continue west to chase a ’79 Firebird Danny knew of in Arizona through an eBay auction. Unfortunately, the prospect was much rougher in person than it had appeared online. Most of us have been down that road before. If not, we know someone who has. Needless to say, Danny chose to pass on the car. But all was not lost. Howell, known in certain circles as a “car freak” in his own right, had a lead on a first-gen Camaro that happened to reside within a few miles of the futile Firebird.
Was this an accident, good karma, or a stroke of luck? No one knows for sure, but Danny was smitten from the get-go. “My car was in about a million pieces, and I really wanted one that was closer to completion,” states Danny. “When we came across this ’67, it was very close to being finished. The owner, about three years into the restoration, had lost interest or money so he wasn’t able to get the car entirely completed.”
LS1, T56, 12-bolt, straight body, and excellent paint – it was all there. The fact that it could use some suspension upgrades and an interior overhaul didn’t deter Danny in the least. The car was priced to sell and Danny was ready to buy.
He got the car back home and enjoyed driving it for a while in its current posture, but he really had his sights set on a full-blown Pro Touring treatment. So he loaded up the car once more. This time it was off to Frank Serafine and the crew at Prodigy Customs in Apopka, Florida.
The Prodigy gang went to town on the suspension starting with 2-inch drop spindles and upper control arms from DSE complimented by Air Ride Technologies’ Strong Arms and Air Ride system up front. Air Ride’s Air Bar system resides out back and offers another 2-inch drop that plays perfectly into the build style Danny was going for. And the adjustable ride height is a nice by-product of the Air Ride system. DSE subframe connectors solidify the ride, and a rack and pinion system yanked from a ‘02 Camaro provides seriously improved steering comprehension.
With the suspension dialed in and corner-carving abilities in check, Baer brakes diligently provide deceleration and style behind a set of 18-inch Forgeline VR3P wheels, (8-inch wide up front, and 10-inch out back).
Thanks to a donor ’00 Camaro, the ‘67 sports a late-model drivetrain featuring a stock (for the most part) LS1 and T56 six-speed transmission. To eagerly accept all 500 ponies without a wince, there’s a 30-spline Moser 12-bolt loaded with 3:73.1 cogs. “I drive the car quite a bit,” informs Danny. “And with this engine and transmission combination, long road trips are no problem. And when I hit car shows or events that have an autocross, I just stiffen up the suspension and go for it.”
While the engine compartment is comprised of a no-nonsense blend of function and form, DSE hood hinges and Twist Machine fender braces compliment the Be Cool stainless radiator. A K&N element provides improved breathing while the Stainless Works headers exhale through a set of 3-inch tubes capped off with Flowmaster mufflers.
The car provides all the driving enjoyment Danny could ever asks for, but he’s mostly proud of the Steve Holcomb-installed and designed interior. “The interior is most unique aspect of the car,” says Danny. “My son named it ‘The Black Pearl’ so I ran with that theme and had the name stitched on the leather seat backs. It’s totally custom inside. It’s got a custom console, Marquez door panels, and black and orange leather-covered Recaro seats.”
The race-inspired captain’s quarters also feature Budnik’s “Ice” steering wheel, a Flaming River steering column, and a Twist Machine shifter. Autometer gauges keep Danny in the loop on engine vitals, and a Vintage Air Gen IV air conditioning system provides an ideal interior climate regardless of global warming’s exterior offerings.
As the name “Black Pearl” implies, the car is, you guessed it, black. It’s as black as can be – PPG 9300 Black to be exact. The darkness penetrates the senses and the car knows nothing of a gentile cruise or a Sunday drive. It’s either “on” or “off,” there’s nothing in between.
The smooth-as-glass bodywork and paint was done at Bob’s Custom Paint in Glendale, Arizona. “It’s tough when you own a black car,” remarked Danny. “Imperfections obviously standout more than on any other color, and trying to keep it clean is a never-ending job.
This ’67 is one sweet ride. It’s a car that Danny can enjoy driving as hard and fast as his heart desires for a long time to come. And with plans on making it part of his son’s future, we’re convinced coming across this car during an unscheduled visit to Arizona was no accident—it was fate.