Being around a bunch of classic car enthusiasts for a long time, it's not uncommon to hear horror stories about how a supposed top-notch hot rod shop lacked the talent and ability to properly fulfill a contract of restoring someone's prized vintage ride. But rarely does it happen to the same customer with two different cars almost simultaneously.
Unfortunately, what seemed like a good idea at the time turned into an inconvenient truth to some nice, honest people ... Not once, but twice.
Will and Shanna Blanton are business owners who attribute much of their success to Will's parents. Seems his dad was instrumental in getting the business going in the right direction early on, so the couple thought it would be a cool idea to pay tribute and give a little thanks to Will's dad by surprising him with a fully-restored '66 Chevelle on Father's Day; a car similar to what he had owned before Will was born.
Will and Shanna came across a local shop near their Fayetteville, North Carolina, home that they felt could handle the show-quality restoration they were looking for. About half way through the Chevelle's build, Shanna noticed Will was showing a bit of interest in owning a muscle car of his own. So Shanna secretly contracted the shop to build her hubby a Pro Touring-influenced '69 Camaro convertible.
Well, Father's Day comes and the shop kept their promise on delivering the Chevelle on time. That's great, but the car was only about eighty percent completed. Unhappy with the car's appearance, the Blanton's sent the car back to the shop to be fully completed. Fast-forward three months. The Chevelle returns, but is still full of noticeable flaws. Will turns to Shanna and says, "I think we have a little problem here." Shanna confesses to Will that the problem is bigger than he knows, and informs him that the half-finished '69 Camaro he's been seeing in the shop belongs to him.
Appreciative of his wife's thoughtfulness and goodwill, he gave the shop another opportunity to make good on their promise to turn out a show-quality hot rod. Confirming the shop didn't underbid the job, Will offered up additional funds to get the car build right. He didn't want to have issues with his Camaro like had happened with the Chevelle.
Months later, Will's "finished" Camaro was delivered in similar condition as the Chevelle. It featured horrific panel alignment, multiple shades of paint on each panel, and shoddy wiring. And that's just touching the surfice.
Having enough of the shop's circus act, Will contacted Frank Serafine at Prodigy Customs (www.prodigycustoms.com) in Orlando, Florida, and had him fly up to see the cars in person, and to give a professional diagnosis of the cars' problems.
"I hated to break the news to Will, but I felt like a doctor informing him that he was dying," Says Frank. "Will was hoping a little tweak here and there would fix the problems, but that just wasn't the case. Both cars had to be stripped to bare metal and basically started over from scratch."
With a fresh start and new attitude from the Blanton's, Frank got busy re-installing the body panels. Only this time, correctly. He bounced a few design ideas off Will and Shanna and even had automotive artist Ben Hermance whip up a rendering so the crew at Prodigy had a focus point and the Blanton's could get an idea of what their Camaro would look like when finished. They refer to it as a "Country Club Edition Pro Tourer," meaning a car built with all the Pro Touring treatment and performance, combined with enough elegance and class that you could drive it to the country club and turn the heads of any unsuspecting Ferrari or Porsche owners.
"I think we really nailed the theme on this one," informs Frank. "During the cold North Carolina winter, I had the car here in sunny Florida and got great responses when I took it to a few local cruises."
The car is doused in what Frank calls Magic Black. It's a custom color the guys Prodigy came up with that incorporates a hint of champagne metallic in order to bring out the champagne-colored hockey stripe.
Forgeline rollers on all four corners (18x8 up front, 18x91/2 out back) were custom built with centers painted to match the stripe. It's a recipe that adds a little elegance to an otherwise common theme. BFGoodrich KDW rubber provide the necessary grip and work in conjunction with the Fatman front subframe and Prodigy Bar four-link rear suspension and 12-way adjustable coilovers. Wilwood six-piston calipers up front conspire with their four-piston counterparts out back to bring the car down from speed quick-like. It's a suspension combination that offers g-machine prowess and Pro Touring style.
The tan interior is on pace with the exterior accents, and the Corbeau seats were inserted with black Ultrasuede to complete the collaboration.
A Detroit Speed, Inc. dash plays home to a set of Autometer Ultralite II gauges, while a Billet Specialties steering wheel bolts to the chrome ididit tilt column.
For those times when having the top down just doesn't beat the heat, a Vintage Air A/C system steps up and feeds the cockpit with plenty of controlled climate.
Mike Norris of Norris Motorsports provided an LS6 mill that dishes out 377 rear wheel horsepower, and a T56 six-speed trans handles the brunt. A Prodigy Customs Cool Package radiator keeps the engine temps in check, while the spent fuel exits through a set of Hooker headers, Magnaflow 21/2-inch X-pipe, and custom-bent exhaust system. It creates a symphony of music designed to compete only with the One Off Rides-installed Panasonic head unit driving the four 6.5-inch JL speakers and 10-inch subs.
Will and Shanna's introduction into the classic car hobby has been a journey that most people would have given up on at the first sign of trouble. But the duo was focused on having their hot rod dreams come true. In fact, Will's Camaro was featured in the Wilwood booth last December at the PRI show in Orlando, Florida, and took first in his class at the Eckler's Winter Nationals in February 2009.
"Having a car worthy of being in Camaro Performers magazine is huge to me." Said an excited, Will. "But the most memorable experience so far was having the Camaro and Chevelle take first and second place at the Fayetteville car show. It was especially rewarding to see our two cars beat the cars entered by the guy who we had originally contracted to do the builds. Is it wrong to feel some sort of special satisfaction in that?"
Not at all, Will. Not at all.