It's true that you really don't know what direction life is going to take you. You start off on plan "A" and before you know it, you're on plan "E" and clueless on how you got so far off track. This phenomenon is especially common when it comes to gearheads and their project cars. Take Larry Callahan for example. When he bought his '68 Camaro 20 years ago he didn't have a clue as to the automotive adventure that awaited him. Larry recalled, "Around 1988 when I was living in the San Fernando Valley, I went looking for a muscle car.
As luck would have it, I spotted a '68 Camaro with a $3,850 price tag on the windshield at a consignment lot. It was red with a deluxe houndstooth interior, air conditioning, a 327, and a powerglide. The interior was in decent shape and it ran fairly well, but it was a gutless wonder with a two-barrel carb. The previous owner said he was selling it because he bought it for his daughter who didn't want it. She said it was a boat and wanted something cute and small."
Larry continued, "The '68 then became my daily driver for about the next 10 years until the powerglide died. I swapped in a TH350 and a mild 383 from a local speed shop and that's where it all went south. Shortly after it was running again, I started messing with it. I tweaked the valve body and governor to make it shift harder and later. Hard enough that while approaching redline in Second gear the tranny shifted hard into Third and snapped the input shaft. The engine must have hit 10,000 rpm before I was able to lift my foot; the converter ballooned and put enough pressure on the crank to spin the main bearing.
After the engine was fixed I put about 500 more miles on the Camaro, then I tore it apart to put on disc brakes and work on making it more like a new sports car. The front suspension was so worn out I was afraid to drive it on the freeway next to the center divider. I knew what I wanted to do with the car, but at the time there were no readily available parts like there are today. Back then the term Pro Touring had not been coined, but that's what I wanted to do; build an old-looking car that could spank anything you could buy new at a dealership. So I tore it apart, started collecting parts, and began working on it. Over time it was set aside when money ran dry, or I didn't have a place to work on it."
Of course, it didn't help that Larry kept changing direction with the build. After all, when you build a car slowly, styles and tastes tend to evolve. What's cool this year looks outdated down the road. Larry ended up going through three sets of Auto Meter gauges simply because they kept coming out with styles he liked better each year. During this time Larry created a website where he could post pictures of his project. One thing led to another, and on March 9, 2000 he registered and started pro-touring.com. Larry told us, "For years I ran the site and tinkered with my car, but could never find the time, or energy, to get it back on the road.
I lived vicariously through the members of the site, attended and helped organize events, all to promote the build style I enjoyed so much. All the while I was constantly being asked where my car was." Larry was stuck in a place we've all been at one time or another. The responsibilities of life just didn't leave him with enough time, or motivation, to get his pile of a project anywhere near the vision he had locked in his gray matter.