“Car stalking” is one of those specialized skills that takes a keen eye and an insane amount of patience to master. If it’s a term you’re unfamiliar with — just know this is not the practice of spying a ridiculously optioned SUV rolling on 26s belonging to Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga (does she even drive?), or some has-been rock star who was once featured on MTV Cribs. Nope, we’re talking about the art of scoping out a valuable piece of classic muscle down a 300-foot-long driveway revealing just a skosh of a taillight, and being able to recognize the year, make, and model in which said taillight belongs. It’s that kind of intuition that could quite possibly get you that vintage ride you’ve been searching for the past 25 years. The car-stalking hobby takes a huge amount of perseverance and persistence, but the payoff can be well worth the effort: one day finding that automotive treasure of a lifetime in your own garage.
Although Chris Jacobs wasn’t consciously stalking Jim Korbal’s ’68 RS/SS for two years, he kept in touch with him and would every so often inquire if he still had the Camaro, and if it was still for sale. “I had originally been invited to look at the car with some friends who were interested in buying it back in 2003,” informs Chris. “As luck would have it, Jim and my friends weren’t able to come to terms on a price so he held onto the car. I could tell he was interested in selling it, and having owned it for over 24 years, Jim was in no real hurry to gain a vacant spot in his garage.”
At first, Chris didn’t give the Camaro much thought, but after seeing it in person, the attraction firmly set in. It wasn’t long before he realized there was a good chance in owning the car himself; he just had to be patient. “It wasn’t so much that I wanted this car, I needed this car!” Confessed Chris. “Once Jim pulled the cover off and I saw those hide-away headlights for the first time, I was sold. The only problem was a ’65 Malibu SS I needed to get rid of first. My wife, Lynda, was all good with me buying the Camaro as long as the Malibu went away first.”
Two years later, in the spring of 2005, Chris was finally able to swing a deal with Jim on the Camaro. The Malibu sold the same day he brought the Camaro home.
Good or bad, every car has a past history, and with the length of said history being determined by a car’s age, a Camaro over 35 years old could have one to rival in size of a 6th-grader's science book. “Since purchasing the car, I’ve run into a few people who were able to help me with valuable information,” tells Chris. “I found out that it was first purchased as a high school graduation present for a kid in Tucson, Arizona.” The location would explain the welcome lack of the typical Midwest rust and rot, and the age of the young owner explains the lack of the original drivetrain. Unfortunately, teenagers and aggressive driving go hand-in-hand, so it’s safe to say the original big-block and trans had a short-lived relationship with the classic first-gen. It’s a good bet the OE power plant and trans lay scattered somewhere on the Arizona desert floor being intensely watched over by a kettle of turkey buzzards.
Chris continued. “The car was originally equipped with the L89 aluminum-head 396 and M-21. Man, I wish those were still there!”
To ease separation anxiety, a big-block resides within the framerails: a 396 sporting steel ’69 oval-port heads. An American Powertrian Tremec TKO 600 five-speed now handles the shifting duties.
It was 1980 when the car was brought up to Illinois where Rich Vitiritti purchased it, disassembled it, and performed a complete restoration. He even managed to meticulously re-spray the car in its original Ralley Green pigment … all in his home two-car garage.