In the world of hot rods, we’re constantly inundated with super-high-dollar rides that are great to look at but unobtainable for the average Joe. Sometimes we forget that nearly the same amount of fun can be had for a lot less coin. George Packard knows this basic fact, but in his case it was always applied to pre-’48 street rods. We’re not sure exactly when George got the itch to go "late model." Maybe it was while helping his friend Rick Love build his sweet second-gen Camaro. Whatever it was, it happened right after George finished up a ’28 Ford closed-cab rat rod-style pickup. “I had been running a ’32 five-window coupe at the Goodguys Fort Worth autocross for several years and knew it would be even more fun in a second-gen Camaro. I found a 1972 Chevy Camaro SS with a small-block and automatic transmission on Craigslist. It had a cowl hood and tall spoiler, but was in primer with no interior except the seats. We made the deal and I drove it home with the idea to just do a scuff and shoot on it.” Well, we all know what happened next.
What started as an automotive “quickie,” soon morphed into a full-blown rotisserie rebuild at a shop owned by George’s friend Danny Zoeller. It was a team effort. George did the bodywork, Danny filled the side markers and shot the PPG paint, while Rick Love handled the wiring from American Autowire. And even though it sounds straightforward, the build still took two years to pull off.
The cowl hood was ditched along with the automatic trans, and the rear spoiler was replaced by a custom three-piece version from Greening Auto Company. “The car’s theme is modernized GM showroom. I’ve tried to build the car in a way that you might have been able to order from Chevrolet. Not a show car look, just a lower stance, wider wheels, disc brakes, and good horsepower.”
Speaking of horsepower, George used to be a drag racer and mechanic, so he had no problem tearing down the 350 and giving it some lovin’. The no-frills short-block was assembled and topped with iron 202 GM heads along with an Edelbrock intake and carb. Simple, effective, and reliable, what’s not to love? In keeping with the plan, the engine was bathed in Chevy Orange paint and topped with chrome valve covers. Backing it up is a GM T-5 five-speed manual. To keep it running cool he added a four-row Walker radiator, and to calm down the noise a coated Walker exhaust system. Again, keeping with that OE GM feel, the suspension stayed mostly stock with the exception of some drop springs from Detroit Speed and Bilstein shocks from RCD Classics. Since George plans on hitting the occasional autocross, he also added a beefier DSE front sway bar. The rear drums were tossed and a new set of disc brakes from SSBC found their way to all four corners. Spinning around the binders are Billet Specialties Mag-G wheels (17x8 front and 18x10 rear) wrapped in BFG rubber (235/45-17 front and 275/40-18 rear). Modern, but with that OE vibe.
Now, just because George wanted an original look didn’t mean he was against updating to modern technology where warranted. The iffy windshield wiper motor was replaced with a variable unit from DSE, and since George is the National Sales Manager for Vintage Air, it only made sense to install one of their black-anodized Front Runner drive systems along with a Gen IV Sure Fit kit.
The interior was MIA and George wasn’t all that fond of the tall back seats, so Gabriel and Son Upholstery was commissioned to re-cover some Corbeau seats to look factory. They also installed all the fresh interior pieces along with a refurbished center console complete with an OEM Ralley Gauge pack. At first glance, the interior looks like it came out of an early-’70s GM brochure, but better. In fact, that’s how the whole car comes off. George managed to retain the best parts of the ’72 and update it without sacrificing the car’s soul in the process. “My wife, Denise, who prefers not to ride in our ’32 Coupe, loves the ride and sound of our new Camaro,” remarked George. Yeah, looks like they’re both keepers.
“The car’s theme is modernized GM showroom. I’ve tried to build the car in a way that you might have been able to order from Chevrolet.