Most of the guys who bought muscle cars back in the day were, well, guys. So when we met Janet Fisher and found out that not only has she owned this beautiful RS/SS Camaro since the day it was delivered but also had special-ordered it four months after high school graduation, we knew there was a great story about a great car there. It began back in mid-1966, when 17-year-old Janet Nicholas, already a licensed beautician, was saving money for a new car. She used the city bus to get to her job and could only borrow her dad's 1955 Chevy when he wasn't using it. She also lived in York, Pennsylvania, which had a hot street scene.
"At that point, I was considering buying a Pontiac GTO," she recalls now, "but my father kept telling me that Chevrolet was bringing out a new model and I should wait and see what it was. Dad really didn't want his 'little girl' to have all the horsepower of the GTO. In the fall of 1966, Chevy revealed the Camaro, and my dad urged me to get a Camaro Super Sport."
The Camaro, brought out to compete with the popular Ford Mustang, was one of several new compact sports cars created or remodeled for 1967. It quickly took a very forward market share due to GM's marketing and optional equipment. The new F-Body platform was shared with Pontiac's Firebird, but the SS and RS packages created a unique packaging arrangement that no other car in that class, save perhaps Mercury's Cougar, offered. Janet read through the paperwork and headed over to the Ammon R. Smith Chevrolet dealership where Vern Smith Jr., son of the owner, helped her pick out the options.
"My decision was based on certain options I had to have," she tells us with a laugh. "The Super Sport model that my dad encouraged, convertible, hideaway headlights, the bumblebee stripe around the front end, chrome hood louvers, and I wanted it in Marina Blue with a white interior."
She did some calculations based on that equipment and knew she was making enough money to manage the monthly payments. Her father was not thrilled to find out that the smallest engine in the SS was a 295hp 350, but since he had been the one pushing for the SS, he gave in and cosigned. The order went to Chevrolet in October.
How popular was Camaro that fall? Vern told Janet it would take a couple of months to get the car in; it actually took five. In January she called the dealership to see if there was anything comparable she could buy right then. Vern told her no and said to be patient. Her 18th birthday came and went. On a Saturday evening in early March, he called her and said the car had just arrived in the latest rail shipment and would be in the receiving yard until it was transported to the dealership. Plus, they needed it for a couple of days to prep before delivery. Janet and her best friend, Barb Kauffman-Garber, knew the car could probably be seen in the railyard lot, visible just off the northbound lane of Interstate 83, so off they went.
Janet says, "I slowed down as much as I safely could as we approached the lot and, oh my God, there in the front row was my car! Barb and I screamed like silly little girls."
She took other friends to see it the same way that night, then drove by the rail lot eight times on her day off, Monday, to see if the car had moved yet. Finally it was moved to Smith's dealership to get ready, and on March 8, 1967, Janet was the owner of a new 1967 Camaro.
She had ordered the four-speed even though she had little experience with manual shifting. That meant a Muncie and a 3.55 Positraction 12-bolt rear came in it. She chose the manual brakes and steering, which were somewhat unfamiliar options back then, but borrowing the old '55 had given Janet a lot of experience with nonpower accessories. Her choices of color and exterior options, and a deluxe White Parchment interior and power top, make this RS/SS droptop truly exquisite in terms of appearance. Plus, the 350 was strong enough in stock form for daily duty that it never got trashed. Still, cruising was a big pastime in the area, and many a summer night was spent roaming the evening boulevards with like-minded drivers.
Now, many of these stories have a somewhat sad ending. A busy career, marriage, children, and other factors usually cause cars as small and impractical as a Camaro convertible to go to a new home and simply disappear. Not for Janet. Around York she became known as the Hot Rod Momma, with child car seats in the back. Later still, her children learned how to drive stick in the car, and her son was privileged to cruise to his final day of high school in it. The years were showing on it by then, though. The top needed to be replaced, the engine was tired, and the interior reflected all that family activity. Getting the car restored became sort of a bucket list item, and in 2002 the process began.
"My husband Jim helped make my dream come true," says Janet. "He pulled the engine and transmission to get them rebuilt. I loved receiving car parts as Christmas and birthday gifts."
While we were in town for the annual York Nostalgia Cruising Into Summer event, Janet and Jim drove it to Jeff Myers' private garage display, where we took our images, a fitting location for any muscle car. This is not a trailer queen and gets some road time attending local car events.
Janet tells us that after the car won a few trophies, her longtime friend Barb posted on Facebook, "Did you ever think that the car we raced 'on the circuit' would still be here today and winning beauty contests?" This was posted after 17 regional awards, including a Best of Show that was awarded by Linda Vaughn at York in 2016.
Janet says, "Yes, it is hard to believe that I have had this car for 50 years, but today when I get behind the wheel and head out the driveway, I am 18 again!"
At a Glance
1967 Camaro RS/SS Convertible
Owned by: Janet Nicholas Fisher
Engine: 350ci/295hp V-8
Transmission: Muncie 4-speed manual
Rearend: 12-bolt with 3.55 gears and Positraction
Interior: Deluxe White Parchment bucket seat
Wheels: 14x6 steel with fullsize hubcaps
Tires: 14-inch redline radials
Special parts: RS trim package, SS performance option