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1968 Chevrolet Camaro - True Love Lasts A Lifetime

Satisfying A Childhood Need For Speed

Dakota Wentz Dec 1, 2003
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In life there are certain things that just stand out in your memory. Things, that to this day, you remember like yesterday. For instance, your first kiss, the time your uncle "pants'd" you while you were attempting to flirt with the girl behind the counter (oh he'll pay . . . oh yes . . . he will pay), and of course your first love. For Lane Ochi, the fast talkin', good lookin' little Philly was a Second-Gen Camaro. When he was 15, his dad brought home a brand new Camaro, and Lane fell in love. Not only did he fall for his fathers Second-Gen, but he fell for the legacy that is Camaro. Since that day, his heart has desired for a Camaro, only his desire fell in a different time slot.

Lane figured that after going to college, getting married, and then recovering from giving away half of his qwan, it was time for some "me" time. He decided it was time to build the car he had been dreaming of since he had laid on eyes on his father's car, a First-Gen Camaro. But the question at hand was what road to take at the infamous fork? Down one path, he could build a nasty strip machine with a blown big-block sitting up front, or he could build a nice daily driver that would turns heads, but still get down and dirty when it had to.

After some pacing and racking his brain over and over, he came to the decision that he wanted to build the latter. He hit the shows, Internet, classifieds, and so on searching for the best Camaro possible. But it was not until 3 years later that fate intervened.

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One day while Lane was talking with an acquaintance, Lane had told the man about his search for a Camaro, and the man replied, "My neighbor's got a Camaro for sale." Lane called up the guy figuring it would turn out to be a disappointment like all the cars before, and as the conversation unfolded, it definitely seemed as if another let down was in progress.

When the owner told Lane that the car had a small-block 327, he was thrown immediately until the man redeemed himself by saying the word "convertible." Lane thought to himself, "It may not pack the power right now, but a drop-top would be nice." So he headed over to the man's house and checked out the car. At first glance, his eyes lit up like the Fourth of July. He was mesmerized by the stunning looks and great condition of his soon-to-be '68 Chevrolet Camaro. A deal was struck then and there, and Lane drove her home that day.

Lane drove the car around for a while in the original state that he bought it. Then he decided that the original motor, which had been bored .30 over, had a mild cam change, and an Edelbrock performer intake manifold and carburetor just wasn't cutting it. The car also had the original Powerglide replaced with a 700-R4, and the open rearend was regeared to 3:48. Lane gathered up his army of dozens of performance upgrade articles from Super Chevy and Camaro Performers and set out to find a general, or you could just say someone with real-life engine experience.

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What he found was a father-son combo, Norm and Brad Chafee, at Norm's Automotive, which as luck would have it, turned out to be walking distance from his house. Norm sat down with Lane, and they talked about what the car had and what direction Lane wanted to go in. Together they came up with a plan that was sure to satisfy Lane's desire for speed. They decided to keep the original block, but added higher-compression TRW pistons topped off with Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads. To really add some horsepower, a COMP cams hydraulic roller cam was added. Helping the rejuvenated beast breath is an Edelbrock air gap manifold topped with a 750 Holley, Sanderson headers, and Flowmaster exhaust system.

Now with an estimated 380-400 hp coming from under the hood, stopping became an issue, therefore they added disc brakes to all four corners. Next a TCI streetfighter torque converter with a 3000-rpm stall was selected to keep the car idling smoothly and give it a fast launch. Since the car has overdrive, an Eaton 3:73 Posi rearend was installed.

Now that the power was taken care of, it came time to really get this car rockin'. Lane took the car to Traffic Jam Car Audio in La Crescenta, California. There they added a McIntosh wireless stereo with Diamond M-6 speakers powered by Clarion amps. A custom console and speaker mounts were made so nothing was cut in the dash.

After seeing the spring issue of Camaro Performers, Lane was so impressed with the quality of the cars, he decided that something had to be done to his "beater." He sent it to Boyd's Auto Body and Paint. The original paint was stripped off, and all the panels and doors were realigned. Then the car was sprayed in PPG GM Silver/Black.

Lane says the hardest part about building his dream machine is knowing when to stop. It seems that every time he finally feels satisfied with the car, something else pops into mind. Next he plans to replace the interior with a more-correct vinyl and houndstooth upholstery. On top of that, he's also toying with the idea of changing the stance a little, but not enough to alter the original look of the car. Now is that love or what?



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