Chicago, 1964: Skip McMurray was a 17-year-old in high school, working part-time at the old CMA Community Discount store on Harlem Avenue. He was driving a '57 Chevy Power Pack 283 sport coupe at the time. One day at work he heard about a '62 Impala that was about to be put up for sale. It was said to be black and had a red bench seat interior. Skip's dad had been thinking about buying himself a car, and after Skip told him what he knew, the pair checked it out the following Saturday morning.
As the back alley garage door opened, Skip's first view was the front fender engine emblems, and his heart skipped a beat when he spotted the 283 "V" scripts. A closer look revealed a factory four-speed floor shift and a column-mounted, chromed factory tachometer. Meanwhile, his dad slid behind the wheel and had good things to say about the low mileage and like-new condition.
Skip quietly opened the hood, becoming ecstatic when he realized the car's original engine was a dual-quad 409. He quickly shut it, kept a straight face and didn't say a word.
His dad drove the Impala around the block, then offered the owner $1,950 cash. Sold! Skip congratulated his dad on his purchase and bided his time. Sure enough, after a week or so of driving, his dad complained about poor fuel economy. Not only that, but the rear tires kept squealing when he stepped on the throttle a little too hard.
That's when Skip offered to trade his '57 in exchange for his dad's new gas hog. There were some payments due in the ensuing haggling, but his dad accepted and the Impala was Skip's.
The following year, with some performance tuning at Chapman Automotive and soft-rubber butyl rear tires, Skip drove the Impala to mid-13 e.t.'s at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. Then in mid-1966, ol' Skip got his official U.S. Army draft notice from Uncle Sam, so he had no other choice but to sell his 409 Impala. He received a letter from a friend telling him that the car had been stolen, its body later found stripped in an alley. (Sad to say, 409s were the No. 1 target of car thieves back then.)
Fast-forward to 1996. Skip had owned some nice Chevys up to then, but the itch for a '69 Camaro grew unbearable. He has known a guy since the '70s who restored all the hot performance Chevys and was trustworthy. Did Skip want a numbers-matching Chevy? Not really-just something to enjoy and have fun with. Enter a rust-free, '69 Hugger Orange Camaro SS from California. It had recently been gone through and the stock L48 350 was replaced with a Lunati-cammed 427, plus a 12-bolt rearend with 4.10s.
We ran into Skip and his wife at the Fred Gibb Memorial Car Show, in LaHarpe, Illinois, a few years ago. Looking just like a COPO, we stopped to check the '69 out. It was nice to see a torrid Camaro that was just like those from back in the day: Modified, still easy to drive, and super quick.