Over the years, we all receive many less-than-memorable gifts. They end up in a closet or buried in the basement and soon we forget all about them. But every once in a while, there's that one gift that stands out among the rest-something truly special. Bob Bertelsen's '67 Camaro has come a long way since rolling off the assembly line in 1966. It was then that this convertible became part of his family, and eventually Bob's pride and joy.
In 1966, Bob's father bought his wife a very special Christmas present-this then-new '67 Camaro convertible would be her first new car. When it came time for Bob and his sister to get behind the wheel, the convertible was theirs to learn on until it was parked in 1978. Bob's father had every intention of restoring the Camaro once he retired, but after being untouched for 13 years, the F-body would be a Christmas gift once again. With the torch now passed from father to son, Bob decided it was time to breathe some new life into this family heirloom.
The first round of resto found Bob's ragtop sporting all new GM sheetmetal. Dressed in stock trim, the Camaro netted some trophies at a few local shows before being parked once again in 1996. Fast-forward 10 years: A road trip sparked a renewed interest for Bob, and his '67 was once again brought to the forefront. "I originally thought I would just freshen up the car with new paint, a couple of suspension upgrades, and an overdrive transmission," Bob says. "Then I thought I needed to exceed my last Camaro, which won national awards. I couldn't go backwards."
The revamping started with the exterior and the ponycar was quickly mounted on a rotisserie. With the help of his friend Tom McKenzie, Bob media blasted the bottom side of the car and began fabricating and test fitting the new wheel tubs, subframe and frame connectors, along with the new custom tailpanel. The front and rear bumpers were cut and narrowed to provide a better fit before the boltholes were filled for a smooth appearance, and once the fabrication was complete, the bumpers were sent out for chrome plating. The factory door handles gave way to new units normally found on the Buick Lacrosse, and the emblem and molding holes were filled completing the metal work.
With the sheetmetal having been replaced in 1992, bodywork was kept to a minimum and Bob laid down the Sherwin Williams primer in preparation for the new silver hue that was soon to come. With the help of Rick DeSalvo, the body was blocked, leaving every panel straight and ready for color. With basecoat and clearcoat now covering the car, Bob and Rick finish-sanded and buffed the body, bringing out a mirror-like finish.
Now that the body was in line, Bob shifted his attention to the suspension. The front and rear subframes from Chris Alston's Chassis Works were prepped and treated to charcoal powdercoat, custom made at A Plus Powder Coaters to match the stripe on the hood. With the powdercoat complete, and the subframes back in the car, Bob started assembling the rest of the Chris Alston's suspension and air ride system from Air Ride Technologies. The Air Ride Shockwave system cushions the front and rear suspension and gives this Camaro the sleek, low look Bob was after.
Wilwood six-piston brakes reside up front, while its four-piston counterparts sit in the rear. The beefy binders lay-in-wait just in case Bob needs to bring the good times to a timely halt. As soon as Bob decided Trial wheels from I Forge wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber would be this Camaro's new shoes, Tom went to work narrowing and mounting the Fab-9 rearend housing from Chris Alston's Chassis Works completing the rear suspension.
With the drivetrain now at the forefront of the build, Bob turned to Schafiroff Race Engines to handle the task of making power. The Little M Dart block is the base for 406ci of Chevy power. An Eagle 4340 forged steel crankshaft uses Eagle H-beam rods to move the forged Mahle pistons producing 10.3:1 compression under the Canfield cylinder heads. A Comp Cams camshaft manipulates the valves inside the heads allowing the air/fuel mixture and exhaust in and out. Induction is handled by an 800-cfm Edelbrock carburetor, which sits on top of an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold. Exhaust gasses escape through a set of long-tube headers and full custom exhaust with 40-series Flowmaster mufflers.
Power is transferred through a 2,400-stall speed TCI converter to a TCI 4L60E four-speed automatic transmission while Moser axles and 3.55 rear-end gears handle the duty of getting power to the hides out back. A TCI Outlaw shifter sits in the console while a Twist Machine paddle-shifter assembly handles the task of controlling the ups and downs of the gearbox.
As the project was seemingly coming to a close, one area was still left unattended. The interior needed to be customized in a way that reflected the overall attitude this '67 now emits. For this, Krist Kustom Interiors of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was called into action. Optimum leather from Sherwin Williams wraps the seats, door panels, and custom center console, and Auto Meter gauges help Bob keep an eye on everything happening under the hood. A Kenwood CD/DVD player provides a little extra entertainment for the other passengers
Nine months of custom work was well worth it. Bob's dream car has gone from a drawing to reality, and it all started with a Christmas gift.