1970 Chevrolet Camaro - The Return Of Grumpy's Toy

Drag racing's most famous "rent-a-racer" gets restored to its former splendor

Bob McClurg Dec 22, 2006 0 Comment(s)
Sucs_0600_09_z 1970_chevy_camaro_grumpys_toy Cowl_signature 2/19

Not only does Mike Guarise have a letter of authenticity on file (which we've seen), he also has Bill Jenkins signature on the cowl!

By now, many of you may be wondering how after all those years of use, and abuse, was Bill Jenkins able to authenticate the car? "Although the car was in primer, and all the original paint below it was gone, it was pretty much the way Richie Zul had last raced it. I believe that the car had sat from the time Zul parked it. Number one, he (Jenkins) was familiar with SRD's work, and the SRD sub frame and coil-over rear suspension which they had installed. Number two, when Zul had raced the car in the later body style, he had cut out the rear window opening to accommodate the much larger later-model Camaro back window. There also had been a patch installed to fill that area in, so he immediately recognized where the window had been cut out. The car had also been acid dipped which was another way Jenkins could tell it was his old race car. There were also no top bows for the headliner as well as no structural support in the roof area which is another way he could tell that it was his car. And the A&A fiberglass dash installed when Bruce Larsen campaigned the car was also still there!"

Sucs_0600_18_z 1970_chevy_camaro_grumpys_toy Front_view_hood_off 3/19

Also on board is a pair of Aluminum alloy open chamber cylinder heads and a General Kinetics cam and valve train. The intake is a Weiand 2x4 tunnel ram model, while the carburetors are Holley 750's. Also on board is a '62 Corvette tach-drive, dual-point distributor, Hooker headers, and a Hemi Mopar Super Stock aluminum fan. It's all there!

During the lengthy restoration process, which began at Wonder Lake Auto Body in July, 2003, under the watchful eye of Bob Kroening, Mike spoke to Jenkins on several occasions. "He was sometimes hard to get a hold of during the racing season when he was busy building motors for Dave Connolly, but there was a lot of written communication back and forth between the two of us. I decided that the best thing to do was to write up a list of ten questions, and leave enough room at the bottom of each question for him to give me an answer. That seemed to work the best!"

"Since the Camaro had been back halved, the first order of business was to locate a wrecked donor car which lent its rear floor pan and trunk section to the cause." Mike Guarise was also adamant about getting the engine combination right. "More often than not, he (Jenkins) ran an iron block in the car not the ZL1, or "Can Am" motor like he ran in his '68 car, so that's the way I built it. Basically, what's in there now is a code "512" dated cast-iron 427 block now displacing 468-cid. It also has the correct heads, and the Weiand vintage tunnel ram with "period correct" 750 cfm Holley double-pumper carburetors. We even went as far as to obtain the correct 1962 Corvette tach-drive distributor that Bill originally used on the car. Another hard-to-find-item was the Hemi Super Stock 18-1/2-inch aluminum fan which he used. In the process of restoring this car, we have attempted to get everything as technically correct as possible. For example, although the HOT ROD MAGAZINE article lists the 2x4 tunnel ram intake as being an Edelbrock, that association was short lived. In its place, Guarise has installed the more commonly used Weiand 2x4 tunnel ram intake.

The black vinyl interior in the Camaro is also original NOS as is the ultra rare Stahl tachometer. The three-point Lakewood roll bar is also technically correct. Both front and rear Cragar S/S wheels are period correct as well as the Stahl front tires and Goodyear drag slicks on the rear. Completed July 2005 just in time for its public debut at York U.S. 30's "Super Stock Reunion," the resurrected "Grumpy's Toy VIII" received rave revues from everyone in attendance. But what did Bill, "Grumpy" Jenkins actually think about the restoration?

Sucs_0600_12_z 1970_chevy_camaro_grumpys_toy Rear_suspension 7/19

"When Bill Jenkins finally saw the car at York, I pointed out some of the hard to find items like the tach-drive Corvette distributor and Hemi fan setup in an effort to impress upon him that in the process of restoring the car, we wanted to get everything right. Now, he also pointed out a couple of things that I had messed up on like the inline Hurst shifter for example, so I'm now in the process of fixing those things." None-the-less, old "Grumpy" was sufficiently impressed to autograph the cowl for Mike and that's all the approval Guarise needs. "I'm a big fan of Camaro's in general, and ex-drag cars in particular (Mike also owns Ronnie Sox's 1971 NHRA World Championship-winning Plymouth Barracuda Pro Stock car,) and the fact that it's "Grumpy's Toy VIII" makes it a phenomenal collector piece. There really is only one "Grumpy's Toy VIII" Pro Stock Camaro, and VERY I'm proud to say that I have it!"




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