Proof that barn finds still exist is this ’71 Z28 owned by Bob Peters. “This car was located in a barn in Mooresville, North Carolina, sitting on blocks, with very little body damage and no rust for the past 25 years,” informs Bob. “It’s an all-original, numbers-matching car with only 87,000 miles on it. The original owner didn’t want to let it go, but with the understanding it would be completely restored, he finally gave in.”
Bob kept up his end of the deal and did restore the car, but he also changed out a few things for enhanced performance. A Tremec five-speed manual trans and 4.10 gears were a start, and the engine was rebuilt sans solid roller and replaced with a COMP Mutha Thumpr roller cam. It’s now good for 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. For visual sweetening, Bob lowered the car 2 inches all around and bolted up a set five-spokes, 17x8 up front and 17x9 out back. All are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.
Tony and Lisa Taylor
Tony Taylor was looking forward to building his wife’s dream car, but 22 years of military service put the project on hold. “It just costs too much money to ship a car around the world,” tells Tony. “We were married in 1984 and it’s been her life-long dream to have a classic Camaro. I was finally able to retire about five years ago, so the saving and searching began.” Lisa, Tony’s wife, acquired the car through an eBay auction, brought it home from Arkansas, and the rebuild began. After years of gathering up just the right parts, “The Money Pit,” as Tony and Lisa refer to her big-block–powered ’67 Camaro, turned out exactly how they wanted. The car has won numerous show trophies and we’re certain it will keep Tony busy and Lisa happy for years to come.
2001 SS Camaro
It’s no secret that the fourth-generation Camaro is a great canvas for performance upgrades and there is no lack of go-fast parts for these cars. Tim Mills took advantage of some of those aftermarket parts and bolted up a few under the hood of his ’01 SS. The LS1 gets a little help from Pacesetter headers, DMH electric exhaust cutouts, PRC 215cc CNC cylinder heads, and a performance grind cam. A Moser 12-bolt rearend with 4.11 gears and 33-spline axles handle the extra grunt, and a set of American Racing Torq-Thrust M wheels (17x9 front, 17x10.5 rear) offer up a nice exterior race theme. Speaking of themes—Tim’s personal saying for this car is, “hated by neighbors, envied by friends.”
Young gun Brenden Copner saved this ’78 Camaro from becoming a circle track casualty when he was just 15 years old. Recently turned 20, the young hot rodder has spent the last four years restoring this cool second-gen via skills he learned from various body shop classes, and now he’s currently working on finishing up his auto tech program. The car has a 305 and TH350 trans with a Carter 600-cfm carb and an Edelbrock aluminum intake. Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers hang out the rear, and for an appearance upgrade, Brenden bolted up a set of old-school Cragar SS wheels.
Before acquiring this ’77 Camaro, Rochester, Minnesota, resident Bryce Wentworth can’t help but recall the nice ’75 he owned while attending college. That car was T-boned at an intersection and he used the insurance money to make it drivable enough to finish school.
A few years ago Bryce got the itch to once again own a big bumper second-gen, so he went on the Internet and found this one, which was located in Phoenix, Arizona. “I flew to Sky Harbor Airport, met the owner and signed the paperwork, then drove the car all the way home,” remembers Bryce. “I enjoyed every minute if it.”
Since then, Bryce has upgraded the car with a multitude of aftermarket goodies including a 388ci small-block with Vortech heads, Proform aluminum intake, Holley carb, Hooker headers, MSD HEI distributor, and COMP hydraulic roller cam. Coming in at about 425 hp and 440 lb-ft, he wisely upgraded the drivetrain starting with a Strange Dana S-60 rearend loaded with 3.73 gears and a posi unit. A B&M Holeshot converter, B&M turbo 350 trans with shift kit, and B&M shifter handle the newfound grunt. A Hotchkis TVS suspension was added for better handling and Cragar Quick Trick wheels fit the ’70s motif perfectly.
Chris Shallcross remembers sitting shotgun in his Uncle Richie’s red ’69 Z/28 with ’80s metal cranking through the 6x9’s and Uncle Richie gripping the Hurst T-handle shifter and bangin’ through the gears of the four-speed. He was just 5 or 6 years old at the time, but that was a defining moment when he knew he too would some day own a Camaro just like his uncle’s. Fast-forward to his sophomore year in college and his dad, Tom, had purchased a beat-up ’69, which was ripe for a major restoration. For the next 13 years the duo not only restored the car to its former glory, but they managed to painstakingly accumulate the correct parts to restore this classic first-gen to its original Z/28 heritage.
We hear a lot about Camaros being saved from a life of abuse. Such was the case when David Osborne discovered this ’92, which was heading for a life of quarter-mile exposure. “When I came across the car it was in bare metal and had no seats or door panels,” said David. “The guys who were building it were in the process of making it a drag car and had ran out of money, so I spent the last six years turning it into a street machine.”
David dropped in a 5.7L LS1 and stroked it to a 383 and added a six-speed. David scoured eBay, Craigslist, and various junkyards for all the Z28 goodness, but not before he and a buddy took care of all the bodywork and paint.
Next up for David is an ’86 IROC. We’ll be looking forward to seeing that one as well.
As most of us who are into classic cars know, our projects are just never quite done, even though they may seem completely finished to the average car enthusiast. Ed Salazar can totally relate, as his nicely restored ’67 is a perfect example. Over the past few years he’s been slowly replacing bits and pieces as time and money allowed. He is quick to point out that the car runs great, though. And it should. It’s got a 350 bored .30 over and features a Holley Street Dominator intake manifold and a 750 double-pumper. The engine was built before Ed purchased it, so he’s not sure on the cam specs, but he did mention, “it has a nice lope to it.” A Turbo 350 trans, and 3.73 gears out back make it a fun ride—so much so, that Ed’s been hitting the streets in his favorite ride just about every weekend.
Eric Ross has been smitten with the Camaro ever since he can remember. “Every time I saw a Camaro drive by, it would stop me in my tracks,” Eric reminiscences. “Finally, about two years ago, I was able to get behind the wheel of a ’00 LS1-powered Z28. I drove to Atlanta to pick it up and drove it all the way home in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it didn’t miss a lick.”
Immediately after purchasing the car, Eric put into action the big plans he had for it. He and his buddy Dustin Brannan began with some appearance upgrades including an HID headlight kit and a factory SS hood. For better performance, an SLP lid made its way under the hood while long-tube headers and custom exhaust, including QTP electric cutouts, were added to the mix. With a 2-inch suspension drop and replica Corvette ZR1 wheels wrapped in Nitto 555’s the car carries a more sinister look. Of course, Eric isn’t done yet. Future plans call for more horsepower and suspension upgrades.
Major James Moore
2011 45th Anniversary Camaro
Even though Major James Moore is a U.S. Marine with 11 years of service and counting, he still manages to live his dream of “being involved with the best hobby in the world: the Chevrolet Camaro.” Being deployed to Afghanistan once and Iraq twice hasn’t gotten in the way of him upgrading and hot rodding his ’12 45th Anniversary model Camaro convertible. He calls the Camaro “Earthshaker” because, that’s just what it feels like while he’s behind the wheel. Upgrades include a chromed supercharger, ported heads, Hennessey 650 cam package, long-tube headers, Borla S-Type exhaust, 9-inch rear with 3.73 gears, and more. “To me, this car is an excellent example of how a 655hp car can be a daily driver and still take home awards at car shows,” boasts James.
Although still on active duty, there is the possibility of future deployments, but until that happens, you can find Major James Moore behind the wheel of this killer late-model muscle car.
1991 Z28 Camaro
There are plenty of Camaro enthusiasts who prefer their F-bodies in stock form. Tom Alexander not only likes his original, but his very clean ’91 Z28 convertible managed to score 991 points at the Camaro Nationals in Orlando, Florida. The TPI 305s were considered grossly underpowered by most Camaro folks, but the killer handling offered in the third-gens was the payoff for their lack of grunt in the horsepower department.
You can have all the upgrades and horsepower you want, but Tom will be keeping this one in dealer showroom condition, reminding us that some people like cars just how they came off the assembly line.
1971 Z28 Camaro
Gene Porter is in the middle of a full upgrade on his gorgeous second-gen Camaro. The plan is for a 489ci big-block with ported and polished GM Bowtie heads and a COMP custom grind hydraulic roller cam to make its way under the hood. The bottom end will feature a Scat steel crank, Compstar rods, Probe supercharger pistons, and Hellfire rings. It will be fed by a FAST XFI fuel-injection setup. An F1 supercharger will make its way on top, with the goal of 1,000 hp at the flywheel. Hotchkis subframe connectors offer additional chassis support.
“We plan on making the Hot Rod Power Tour, so a Vintage Air Gen IV kit is mandatory,” mentioned Gene. “We also have an AutoRad aluminum radiator support and two-row 1.5-inch AutoRad radiator with dual fans, which will be run by a Dakota Digital fan controller.”
It’s just additional proof that today’s big horsepower cars can run on the street with best of them.
1996 Z28 Camaro
As the saying goes, “a family that enjoys F-bodies together, stays together.” We actually made that up, but that motto is working for Jim Packard and his family. Jim passed his ’94 Camaro to his oldest son as a project, and also bought a ’96 Trans Am for his wife on her 40th birthday. The car you see here is Jim’s latest project: a ’96 Z28. Far from stock, Jim just finished the build with a 398ci LT1 and added a plate nitrous system with a 250 shot. A Viper-spec T56 trans and Ram clutch and billet flywheel manage the additional power, and twin Walbro 255 fuel pumps keep the stout mill quenched. Suspension upgrades include a PAC Racing tubular K-member with tubular upper and lower control arms, Spohn tunnel-mount torque arm, and a coilover shock conversion on all four corners. Future plans call for an SFI cage, S60 rearend, wheelie bars, and a chute.
Now that should be one fun ride.
1985 IROC Z28
The third-gen crowd is a passionate bunch when it comes to their Camaro. Alan Hamilton has been working on this ’85 IROC since 2008. Not new to the world of third-generation Camaros (this is his third one), Alan performed what he calls “a near complete teardown” on the car to get it where it is now. For some added exterior flair, Alan bolted up a hood featuring Hawk’s Sunoco style as a baseline then custom-crafted it to meld in IROC-style louvers. For motivation, he dropped in an LS376 crate engine. Upgrades include a Texas Speed cam, ported PRC heads, Magnuson TVS 2300 supercharger, and Hawks stainless steel headers. Knowing the stock drivetrain wouldn’t stand a chance, he went with a built T56 trans and Moser 9-inch rearend. Alan’s reward: 566 hp and 489 lb-ft of torque on the chassis dyno. Alan’s Camaro gets quite a bit of attention on the message boards and on the street.
1971 RS Camaro
Sometimes it takes a little kick in the pants to get motivated enough to get a big project started. Robert Roberts stared at a sea container filled with boxes of random parts that one day would be his ’71 RS Camaro. Once he finally got cracking on the project he didn’t slow down. For the next two years Robert’s weeknights after work and weekends were spent assembling this awesome second-gen. The Renault Green F-body features a 454ci big-block and 700-R4 transmission.
“I’ve got about $20,000 in the car right now,” mentioned Robert. “But I’m still not done. But are they ever really done?”
Study hard and good things will happen. Just ask Alex Didion of St. Charles, Missouri. His father told him that if he could maintain good grades in high school, they could work together on a project car. Alex’s grades exceeded his father’s expectations, so he got the “green light” to locate a project car. After months of searching, Alex located this ’67. “I finally stumbled across this rust-free RS that was tucked away in the back of an old barn in Iowa,” states Alex. “The owner had replaced all the sheetmetal, so we had a solid base to start with.”
The father/son project was sprayed in PPG LeMans Blue with white stripes. A 383 stroker resides under the hood and a Tremec TKO 600 connected to a Ford 9-inch stuffed with 3.73 cogs and a posi unit puts the power to the pavement. A Heidts performance suspension ensures capable handling and 13-inch Wilwood disc brakes offer aggressive stopping power.
The project took just about a year and a half to complete, and Alex also mentioned that he maintained excellent grades throughout the whole process.
1997 30th Anniversary Z28 Camaro
It was 2007 when Randy Grubbs picked up this ’97 Camrao. It had 56,000 on the ticker and was, for the most part, bone stock. At about the 62,000-mile mark, he decided it just wasn’t quite fast enough. After a disastrous first attempt at a horsepower upgrade (the shop went out of business with many of the new parts in their possession), Randy took the car to Tick Performance in Mooresville, North Carolina, along with the block and stroker kit for assembly. With the car back in shape and running better than ever, Randy was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Needless to say, the car sat for the better part of 2008. Finally able to drive the car in 2009, he got rear-ended. Even with major damage, Randy had the fame tweaked back to straight and repaired the damaged body. While at it, he installed a Moser 9-inch rearend and did some suspension upgrades. In 2010 he painted the car in 30th Anniversary colors as opposed to using the stickers. Upgrades for 2012 include AFR 227 CNC heads and Arizona Marine Monoblade throttle body for better airflow.
1967 RS Camaro
It’s nice to know guys like Gordon Tokeshi are keeping the classic muscle car scene alive and kicking in Hawaii. The self-proclaimed “island boy” built this ’67 RS and even sprayed the PPG Cortez Silver in his carport. The engine is the original 327 only with the addition of camel-back heads. Induction comes by way of an Edelbrock intake and carb, while Hooker Headers remove spent fuel. The stock 10-bolt rearend and 3.08:1 gears remain as well as the factory turbo 350. With a set of 15x7 ralley wheels wrapped in Firestone 255/60-15 out back and 215/65-15 up front, Gordon maintained the classic first-gen’s factory appearance.
Some Oregon folks might not take too kindly to the fact that Phil Simpler purchased this nice ’71 off Craigslist only to have the car shipped to his home digs in North Pole, Alaska. Not to worry, Phil has taken care of the ride and upgraded it with a four-bolt 383 stroker armed with a Scat crank and Scat 6-inch I-beam rods and forged flat-top Probe pistons rated at about 10.5:1 compression. A Muncie M-21 four-speed with a Hurst shifter work in conjunction with the rearend Phil got out of an ’81 Trans Am.
Although Phil plans on going with an EZ-EFI system, he’s at a crossroads between a GT Suspension with tubular A-arms from PTFB or going with the Hotchkis TVS system. Either way, we’re sure it’ll be a blast hitting the Alaskan roads in his hopped-up second-gen.
Lou Albano has been rebuilding ’73 Camaros for over 25 years, and when he found this example in the Midwest, he wasn’t expecting anything special. But when he put it on the lift to have a better look, he noticed the car was in amazing shape and should be brought back to original. The three-year restoration didn’t need a ton of new items. The car has a CE block and Lou took the time to find the correct heads, intake, and carb that were in a ’73 Z28. Now the L82 is back to its original form. More welcome surprises include the car having the original ball joints, springs, and shocks, indicating the 55,000 miles on the odometer are accurate. Lou had the car repainted in its original Code 68 Dark Brown Metallic.
Most often Camaros of this era receive performance overhauls, so Lou was proud to bring back to life a piece of F-body history.
Twenty-year-old Frank Terry has owned this ’99 for two years now and keeps the car in great shape by using it mostly as a weekend driver. “I was very particular when it came to buying a Camaro. It had to be red, an SS, and have low miles,” relays Frank. “I searched for a few months and found this one in Texas. My dad and I made the trip to see it, and once I heard it fire up, I knew this was the car I’ve always dreamed of having.”
With only 57,000 miles on the clock, Frank plans on keeping it stock with the exception of a GM short 8-inch antenna and a set of Corvette custom fuel rail covers painted to match the car.
1977 RS Camaro
Tom Buonfiglio realized that back in 1977—the year of his Camaro—flashy stickers and bold graphics had taken the place of stronger engines found the early second- and first-generation Camaros. Disappointed with the horsepower offerings of the stock ’77, Tom swapped in a 350ci mill that produces over 300 rwhp. With more power under the hood, Tom loved the original paint scheme and in 1996 painted it back to its original glory. Tom’s proud to mention that his Camaro was put in the Heartbeat Class in the 2010 GM Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes it takes an important event to give you that little extra push to get things done the way you had envisioned. In the case of Robby Whitehead’s ’68 Camaro, it was his son Jordan’s high school prom that got the wheels turning in high gear. “Near the end of April 2011, Jordan informed me that he wanted to take the Camaro to his prom, which was in May,” tells Robby. “When we bought the car it had a cheap light-blue paintjob. My daughter Megan liked the orange and white stripe combination so that’s what we did.”
Robby and Jordan removed all the trim and interior and had various sources get the car ready in time for the prom. Just three days before the big dance, the car was finished and looked great. “This car really made their prom memorable,” said Robby. “I’m sure they will always cherish the pictures they took with the car, which will certainly bring back great memories.”
Andy and Helen Watson
2010 SS Camaro
Generally when we write short pieces for the Readers’ Rides section, we sometimes have to get a little creative in putting a story together for some interesting reading. Not this time. Randy Watson did a great job of telling us his story.
“When my wife and I ordered our Camaro in July 2009, we couldn’t wait for the car’s arrival.
“I was sitting at the four-way stop in town when a truck carrying a Blue Camaro drove by—my heart started to pound. I immediately followed the truck and watched them unload the car at Putnam Chevrolet. I had to call the wife and give her the good news. That evening we picked up the new (loaded) fifth-gen Camaro. Since its arrival, we have upgraded it with a K&N Air Flow System and Flowmaster exhaust system. If you live in mid-Missouri and attend car shows or cruises, keep an eye out for our ’10 Agua Blue Metallic Blue 6.2L SS/RS Camaro.”
Darell Lord has had this ’69 for over 21 years, and what started out as a big-block engine swap eventually turned into a disc-brake conversion and an interior and trunk restoration. Darell was fairly happy with the upgrades, but wanted to take it a step further. “The one thing I really wanted to do was paint,” tells Darell. “So when I retired from the Air Force, I went to school at Arkansas State University and enrolled in their auto body and paint program. My final project before graduation was to paint and restripe my Camaro.”
The car’s appearance evolved even further and now sports a Yenko S/C tribute theme.
1992 RS Camaro
Third-gen Camaros are ripe pickins for an engine upgrade. The body style looks great, but for the most part, they lack in the horsepower department. Tracy Cain was well aware of this so an LS1 made its way under that big ol’ hood. Engine upgrades include Patriot heads, a COMP cam, headers, a FAST 92mm intake and throttle body, and a custom cold-air intake. The increase in horsepower was addressed in the drivetrain as a Ford 9-inch stuffed with a Detroit TrueTrac posi unit made the scene. Spohn control arms and Panhard rod were included for better handling.
No doubt Tracy has one of the baddest third-gens on any side of the Mississippi.