It's been awhile, but we're back on track with the Colton Camaro. For those of you who remember, the story was about a Camaro being built by the aftermarket industry for the son of a fallen soldier. We briefly touched the subject awhile back in "Bow-Tie Briefs," but now we're going to dive in and see what we can turn up.
Let's begin by getting reacquainted with what's going on. For those of you who watch the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, you may be familiar with a segment called "Fallen Heroes." It is dedicated to the men and women in the United States armed forces who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the segments was about a helicopter pilot from Killeen, Texas, by the name of Shane Colton. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lawrence Shane Colton, 32, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, was killed April 11, 2004, when his Apache helicopter was shot down in Baghdad. Before venturing overseas, Shane and his 12-year-old son, Lance Colton, were in the process of building a '68 Camaro. Shane's intention for the car was to build a mild street machine worthy of magazine coverage and car show recog-nition. But most importantly, he wanted to teach his gearhead son how to build hot rods. When Gary Anderson and his wife, owners of SoffSeal Weatherstripping & Rubber Details, saw the segment, they knew they had to help Lance finish what he and his dad had started. Gary contacted Lance's mother, Inge Colton, who was more than happy to let Gary and the aftermarket industry lend a helping hand. The problem was, no one knew what kind of shape the car was in. Gary then contacted the World Wide Camaro Club. Within a couple of days, the club office called back and said their Texas state representative, Gary Griffith and his wife, would drive from Houston to the Colton home in Killen, Texas. What Gary soon found out was that the car would be a major project.
Next up was to get the word out. Within a matter of hours, offers came pouring in from all over. Inge and Lance were taken by a NASCAR team to a race, the NHRA Top Fuel Army team sent several items, and SEMA and the Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO), a council of SEMA, were also willing to give a hand. Before the blink of an eye, offers from all sorts of aftermarket companies were giving their products, donations, and time. Before any of that could start, however, Gary Anderson had to find a place to restore the Camaro. What he found was the Central Texas College, a trade school right in Lance's hometown of Killen. Gary spoke with the college, who enthusiastically answered with an immediate "YES!" The car was then moved to the school, and its two automotive instructors, B.J. Cummings (body) and Mike Flynn (engine) started working on the car immediately with their students. The best part was that Lance was allowed to help and learn, just like dad intended. Mike Flynn was also kind enough to take Lance out to his farm and allow him to drive his farm tractor so that Lance could learn to use a clutch.
The plan was to unveil the car at the 2005 SEMA show in Las Vegas. What do you know, down to a "T" the car was there, ready to be handed over to Inge and Lance. Although this is only the beginning of a story with several twists and turns, we think we'll go ahead and end it here for now. As for the rest of the story, let's take a look at the initial breakdown of the Camaro at the Central Texas College in Killen.