In honor of the birthday of a very important person (me!) we are taking a look at one of my all time favorites. One of my favorite cars ever, one that I would buy within days of winning the lottery, is a first generation Camaro. The 1967 Camaro you see here haunts me to this day. It was so close (I took these photos, and sat in the car) but will probably never be within my reach. And it is just begging for someone who appreciates it to restore it to it’s original glory. This is one of the beauties just sitting in the Great White North. I know the history of this car back to the mid-70’s, but I’m not entirely sure where the car is right now. It may still be in the same spot, or it may have been finally sold off.
I know this car is a 1967 Camaro RS. The hidden headlights require different fenders, so this is a hard option to put on a car that did not have it. The clearly visible SS badging, hood vents, and “bumblebee” front stripe are easier to add later, but I’m pretty certain the car came with them. The Corvette yellow paint is not original, it was not even available for 67 and it only took opening the doors to find the true original color: cream. IF this car came with the SS & RS packages it is a fairly rare combination, especially with the cream color. It had the 350 and a 4-speed transmission. Restored with the numbers matching engine would easily make this a $50,000 car, probably more.
So what’s the story here? This car belonged to a cousin of mine that was close to 20 years older than me. He bought the car in the mid 70’s and promptly hot-rodded it and painted it yellow. In a small town with only one police car it is quite easy to avoid “The Law” and Cousin was known to blast around town when enforcement wasn’t around. But everyone knew who owned the only yellow Camaro within 500 miles. Eventually in 1980 complaints from the citizenry led to an ultimatum from The Law: if the Camaro is spotted in or near town again it would be impounded and Cousin would be wearing stripes. So the Camaro was parked. The now 20-something Cousin eventually moved far south chasing oil field jobs, but left the Camaro on the farm with the intent of bringing it back to life one day. By the time the 90’s came around Cousin was doing fairly well but was still in the oil fields of Oklahoma, and the Camaro was in a barn on the old farm. He had a good idea though, at the time you could deduct some of the expense of a storage building for a classic car. He worked a deal with the uncle who was running the farm to pay for part of a new metal quanset barn with a paved floor if they would let the Camaro stay inside for as long as was needed.
When I took these photos in 1999 the Camaro was still there, still wearing the 1980 license plates you see in the photos. If you noticed the front riding high it is because the engine was gone. The legend says Cousin replaced it with a racing engine, which he sold after it was parked. So what happened to the original engine? While I was wandering around outside and taking pictures of the GMC 100 truck, I noticed a pile of scrap metal nearby against the back of the metal barn housing the Camaro. It was mostly various tractor pieces that I could not identify. But there was a V8 engine sitting there also! It was clearly a Chevy small block. Could the Camaro engine possibly be sitting OUTSIDE the barn? Since I had the Nova I was well aware that the engine number was stamped on the block, and the last six digits should match the last six VIN digits on the body. I looked at the numbers on the block, and went and checked the car. They matched. I still get queasy when I think about that Camaro sitting in the barn with the original engine sitting outside in the scrap metal pile.
Where is the Camaro today? I have no idea. Cousin had heart problems and died from a heart attack around five years ago. His personal life was a mess, with several ex-wives, messy divorces, children he couldn’t see, etc. I don’t think he owned a whole lot at the time of his death. I have no idea if he had a will and if so if he included any instructions for it. I suspect the Camaro still sits in the barn with no clear ownership. But I don’t know for sure since I haven’t been back and haven’t talked to any relatives that would know. Eventually I hope to find out the ending to this story.