Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the Beginning

In the beginning, there's just this car.  The car happens to be a 1968 Camaro, which is a good thing.  And it's been sitting out in the weather for the better part of 14 years, which is definitely not a good thing.

So a little about the car:  Grandma Garnett bought it to get back and forth to work in, shortly after being widowed (as I understand).  She saw a co-worker's car in the parking lot, and loved it so much she had to have one.  She didn't get the SS--she told me once she liked the SS, but at the time could not afford the extra gas.  She got the one with the 250 Turbo-Thrift straight six.  250 cubic inches is right around 4.1 liters, for you metric folks who pay attention to that stuff.  As far as power goes, it doesn't have a lot.  Although the torque characteristics of the inline engine do give it more get up and go than you might imagine.  The transmission is ye olde 2-speed Powerglide.  I am told that for drag racing, a powerglide can be great.  I'll tell you from experience: Around town it's OK.  On the highway it's a total pig.

Something a lot of folks don't quite understand is the niche ponycars originally filled.  These didn't start out as hotrods.  The Mustang and Camaro were more like the Honda Civic (gag) of today.  They were cheaper, entry-level cars that easily and cheaply lent themselves to high-performance modifications.  So grandma's little Turbo-Thrift is mostly just fine.  It's a lesser Camaro, and an original bit of that history.

When me and my brothers were little, we'd go up to Grandma Garnett's condo in Salt Lake for visits.  She was a neat lady who enjoyed life.  The little green Camaro fit her just perfect.  The best memory of this car was sitting on the boiling hot vinyl in the back seat, and getting ice cream cones.  I can close my eyes and see it now.  Kinda makes me itch for the soft-serve as I type this.

Well, at that young age I got two things stuck in my head.  First, I wanted that Camaro.  I never quit badgering my grandma about it.  Had to have it.  The second thing was that I just had to be a Marine like my dad (whom we also visited at my grandmas--but that's a whole different story).  I did end up with both, eventually.

The sad thing is, as a starving university student, you simply cannot afford to restore a car like that.  You can hardly afford to drive one.  Even though it didn't have a 327 or 350 V8, it never got better than 18 miles to the gallon or so.  Not good for the tight, tight budget.  I drove it for a short time, but it wasn't long before I had to park it and find something cheaper.

From that point to today, the poor thing has not had a good life.  I won't make any excuses--most of the work ahead of me on this is my fault.  I would tell anyone in the same situation:  Get rid of the car.  Sell it to someone who will love it.  Because you don't know how long it will be before you can do anything with it, and it's simply a shame to let them sit and rot.

And sit and rot, it did.

At one point it even got violated, when somebody decided to strip it of some hard to find parts.  I lost the rear bumper, the AM radio (???), the guage cluster, and a bunch of chrome trim.  It was obvious that someone had stolen the parts to restore their own car.

Let me just say this:  If you're the monkey running around with my parts on your Camaro, I hope some stupid hoon in a Civic runs you off the road.  I hope you're the guy that gets keyed in the parking lot.  I hope the AM radio shorts out and burns your car and your garage to the ground.  Because you deserve it.

Well, circumstances change.  I finally have a place to start the restoration properly.  And when I'm done, my hope is to have this car be essentially brand-new.  It won't be 100% stock, but it's going to be close.  And any non-stock items I add are purely to make it a better machine out on the road.  It's not going to be a hot-rod.  It's just going to be a great all-around machine.  Good to go down to the grocery store, or good to drive from L.A. to New York.

This Blog is going to be the chronicle of this restoration process.  I hope it's detailed enough.  I'm going to try to include everything possible, with lots of photos and notes.  I'm going to tear the car down completely--down to the last nut and bolt.  Then it's going back together one piece at a time.  It's gonna be fun, folks.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! Thanks for writing in layman terms for the uneducated car blog reader. I hope whoever took your parts spent a lot of time and money on restoring their car only to have the whole thing jacked by some hooligan teenagers.