Having checked with Brian to make sure it was okay...I want to enter my brother Gary's Camaro. I have included some pics when the Camaro was new, when it was found and what it looks like now.
In the fall of 1977, as a 21 year old, two events happened in my life. First, I was selected to be on a game show-Match Game PM. I played well, and won $11,000.00 in one show. (Big bucks back then! As a point of reference, in January 1977 I had ordered a new Trans AM at a cost of only $7,300). The Trans Am was paid off when I bought it, so, I wanted a muscle car to play with. I had set out to find a GTO, but my brother Bruce told me about a Camaro that was sitting on the street next to my Dad’s house in Yorba Linda, CA. The most interesting part of his story was that it had the 396 “flags” like on a Chevelle. I asked him if the car had wing vents, and he said that it did. I told him that the wing vents made it a 1967, and that I didn’t think that a 396 was available until the 1968 model year.
I was wrong of course, as the big block cars became available mid-model year 1967.So I went to take a look, and true enough, a RS/SS Marina Blue, factory 396 – 325HP (L-35) California “black plate” car was just sitting on the street. The paint was oxidized, thanks to the dew and California smog, but there wasn’t any rust. Inside, the car had the “SS” gauges, a console, a four speed, the standard black interior, (the driver’s seat had a tear), the original AM radio, and the simulated walnut steering wheel. Outside, it had the hidden head lights, rear antenna, blacked out tail panel, and the 70’s typical after-market slotted dish mag wheels. Under the hood was a numbers matching big block, (MX), but with an after market aluminum high-rise intake, and 850cfm Holly with mechanical secondary. Missing was all of the smog equipment, but that was pretty common for the day. Other than that, the car was pretty much unmolested.
I approached the neighbors, and I was told that the car was their son’s, but it had to go. They told me that another neighbor kept asking to buy it, but that he already had “too many cars”. (The guy was a zone manager for Chevrolet, you think he knew the cars value?) So, a price was given to me, and the second event took place in my life. Are you sitting down?
I paid $800.00 for the car! That blows people away when I tell them, but back then, it was just a 10-year-old car. I had a friend come over to help get it started, and just drove it home. I did a good amount of “playing” on the streets of Southern California over the next year or so. I got married at the end of 1978, so with school, job, and family…the car began its long life with me, being what my wife likes to call “garage furniture”.
In the years that followed, I was able to find out more about the car. I soon came to realize that this Camaro was one to keep. The car was produced the last week of February, and sold new on 3/31/67 at Cone Chevrolet in Fullerton, CA. The production numbers for the 396 L-35 cars are low, around 4,000 units, against more than 200,000 Camaros built that year. Factor in a double option, “RS/SS” car, with a 4 speed, and the number of similar cars would be much less. This is a real car; clones didn’t even exist back when I purchased it.
Although I don’t have a Protecto-Plate (yet), the tags confirm the car as correct. I also now have 1967 photos from when the car was new, the original CA. registration, and a letter from the original owner. The original owners were the parents of Sonny Bryant, of Southern California drag racing fame. The family I bought the car from were drag boat racers. I believe that this “racing connection” is how the car changed hands from Sonny, to them, and then ultimately to me.(Take note of the photos of the car when it was new-it has the Cone Chevrolet “paper plate” in one picture, and the California black plate UEY673 in the other photo....then reference the license plate(s) shot. It’s the same plate)
In May 2001, I started the process to "on body" restore. Everything was removed, bagged and tagged. The next step was to be painted. Seven months later, the car came home, and the re-installation process began. Plenty has been done since then, and progress continues.
As everyone knows, the process is never done!
When new, delivered from Cone Chevrolet
Original registration showing UEY673 plate
More pics when new
And finally-as found
And the progression of plates, too!