Camaro thoughts

November 28, 2011

Very often friends and family who know I own and drive a project 1967 Camaro question me about how the project’s going asking: what have I done lately, what will I do next, when will it be painted, and what will it be like when it’s finished.  I like talking cars so I always enjoy conversing what I’ve done and what I image it being but I also think I’d be fun to show what I’d like it to be rather than just relying on my verbal descriptions. If you’re interested I hope you enjoy the following. I will not be done for many years but it’s fun to bench build.

You can go many different ways and use various styles when building up a classic car. I like most things classic so I want my Camaro to look and feel very much like the 1960s from which it came. It doesn’t have to be strictly original but I’d like to keep my modifications mild and hidden. I’ll use a bit more freedom with modifications that were common to the era and period correct for gearheads of the day.

The main reason for this post is to show some colors.  It’s easier to show colors than to describe them, and color makes up a large part of how people image a car.

For a long time I was pretty set on fathom green as the color I’d paint the Camaro. It’s actually a 1969 color but I like it’s deep, dark look.  Although it’s not strictly original for my ‘67 it would still look period correct.

1969 fathom green

1969 fathom green with white hockey stick stripe

Recently, I’ve become interested in a couple other colors:  ’67 Tahoe turquoise

and ’68 Corvette bronze.  Originally I did not consider any reds or blues because I see so many other red and blue Camaros on the roads and at the shows. Also, I’m more interested in using something other than the same few colors used on the cars made today. The auto industry used a much wider color palate in the 60’s, and I wanted to take advantage of that with my ‘60s muscle. That is largely the reason I like the bronze.

Tahoe turquoise in sun with redline tires

Tahoe turquoise with black vinyl top and white bumblebee stripe

Tahoe turquoise as I would have it with black vinyl top and white bumblebee

1968 Corvette bronze in sun with redlines

Regardless of which of the above colors I ultimately choose I plan on using a white bumblebee stripe across the front.  Not only do I love the contrast of a dark color with white but the bumblebee is fairly unique to Camaros and very 1960s.

Nantucket blue with white bumblebee and correct 1967 grill and round parking lights. My Camaro currently has the grill and rectangular parking lights of the 1968 Camaro. I prefer these round lights.

Also, I’d like to install a black vinyl top (except if I use the bronze).  I like the two-tone styling it provides, and I like the contrast the textured vinyl has against the glossy finish of the paint. And, again, it’s fairly unique to ‘60s style.

1969 fathom green with black vinyl top

As I mentioned before, I like a good dark and light contrast.  So I plan on matching the deluxe parchment interior to the dark exterior.  This white interior is another reason for the previously mentioned white bumblebee stripe.  I think it’d be a nice way to draw the interior and exterior together as the white stripe highlights the white interior while looking in from outside the car.

Parchment interior with deluxe steering wheel I’d also use

Up to this point most of the work my dad and I have done to the car has been on the engine, and I have the engine looking just about how I’d like to keep it. It’s a Corvette 327 and it has that original Chevy small-block appearance. It has the beautiful, finned Corvette valve covers so it is clear it’s not the original engine, but a Corvette 327 swap would have been a modification done by original Camaro owners who wanted a little more horsepower.  I still have some changes I’d like to make to the engine but they are changes that would affect the appearance very little (such as upgrading to aftermarket roller rocker arms).

How a muscle car sounds is also incredibly important.  It’s one of the main characteristics that make driving classic cars a much more visceral and full sensory experience. Much more than just a way to get from A to B. I’d like to have my Camaro sounding similar to the following two cars. Both are ‘60s small-blocks fitted with headers, chambered exhaust and the famous Duntov 30-30 cam used on the race-breed Corvettes and Z/28s.  The cam provides the chop while the headers and chambered exhaust provide the throaty volume.

As for the wheels I’d like to use Pontiac Rallys like those I have on now (but in better condition). I have also considered American Racing Torq Thrusts which also provide a good ‘60s-modified look. I think I’ll keep using BFGoodrich Radial T/As because they’re a good and comfortable daily driver tire and I like the raised white lettering. I like redline tires but I don’t think I’d use them on a daily driver.

What do you guys think? Any ideas? What color do you like best?

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A few great car commercials

March 16, 2011

Recently there have been some great car commercials on television and I wanted to look back at some of my favorites listed here. I am not  interested in clever sales pitches, stunning visuals or feasts of strength (so common in truck and luxury car commercials). I am more interested in how the soul of the car is portrayed and in the relationships and experiences people have with their cars. (It also helps to be about an exciting car.)

I love the physical comedy/silent film style acting in this ad made great with the STAR WARS theme.

Just a fun commercial with a beautiful car.  Also, RIP Crown Victoria.

Possibly my favorite. This one brought me to my feet the first time I saw it.  It’s in homage to the Steve McQueen film Bullitt, probably the greatest car chase movie.  The 1968 Mustang GT McQueen used to chase two hitmen in a  1968 Charger R/T 440 to their fiery death was the inspiration for the Mustang’s new design. A special Bullitt Edition was later offered. McQueen’s image was taken from the movie chase which can be seen here.

And this is when the V-Series was just getting started. Check out the CTS-V coupe.

Another great. This Corvette commercial was pulled from television for its “dangerous” portrayal of children driving irresponsibly.  I believe that’s what makes it great. Children dream of driving passionate cars. (And always manuals- children don’t pretend to drive an automatic.)  This ad is so true to  the ideal driver-car relationship. Ford later made a similar ad with adult drivers- it was much less.

A car’s life flashes before its windshield and its the lives of its owners.

What ever happened to style? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. There was a time when style was just about everything in automotive design. I love the shots of the Chrysler Building which was designed using the automotive Art Deco style of the times.


Hatfield Buick part of Redlands culture

June 11, 2009

When I first heard of the economic troubles some of the major American automotive companies were having my first fear was the possibility of an America without those companies and their cars, each so vital to the American culture.  Now, following the filing of bankruptcy of GM those fears are being realized. 

Newspapers report GM is soon to be government owned, and will be reduced to just four companies (Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC).  Also, dealerships all across the nation will not have their franchise agreements renewed for the next year affecting towns all across the U.S. 

Again one of my first fears concerning GM’s troubles has been realized. The Hatfield Buick dealership of my hometown Redlands, CA will not have its agreement renewed after 100 years of selling cars. It joined Buick in 1913 after Hatfield had been selling cars since 1909.  It’s the oldest Buick dealer in the U.S., probably the world.

1913 Buick

1913 Buick

Currently owned by the original Hatfield’s grandson, the dealership is trying to petition to GM for the renewal of the contract and the continued life of an important center to the city’s heritage and culture. If this fight is lost it will not only mean the loss of a place to buy a car and the cars themselves, but the city of Redlands (with its people) will lose a piece of itself.

1913 Buick

 For more information visit these links and savehatfieldbuick.com (to show your support).

ABC7 News

Redlands Daily Facts


Where The Light Is – Mayer at His Best

July 7, 2008

John Mayer first came to see mainstream musical success in 2001 with the release of his debut album, Room For Squares.  Since that time, John has put out several more records and shown incredible growth not only in his songwriting, but his guitar playing as well.  Mayer’s next studio album, Heavier Things, released in 2003, allowed Mayer to explore within the pop feel of his first album.  The result is top quality music.  Mayer’s most recent studio album, Continuum is my personal favorite.  Released in 2006, Mayer adopts a much bluesy-er and rock-y-er feel.  Great songwriting is accompanied by soulful guitar solos and memorable melodies.

Before releasing Continuum, Mayer joined up with studio-giant Pino Palladino on bass and ex-Stevie Wonder drummer Steve Jordan to form John Mayer Trio.  The three relased Try!, a live album in 2005.  The music that these three great musicians make is much bluesy-er than anything Mayer has done on his own.  This project of Mayer’s may just be my favourite thing that Mayer has done.

John Mayer has distinguished himself as a very versatile musician, becoming a master of acoustic guitar based pop, pop/rock, and straight ahead blues.  With this in mind, Mayer gave a concert last December at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.  The concert opened with John Mayer with an acoustic guitar, joined with two other acoustic players on a few songs.  This was followed by John Mayer Trio, and finally closing out the evening, the main act… (drumroll please)  John Mayer with a full band!

John has just released a DVD and CD of this event.  Both are fantastic.  I highly recommend these to anyone who enjoys good music.  It has been so great to see Mayer’s growth musically over the past several years.  He is definitely one of the most creative artists out on the radio/mtv circuit these days.  If you think you know John Mayer as “just another pop act”, check out this live CD or DVD, entitled Where The Light Is.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.


Culture in Disney and Pixar’s Cars

March 30, 2008

The other day we were talking about Disney and Pixar’s animated film Cars. I love that the film is not just another cartoon but an expression and record of culture, the American car culture.In being a film expressing culture it is inspired by the car culture.In making it they could have easily chose to create generic cartoon cars but they chose to use real and historical cars.Here are a few of the inspirations for the film.

The mountain range making up the landscape surrounding Radiator City was clearly inspired by the the famous Cadillac Ranch located in Amarillo, Texas along the classic Route 66.  The creators buried 1949 to 1963 Cadillacs so their rear halves pointed out to the skys.  The point was to emphasize the beauty of the chrome and fins era in which the cars were made.

The Cozy Cone motel came from the wigwam motels also along Route 66 with the closest one in San Bernardino, CA.

The cars and characters were also inspired.  “The King” character was based on the famous NASCAR 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner driven by Richard Petty.  Petty himself even supplied the voice for “the King.”

Doc Hudson was characterized in resembliance to the Fabulous Hudson Hornet which is from the legendary winning car of the early years of NASCAR.  The voice was provided by Hollywood car guy Paul Newman.  Newman himself was also a race car driver.

It is also worth mention that the name of the main character Lightening McQueen.  Steve McQueen was also a Hollywood car guy and a skilled motorcycle racer.  McQueen starred in and did much of the stunt driving in Bullitt which contains one of the greatest car chases filmed.


Anxious anticipation

February 28, 2008

American automotive enthusiasts and especially Chevy enthusiasts are living exciting and anxious times.  For five years we have been without the Camaro, without Chevy Muscle.  It has been trying times.  But in recent years we have seen glimmers of hope: MUSCLE IS BACK! 

            Almost since the Camaro’s discontinuation in 2002 there has been speculation, rumors and prayers for its return.  When the Camaro was discontinued it was vastly out performing everything in its class and price range.  It was a hard loss.  

            Then Chevy lifted our spirits when they announced their intention to revive the Camaro and revealed its concept which blew everyone away.  That all seems so long ago.  We have been anxiously waiting for years.  We have seen the car and our mouths are watering, our hearts are yearning and people have begun saving for the day it arrives at the dealers.  There is even a countdown to the beginning of production of the Camaros.  As the time draws nearer the more anxious I get. 

            This whole thing reminds me of the stories I have heard about the secrecy and pride in the unveiling of the original classic cars such as when Chevy unveiled its new design and engine (the small-block that changed the world) in 1955.  It set a date, closed the curtains of the showroom and kept the cars covered until that date.  The car was highly anticipated and it proved well worth it.

            This new Camaro is now also highly anticipated and it appears it will be well worth the wait.  In the midst of the anticipation every enthusiast is scrounging for any and all information, photographs and videos of the testing models of the car.  Magazines and web sites have spies searching and chasing its development.  Citizens are reporting sightings.  And now magazines are calling for the citizens to keep their eyes pealed in search of an opportunity to photograph the Camaro (if you have the opportunity be sure to take those photos).  Some of the latest photos came when someone one the street spotted a Camaro in camouflage being transported on the back of a diesel.  It was on its way north to Alaska for cold weather testing (from what I heard).

            Recently official photos have been released (without the camouflage) to provide a better look.  It is gorgeous in white. Check out this link

            Part of the speculation surrounding the Camaro is: why is it taking so long to go into production.  Part of the answer is that it is a completely new car (unlike the new Mustang or Challenger which are built upon previously existing designs).  Also, its performance is being vigorously tested and tuned.  Also, Chevy is working to keep the Camaro in the hands the everyday people and your average car guy.  An example of this is that they are working to get a five star safety rating in  order to keep insurance costs down.

            As the wait continues we must remember that when the first Camaro came out in 1967 it was three years after most of the other muscle cars hit the streets (the 4-4-2, the GTO and the Mustang), and still was able to astonish and compete.    

           


The Return of Former Glories

February 9, 2008

It appears we are entering a new era of horsepower wars in the American automotive industry.  I welcome it.  It is bringing back a competitive nature to the industry reminiscent to the glory days of the horsepower wars of the sixties.

            Many of the elements of today’s industry are just the revival and rejuvenation of the things of old.  Chrysler has bought back the Hemi.  V-8s that were recently reserved for trucks and SUVs are returning to their homes in family sedans and midsized cars.  Chevy has plans to return to rear wheel drive on the many of their cars.  The Camaro is fighting its way back into existence. 

            Good things are to come and you can see it in the competitive air within the industry.  They say competition is the mother of invention and it has been proven time and time again as  surges in technology and knowledge accompany all our major wars. 

 The Hairy Olds is an example of the experimentation of

            A competitive spirit leads to experimentation and discovery, and in the fifties and sixties it gave us a generation of mad scientists each working to squeeze out more horses, more torque and more speed then the next.  And in the time before insurance difficulties, legalities, government restrictions, the oil crisis and environmentalism horsepower and speed thrived.  (The Hairy Olds pictured here is an excellent example of some of the mad experimentation taking place.  It was all wheel drive with two blown 425’s, one powering the front the other the back.)

            It was a time when the family sedan could also be used to pull trees.  It was a time when buyers got more then what they paid for (rather then less).  The automakers were notorious for selling you a car that had an advertised  “300hp” but in reality had much more. 

            I recently heard that a cable automotive show decided to build exact replicas of a few of the greatest engines of the sixties and dyno test them to find their true horsepower numbers.   These engines from the sixties were sold with horsepower ratings in the 400s and 500s.  When put on the dyno they proved to have horsepower ranging from the 500hp to approaching 800hp.  Proving the long time suspicion that American car buyers of the sixties were getting more than what they paid for.

            Today the industry seems to be returning to its competitive ways.  They still have the restrictions of fuel economy, insurance costs and smog laws and so that is where the experimentations are being made by today’s scientists.  They may not be the mad scientists of yesteryear but are instead geniuses of perfection and invention.  They have worked to make the great massive Hemi more efficient than ever before.  At Chevy they are using Displacement on Demand and they have supercharged the Corvette giving the “everyman’s sports car” the “700hp” it needs to feed on the expensive European super machines, at a fraction of the price.  It’s only going to get better!