There is an old saying that mentions how the cobbler never has new shoes. It’s an old proverb, but the moral is, he never has time for himself because he is always busy repairing other’s shoes. The same premise typically goes for the engine machinist, transmission repairman, and the guy running a body shop.
Even though all of them would like to have a classic hot rod to use as a calling card, the project car they plan to build is usually relegated to taking up space in the rear corner of their shop. As sad as it sounds, the car sits patiently waiting for its turn to receive some attention. What continues to happen though, is customers’ cars take priority, and the languishing project continues to, well, languish in the corner.
Fortunately, this second-gen, split-bumper Camaro – owned by a body shop guy by the name of Brian Hall – was not forced to spend its remaining days forgotten in a corner. Brian did not allow it to get covered in body shop dust and paint overspray. Owning a collision repair center, we’re certain Brian spends most of his workday repairing other people’s cars. But, when the garage doors close for the day, this Camaro was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a relatively speedy rebuild. In fact, Brian tells us it only took one year to complete.
A Surprising Start
“The car was once underwater at a local boat launch,” Brian stated. Not many guys would want to tackle a project that had been swimming with the fishes, but Brian is not your average enthusiast. Because of that lake-diving excursion, there is no doubt the submerged, split-bumper hot rod needed a thorough refresh after that incident.
During the rebuild process, Brian decided to make sure the car was rebuilt in top-notch fashion. To that end, he started by replaced the quarter-panels, door skins, front fenders, both lower valances, and even the decklid. Basically, it’s very close to a new body. Once the metalwork was complete and the body smoothed to perfection, he then sprayed the car with a healthy slathering of a custom-purple blend of his creation.
Brian could have chosen to scrap the factory underpinnings and slide a custom chassis underneath, but that would have been too easy. Instead, you’ll find a factory chassis that has been upgraded with Ride Tech air ride suspension components to get it sitting just right. Other than that, stock second-gen suspension pieces abound. Choosing the right wheels and tires is not a hard task, but choose incorrectly, and your hot rod will not have the killer look you’re after. In the case of Brian’s Camaro, we think he nailed it. If you like the wheels, credit goes to Colorado Custom. The fronts are 20×8, and the rears are 20×10.
Power To Burn
When you build a car that looks this good, having a stock-appearing engine under the hood would simply look out of place. Brian understands this and decided to build something that comes in somewhere between OE and oh-my-gosh. The small-block now displaces 383 cubic-inches, courtesy of an overbore and a steel 3.75-inch-stroke crankshaft. Under the Brodix cylinder heads are a set of Carrillo connecting rods and forged pistons that create an 11.0:1 compression ratio. Up top, you’ll find an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake with an 800 cfm Holley four-barrel.
Rounding out the motivational duties is a B&M-shifted Turbo 350 that benefits from an 8-inch TCI torque converter. Following the transmission is a posi-filled 12-bolt with a set of 4.10 gears. The combination is a proven performer, and able to melt the tires at will.
Inside A Modernized Classic
Since Brian drives the Camaro as often as possible, you can bet the interior is just as nice as the exterior. Gandy’s Trim and Upholstery in Sumpter, South Carolina, was tasked with covering the Pontiac Fiero bucket seats, custom-built console, and ’81 Camaro dash pad with Quartz-colored leather.
The custom-made dash panel is filled with a bevy of Auto Meter gauges for monitoring the engine’s vitals. Although the engine surely creates its own song while driving, tunes are via a Kenwood stereo. Finally, cruising in comfort is possible via a Vintage Air A/C unit.
Although many body-shop owners have the best of intentions when wanting to build a calling-card cruiser to promote their business, oftentimes, the idea never materializes. Brian has bucked the trend and taken this once water-logged Camaro and created a cool cruiser that is more than capable of showcasing Brian’s abilities as a rebuilder.