There is no denying the popularity of the first-gen Camaro. They are everywhere. It’s no wonder, as the design is an icon in the classic car world. It is so popular that there are even companies building complete new bodies for enthusiasts. So, when I am at a show or a cruise night, it’s hard to find one that stands out. In fact, I almost walked past this now when I first saw it at the 2021 Carlisle GM Nationals. While this one might look like another nicely rebuilt example — and it really is — it’s the story behind it that makes it even cooler.
Many years ago, George Kulp III of Duncannon, Pennsylvania, had a ’69 Camaro — much like this one. The original was acquired after his tour of duty in Vietnam. To say he enjoyed his Camaro would be a huge understatement. It was the car that got him around town, to work, and to the evening hangouts. Unfortunately, as happens too many times, the responsibilities of life eventually required the Camaro find a new owner.
Although the Camaro was gone, the memories George created never faded. The car remained a fond memory for him to regale others. So much so, in fact, his family heard numerous stories about it throughout the years. It was those recollections that prompted his son, also named George (IV), to recreate the car his father loved and he had heard about for so many years.
Recreating A Lost Camaro
It was during the winter of 2016 when the younger George hooked a car trailer to his truck and drove from Duncannon to New Jersey. Typically, that would not be anything extraordinary, but this particular trip occurred while a blizzard was blanketing that part of the country.
When the younger George first found the car on an online auction site, he knew it would need a complete restoration, but that would not be a problem. After winning the auction, and when he finally arrived at the car’s location, the depth of the needed restoration was not a surprise, but it was shocking.
The amount of work the fourth-gen needed didn’t phase George IV, as he is well-known in the area as a go-to guy for Camaro restorations. In fact, we previously featured a convertible Camaro he built for his wife and you can read about that car by clicking here. Anyway, the younger George wanted to get the car, restore it, and then give it to his father to commemorate his 50th anniversary of returning from Vietnam.
Before the body could be covered with a slightly tinted shade of Glacier Blue, George IV needed to replace the quarter panels, front fenders, tail panel, dutchman panel, upper cowl, upper dash, floor pans, outer wheel tubs, and a large section of the trunk floor. To say this car needed a little work would definitely be an understatement. However, once the body was colored, it was time to focus on the suspension.
Since the junior Kulp restores a lot of first-gen Camaros, you can imagine the parts stash he has acquired over the years. That is why the underpinning of this ’69 Camaro is a lesson in OE styling. Brakes consist of factory-fresh power-assisted discs and drums. Keeping the Camaro’s heading straight and true — until it needs to turn — is a rebuilt factory power steering box. The senior George has no interest in racing his ride, so a more-than-capable 10-bolt with 3.08 gears makes for a very pleasant driver.
The younger George filled the interior with a Deluxe, Dark Blue material that perfectly brings the Camaro back to 1969. However, a Grant steering wheel and a Custom Autosound radio did manage to be a part of the rebuild. Finally, while the center armrest and cup holders are not a factory-supplied option, the upgrade looks right at home between the bucket seats.
A Completed Reminder
I know I mentioned that the senior George doesn’t race the car, but that doesn’t mean a stout powerplant couldn’t be included in the build. George IV started by taking a 350 block and sliding a seasoned 400 small-block crankshaft into the journals. Factory GM rods are connected to hypereutectic pistons. The squeeze under the cast-iron GM heads comes in at a friendly 10.5:1. Finally, the COMP camshaft times the breathing that occurs through the JEG’s dual-plane intake and Holley carburetor. Completing the parts list of things that make this Camaro move, is a Turbo 350 and the aforementioned 10-bolt rear.
When the car was finally completed, the younger George was able to surprise his father with a ride that looks great and will enable the senior George to create a lot of new memories. Now that George III can relive the memories he once created as a younger man, to say the senior Kulp is racking up the miles is an understatement. If the sun is out, so is the Camaro.
Do you want to read about more Home-Built Heroes? All you need to do is click here. I want to see those readers’ rides. If you would like to share yours, I want to hear about it. Since I started this series, I have received more than a few candidates. However, I still want to get more — I can never get enough. If you want to see your car showcased here, send a few pictures of it. Make sure to show us the engine, interior, and exterior. Also, don’t forget to send us all of the pertinent information, and I’ll make you internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].