Think about every time that you’ve seen a Camaro at a car show. There are plenty with small-block V8s, it’s not uncommon to see them with a big-block, and every once in a while, we’ll come across one with an LS or and LT1 power-plant. We love all of those power-packing engines, but it’s always cool to see something different and to remind ourselves that there were around 58,000 Camaros sold with a Turbo-Thrift six-cylinder engine.
A 250 cubic-inch Turbo-Thrift six-cylinder engine made a meager 155-horsepower in the factory configuration with its single-barrel carburetor, but just because it’s not a powerhouse doesn’t mean it’s not worth a mention. Steve Gow of Kent, Washington, has several dozen trophies to prove that a well-built six-cylinder Camaro can pull just as much attention as one with a V8.
Steve has owned this car for almost 25-years, and to get it done and on the road was a three-year project that started from the most innocuous of repairs. “The heater box was rusting on the inside and leaking, and that’s what started this whole thing,” he explained. “It was the kind of thing where; while I had it apart I thought I ought to do this while I’m in here, and this, and this.” In no time at all, a simple heater box repair turned into a full-blown restoration.
Steve bought the car because his wife’s father had a ’67 convertible when she was in junior high. “He bought it new,” Steve explained. “My wife told me how much she loved having that car with her dad.” Her dad sold the car though, and it was no longer in the family. Steve and his wife had kids of their own, and when Steve thought about restoring a car, he figured that a Camaro would be the best thing to start with.
“I knew a convertible would be too expensive, so I looked for a coupe,” he explained. “I thought I’d look for a six-cylinder car and it wouldn’t be as beat up. I figured with a six-cylinder, you could just turn the key and it would always get you there and back.”
The advantages of buying a six-cylinder car would be the reliability of Chevrolet’s stout-built straight-six engine, the lower price, and the fact that the lower-powered six-cylinder engine would likely have been saved from a lifetime of hot-rodding. The absence of previous modifications would hopefully mean the car would be be in overall better shape. Not only that, but think about it, no matter what engine is hiding under that hood, you’re still out cruising in a 1967 Camaro!
Steve jumped into the project with no body or metal working experience, but did everything himself – short of shooting the paint. “My first experience with body and fender work was from a book and a video,” he explained. Steve also did all of the interior work with the help of a friend. They ordered a kit, recovered the seats, and installed everything from headliner to door panels on their own.
“It’s always shocked me how well the car does at shows and the reaction that it gets from people,” he explained. “People will walk by other cars and grab friends to pull them over to look at my car. I even have young guys come up an ask me why I would do that to a Camaro!” The Camaro has become so well known as a car with a V8, that most young folks don’t even realize that they came with a six-cylinder!
The drivetrain is as simple as the straight-six powering the car—it has a two-speed Powerglide and the stock rearend. Part of what makes this car so cool is the rarity of a six-cylinder Camaro with a nearly completely stock restoration. You never see cars like this! Everyone’s got a V8. “This car is what it is,” Steve said. “It’s not trying to be anything it isn’t.”
Steve has absolutely driven the wheels of this Camaro. He takes it to Long Beach every year for the Rod Run to the End of the World, and he’s had it to Yakima, Oregon, and Canada as well. What do you think of his straight-six powered Camaro? Would you rock the Turbo-Thrift engine or drop in a V8? We love what Steve has done, and think it’s important to have cars like this as living examples of six-cylinder powered Camaros.