A long-time con­trib­u­tor to Our Canada talks cars with the proud owner of a 1967 Camaro SS

Our Canada - - Wheels - By Clive Bran­son, Ot­tawa

It is small, red and has an at­ti­tude—that’s how Stacy Wood de­scribes his 1967 Camaro SS. He pulls up to where I’m stand­ing. As the car idles, it emits a pow­er­ful, throaty rum­ble. I view the car more as the rein­car­na­tion of a bul­let. Gen­eral Mo­tors thought it was the per­fect an­ti­dote to chal­lenge Ford’s en­trenched Mus­tang. The first-gen­er­a­tion Camaro ap­peared in 1966, but the ’67 model earned in­stant mus­cle cred­i­bil­ity with the in­tro­duc­tion of a stur­dier rear- wheel drive, GM-F body plat­form and the op­tion of one of two bench- press­ing pow­er­plants: the six- cylin­der screamer or the bi­cep-flex­ing V8. We go for a ride and I can feel the car want­ing to be un­leashed, but Stacy, usu­ally hy­per and lo­qua­cious, is calm and sim­ply tames what he calls the im­pulse of “the Beast.”

“The coolest thing is,” re­calls Stacy, “I re­mem­ber as a kid putting up posters of cars in my room and read­ing car mag­a­zines, think­ing one day I want to build a car like this.” In his pos­ses­sion since 2008, his Camaro has graced the cov­ers of the 2011 NAPA cal­en­dar and has been fea­tured in the pages of Cana­dian Hot Rod mag­a­zine. It has also been a four-time win­ner at the At­lantic Na­tion­als Auto Show in Monc­ton, N.B.

“In its for­mer life, the car was used for drag rac­ing. The orig­i­nal straight six had been re­placed with a 406 blue printed and balanced SBC.” Stacy, a man with grease in his veins, set the car up to make it street le­gal but with enough juice to rip the rub­ber off the tires. “The en­tire sus­pen­sion was re­built to make it a driver: QA1 coil cov­ers, AGR quick ra­tion steer­ing box, all new sus­pen­sion parts, and SSBC front disc brakes.”

We po­si­tion the car in front of an old for­mer, red­brick mill for the first of many photo lo­ca­tions. The car looks stun­ning and draws a small crowd, eyes from pedes­tri­ans slowly ca­ress­ing its curves. The spec­ta­tors ask about the year, ad­mire the colour

while one fondly rem­i­nisces about hav­ing one in his youth.

“I have been an air­craft me­chanic in the RCAF for the last 26 years, so wrench­ing on things is kind of in my blood,” Stacy ex­plains. Ac­cus­tomed to ob­sti­nate en­gines, it was the front brake con­ver­sion that caused the great­est dif­fi­culty, like try­ing to bend a stub­born limb seized with rigor mor­tis. “The last ball joint of the old front drums didn’t want to give. It took the bet­ter part of a week­end and two bro­ken pickle forks, but it fi­nally re­lin­quished the fight.”

Heads turn each time we come to a red light. When sta­tion­ary, the car gen­tly wob­bles like fresh Jell-o. “Ask any gear­head, there is no such thing as too pow­er­ful a car.”

The car was fac­tory blue with a black vinyl top. “I love the red-and-black colour scheme,” Stacy says. “It seems to draw so many people. I don’t think I could change it now, even if I wanted to.”

As we are driv­ing, I ask Stacy what the car does to him when he slips be­hind the wheel. “It takes me back to a time when ev­ery­one went to the lo­cal hang­out on a Fri­day night, each car on dis­play like a badge of hon­our. You don’t get that now like you used to.”

When asked for his pre­dic­tions about the fu­ture of clas­sic cars, Stacy thinks “there will al­ways be a place for clas­sic cars. What is con­sid­ered a ‘clas­sic car’ will change with each gen­er­a­tion. This hobby was orig­i­nally a street-rod­der cul­ture, then mus­cle cars, pro street, and then pro tour­ing cars be­gan to show up.”

We park at a de­serted garage for the fi­nal photo shoot. “I have to say that many young people still have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion and love for the clas­sic street rods and mus­cle cars from the feed­back I’ve re­ceived at car shows and cruise nights. The trick for us is to be am­bas­sadors and do what we can to keep their in­ter­est sparked.” His son, Bran­don, mir­rors that en­thu­si­asm and can spill out in­for­ma­tion on each mus­cle car that he views at car shows. “I al­ways en­joy talk­ing to people at cruise nights,” states Stacy, “and I al­ways try to make the time to talk to the young kids and an­swer the ques­tions they have about my car.” Would he trade this car in for an­other mus­cle car or street rod­der? “No need, this one’s a keeper!”

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