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