Glenn Briggs’ Big Bad Orange Ca­maro

Chevy High Performance - - Con­tents - ✜ TEXT: Ro McGone­gal | PHO­TOS: Tim Sut­ton

Glenn Briggs’ Big Bad Orange Ca­maro

Some en­thu­si­asts revel in what they can do with their minds and ul­ti­mately with their hands. Oth­ers revel in the plans to pre­serve his­tory, or at the very least some iconic slices of it. Some ap­pre­ci­ate the his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence but weren’t old enough to be there when it hap­pened. They have to suf­fer the anec­dotes and the sly winks of the geezer gen­er­a­tion, so they must “live” it through the mir­a­cle of re-cre­ation. Glenn Briggs isn’t the first nor will he be the last to do this.

He came of age in the late ’70s. “The first-gen­er­a­tion Ca­maro was the car to have then,” he said, “but I learned to drive in my dad’s ’71 Javelin SST. I loved it be­cause that’s what I had. We used to joke that the Javelin was the poor man’s Ca­maro. I still love that Javelin.” This was not long be­fore he had the no­tion of a Ca­maro of his own.

He’s been ac­tive in the hobby for just 10 years, watch­ing the cars on those loony auc­tions on TV. He says that he’d al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated the clas­sics from the ’60s and ’70s be­cause they were the older cars when he was in high school in the mid-’80s.

As a NFG, he was nat­u­rally clue­less as to how to go about in­sin­u­at­ing him­self in the mix. But in real life, Glenn had cre­ated a thriv­ing busi­ness and knew that pit­falls awaited and where the mine­fields would be.

For his jump-in-with-both-feet F-car, all he needed was that leap of faith (and a fat wal­let) to make a start. He’d orig­i­nally al­lo­cated $50,000 for the episode. Then the re­al­life re­al­iza­tion hit; “we re­vised the bud­get to a num­ber that will al­ways re­main a se­cret … just as will the num­ber by which we ex­ceeded that re­vised bud­get,” Glenn con­fessed. Then he cracked philo­soph­i­cal, “Art can­not be made on a bud­get.”

But cer­tainly there was a refuge. Glenn got hooked up with a car builder out there a half a coun­try away. Jim Davis and Davis Hot Rods are in Ok­la­homa. They traded

ideas and pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios. “The next thing I know,” said Glenn, “I’m get­ting a text from Jim about a $5,000 starter car he found on the web. To be kind, it more re­sem­bled a col­lec­tion of metal and body parts. Though it had no en­gine, and the doors, hood, and sheet­metal were all stuffed in­side it, it did have four dif­fer­ent scabby wheels that of­fi­cially made it a roller.

“I didn’t know much from the me­chan­i­cal and tech­ni­cal side so Jim drove a lot of the de­ci­sions. I gave him full dis­cre­tion to build and not slow the project down.” When you’re 1,500 miles from the source you might as well have your head in a bag. You can’t see any­thing; you can’t drop in when­ever you want to check things out. It was four stinkin’ years be­fore he’d be able to lay eyes on it in the metal. Not once. Owner and builder looked hard, but it was Glenn who hashed out paint choice and what hoops and tires would live with it.

Glenn stepped up. “I will ad­mit I am a bit su­per­fi­cial. I was fo­cused on ap­pear­ance; ev­ery­thing that some­one is go­ing to see first. We went back and forth on many col­ors. Jim would paint a skate­board with what he liked and send it to me. I was flip­ping through Sher­win-Wil­liams sam­ples. I found Big Bad Orange, sent it to Jim and he did up an­other board and added some black stripes for con­trast. A black vinyl top was to avoid it look­ing like a pump­kin.”

In a world that seems to scream “too much just ain’t enough,” Glenn bent con­ser­va­tive on the is­sue of raw power. This is his logic: “Some peo­ple ask why I went with an LS1 and not an LS3. My an­swer is 350 horse­power, per­fect be­cause I want to be able to drive the car around town com­fort­ably and safely. I don’t need to be hold­ing back 600 horses. I also have two teenagers—who are great kids—and I want to be able to let them drive it when we go out.” What do you wanna bet this pro­gram changes dras­ti­cally as soon as the kids tire of go­ing slow? That’s one of the things about hot rod­ding. Sta­sis is anath­ema. Things do not stay the same. As ad­dic­tion com­pounds, things get over­run.

All of it came sharply into fo­cus one day in Fe­bru­ary 2017. The car was fin­ished and sched­uled to be in Star­bird’s an­nual show in Tulsa. It’d been pre­s­e­lected for the Fine Nine, a net for the best nine first-time cars. In Tulsa, it was Glenn’s time to meet some of the chaps who made the Ca­maro a re­al­ity. Jay Kirk­land spent a lot of time on the wiring, build­ing the pack­age tray, and a lot more. The LS1 was en­trusted to Randy Pre­vatt (Pre­vatt Au­to­mo­tive in Bro­ken Ar­row, Ok­la­homa) for the com­puter work and an ex­pan­sive tune-up.

So he fi­nally was able to see the car, sit in it, but not start or drive it. He flew back to LA. He re­quested that Davis put 500 miles on Big Bad Orange, change out the flu­ids, make ad­just­ments. Six weeks later it came west in the belly of a big orange Re­li­able car­rier. Glenn’s daugh­ter, a ju­nior in high school, was with him when the van set­tled. When the Ca­maro came to ground, he looked at her and said let’s get in. In a cloud of tire smoke, they an­nounced their ar­rival to the neigh­bor­hood. Glenn’s mood was so ex­pan­sive that day he even let the Re­li­able driver give it a good stomp­ing.

Af­ter that, it was kids just wanna have fun. CHP

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