1968 Su­per Ca­maro re­turns to owner

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Ge­off Stunkard

Ge­orge Ed­wards mar­ried Miss Carol Vish­nesky on July 6, 1968. They in­tended to make a hon­ey­moon drive in their new car from Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, to Ni­a­gara Falls, then down to the At­lantic shore, mak­ing a stop at Mary­land’s Ce­cil County Drag­way as part of the ex­cur­sion. They had big dreams and a great re­la­tion­ship, which have kept them to­gether to this day.

This 1968 Yenko Su­per Ca­maro is the car they bought new and took on their hon­ey­moon. It re­placed his Corvette, which did not seem to be su­per-prac­ti­cal as a fam­ily car as the big day ap­proached.

“We were drag rac­ing on the street al­most ev­ery night, fre- quently rac­ing our small-block Corvette,” Ge­orge re­calls. “We re­ally wanted to be able to run with the big boy’s toys, so when I heard that Roy Stauf­fer’s Chevrolet in Scran­ton had two 427 Camaros, I couldn’t wait to get a look. I never heard of Yenko and didn’t re­ally care who he was. All I knew was that it had a 427 stuffed un­der the hood. The pur­chase proved to be just what the doc­tor or­dered, with Carol in the pas­sen­ger’s seat calling off the num­bers. We beat ev­ery­thing—big-block Corvettes, Hemi cars, GTOs, and the list goes on.”

Their hon­ey­moon trip in­cluded a stop at “the Trac­tion Capi­tol of the East,” as Ce­cil was known back then. In the pits, Ge­orge parked next to some guy named Jenkins that day; the NHRA-le­gal

Grumpy’s Toy RS/SS drag car was also on hand mak­ing laps, and the Grump was there driv­ing.

Dur­ing the fol­low­ing cou­ple of years, Ge­orge made his Yenko a lit­tle quicker. He moved up into Mod­i­fied Pro­duc­tion with a mon­ster hood­scoop and tun­nel-ram. The rear also had 5.13 gears, which Carol learned to deal with as she made her way to the laun­dro­mat and such, as this was their daily driver. When fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties grew, they sold the car for more prac­ti­cal wheels. It went to a lo­cal per­for­mance fan who never did much with it. Some of the parts that had come off the car, such as the orig­i­nal hood, were tucked away for safe­keep­ing.

Like many peo­ple, Ge­orge never lost his love for cars and did some restora­tions for fun, in­clud­ing a real 1937 cof­fin-nose Cord 812. Mean­while he made oc­ca­sional in­quiries about the old “green ma­chine” stored in a garage not far from home. Fi­nally he was able to bring it back into the fold, a lit­tle worse for wear.

Those who know 1968 Yenkos will tell you they are not sim­ple cars to re­store. Ge­orge tackled it head-on, but as he be­gan his work, he re­al­ized it needed to be done right. He called Brian Hen­der­son and Joe Swezey at Su­per Car Work­shop in La­trobe, at the other end of Penn­syl­va­nia near Pitts­burgh.

Brian says, “Ge­orge called the shop and left a mes­sage that he had a car for us to do. He didn’t say it was a Yenko, so we were pretty ex­cited to hear that when I called him back. It was in pieces,

“I never heard of Yenko and didn’t re­ally care who he was”

but ev­ery­thing was there.”

“Dur­ing my hunt for a pair of N.O.S. front fend­ers, the guy told me about Su­per Car Work­shop and the cars they had re­stored,” says Ge­orge. “Thanks to the in­ter­net, I was able to see the cars that they’d re­stored and the awards they’d won. I gave them a call. A few days later the crew arrived to in­spect what I had, and af­ter our meet­ing I was con­vinced they should be the ones to bring my Yenko back to its for­mer glory. I did a lot of the miss­ing parts hunt­ing, and over the course of the restora­tion we have be­come very good friends.”

It is very un­com­mon to have an orig­i­nal owner in­volved who re­mem­bers de­tails, let alone di­rects the project with a re­al­is­tic un­der­stand­ing of cost and a will­ing­ness to chase the small things that make a difference. For in­stance, he helped an­swer a mys­tery about the hood open­ing.

“Ge­orge had all the orig­i­nal pieces for the car. The hard stuff was there,” re­calls Brian. “So I said to him as we looked at it, ‘I know this is an orig­i­nal hood be­cause the real ones all have this pro­vi­sion for a bolt on the un­der­side, but I’m not sure what it was for.’

“Ge­orge said, ‘When I bought the car, there was a panel in the trunk that had a de­cal on it that said For Win­ter Use. It was a block-off plate. I think Yenko may have had the hood sup­plier do those.’

“At any rate, that plate was gone, and

“In the pits, Ge­orge parked next to some guy named Jenkins”

no­body we know has an orig­i­nal one, but we were able to lo­cate a pho­to­graph show­ing it and fab­ri­cated one for this car. Ge­orge him­self says it’s what the orig­i­nal one looked like. In fact, those same images showed a new Ral­lye Green Yenko Ca­maro that, based on the time­frame, is in all like­li­hood the same car that Ge­orge and Carol Ed­wards bought in 1968.”

Af­ter its near half-cen­tury jour­ney and two years of la­bor, the car was un­veiled at MCACN in 2015 to great ac­claim. The Ed­wards have shown it ex­ten­sively in the past three years.

“With only a few vis­its to their shop and pho­tos from Brian of the restora­tion progress to view, it was a real emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence see­ing our car in a con­di­tion bet­ter than when we picked it up at Stauf­fer’s in 1968,” says Ge­orge. “Words can­not de­scribe our feel­ings. We were in tears see­ing the car for the first time. It sure brought back a lot of great mem­o­ries for us both.”

Brian says, “You know what made this one so fun? Carol and Ge­orge Ed­wards had such great sto­ries about the car’s his­tory. It made us feel like we were part of the fam­ily. That doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten. Ge­orge would some­times even drive over once in a while just to see how it was go­ing; we en­joy his friend­ship. For Joe and I and the crew here, this was a fun car to do.”

n Un­der the hood, the Yenko shop added a 427-inch L72 short-block to over­ride the GM 400ci dis­place­ment limit. The cars were de­liv­ered as stan­dard SS396 L78 mod­els equipped with the COPO 9737 Sports Car Con­ver­sion equip­ment. The top of the en­gine was...

n Brian Hen­der­son and his Su­per Car Work­shop crew rarely get to work with orig­i­nal own­ers, and Ge­orge was able to an­swer their ques­tion of what went into the threaded open­ing on the rear of the scoop. n The hole was for a cold-weather block-off plate....

n The stock in­te­rior was all busi­ness in this car, with­out a cen­ter con­sole and fea­tur­ing some of the up­grades that Yenko added for driv­ing use. n Don Yenko’s road-rac­ing back­ground caused him to se­lect high-qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing ac­ces­sories like the...

n The Ca­maro’s restyling for 1968 re­sulted in a clas­sic look, but it be­came no­to­ri­ous when Don Yenko added his touches, which in­cluded the 427 call­outs on the front fend­ers and Yenko badg­ing on the rear panel.

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