THE WAY WE WERE
Reliving the Journey From Day One to Day Two
Reliving the journey from day one to day two
Afamous writer once claimed you can’t go home again, referring to all the changes that take place in the unfair passage of time. Well, that might not always be true, at least in the case of my 1967 Camaro SS350.
As a lifelong muscle car enthusiast who came of age in the mid 1960s, I can personally vouch for the fast-growing trend to restore classic muscle cars in authentic day-two style. The fact is the vast majority of us who purchased a muscle car either new or used in the 1960s and early 1970s modified it as soon as possible. We couldn’t wait to remove the stock parts and replace them with aftermarket accessories as fast as our budget allowed. Since many of us were still in high school or recent grads, with limited funds and oftentimes equally limited mechanical knowledge and tools, we found ways to add parts and accessories like those we saw in car magazines. Adding these parts not only differentiated our pride-and-joy from garden-variety cars, but also showed that our cars were cool and, by extension, so were we.
Custom wheels (we called them mags); larger, wider tires; traction bars; and even custom hoods were reasonably affordable and didn’t require specialized tools or talent to install, so they were popular modifications, especially since they made such a strong visual statement.
Under the hood, finned aluminum valve covers, custom air cleaners and chrome accessories, and brightly colored spark plug wires were surefire ways to gain real street cred in the eyes of our peers. For hardcore performance, headers, aluminum intake manifolds, and larger carbs were proven ways to increase power. And no self-respecting muscle car would have been complete without a set of Cherry Bombs, Thrush Turbo Mufflers, or glass packs.
It’s important to remember that in many cases, these accessories were added incrementally, one or two at a time. We had to save the money before we could purchase parts and accessories, so most day-two cars were a continuous work in progress.
The Journey Begins
My day-two journey started in earnest when I purchased a Tuxedo Black 1967 Camaro SS350. A very early Norwood, Ohio, car built in August 1966, the Camaro was bone stock when I bought it from the original owner in the spring of 1969. It didn’t stay stock very long. As fast as my modest budget allowed, I equipped it with many of the same parts and accessories that Nickey, Yenko, and Baldwin-Motion used on the cars they built.
I had a lot of good times with my Camaro, but like many of us during the Vietnam War who got “welcome letters” from Uncle Sam or had the misfortune of drawing a low draft number in the lottery, I had to sell it prior to leaving for basic training in the Army in the fall of 1971. Talk about seller’s remorse! I knew that I had made a mistake letting it go as I watched the new owner drive it away.
n Here’s my first 1967 Camaro, with which I sadly parted ways when I was called up for duty during the Vietnam War. But I was able to find a suitable replacement decades later.