THE LEFT­OVER

Orig­i­nal-Owner 1967 Yenko Camaro Un­cov­ered

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Jerry Heasley

Orig­i­nal-owner 1967 Yenko Camaro un­cov­ered

Doug Perry is po­lite, but not shy. He knocked on the door of a stranger, John L. Weaver, on a Satur­day af­ter­noon in 2009 and said, “I un­der­stand you have a unique car, and I’d love to see it. Would there be any chance what­so­ever it would be for sale?”

To own a 1967 Yenko Camaro would be a dream come true for Perry, who rev­els in the his­tory of Yenko Chevro­let, that small deal­er­ship in Canons­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, that has be­come le­gendary to­day. Just stand­ing face-to-face with the orig­i­nal owner of a 1967 Yenko Camaro would be spell­bind­ing for a per­son with Yenko Camaro fever. Most peo­ple would have phoned. In­stead, Perry drove 188 miles from his home in Pataskala, Ohio, to Greens­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia.

Weaver wasn’t ready to sell and wouldn’t take a stranger into his garage to see the Camaro. The men ex­changed phone num­bers and agreed to talk, which they’ve done for the last nine years.

As much as Perry knew about Yenko his­tory, Weaver, as an orig­i­nal owner, had in­for­ma­tion that no his­to­rian has ever chron­i­cled, un­til now.

Weaver was a teenager in March 1968 when his dad of­fered to “buy me some­thing new.” They lived in La­trobe, Penn­syl­va­nia, and first vis­ited Gra­biak Chevro­let “down the road,” where the 19-yearold spot­ted a black 427 Corvette coupe that he “was in­ter­ested in get­ting.” Ex­cept, “My God, the in­sur­ance was over $1,000 a year,” which was “a for­tune” in those days.

“So we went up to Yenko [Chevro­let] to see about get­ting a Camaro.” They en­tered a candy land of “at least 50 Z/28s, dif­fer­ent col­ors, dif­fer­ent gear ra­tios—4.10s, 4.56s, 4.88s.” Weaver re­called it like it was yes­ter­day. “I had a 1965 Chev­elle with a 327/four-speed, and it was a pretty hot car for the day.”

Yenko ad­ver­tised 427 con­ver­sions in the lo­cal news­pa­per, but to Weaver’s dis­may the sales­man said they were not “prep­ping them yet,” re­fer­ring to 1968 mod­els. “They tried to sell me a Z/28. I had my mind set on a big-block, so Don came out and showed me to the back lot.”

There, parked un­der a tarp, was a “left­over” but brand-new 1967 Camaro SS396 that Yenko had not con­verted. “He said, ‘I’ll do the con­ver­sion for you and I’ll give you a good price.’”

Weaver fa­vored a red Camaro, but this car was stun­ning in Nan­tucket Blue with red deluxe in­te­rior, a com­bi­na­tion Doug

Perry would later dub Su­per­man. The hood and air cleaner were miss­ing, parts they could eas­ily re­place. Weaver wanted a 1968 SS hood, which Don said he could sup­ply at no ex­tra cost.

“He said, ‘We have a fiber­glass hood that is like one of those Corvette Stinger hoods.’ He said they were ‘mak­ing those things.’ He said ‘You can have this for an­other $150.’ He said ‘We can put a spoiler on the trunk lid. We have one that’s all one piece, so it’s molded, and that will be an­other $150.’”

The price to buy and con­vert this loaded, Rally Sport 1967 Camaro SS396 was al­ready more than $5,000, so Weaver opted out of the fiber­glass hood and spoiler. With the Chev­elle as a trade-in, the dif­fer­ence to pur­chase this Yenko Camaro was $3,192.08.

Don told the Weavers to give him “about three weeks” to “get this thing con­verted and we’ll call you.”

Twelve days later, on Satur­day, March 16, 1968, an “older gen­tle-

“Next thing we’re go­ing 120 miles per hour. Poor dad’s in the back seat.”

man” named Ron Lane phoned the Weavers to come and sign the pa­pers and get their car. When they met Lane he was wear­ing an I.D. badge that read “High Per­for­mance Sales­man.”

“It wasn’t there at the deal­er­ship. We drove down the road about a mile or so. They had farmed this thing out. I don’t know who did all the work, but I picked this thing up at a Sunoco sta­tion, just right out­side In­ter­state 79.”

I-79 was not com­plete, so the high­way was not yet open, but Ron Lane ex­plained they could get the Camaro up on the pave­ment. Lane was first be­hind the wheel.

“He says, ‘Yeah, this thing has pretty good pickup.’ Next thing we’re go­ing 120 miles per hour. Poor dad’s in the back seat.”

Af­ter a few miles, Weaver got be­hind the wheel. He had “never driven a car with that much power. You couldn’t pull out with­out squeal­ing the tires a lit­tle bit. That’s just the way it was geared.”

Back at the deal­er­ship sign­ing pa­pers, Weaver re­mem­bers his dad ask­ing, ob­vi­ously con­cerned, “Well, you don’t have to drive it fast like that, do you?” Although Weaver as­sured his dad the an­swer was no, he ad­mits to­day that “the first month I had the car, I was scared of it. If you didn’t watch what you were do­ing, the thing would fish­tail out on you.”

That very first night, on Lloyd Av­enue lead­ing to the air­port out­side La­trobe, with a friend in the pas­sen­ger seat, Weaver found the po­lice “tak­ing ex­cep­tion” to him “lay­ing rub­ber,” at which time he “opened up” the 427 and “went away” from the of­fi­cer like his big Ford Galaxie four-door sedan “was stand­ing still.”

n Weaver is seen here help­ing clean out his garage to re­trieve the Yenko Camaro and parts on June 2, 2018. New care­taker Doug Perry wants to thank Lane Dai­ley, Dave McGaf­fee, Matt Barzak, and Frank Arone for “all go­ing with me and work­ing tire­lessly for the day to get the car.”

Weaver did not know what top speed he hit in his new 427 Yenko Camaro be­cause “the speedome­ter only went to 120 miles per hour, and it wound the whole way around and went back to zero.” Weaver “hid the car for a few days.”

That sum­mer of 1968 was a wild time. Key­stone Race­way Park had just opened for busi­ness. Weaver was a spec­ta­tor for a few weeks, and then be­gan drag rac­ing his Camaro ev­ery week­end, run­ning mid 13s through the muf­flers and in the “high 12s” with the head­ers open.

In the win­ter of 1968, Weaver met a “fel­low where I got my gas that did paint­ing. He said he could paint the car red for me.” Weaver got his red Camaro, but it’s a de­ci­sion he re­grets. Like­wise, he re­grets re­mov­ing the en­gine to in­stall a big­ger cam and heads, im­prov­ing his e.t. at the strip to a best time of 12.12, but which proved “a lit­tle too much for the street.”

He did put the car back to stock. In 1973, af­ter his move to Greens­burg, Weaver blew the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. With a girl­friend oc­cu­py­ing most of his time, the Camaro got parked. Years passed. Life got in the way. The red paint started peel­ing. Weaver pulled the seats and be­gan dis­as­sem­bling the car, but just never had the time to put it back to­gether.

In 2009, he still wanted to hang onto his Yenko Camaro. Doug Perry wasn’t the first col­lec­tor who had tried to buy the car. The two be­came friends.

Perry says, “We would ex­change phone calls and emails, and when I was driv­ing through the area I would al­ways stop and we’d have lunch.”

Perry hon­ored his friend’s re­quest not to talk about the Yenko Camaro, which was not for sale, any­way. Af­ter about four years, Weaver brought up the Camaro and showed Perry the car for the first time.

Fi­nally, in 2018, Weaver de­cided it was time to sell, and the only per­son he would con­sider was Perry. Weaver re­mem­bers that day. “Frank Arone came over, too. I kept say­ing, ‘I can’t be­lieve I’m do­ing this.’ But, I’m at peace be­cause I know Doug is go­ing to take care of it. I think he likes that car more than I do.”

Arone Restora­tion in Homer City, Penn­syl­va­nia, will do the restora­tion. Arone, in fact, had told his friend Doug Perry about this Yenko in 2009.

Weaver had two pre­con­di­tions for the sale. The first was to re­store the car within two years. The sec­ond was for “one last drive.”

Perry agreed to the first, but not the sec­ond. He told Weaver, “John, I can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“Be­cause you’re go­ing to have a lot more than one ride. When you come to Ohio, you get your own set of keys. We nick­named the car Su­per­man. You are Su­per­man. It will al­ways be your car. I’m just a care­taker.

n The garage where John Weaver kept his 1967 Yenko Camaro was clut­tered but heated, keep­ing the his­toric car rust-free and se­cure for 45 years.

The orig­i­nal wal­nut steer­ing wheel is in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.This is the orig­i­nal Ste­wart-Warner pedestal tach, found in this box.

n This Yenko Camaro re­tains its orig­i­nal driv­e­train: the 427 con­ver­sion en­gine, au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and rearend. Yenko con­verted this Camaro from a 396 to a 427 in March 1968. This car (YS 760) is the one and only doc­u­mented 1967 big-block cowl-plenum Yenko Camaro.

n The en­tire car is rust free due to ex­cel­lent stor­age con­di­tions in a heated garage. Just 7,257 miles show on the odome­ter.

n Arone and Perry solved the rid­dle of the bronze SS hood. Weaver asked for a 1968 SS hood for the Camaro, as it was with­out a hood for rea­sons un­known (maybe theft). Ap­par­ently this hood was the stock hood from the pro­to­type 1968 Yenko Camaro, which was Corvette Bronze. Don Yenko put an op­tional fiber­glass hood on that car, which, in­cred­i­bly, is (as of this writ­ing) in Arone Restora­tion and will be sideby-side with this last 1967 Yenko Camaro pro­duced, just as they were to­gether in the win­ter of 1968 at Yenko Chevro­let. The date on the hood is the third week of Jan­uary 1968. Perry has de­ter­mined that his 1967 Yenko Camaro and the 1968 Yenko pro­to­type were to­gether at the deal­er­ship for four to five weeks.

Other 1967 Yenko Camaros came with 14-inch wheels. This Camaro was unique, mounted new with G70-15 white­wall tires, as ver­i­fied on orig­i­nal pa­per­work. This is the orig­i­nal spare from the trunk.

n The 1967 Yenko was loaded with doc­u­men­ta­tion, which Perry laid out on the deck­lid of his 1969 Yenko Camaro (fea­tured in the Barn Finds dis­play at MCACN 2017; see “Lost and Found,” May 2018; bit. ly/2zOt4FU). Among the pa­per­work was the orig­i­nal Pro­tect-O-Plate and a hand­writ­ten let­ter on Yenko Chevro­let sta­tion­ary from Ron Lane to John Weaver. Five pages of Chevro­let or­der forms list the com­plete com­po­nents of the Yenko su­per­car con­ver­sion as well as the op­tions and ac­ces­sories that add up to $5,242.08, a huge sum for a 1967 Camaro.

n Perry and his crew un­loaded the car at Arone Restora­tion, where the car will be re­stored to per­fec­tion. In ad­di­tion to the orig­i­nal Yenko driv­e­train, YS 760 also re­tains the orig­i­nal sheet­metal, in­te­rior, and glass. Weaver re­gret­ted re­paint­ing his Camaro red, and was in the process of re­turn­ing the body to its orig­i­nal Nan­tucket Blue.

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