ROOKIE’S REACHER RUNS RIGHTEOUS
Glenn Briggs’ Big Bad Orange Camaro
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 Some appreciate the historical reference but weren’t old enough to be there when it happened.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