FOND MEM­O­RIES

Muscle Car Review - - News -

When I saw Eric English’s story about Bruce Mercer’s 1967 Ca­maro SS350 [“Se­cond Com­ing,” Feb. 2018], it brought back a lot of fond mem­o­ries of when I was work­ing at the Van Nuys assem­bly plant. I had a chance to build my very own SS Ca­maro, but not the sweet lit­tle 350, oh no. It had to be the mean and nasty L78 375hp 396 bad boy. And it wasn’t a four-speed, nope. I made sure it was the (new for 1967) Turbo Hy­dro M40.

Al­though I re­ceived a lot of rib­bing at first for go­ing with three speeds, not four, it didn’t take long at our lo­cal dragstrip (San Fer­nando Race­way) be­fore all of the stick­shift boys were im­pressed with what a set of 4.10 gears, a B&M shift kit for the tranny, and some Lake­wood trac­tion bars to help the rearend from hop­ping could do. Once hooked up, that solid-lifter big-block was an ab­so­lute ter­ror.

Kept that Ca­maro un­til I went into the Navy, mak­ing two Viet­nam tours. I sold the Ca­maro know­ing that I wouldn’t have the plea­sure of us­ing it for four years. And be­sides, I could al­ways make my­self an­other Ca­maro when my ser­vice days were over. I re­turned to do­ing what I en­joyed do­ing, build­ing cars. I re­tired from GM af­ter 38 years when the plant closed down in 1992.

The pic­ture is from a few months af­ter I picked up the car, with my “day two” equip­ment: wheels, tires, ex­haust, gears, un­der­hood good­ies. Note all the Chevys parked at my par­ent’s house back in 1967. We were and still are to­day a life­long GM fam­ily!

Rich LaGrasta

Work­ing for GM gave me so many mem­o­ries and sto­ries, not to mention a clan­des­tine fac­tory project car that made the pages of Su­per Chevy and twice won its class at two Su­per Chevy events. It was quite the sleeper. That in­no­cent 1975 Chevy Nova SS350 is sport­ing not only an F-41 sus­pen­sion but also a to­tal Po­lice 9C-1 pack­age. To that, add one Corvette L82 350 en­gine, a TH400 trans­mis­sion, and a 12-bolt rear sport­ing 3.73 gears with a Posi. Later I added a tach and un­der­dash gauges and a dual ex­haust sys­tem sport­ing dual cats.

This car was a hoot to drive and sur­prised many an un­sus­pect­ing “ju­nior mus­cle car” (small-block) owner not only at a stop light “test-and-tune” but through an oc­ca­sional canyon carv­ing Sun­day Drive here in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. It was great fun but even­tu­ally sold to an in­di­vid­ual who “just had to have it.”

Rich LaGrasta

In this fol­low-up mes­sage, LaGrasta told us about an­other of his spe­cial Chevys:

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