The bug never went away for a 1967 Camaro
Shortly before Brandon Velek was born in 1967, Chevrolet gave birth to the now-iconic Camaro line of cars. A total of 220,917 Camaros were manufactured during that model year.
When Velek was 14 years old, he purchased a very used 1973 Camaro for $800. That was the car on which he learned all about Camaros. “I poured all my extra time and money to get the car ready for my 16th birthday,” he recalls.
Its restoration was completed in 1985 and Velek thoroughly enjoyed driving his Camaro until he sold it in 1987 when he headed off to college. Velek admits to maintaining a love affair with American muscle cars, especially those first-generation (1967-1969) Camaros. “The bug never went away,” he says.
Years later, Velek began looking for the “right” car. In October 2005, he says, “I ran across an advertisement for a 1967 Camaro RS with a 275-horsepower V-8.” The Butternut Yellow Chevy was in Dallas.
“I live a half hour from Houston,” Velek recalls, “so I flew to Dallas where my brother-in-law met me at the airport,” and then the pair went to check out the 15-foot, 4.7-inch-long Camaro.
A thorough inspection revealed a well-appointed Chevrolet with many options including bucket seats, rear defroster, power steering, center console, tinted windows, cowl induction hood, Positraction rear differential, passenger side mirror, four-speed transmission, vacuum power drum brakes, and a 275-horsepower, 326.7 cid Turbo Fire V-8 engine.
The Camaro’s original $105 Rally Sport option package included a black nose stripe, front valance-mounted parking lights, headlight doors, black taillight bezels, as well as rear valance-mounted backup lights.
The odometer on the rust-free Camaro showed 93,000 miles when Velek purchased it and brought it back home to Houston, a 280-mile trip in the dead of night in a 38-year-old car. He soon discovered the brakes were going to top the list of items needing his attention. Beyond the brakes, “it had very few bugs to work out and it drove perfectly,” Velek says of the car.
Early the following day, Velek proudly showed his acquisition to his wife, Kathleen. “This is a nice car,” she observed. “Please don’t take it apart.”
He did not follow her advice. Soon Velek had the 1967 Camaro stripped down to the frame, methodically bagging and labeling every part prior to sending it off to the body shop for fresh paint. As part of the restoration, he also powder-coated the frame.
“I thought about changing the color, but this time I listened to my wife’s suggestion to keep it original,” Velek admits. “When I got the car back it was flawless.”
“The proposed six-month paint job turned into a year and a half,” Velek says. The extra time was spent ordering engine parts and rebuilding the V-8. For safety, Velek added four-wheel disc brakes and three-point safety belts. The Camaro project took five years to complete and once again was ready to hit the road in 2011. The classic Camaro now has an odometer reading of 98,000 miles.
He does report that the restoration expenses, as expected, far exceeded the original cost in 1967 of $2,572. While Velek thinks his restored Camaro is neat, he says, “My 10-year-old daughter thinks the manual window crank is the neatest thing about the car.”
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