Those of you who’ve been following our social media output for some time will be aware that one of our latest projects is a 1968 Camaro, freshly imported from its homeland and looking, at least upon first glance, pretty much ‘mint.’ In fact, the owner, itching for us to build him the ‘Pro Street’ look Camaro of his dreams, went as far as to import a freshly restored car, one which had lived all its life in the US-of-A. 

Now, as you can probably guess from the manner in which this piece has commenced, not everything was as it first seemed. Buying any classic car is a risky business, and the stakes are that bit higher when the car in question is 4242 miles and 82 billion billion gallons of water away! Closer inspection has revealed this car to be less perfect than it first appeared, with liberal quantities of filler, some less than precise prep work and some restoration practices which, at least to Retropower eyes, simply aren’t up to par. 

Phase one – manoeuvre Camaro shell into the tight confines of the blast booth

“Our suspicions were initially aroused when we began to remove panels, fixtures and fittings from the supposedly freshly restored car, only to find evidence of rust,”explains Callum. “Further investigation revealed both quarter panels had a seam running their length where the lower portions had been replaced. Not in itself a problem, but still odd considering full quarter panels are readily and cheaply available. The final straw, as it were, was when we discovered that they’d effectively ‘double skinned’ the front floor pans rather than cutting out the pin-holed originals.”

The end result is that this particular purchase has become a case study in the dilemma facing anyone seeking to purchase the base for an automotive project. On the one hand it’s understandably tempting to invest in a restored car, the best you can possibly afford and ideally a running concern, and for those contemplating anything other than a Retropower strip down and rebuild, we’d probably concur. It’s well worth spending to get the best your budget will afford.

Blasting has revealed the Camaro’s shell to be hiding more than it was letting on

However, when the end goal is essentially a ‘new’ car, then we’d caution against the idea of going ‘all in’ in this regard. “Usually the best cars to use as a project basis are those that have been untouched in terms of repair work or damage, even if there is some obvious deterioration. There’s no point paying for shiny paintwork when it’s simply being blasted and discarded, and more often than not any previous metalwork will simply make the job of repairing the body to a good standard more difficult

“The upshot of all this, is that we’ve effectively decided to start again, and once he’d got over the initial disappointment, the owner was all the happier to be safe in the knowledge that no stone will be left unturned on the project.The shell has now been sandblasted, after which we’ll have a much better idea what it is we’re actually working with, not to mention the perfect base for a truly special project. The decision to import a complete car wasn’t totally in vain, however, as we do now know we’ve got all the trims and fittings we’ll need to finish it off ‘at the other end.”

Blasting complete, it’s time for a coating of etch primer

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