Owner: Graham Weiss
The Original Lightning Roadmaster
As muscle cars go, few evoke the image of cruisin' California's coastal highways like a 1968 Camaro Convertible. In the late 60's, few cars were thought to be as cool. Forty-plus years later, there are few cars as cool as Graham Weiss' Camaro. Some things never change. If you are looking for major body mods, you won't find them here. The clean lines of this chevy ragtop speak for themselves. Some will be apparent though--like the Impalla door handles. Others include removing most of the trim and shaving the fender parking lights.
While this Camaro is definitely a custom, much of it is stock Chevrolet. Restoration suppliers for this project include Quality Chevrolet in Escondido, Classic Industries, Year One, and Steele Rubber for all those stock replacement items that are always so hard to find. Those headlights, though came from Adjure PPG paint went into this special. At the Oakland Roadster show this year (held in Pamona), the car won best paint. "Hot Dog" Pete Finlan rendered the flames for us.
The Camaro made it's Debute in 1967 and had the honor of pacing the Indy 500 that year. While it came stock with the 302, you could, for a few extra dollars get yours with a 350, or even a big-block Turbo-Jet 396. In '68, over 235,147 Camaros were sold in the U.S. One thing that might have accounted for it's popularity were the many options and combinations of packages you could order. You could get with just about every engine Chevy made, from a tame 6-cylinder to BB V-8; and a varietyof package option like the SS and RS. You could also choose between hard-tops and convertiblesStainless Steel Brake Corp., "Force 10" disc brakes help keep those Colorado Custom "Empire" wheels under control.
The dash, center console, door trim and arm rests are all sculpted metal work in this custom interior. The upholstery is an all leather treatment done by Ron Mangus and Custom Auto Interior. A Budnik "Stiletto" steering wheel with custom leather wrap sits atop a polished ididit tilt column. Check out the built-in cup holders! Flames on the inside as well as the outside. Below the Tweeter AM/FM/Mp3/CD stereo system is the control panel for the Vintage climate control system.
A "Fast Burn 385" provides the power for this beautiful brute. This 385-hp motor has a ZZ4 shortblock with aluminum fast burn heads and high port dual plane aluminum manifold (polished in this case). This muscle car has MUSCLE! The flamed air-cleaner cover was made in our fab shop and painted by Hot Dog. A Be Cool 24" core aluminum radiator helps keep the Fast Burn 385 cool under fire. A Vintage Air "Front Runner" bracket kit keeps this pully driven system squared away and out of the way. Steel braided hoses add a final touch. Unlike some restos, this one did not arrive as a complete basket case.
SUPER CHEVY Magazine July, 2004 Topless Terror: HR&CS Builds the Ultimate Canyon Carver By Andrew Schear Only a train ride away from his dream car, Graham Weiss started feeling butterflies of first time hot rod ownership. With his 5-1/2 year-old son Hunter sitting next to him on the Amtrak ride from San Diego, California to Sylmar, California, the only thought running through his head was, "Is the Camaro really as nice as its photos?" Son, Hunter, only knew that Dad was buying a hot rod and that the trip entailed riding past Disneyland. But for Graham, the trip was a bit more involved. Finding a nice, clean Camaro convertible was a touch harder than finding a coupe. After exhausting the Recycler and Auto Trader, Graham finally found what he considered a worthy starter vehicle. With his purchase complete, father and son jumped into the F-body and went homeward bound. Unfortunately, a leaky fuel tank meant that a tow truck was in order, which turned out to be Hunter's highlight of the day. After getting the '68 back to the greater San Diego area, Graham arranged to meet with the builder and customizer, Randy Clark, owner of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff. The two came up with a game plan for restoring the '68 convertible and theF-body was left in the capable hands of Randy and his shop. As an experienced hot rod builder Randy disassembled the entire chassis and catalogued the loose parts. After surveying the entire situation the car was moved to HR&CS' internal blasting facility to remove all the previous paint jobs as well as the light rust. With just a bare carcass to work with, each and every panel was made rust free and properly straightened. With the bodywork taken car of, the suspension and drivetrain were being simultaneously acquired and prepped for installation. To make the '68 handle, a Detroit Speed & Engineering road race suspension was installed up front while a combination of de-arched Eaton Springs were used in the rear combined with Bilstein absorbtion. Underneath the giant Colorado Customs rollers are Stainless Steel Brake Company four-piston disc brakes complimented by slotted and plated rotors. After making the chassis rolling with wheels, tires, suspension and brakes the team at HR&CS dropped in the GM Performance Parts Fastburn 385hp crate motor with modified Crane cam. Behind the crate motor sat a Richmond six-speed manual hooked to a Currie 9-inch rear housing. While no set up is bulletproof, we're pretty sure Graham will have a hard time breaking this setup Still fenderless and looking like a bare shell plus motor, the F-body was moved back to the paint shop where Randy's paint team would coat the '68 in a combination of PPG and House of Kolor candy urethane. Thanks to the help of Pete "Hot Dog" Finlan, the ragtop received a paint scheme unlike any we've seen to date. As Graham's high school dream turned reality, the only magic left was up to the interior guru Ron "The Stitcher" Mangus down at Custom Auto Interiors. While no stranger to custom leather interiors Ron gave the '68 an interior that Z06 owners might be jealous of. As the winner of numerous awards at the illustrious Grand National Roadster Show, Graham and Randy have a lot to be proud of. Still on the car show circuit Graham's '68 is considered virgin to the roads and has a few kinks yet to be worked out in the drivetrain. As we told HR&CS and Graham there's always a place for this mean roadster on the SUPER CHEVY "Road Rage" test track, just give us a call. While this may by Graham's first real muscle car, we're hoping to see a Chevelle and Tri-Five parked right next to it in Graham's garage. Owner Graham and Karen Weiss. Vehicle '68 Camaro Convertible. Engine '03 GMPP Fastburn 385 crate motor GM 12556307 crankshaft, PM rods 10108688, GM silicon 9.6:1 pistons, Crane 109831 roller camshaft, intake lift .509 inch, exhaust lift .529 inch, advertised intake 284 degrees, advertised exhaust 292 degrees, GM dual-plane intake manifold, Edelbrock EPS 800-cfm carburetor, custom fabricated air cleaner by HRCS, GM HEI ignition, SS Headers Inc., Flowmaster Series 40 mufflers, Vintage Air A/C with front runner, installation by Hot Rods & Custom Stuff. Transmission Richmond 6-speed, Center Force clutch. Suspension, Front: Detroit Speed & Engineering: Detroit Speed spindles, Detroit Speed dropped A-arms, Koni aluminum coil-overs, SSBC 13-inch disc brakes. Suspension, Rear: Detroit Speed & Engineering: 9-inch housing, 3.70:1 limited slip, assembly by Currie Enterprises, Anaheim, CA (714/528-6957), Eaton Detroit dropped springs, Detroit Speed shackles, Bilstein rear springs, SSBC disc brakes, suspension modification and installation by Hot Rods & Custom Stuff. Wheels, Front: Colorado Custom Empire SS 18x8 Wheels, Rear: Colorado Custom Empire SS 20x9.5 Tires, Front: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S, 235/40ZR/18 Tires, Rear: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S, 275/35ZR/20 Interior '91 T-Bird front buckets, Silver Mist leather, leather floors, by Custom Auto Interiors, Bloomington, CA (909/877-9342). Autometer ProComp gauges, Budnik Stiletto steering wheel, ididit tilt column, Long shifter, fabricated aluminum custom console, fabricated interior door handles, interior by HR&CS, Alpine head unit, Kicker amps, Kicker front speakers, Kicker rear speakers, Kicker sub-woofer, installation by Motoring Entertainment, Bloomington, CA (909/877-9342). Exterior OE '68 Camaro, '99 Grand Am exterior door handles, full rust repair, PPG/House of Kolor Champagne/Magic Blue/Cobalt Candy paint and body by HRCS, Graphics by Pete "Hot Dog" Finlan, Vista, CA (760/639-0138).