As Told by Ray MacCord

Photos by Steve Temple

Well it all started out in July of 2008. I was visiting a friend and he told me about a 1967 Camaro for sale and he asked me if I knew anyone that might be interested. He immediately got my attention. So I told him that I might be, after looking it over I then realized that it needed a lot of work as well as a sizable investment. 

So after a lengthy discussion with my wife Judy, we decided to throw caution to the wind and just do it, so we went back to his house, paid him $5,000 and loaded it on the trailer. There it stayed for about a year and a half. 

I finally put it in the shop and got started. I knew I had a big job ahead of me, but I just didn’t know to what extent. I discovered all of the body bushings were bad, and the suspension and steering needed upgrading, so I decided to pull the fenders and subframe and start over, which left to the firewall back. It had a 10- bolt rearend, and I knew I would have to change that and pull the interior out. 

When Judy saw to what extent I had torn it down, she made a comment to the effect of, “I wonder how much it’s going to cost us to have it all hauled away.” 

That’s when I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew. The economic crash of 2008 didn’t really affect Reno or us until I had gotten to the point of no return on the Camaro, but I was determined to see this thing through. My wife and I had always had an appreciation for muscle cars and hot rods of any kind, so she was very supportive. The thing that neither of us were prepared for was an IRS audit. The IRS agent was very professional and courteous, and we actually liked him, and even invited him to lunch a number of times, but he always respectfully declined. He was in our office every week for over six months. Needless to say, according to the IRS we owed $81,000, and it wasn’t what we owed personally. It was for contract employees that didn’t pay their taxes. 

1967 Scarlet Camaro 3

Well, the stress took its toll on my wife and she suffered from a heart attack. That pretty much stopped any progress on the Camaro but that didn’t bother me. I wanted her to be well and she got better and I got back to work on the Camaro. I couldn’t buy any big-ticket items because we were paying a $1000 a month to the IRS. 

I managed with the help of a longtime friend to find a Ford 9-inch rearend. I also had to get new leaf springs and had to change the spring pad on the axle housing, and also fabricated the rear axle ladder for suspension. It was quite a relief to finally complete something. 

The rearend was close. I used a Detroit locker 4:56 gears at that point so I could focus on the subframe and front suspension. I wanted very badly to get the car to the point of being able to roll it around the shop without the use of floorjacks.

I was able to get the subframe sandblasted and painted, which was a lot of work. Then I assembled front suspension and finally was ready to install the subframe on the car, at that point I was picking up speed and seeing encouraging changes in the car. 

Well, I got the fenders, cowl, and radiator support on, and it was finally looking like a Camaro again. I knew I was going to have to think about a motor and trans. It came with a Vortec 355 crate motor with fuel injection (that I didn’t know anything about) and a late-model 5-speed standard transmission. I pulled the heads up and the pan off and discovered it was an all roller motor and I could still see the cross hatch in the cylinders. I was excited because that was going to save me a lot of money. 

I ended up changing the heads, cam and oil pan. I could use a tunnel ram intake that had never been installed for $125. I also swapped out the roller rocker to a 6:1 ratio but that could have been my mistake when I got it running. 

1967 Scarlet Camaro 2

I took my wife on a test run, I got it up to about 4,000 rpm and bent every valve in it. That was a setback, so I limped back to the shop on two or three cylinders. Judy didn’t say anything, as she didn’t have to, and I knew she was thinking that I should have picked another hobby like kayaking or bird watching or fishing. Anyways I went to Summit Racing and bought a set of aluminum heads that didn’t have quite as large of intake valves and this time checked valve clearance, and it was okay. 

The car was in several different colors of primer, and looked horrible. But I wanted to go to the drags to find out what it would do. On the first run I red lighted. I hadn’t gone over 80 mph in 30 years or so. When I finally for a good pass it ran 13.15 at 106 mph. 

Driving a car that I wasn’t familiar with scared me to death, but I got very comfortable with it very quickly. I felt like a kid again. I had it painted lipstick red and experimented with a couple different hood configurations. Then I put it back on the trailer again to store it for the winter. 

After that, another very hard hit came again. My wife had a light stroke, had to be hospitalized and couldn’t walk or talk for a short period of time. True to form she recovered in a few weeks and was doing great, but I think that heart attack and the stroke, along with some of the medication weakened her immune system and we discovered that she had cancer and passed away October 12, 2014. That was the most painful thing that I had ever had to deal with, as we had been married for 42 years. 

I would not have been able to complete this project if not been for her support and encouragement and during a difficult time making sure the Summit Racing bills were always paid on time. Even after her death I have been able to make a few more trips to Top Gun Raceway in Fallon, Nevada fulfilling a dream I have had for many years.