Thirteen years ago I moved to my current home which is situated in a horseshoe shaped neighborhood with 50 homes, each home on one acre of land. While I still do not know all 49 neighbors by name, I have waved at them all at one time or another as I have driven by…. except one, which, in 13 years of living here, I have never seen.
Three weeks ago a friend and fellow car nut that lives 317 miles to the west (but still in Texas, ya’ll) called me to pass on a lead he had on a ‘67 Camaro. This guy is a serious “first Gen” Camaro hunter and can track down hidden Camaros like a bird dog does hidden quail. Every now and then he calls to pass on a lead. Needless to say, I am always happy to hear that friendly west Texas accent on the phone. I was told the car was in a barn somewhere in my city and given a number and a name along with the few vague details that were known about the car; “….. project car with motor missing, but the car might be an RS, and it might even be an RS/SS, and it’s even possible it was a big block RS/SS…..”.
Project cars with missing motors are not something I would normally fool with, but, given that it was somewhere in Keller, I thought I would at least make the call. Within 10 minutes I was speaking to the fellow who confirmed he had an old Camaro sitting in the barn behind his house. When I asked him where he lived, instead of telling me the exact street, he told me the street that his neighborhood was off of. What a coincidence, my neighborhood was off the same street. When I informed him that I was also located off that street and told him the exact street I lived on there was a long silence on his end. Perhaps you have guessed by now – the guy who had the Camaro stashed in his barn lived on my very street only seven houses down. The neighbor I had not seen in the thirteen years that I lived here had a ‘67 Camaro stashed in his barn behind a house I had driven by a million times. The Camaro had been stashed back for that someday restoration that never came. I met my neighbor and a deal was made. Below are the pictures of the Camaro the day I pulled it out of the barn. Turns out it was an RS/SS. Too bad the motor was missing, too bad it wasn’t a big block car and too bad I bought it …. now I have to figure out what to do with it.
Editor's note: The Chevelle you are going to read about has some unusual paperwork and a controversial background, with the owner and the estate of Dick Harrell arguing over exactly what it is. We are an enthusiast publication, not a court of law, so we present it solely for your reading enjoyment and education.--Jim Campisano
One puff is all it takes, and bam, you're an addict. Just ask Roger Day. In 1969, after logging 105,000 glorious miles on his '66 SS396 Chevelle, the trusty Rat motor started showing signs of fatigue. While the old girl had never let him down, the blue smoke it puffed between shifts gave Roger a bad case of wandering-eye syndrome.
"I stopped by the parts department at Bill Allen Chevrolet, my local dealership, to price out a new 427 crate motor. I had recently paid off the Chevelle, so an upgrade made perfect sense to me," he recalls. However, once the counterman suggested a few supporting mods, like a heavy-duty four-speed, clutch, etc., reality scrapped his budget-busting plan. No worries, because within a month, Roger traded in this '66 SS396 for a new '69 COPO 427 Chevelle. As great as all this sounds, the story was just getting started, and it would take 42 long years before reaching a happy ending.
The series of events that ensued during those 42 years is just cuckoo. Without question, Roger put the super-rare L72 big-block Chevelle to good use. "I never got left behind at a stoplight, and the Chevelle was unbeaten. Two races that stand out the most are beating my friend John Carter's 396ci Nova, and on another occasion, smoking a 440 Six-Pack Challenger very badly," he reminisces.
Street scuffles aside, Roger's fondest memory involving the '69 Chevelle is the night he met his wife. "On Memorial Day weekend in 1970, I stopped by my buddy Jim Fancher's house for a get together and met a pretty girl named Karen Boulton through some mutual friends. I took her home in my Chevelle afterwards, and we talked until 4:30 the next morning. We got engaged two weeks later, and we recently celebrated our 40th anniversary. We think it's going to work out."
At the time, few people realized what a rare machine this particular Chevelle would prove to be. "I figured out that the Chevelle was a factory 427 car shortly after I bought it new, but I wasn't aware of the COPO process. To my knowledge, this is the only '69 COPO 427 Chevelle built at GM Kansas City production line with the original documents and the original owner," Roger explains. Notable factory equipment includes a heavy duty F41 suspension, power disc front brakes, a 12-bolt Posi rearend, and 14x7 SS-style wheels. Furthermore, Roger has some very unique documents indicating that the hood stripes, column tach, AM radio, and hood locks were added as dealer-installed options. Unaware of what a truly extraordinary piece of muscle car history his Chevelle would come to represent in the subsequent decades, he traded it in for a '70 Camaro RS after just 15 months of ownership.
Although it seems crazy looking back at the situation today, Roger had good reason for getting rid of the Chevelle. After yet another street racing victory, the 427 began emitting some ominous signs of rod knock. He took car into the dealership for inspection, and GM replaced the 12,000-mile L72 under warranty. To get the work approved, the GM zone manager came down to the dealership to meet with Roger and the service manager. "He said ‘GM should have never put these 427 motors in production cars. They're race motors, and people are just going to blow them up,'" Roger recalls.
Unfortunately, those words would be validated once again, when Roger took his Chevelle on a test run not long after the repair. "I got on the gas, the oil light came on, and the new motor started knocking again. The pickup tube fell off, and it turned out that the mechanic forgot to weld it in place. This time, GM authorized repairing the motor, but not a complete replacement. I figured that two incidents in such a short period of time was one time too many, so I traded it in for a small-block '70 Camaro. My future father-in-law cringed every time I picked his daughter up for a date in a big-block Chevelle, so he was elated when I replaced it with something more practical."
In the decades that followed, Roger and his wife Karen often reminisced about their chance meeting in the summer of '70, the whirlwind romance that followed, and the '69 Chevelle that starred center stage in it all. Consequently, he embarked on a mission to track down the car in the mid-'90s, but without much success. Then in 2008, Roger tapped into a new wave of self-motivation determined to find that old Chevelle once and for all. He located the person who owned the car in the mid-'80s, who revealed that he sold it at auction. Disappointed but not defeated, Roger turned to the online community for help, posting inquiries on message boards like www.chevelles.net. That led to tracking down another one of the car's former owners, who indicated that the COPO sat on a farm for several years before getting crushed for scrap. "That news was devastating, but something inside me wouldn't let go, and I just couldn't quit," he says.
Although Roger didn't know it at the time, the crushed and scrapped orange Chevelle wasn't the car in question. His old Chevelle had been painted white, and was actually sitting on the same farm as the orange A-body that got crushed. A few months went by without much progress until Roger received an intriguing e-mail out of the blue for someone who'd been tracking the progress of his search online. The person on the other end had the correct VIN number off the old Chevelle, and said he saw it posted for sale online. "He said he saw an ad with the correct VIN on eBay, craigslist, or Racingjunk.com, but he couldn't remember the exact site. After that, I got up at 4:30 a.m. everyday to scour the Internet for clues," Roger explains. "I expanded my search to include several major metro areas, and I found an expired craigslist ad in the Chicago area that had the correct VIN. Fortunately, the owner relisted the ad, I called him up, and we agreed to meet the next morning. When I finally saw the car in person, my heart began to race, as I spotted an old Missouri inspection sticker on the windshield. I asked the owner for any documents he may have, and he pulled out an old DMV title application from the car's same mid-‘80s owner I had tracked down a few years ago. Everything matched, so two days later, I came back with a trailer and hauled the car back home to North Texas."
After 40 years of separation, and more than a decade of searching, Roger and Karen finally found their old Chevelle. It had peeling white paint, a 396 and a 10-bolt rearend, so Roger had his work cut out for him to restore back to its original glory. Considering how rare the Chevelle was, keeping it as original as possible was a top priority. The replacement fenders, quarter-panels, fenderwells, and decklid are all NOS items. The skilled craftsmen at Premier Body and Paint (www.premierbodyandpaintlc.com) in Buffalo, Missouri get credit restoring the super-rare A-body's exterior back the concours-quality condition. All the interior and trim pieces are either OEM or high-quality stock replacement hardware as well.
Similarly, since the original 427 was long gone, Roger replaced it with the next best thing by rebuilding an OEM "512" block back to stock L72 specs. It has been fitted with a stock GM steel crank, and NOS rods, pistons, rings, rod bolts, and bearings. The solid-lifter camshaft and valvetrain are Comp Cams pieces built to stock specifications.
"Everything on this motor--from the block, cylinder heads, carb, exhaust manifolds, alternator, water pump, and cooling fan--are date coded to early 1969 when the car was originally built," Roger explains. "The same applies to the TH400 trans, 12-bolt rearend, and 14x7 wheels as well. The goal was to restore the car exactly like it was when it first rolled off the GM assembly line in Kansas City in 1969."
Not surprisingly, Roger's COPO Chevelle has been a huge hit on the show circuit, racking up trophies and awards by the boatload under the scrutinizing microscope of the most authoritative Chevelle experts in the business. After the Super Chevy Show in Ennis, Texas, it won the Chevelle category in our AMSOIL Best of the Best competition, presented by Danchuk and Classic Muscle.
Even so, the most profound and captivating element of this Chevelle isn't its rareness or the unique documents that confirm its identity (and Roger saved every single piece of paperwork he got with the car when he purchased it). The real story is how a decades-long saga has finally concluded with a husband and wife duo that can now re-live their first date from 42 years prior in the exact same car. The difference is that this time around, they can bring haul their grandchildren with them in the backseat.
Victoria-based exotic and classic car restorer Rudi Koniczek is always enthusiastic about the cars that he restores. But he absolutely comes alive when he talks about unearthing one of the rarest cars in the world from decades of dusty storage in a rat-infested garage at a home in Santa Monica, Calif.
For the past 40 years, Rudi & Company has been one the foremost restorers of Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadsters and gull-wing sports cars. Owners have shipped cars for restoration from as far away as Europe, South Africa and Japan. He has restored about 100 of the cars and currently has half a dozen under restoration. His shop also restores other special interest cars to concours standards.
He takes pride in having restored the 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL bought new in Montreal by Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It was a rush job to be completed in time for Justin Trudeau’s wedding in Montreal. The restoration that usually takes a full year was compacted into eight months. The silver roadster is magnificent and is part of Canadian history.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was introduced in 1954 as a two-seat, closed sports car with distinctive gull-wing doors and was the first gasoline-powered car with direct injection. Later it was offered as an open roadster. It was the fastest production car of its day.
The 300 referred to the threelitre engine and SL stood for Sport Leicht. rom 1955 through 1963, there were approximately 1,800 M-B 300SL roadsters built and 1,383 gullwing coupes produced from 1955 through 1957 in Stuttgart, Germany. Gullwing describes the way the doors lift open.
In the ’50s, the factory turned out 29 special lightweight alloy body gull-wing coupes with Plexiglas windows. These are among the world’s most valued collector cars, worth about $2.5 million each.
Only 28 of the alloy-bodied cars were accounted for. The whereabouts of No. 29 was one of the great mysteries in the classic car world. Koniczek had restored numbers 1 and 6. He knew where all the other alloy-bodied cars were except for No. 21.
Twenty years ago, he heard about a gull-wing that had been stored in a garage in Santa Monica, Calif., for decades. It was a rumour that he and a California enthusiast followed up on over the years.
This spring, Koniczek was able to make a deal with the owner of the car. But getting the Gullwing out of the garage was a challenge. The widower owner was in his late 80s, and his garage was full of old mainframe computers. The car couldn’t even be seen in the garage.
He hired two men to clear the way to the car. When the car began to emerge from the clutter, it became apparent that the search for No. 21 was over. "I took a magnet out of my wallet and ran it over the car and it didn’t stick," Koniczek recalls of the moment.
The owner of the car, Tom Wellmer, had received the new 1955 special alloy M-B Gullwing coupe in New York as a graduation gift from his parents. He drove it into the 1970s until the transmission broke. Then he put the car up on jack stands and began taking it apart. He took the wheels and hood off, the interior out and removed the transmission. And then the car just sat – for more than 40 years.
"This is the ultimate garage find and may be one of the greatest finds ever in the collector car world," Koniczek says. "It’s amazing to know that the car had been there all those years without anyone knowing about it." It still had the 1971 California license plates.
Koniczek guides seven full-time artisans and a bevy of other craftsmen who contribute their talents during the restorations. His mission statement is just three words: Best or nothing.
His restorations have won every major award there is. The M-B Museum in Stuttgart features some of the cars he has restored.
There is a row of 300SL cars in various states of restoration, including a roadster once owned by Canadian Forest Products founder Peter Bentley. Other cars are receiving body and paint jobs in a downtown Victoria shop.
Koniczek is the ultimate self-made man. An only child, he and his parents came to Canada from Germany in 1953. As a teenager, he got an after-school job in a model shop, taking his pay in kits that he would build into his favourite car – the M-B Gullwing.
Koniczek will start the restoration of the "missing" alloy-bodied 300SL early next year. The only stipulation made by the original owner in selling the car was for the rare car to be given a full restoration to look as it did when he took delivery in 1955.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators, a Vancouver-based public relations company. email@example.com
Thanks goes to AUTOCULT Nomad, Robert Morris, for the heads-up on this one…
In 1954, drag racing was a fairly new sport, but it was becoming more and more popular and the idea of sanctioned events with elapsed time recording and all the shit we take for granted in modern-day-3-second-rolling-billboard Top Fuel and Funny Car racing was but a novelty.
And the cars on those early dragstrips were about as refined as a farm tractor, with all the styling to match. But hell, everything has to start somewhere and the idea of going as fast as possible from a standing start to the end of a quarter mile had more to do with pushing a repurposed passenger car through the ambient air than a purpose-built machine to cheat it.
But, in ’54, the very first World Series Of Drag Racing was being held in the Midwest and there were more than a few guys willing to put their skills and asses to the test with whatever they thought would beat the other guy down the track. And that’s where Kenny Kerr and Francis Fortman put their home-built, alcohol-burning, flathead-powered Deuce 3-window to the test. Just once.
The coupe was put out to pasture, literally, after that day of racing just outside of Chicago and was finally discovered by Ken Robins just recently. We’re not gonna spoil the story any more than we already have, so we’ll now turn it over to the guys at Old Cars Weekly to tell you the whole deal. We’re not batshit crazy about ’32 Fords the way most hotrodders are, but we absolutely ARE full-blown nutty about stories like this.
This might not be your run of the mill barn find but this 1965 Shelby GT350 has been sitting in some owners barn in Ohio for the last 27 years as a project that never got off the ground. The car has seen some better days with alot of rust on the body and the motor, trans and interior are completely gone. The body is verified as a 1965 Shelby GT350 through it's VIN# 5T09A18XXX and through the Shelby Tag that was pop-riveted on the drivers side inner fender panel.
The Shelby Tag decodes, SFM - (Shelby Ford Mustang), 5 - (model year 1965), S - (Street car). The VIN number decodes:, 5 - (model year as 1965), T - (Metuchen, NJ assembly plant), 09 - (Fastback), A - (engine code for 289ci 4V V8 271hp high performance), 18XXXX - consecutive unit number. In 1965 their were 516 Street production Shelby GT350's produced and they were all made in Wimbeldon White with Black interior.
This might be a good starting point for somebody with an original 289 from a 1965 Shelby GT350.
Hemmings reader Joel says when he first heard about the 1954 Corvette sitting in a pine grove for 45 years, he figured he'd find a fiberglass shell sitting atop the rusted remnants of a frame. He thought the early Vette might at least make a nice street rod.
But when he finally saw the car way up in the Colorado Smokies, he was stunned. Not only did the car still have its original hardtop, but the frame was rust free and the "original painted frame stamp from the factory is still on the frame and very much legible," Joel tells Hemmings Auto Blogs.
The story is that the car's second owner drove the Corvette to a friend's house in 1963 to have the seats re-covered. He replaced the driver's seat with a wooden Pepsi box and drove home where he parked it beneath the pine trees until Joel pulled it out.
Now Joel has a conundrum. After getting the car running again, he's totally ruled out street rod, but doesn't know what to do with the car. Frame off? Survivor-car preservation? Currently, Hemmings readers are unanimously recommending the preservation route, arguing there are already too many half-million-dollar frame off restos out there.
We've all dreamed about this happening to us, so how would you advise Joel?
Someday…How many times have you told yourself “Someday, I will find the bike I have always wanted’ Well for me, “someday” finally arrived and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. After 10 years of patience, perseverance and pure luck, I found a barn fresh 1962 DBD34 Gold Star that I could afford. My goal is to restore her from the crank up to full UK clubman specs and then will ride the heck out of her this spring.
My bike arrived from Texas and I am the one who found it in the first few minutes it was listed on Craigslist and snapped it up. I feel like a I won the lottery!!!
**See links below for full story and photos.
Recently I responded to a ad that simply stated "1970 Chevelle SS convertible for sale...one owner".
met the owner and this is what I found. Needless to say, I bought it. He parked in the barn in 1978, put it up on blocks and walked away from it. I towed it home. Fixed the brakes, flushed and changed the fluids, and some other minor items, it started right up and ran fantastic. It was a running, driving, drop-top muscle car. The car was completely unmolested, all the way down to the AM radio and original convertible top. My plan was to restore it, but my plans changed and sold the car. The first thing the new owner did was rebuild the carburetor and take the car to the drag strip at Rock Falls....It turned a 14.668 at 93.27 mph. Not to shabby......John H from St. Paul MN.e=1?
I was repairing some fence on the back 40 for a neighbor of mine when I came across an ole barn that had actually already fallen down. But one of the walls hadn't fallen yet and I thought how odd. I got to study it a little closer and sure enough I found this ole 1927 Model T Touring Car. I went to the owner of that property and turns out they were the parents of a good friend of mine in high school. I asked if I might somehow be able to acquire the ole tin lizzie but she had said that it was her brother in laws ole car and IDE have to talk to him about it. I ask for his info but just by chance he was there visiting. His residence was in West Oklahoma though. I asked and well it wasn't all smiles and thrills when he said to me. "No, it's not for sale. I've had that car since the early fifties and I'm going to fix it up one day." (I'm sure I don't have to describe the feeling I got. We've all heard that at one time or another!) Well I went back to fixing the fence, long face and all! I shared the story with my friends and soon it just became a memory of an ole car going to waste.
Till one day I get a call and it’s the mother of my ole high school chum. She asked if I still wanted that ole car out there in the rubble. Of course my answer was you bet, but I had to ask really, thinking the ole fellow that was going to fix it up had come to his senses, "What happened did the feller decide not to fix her up?" She replied, no he died on Christmas Eve and we need to get the money up for his funeral expenses." Man that took the wind out of me!
Well long story short we worked out a deal and I couldn't get down there fast enough to get the rubble off and asses my treasure.