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Project Camaro
Introduction

May 2, 2018
By Scott Lewis

Welcome to Project Camaro!

For anyone that followed my journey toward buying my 1968 Camaro, please just head over to the Wheels & Tires article and continue from there.

For the rest of you, this will be a short introduction. I have written about this car in other places and needed to create a starting point for anyone interested in following this story from the beginning.

Welcome!

The Search

If you are interested in my search for this car, please read read this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this. Those articles take you through my entire path of looking for cars, narrowing my choices and test driving some.

You can go here for the moment when I found this car and made the offer to buy it. I paid $25,500 for this Camaro. I will attempt to keep a running total at the end of each article so you have a good idea what it would cost to do something similar.

Introduction

With all that out of the way here is the official introduction to Project Camaro. I wrote a bit about the car after I bought it here and here. The first of those spells out a general plan for the things I want to upgrade. The second lists many, many parts I want to get for the car. However, only go there if you are a glutton for punishment. Although there is more detail in those two articles, they are redundant if you are here.

Obviously I consider this a project car. For me, I wanted a car that would look good at Cars & Coffee and non-car people would think was good enough to be a show car. I plan to modify this car tastefully, but I do not want to take it off the road for long stretches of time. It is a driver/project. I live in San Antonio which means I do not need to put the car in storage for the Winter. I can drive this car year round.

The Car

What we have here is a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro in Corvette Bronze. This is the only year you could get this color on a Camaro from the factory (it was only available on the Corvette in 68 & 70). Approximately 7% of all Camaros in 68 came in this color. That's over 15,000 cars, so it is not a rare color. However, I have only ever seen one other Camaro with this color... so far.

This car is very original. It has (as of this typing) 73K original miles. It is equipped with a 327 V-8 with a 2 barrel carburetor rated at 210 horsepower. Don't be fooled, that is the old "gross" horsepower rating. By modern "net" power ratings this car would likely have somewhere between 140-160 hp.

As for options on this car... I can only count 3 (as long as the color is not an extra cost option and just a choice). 1) The V-8 engine. This is the lowest V-8 offered in the Camaro in 1968. Below this would have been a straight 6. 2) The vinyl roof. The vinyl roof on it now is not original, and will be replaced again someday as there are some small rust bubbles under it around the rear window. 3) Some kind of radio. There is an antenna on the car implying a radio. However the current radio is a modern radio with an aux jack (so I can hook it to my iPhone). The car was equipped with 14 inch Rallye wheels which the previous owner told me they were not original to the car.

Three on the Tree! Since this car does not have any transmission upgrade and does not have a console it is equipped with a 3 speed manual transmission on the column. That is the only way to get it. I have to believe this is more rare than the color. That will make for a very hard decision when it's time to consider a transmission upgrade.

The Goal

Having a project car that you just randomly throw parts at is not a good way to go. Before I set down a plan for modifying this car I must establish the goals.

1) Slightly improve the appearance of the vehicle without altering its stock nature.

2) Improve the overall drivability of the car without impacting its reliability or appearance as a nearly stock vehicle.


Two simple goals. Every modification I make to the car will keep these goals in mind.

Appearance

Basic appearance items will be limited to items the factory offered, or almost offered. Adding a front spoiler is first, since the factory offered it. I may put a rear spoiler on it. If that means removing the rear Camaro script and having to patch holes and paint the truck lid I may pass. I would also like to add a cowl induction hood. Although not available on the 68, it was an option for 69. If I do this, I will also put the appropriate air cleaner for a 69 Camaro to seal it to the underside of the hood and have the cowl induction be functional.

Wheels & Tires and the stance of the car are also in the cards.

I am undecided about converting the car to a Rally Sport. This means putting the hideaway headlights on it (and a number of other tweaks). I expect this to be at a cost of over $2,000, so it will not be under consideration for a long time. Maybe never. I am not a purist, but I like the near stock look of this car. Granted, the RS was an option on this car (and was on the 67 Camaro I owned from 2002-2003), so it will still appear stock.

I lump the interior in with appearance. If you walk up to the car and look in the window and see some funky gauges under the dash (already there) or a tach clamped to the steering column then the appearance was changed. Toward that end I am pretty sure I will not add a factory style console. I initially wanted to, and include the gauges at the end of the console. However, when I saw Tim Allen's Camaro on Jay Leno's Garage he mentioned not putting in a console to keep the interior simple as it was meant to be. I like that.

I found a set of gauges that look like the originals, but have the sweep of the speedometer and tachometer at 180 degrees instead of 270 degrees. This allows them to have small Temperature/Pressure/Volt/Fuel inside the stock gauge pod. That's perfect. Only people who know will recognize that it is not stock.

Drivability

I used the word "drivability" in my second goal. That is difficult to define. For me, it means getting the car to perform more like a modern car while maintaining ride comfort. Ideally I want the car to drive like a current V-6 Camaro. If that is not possible, I want it to perform like the 93 Camaro Z-28 I had.

I will add improvements to the car that are subtle. Handling and braking are paramount. New springs & shocks, larger sway bars, disc brakes, etc. I will rebuild the suspension to replace all the old rubber and worn parts to get the car to handle better and feel tight... like a new car.

I also want to add fuel injection. To meet the my goal, "without impacting its reliability or appearance as a nearly stock vehicle," I will use a throttle body fuel injection system that replaces the carburetor. You would have to look hard to notice. Under the hood it should look close to stock.

As mentioned earlier, upgrading to an overdrive transmission is in the cards. I will most likely install a 5 speed. Why not a 6 speed. Because those are larger and will likely require cutting the trans tunnel. I plan to save all the parts I replace on the car so it could be returned to stock easily. Cutting is out of the question. TKO makes a nice 5 speed, but it is a bit expensive. I have a friend that has put a T-5 trans in two cars. Since I am not looking for maximum power I like this idea. However, I can't seem to find anyone that makes a kit for this. This is a couple of years out so I will worry about it later.

The engine will see some modifications. The previously mentioned fuel injection is one. If I get hungry for power (350-400hp) I will consider a crate engine. I would save the numbers matching 327 and install another engine. I would paint it to look completely stock. However, I love the idea of adding just a little to the 327 to get it close to 300 hp with that fuel injection and overdrive transmission. That really appeals to me. Time will tell.

Air condition falls under drivability. It gets hot here in San Antonio. I expect to sweat a lot in the car this summer. Since I plan to drive this car a lot, next summer I hope to put a Vintage Air system in the car.

Conclusion

I tried to keep this brief. If you followed the links above to to some of the other articles I wrote you will see lists of parts and reasons for going in certain directions. That is not important. As I make each choice and purchase I will document everything here going forward.

Feedback is very welcome. If you have ideas please feel free to share them with me.

I hope you like this section of my web site and follow along on this journey.
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