Bruce Paul's 1968 Camaro
(from Volume 19, Issue 221)

With several show cars already under his belt, Bruce Paul was looking to go a different direction. You see, he had just gotten rid of two Concours d’Elegance show winners, and finished a ‘66 Corvette that was an NCRS Top Flight caliber car. All of those cars had strict standards on how things should be done, and of course that is challenging in its own right. However, for the 1968 Camaro you see here he wanted to do things his own way and meet his own standards, therefore the build took on a Pro Touring theme.

He bought the ‘68 Camaro out of Knoxville, Tennessee, after only seeing photos, based on the recommendation of a friend. While the car was in Knoxville he went ahead and had an interior custom made by Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors, located in Knoxville. However, when Bruce finally went to pick up the Camaro after the interior was completed, he got his first good look at the car as a whole. It had been through a frame-off rotisserie restoration before, but things were not exactly to his liking. All the door gaps were off, the rocker panels were sticking out, and the trunk and deck lid didn’t fit exactly right. Bruce decided to drop the car off at Harbor Auto Restoration in Rockledge, Florida to fix these and other issues, and they virtually started over with the project. Knowing that Bruce wanted to show it on a national level, it turned out to be a year long project to achieve the caliber he was expecting, and incorporate the changes he and designer Eric Brockmeyer had in mind.

The nice thing about building a Pro Touring car is that creativity has no boundaries. If you want to do something, you can. Bruce wanted to give the car a contemporary theme, but not so over-the-top that it would date itself a few years after completion. He also wanted to keep some “old school” ideas in play, hence the ‘89 small block Chevy and fairly stock Camaro body.

Frank Tetro and his crew at Harbor Auto Restoration did a great job of not only fixing the problems the car had when it arrived at their shop, but also unifying the theme and producing a top-notch end product. The side market lights were removed, and the windshield wiper cowl area filled in. After ensuring that the body was straight as an arrow they laid on the House of Kolor tangelo pearl paint, which is simply striking in the Florida sunshine. The car would wind up wearing a set of Billet Specialties Bonneville G wheels, which have a matte gray powder coated finish in the centers. That same finish and feel was carried over onto the grill, taillight bezels, and the injection manifold. The bumpers were tucked in tight by Harbor Auto Restoration, and the exterior bolts removed for a clean “blade” look.

The interior was well thought out by Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto Custom Interiors to keep it elegant and modern, but still somewhat conservative. Inside you’ll find a custom dash by Paul Adkins which was painted to match the interior and fitted with Classic Instruments gauges, a custom console, Clayton Machine Works door handles, various billet trim pieces, a Lokar shifter, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Nissan front seats, and custom bucket seats in the rear. Autumn Brown colored leather was used for the upholstery, incorporating rivet accents for a unique look, and the headliner is done in suede. A remote control for the stereo system’s Sony head unit is hidden in the console, and an Alpine amp pumps the tunes through four Alpine speakers.

Looking in the engine compartment reveals plenty of other neat touches as well, starting with the fabricated smooth under hood panels, smoothed firewall, and billet hood hinges. The blueprinted and balanced engine now displaces 355 cubic inches, has 11:1 pistons, Edelbrock aluminum heads, and a Comp Cams roller bump stick and lifters. A Billet Specialties polished aluminum serpentine system, along with many other plated and polished parts add plenty of flash. But perhaps the most striking feature is the Inglese EZ-EFI 8-stack fuel induction system with mini velocity stack venturies. An MSD ignition lights the charge, and ceramic coated custom headers lead to a 2-1/2 inch exhaust with Flowmaster 40 series mufflers. The package puts out 500hp and 460 ft.-lbs. of torque through a 4L60E overdrive automatic transmission, a Strange built 9-inch Ford rear end with 3.89:1 gears, and ultimately to the GoodYear rubber residing in mini-tubs. To bring the car back down to speed are 12-inch rotors all around, squeezed by polished Wilwood 4-piston calipers.

After about a year of work on the car by Harbor Auto Restoration it was ready to hit the show circuit. The first outing was the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, where it received a pick. Next was the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, where they were lucky enough to get a Pro’s Pick Top 12. From there it was the Shades Of The Past show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where it received a Top 25, and then a Pro’s Pick in Tampa at the NSRA Southeast Nationals. At the Eckler’s Classic Chevy Show in Orlando it received a Platinum award, plus Best Engine, Best Paint and Best Interior.

Obviously the car has been well received on the show circuit, but more importantly Bruce has been having a ball along the way, while making new friends from all over the Southeast. Now that he has made the rounds to the national shows, Bruce is looking forward to having fun driving it to different venues. That includes local shows, plus several trips like the upcoming Hot Rod “Power Tour”, Cruisin’ The Coast, and more. We know that wherever the car goes people will love its strikingly good looks....and that Bruce will have a big smile while behind the wheel. CN