Herman & Rosalind Worthy's Pro Touring 1969 Camaro
(from Volume 25, Issue 305)

story by owner Herman Worthy, photos by Michael B. Kelly


The year was 1958 and the location was Detroit, Michigan. I was 9 years old and my best friend John (JD) was a year younger. Right after the monthly Cub Scout meeting we talked his mom, who happened to be our den mother, into taking us to the Detroit Autorama which was held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Colosseum. The Detroit Autorama was held there from 1954 to 1960. That was the beginning of my love affair with cars. After witnessing the genius and creativity of George Barris, I knew then that I was all in! After that visit I started saving my milk money in order to purchase model cars which I really enjoyed assembling, and in all I had a total of at least 30 models. The first one was a 1940 Ford Coupe, but the Chevy bowtie was my favorite.

A few years later I had become old enough to go to work for my dad, who owned and operated a Texaco gas station. My old man insisted that his sons get something in their heads and learn how to work with your hands, so he would say, “If you have a skill that you can perform with your hands you’ll always be able to put food on your table!”. He would start off teaching you how to change and repair tires, then came oil changes, tune-ups, valve cover gaskets, radiator flushes, and anything else that was a quick pull and replace. After that came diagnosing more intricate mechanical problems.

My first car was a 1950 Ford 2-Door Custom, which was a hand me down from my older brother, Porter. He had a fender bender in the Ford and our dad decided to purchase him another ride, which turned out to be a black 1958 Chevy Impala. In the meantime my 1950 Ford was being put back together, and for me to have a ride at sixteen was a pure joy! And my ride was pretty sweet. It was bright red with white bucket seats, three speed stick shift with overdrive, and I added a 3/2 barrel Offenhauser intake manifold.

After driving and repairing the 50 Ford for a year I guess my old man felt sorry for me so he decided to buy me another car, which turned out to be my first Chevy. It was a white 1960 Impala and it was pretty fast for being so darn heavy (that’s when we started calling it the “Heavy Chevy”). I continued to work for my dad learning everything that he had to offer while taking auto shop classes in high school from the 10th grade until graduating. After graduating from Western High School, I went to work for the Chrysler Corp from 1968 to 1969. At that time the draft was in full swing and I signed up for two years in the Navy. After boot camp I was stationed aboard a repair ship home ported out of San Diego, California. It was during this time aboard ship that I honed my welding and fabricating skills. My military designation was Shipfitter. It was during this time that I also feel in love with the body lines of the 1969 Chevy Camaro. That cowl hood, those hide away head lights and that big block sound told me that one day if I remained patient and faithful, I would own one.

Fast forward to today and this so happens to be my second 1969 Camaro. The first one I purchased was a ‘69 Z/28 with a rod knocking 427 big block, four speed trans and 4.10:1 rear end. After selling the “Z” I went without for a number of years but I never forgot the feeling that came over me while driving that incredible big block winding through the gears of that rock crusher transmission, so needless to say I wanted and needed to feel that sensation again! It was the last local car show of the year…which I did not attend, for reasons already stated, and out of the blue my phone rings it was my brother Tom he said he got a lead on a 1969 Camaro that was for sale. The guy was asking $3,500 with no motor or transmission. I made arrangements to see what he had, and the rest is history.

After purchasing that Camaro in 2003, I sat on it for four years with plans on starting the rebuild after I retired. A year later I started the disassembly, and I sent it off to be media blasted. A week later I received a call from the media shop telling me that my prize Camaro wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. After buying all the replacement parts and panels off to the body shop it went, and it took my body man right around a year to complete. What can I say, he works at his own pace! Now comes the good part; reassembly! So I started with the chassis, powder coating, rear triangulated four link by Ridetech, mini tubs by DSE, fabricated nine inch by Strange Engineering, sub-frame connectors by Moroso, upper and lower A arms by Global West, Unisteer power rack and pinion, painted by Expert Auto Body in Romulus, Michigan, All American Auto for the interior, gas tank by Rock Valley, Be Cool radiator, billet hood hinges, Painless wiring, 4-wheel drilled and slotted rotors with Wilwood calibers, GMPP 572 cubic inch motor with a Hogans sheet metal intake, 5-speed Tremec transmission, and the list goes on.

As I reflect back, everything that I had learned had prepared me for this. With a license plate that reads “His Mercy” it sums up more than just the car, but my life. Surviving Vietnam, Cancer, a heart attack and fighting fires for 35 years, it is nothing but “His Mercy” that brought me through. I will never forget my wife’s reaction when I towed the Camaro home, lacking that “eye” to see it’s potential, she looked at it and said “WHAT IS THAT”!!? I didn’t bother to explain. How can you describe what only “a visionary” can see. So I got to work. It turned into a three year build working in my two car garage. After completion we became “Long Haulers” on the 2011 Power Tour, hopefully with many more to follow! CN