Having grown up in those amazing days of the Detroit horsepower wars, Gene Hart spent a great deal of time proving his mettle on Detroit's Woodward Avenue with a 427-powered '67 Camaro. Fast-forward a couple of decades or so and Gene has settled into the comfort of the street-rod movement where style became a bit more important. After weighing the cost of street-rod comfort versus bang-for-the-buck musclecar thrills, Gene went back to his roots, but this wouldn't be a rehash of an old theme. This musclecar would have a modern twist.
Gene stumbled across this '67 by looking through a photo-buy magazine from Missouri. A trip to the "Show Me" state netted a third-owner, Powerglide-and-A/C-equipped, rust-free example of Chevrolet nirvana. Gene hauled it home and dug in. Loyal friend and body man extraordinaire Leo Otto rolled up his sleeves, and together they ironed the sheetmetal to perfection before slathering on the Corvette Classic White paint. Kyle and Stacy Tucker of Detroit Speed and Engineering tackled the task of retrofitting the 30-plus-year-old car with a Vintage Air A/C unit with a serpentine beltdrive. They also replaced the body mounts and rebuilt the car's aging suspension.
Meanwhile, Gene commissioned Rossi Performance of Springfield, Missouri, to build the original small-block with a 0.030-inch overbore, TRW forged pistons with a pump-gas compatible 9.5:1 compression, a mild Crane Powermax juice cam, a balanced rotating assembly, and refurbished heads with hardened seats. An aluminum dual-plane intake with an Edelbrock carb and a K&N air filter provide hassle-free induction while a Mallory Unilite ignition ensures reliable spark. The original 'Glide wouldn't cut it, so Wolverine Transmissions of Ann Arbor, Michigan, bolstered a Turbo 350 with B&M components. Gene decided to retain the 3.36-equipped 10-bolt rearend but added a posi for trouble-free cruising.
The comfortable side of things appeared when it came time for an interior, which meant ditching the stock seats in favor of a set of Flofit buckets and a brace of Auto Meter gauges. The rear seat was also deleted to cut a little weight. A real driver needs real brakes for safe cruising, so Gene pressed Baer Street Claw 11-inch disc brakes into service to supplement the rebuilt rear drums. Rolling stock consists of ultra-modern Colorado Custom Paradox 17-inch wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, and Gene lowered the car as much as the Michigan moonscape would safely allow.
Gene and Jeanne enjoy the Camaro as much as possible when the weather is right. Despite a mild combination, Gene reports that his Camaro has a traction problem, but that hasn't stopped him from contemplating even more power in the near future. He's starting to miss those late nights along Woodward, and the only real way to find his way back is with more horsepower.
Car Craft Q&ACar Craft: We understand you were into street rods for a while. What sparked your desire to build another musclecar?Gene Hart: I've built around 30 cars over the years. I did street rods for a short time, and the rods were taking me to the poor house. So, I got back to my roots. Musclecars are what I know and love. I grew up on musclecars and had the great fortune of living only 28 miles from Woodward Avenue. Woodward was everything that they say it was.
CC: Did you actually race on Woodward?GH: Oh yeah. My brother and I had a '67 Camaro with a 427 stuffed under the hood. We weren't major players, but we were there.