Curbside Classic: 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
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curbside classic 1968 chevrolet camaro

You wake despite the hope that you would never awake, that it was all just a bad dream. But you know she’s there in the bed next to you. In the early gray light of morning, your bleary eyes reluctantly open and fall on her mottled and pallid white skin. She seemed so hot and glamorous last night, in the sparkly beams of light on the dance floor at the Rockin’ Rodeo. Everyone always raved about Camaro, what a hot number she was, and how you just had to have one some day. And last night there she was, and you finally screwed up your courage to ask her for a dance. At the time, all you could see were those hips, those glorious bulging hips. You just knew they promised action, despite the fact they weren’t hardly moving at all. Oh yeah; she was saving her energy for the big run, the final blast, you kept telling yourself. But it never came.

And now, as the fog-filtered light ever so slowly increases, you lay there and actually look at her features, which were all just a blur in the heady heat of your desire last night. Yes, the hips are still the first thing your eyes are drawn to, but now they seem so exaggerated and unreal. Your eyes slide just a bit further, and they focus on the details between them that you totally missed last night. Christ, her butt! It’s not real; its a cartoonish thing, so crude , simple and unfinished; something maybe a ten year old would draw, in a hurry.

Perhaps aware of your gaze, Camaro gently rolls over, now facing you in the muted rays of light falling from the high window of her cheap apartment. Holy shit! That’s not a face! It’s just a jumble of lines hastily arranged where a real face should be, and totally devoid of any expression or subtlety. My God, how could you not have noticed that last night? Just how many beers did you have before you walked up to her and slapped her gently on those damned hips? For years, you’d been staring at Camaros all dressed to kill in those glossy magazine spreads, and assumed they were all the same. Sadder but wiser, you now know otherwise.

Now the painful details of last night start to take shape and tumble out of the tangled haze of your embarrassment and hangover, like baby spiders hatching out of a cobweb. From the moment you first kicked her over, you knew something wasn’t right. Instead of that wicked come-hither rumble emanating from her nether regions that was guaranteed to get a guys’ juices flowing, she emitted a most pathetic little nasal whine. What the hell? You lift up her skirt, and there it is: “Turbo-Thrift 230 – 140 HP”; a fucking six banger! Its one barrel carburetor’s venturi is the size of a drinking straw. Just please don’t let her have a slushbox too. Sure enough, her feeble little six is backed by a two-speed Powerglide, with a column shifter no less. Now you know for sure you’re not dreaming, because you couldn’t have imagined a column shifter in a Camaro in your worst nightmare. No Mustang sure as hell ever had one. Call it a Powerslide all you like, but obviously neither power nor sliding was going to be on the agenda. Any visions of a long hot night burning rubber with a crackling hot Big Block and a Muncie rockcrusher are gone with the puff of bluish smoke the tired little six emits on startup.

What a nightmare! No wonder you heard some snickering as the two of you left the Rockin’ Rodeo. Her feet should have been a tip-off: those tiny size fourteens looked utterly ridiculous, even if she was wearing Cragars. And the missing little badge next to the front side turn indicator that announced the cubes, but for V8s only. Well, it was too late then; you were way too caught up in the idea of a Camaro to turn back. Let’s just spare everyone the un-juicy details. At least you can be thankful for not getting baited into any races on the way home.

Her gentle nasal six-cylinder snore confirms she’s still asleep. You take one more regretful look, especially at that “Camaro by Chevrolet” tattoo on her ample breast. As a kid, that said it all, the invincible General’s one-two punch comeback to that sassy upstart Mustang. You knew when GM finally realized they’d been snookered and put their mind to it, they’d kick that Mustang’s ass with it, even if it was a rush job that wasn’t quite finished. What’s a fourteen year old to tell the difference? And you’d been lusting after one ever since. You quietly slip out of bed, grab your clothes off the floor, and tip toe out the door. It’s going to be a long cold walk home in the drizzle.

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Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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2 of 43 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Apr 21, 2010

    I had a 69 firebird in High School. (Don't get excited...when I got it it wasn't yet a classic, just a beater used car-had I only known....) With a 400 4bl power was no issue. The car also handled decently for the era. I had a set of fat 60's all around (same size), the car was not jacked up, and a set of heavy duty shocks. Whilst a sled of lead, with the 400 up front, it had no lack of power or brakes. I have pleasant memories-now the second generation Camaro/Firebird, what was that all about ? These cars came in a zillion different option packages, unlike today where the dealer's lot has none of what you want but three of "almost, but of course more expensive" versions. I waited three months for my last car for that very reason. The CC featured has either three on the tree or an automatic. It looks like no option boxes were checked that day.

  • Msquare Msquare on Apr 21, 2010

    Absolutely they were. Just about every sporty car of that era came in plain-Jane economy, luxury and sporty versions, just like their full-size brethren and especially like the build-it-your-way Mustang. The "secretary special" was a volume seller for the person who wanted a basic, economical car but wanted a little extra style as well. That's why you can find a stripper six-cylinder Camaro on the street 43 years after it left the factory. The hot ones are either museum pieces or were cracked up long ago. The volume generated by those secretary specials made the muscle cars possible. By the way, the six and small-block V8 were comparable in weight. Some claim the six was indeed heavier than the lightweight-for-its-time V8.

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.