Gary L Van Meter’s 1970 Camaro

Built From The Ground Up

Gary L Van Meter’s 1970 Camaro

Gary bought this 1970 Camaro in April of 1974. This was at the end of his senior year in High School. A customer at the gas station he worked at had brought the car in for a service. When he came to pick it up, he told him if he ever wanted to sell it, he was interested. The customer contacted him several months later, and for $2100, it was Gary’s.

The best part about the Camaro is that it survived a lead-footed teenage boy! Barely!

It did have several mishaps. While parked outside Gary’s work, it was hit by another car, which resulted in paint job #1. He drove into a State Park Ranger one afternoon by not paying attention, which resulted in paint job #2.

Another event was caused by him driving too fast around a corner. He ran the Camaro off the road and took out 100 ft of barbed wire fence. The craziest part of that was the Highway Patrol officer that came to investigate the accident was the original owner. He was not happy with Gary. That resulted in paint job #3.

Away at college with the Camaro parked, a fellow student that had a camper on his pickup ran the camper removal jacks down the side of the Camaro for paint job #4. The last mishap the Camaro experienced was a deer running into the side of the right front fender.

With the four accidents to the 1970 Camaro and two repaints because of bad paint used by the body shop, the last paint job was stripping the car to bare metal because of the previous six paint jobs.

Gary had the original 350 300HP with four-bolt main bearings converted to a 383 Stroker added MSD ignition, a Holley 550-811 Avenger ported fuel injection system along with Edelbrock Performer heads. The original turbo 350 transmission was completely gone through with a shift kit, and a GearVender Overdrive added. A Dana 3.31 geared positrac was installed in the original rear end housing.

He replaced the original suspension with the Hotchkis TVS System. Gary added Flaming River rack and pinion steering. All the dash gauges were upgraded to AutoMeter, and he installed a Carbon Fiber dash bezel. He converted the front disc brakes and rear drum brakes to Wilwood’s two-piston disc.

The cooling system was upgraded to DeWitt aluminum with electric fans and a March Performance serpentine belt system. The original A/C unit was replaced with a Vintage Air system.

With the car being stored in a garage most of its life when the RetroMod was started there was no rust or body frame damage. He used the original engine block, transmission, and rear end in the rebuild. He even has the original rims on the car. The interior was refurbished to the original specs. The only mod was upgrading the dash and gauge package.

His future goal is to enjoy the 1970 Camaro like he did when he first bought it. He’s already attended the 2021 Hot August Night Car Show in Reno. He has several other car shows on his calendar to attend this year. This will be his focus for as long as he can do these events.

"I bought many of the replacement parts I needed during the restoration from Ground Up SS396. I wanted to keep the Camaro looking like the original 1970 I bought in 1974. Unless you look at the dash, look under the hood or hear it run, it looks just like it did. "

-Gary L Van Meter

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