Thomas has been haunted by the 1970 Camaro Z28 from the movie “The Gumball Rally” his entire life. Thirty-one years after seeing the movie, he finally purchased a basket case 1970 Camaro SS 350. When his wife at the time (who sadly passed away in 2020 at the age of 55, leaving him heartbroken) accompanied him to see the car, Thomas couldn’t believe it when she said, “Okay, buy it.”
It took him 13 and a half years to transform the fully disassembled 1970 Camaro, which he bought for $1,000, into a running vehicle that is now over 90% complete.
The 1970 Camaro features a small-block stroker engine with a displacement of 385 cubic inches, equipped with a Scat rotating assembly, AFR 195 heads, a Lunati Voodoo roller cam, an AirGap intake, a Holley 3310 carburetor, a Tremec TKX transmission, and a 12-bolt 3.31 posi rear end.
Thomas’s car serves as a tribute to the Gumball Rally Camaro from the 1976 film, in which Gary Busey portrayed the mechanic and co-driver. In the movie, the Camaro rolled over on a Los Angeles freeway. Thomas’s vehicle is an original SS 350, manufactured in Van Nuys and originally delivered to Globe, AZ (supposedly). It retains its original Muncie M20 4-speed transmission, air conditioning, and deluxe interior.
His immediate plans involve completing the remaining work on the car within the next month or so. Although it has only been driven about 500 miles since becoming roadworthy, Thomas intends to install the just completed 396 big block engine. He plans to take the car to The Pavilions, a local gathering spot in Scottsdale, on Saturday nights, as well as participate in small local car shows. Thomas envisions his Camaro as a driver, meant to be enjoyed on the road rather than being kept as a showpiece. One of his dreams is to cruise it along Route 66, a significant portion of which runs through Arizona.