What Are You Working On: Joe Chavez shares his 1967 Camaro

Joe Chavez spent much of his life as a hardwood floor installer in Denver, Colorado. An injury on the job led him to focus on cars, his first was a 1955 Chevy half ton pickup in his garage. On the hunt for a new project, Chavez heard about a 1967 RS Camaro located in a Taos, New Mexico barn.  The car was last registered in 1984 in Pueblo, Colorado and was in need of a full restoration.

Chavez had previously owned a 1977 Camaro Rally Sport and a 1970 RS Split Bumper Camaro, he figured the 1967 Camaro would be a cool car to own and relatively easy to restore.

The Camaro was badly weather beaten even though it sat in a barn for years, however the body of the car was in good shape and kept his interest high. Chavez figured it’d take a lot of work but he knew he could bring the beauty back to life.

Black seats and gold rolls and pleats on the doors was one of the interiors in the 1967. To say the interior needed replacing would be an understatement.

When he got the car to his shop, he was asked by family and friends if he was nuts for purchasing the Camaro and what could he possibly see in the old car. Chavez knew that under all the patina, the car could become what it used to be.

The Camaro had been well used over it’s 50-years of life. After examining the car, Joe knew he was in for some serious work and the Camaro would require complete restoration.

Chavez shared he began the project by placing the car on a rotisserie and after it was blasted, he analyzed what could be kept and what needed to be replaced. There was some rust around the front windshield and rear glass due to improper windshield installation. The weather played its game on the metal and required Chavez to replace the dash board panel and rear speaker shelf panel. Other than that, the body was reasonably straight and didn’t require cutting rust out.

Left: Down to the body only… The sub-frame and rear-end was removed after this pic was shot and both were redone. Right: Up on the rotisserie and halfway through the body work, the body sits in K200 primer.

The original engine in the car was a 327ci small block which Chavez replaced with a 400ci small block. Chavez’ machinist agreed that even though the power of a 327ci was nice, the 400ci small block would be a much better engine for the car. The build on the 400ci began in the garage as the frame was worked on.

The 4-bolt main block had been bored .30 over and high compression pistons were installed. A nice cam was selected and high compression heads with new valves were installed in addition to a RPM air gap manifold with a 1411 Edelbrock four barrel completed the build. Shorty ceramic coated headers were added and Magnaflow exhaust gave the car a nice rumble.

The original Muncie four-speed transmission was rebuilt and a Center Force clutch was added for his wife to be able to drive the car easily.

Assembly begins after car was painted. The 400ci engine with Airgap manifold, finned valve covers, huge aluminum radiator, new A/C compressor and chromed alternator.

Chavez had installed disc power brakes and power steering with Z28 suspension pieces.

As the body began to take shape, Chavez  began to focus on paint colors. The cowl tag for this car gave the paint code as MM Royal Plum, which Chavez didn’t think would look good on the car.  After reviewing numerous colors he picked out the OEM 2017 Infinity Hagen Pearl Blue. When the car was finally completed this color turned out a perfect fit and was exactly what he was looking for.

Nearing completion, the interior is seen in black which complements the silver-blue exterior

When it came time to do the interior, Chavez simply couldn’t believe the changes that the Camaro had gone through in its life. The most recent had been a gold colored interior. With the color on the car a silver blue, Chavez settled on a straight black leather deluxe package, with a couple of ounces of Hagen Pearl Blue on the dash and trim, it brings out the blue metal flake in the paint.

While the seats were being redone, Chavez sent the metal console that was in the car out to be re-chromed. The console is a rare OEM item and rarely seen. He then located an original radio at a junk yard and added a Kenwood sound system that he hid under the seats.

The steering wheel was replaced with a ‘Lemans Grant.’ And the wheels were replaced with five-spoke Torque Thrust aluminum wheels with the widest tires he could find.

Chavez says everyone that sees the car tells him it is a “bad ass Camaro.” He also notes you can feel the power in the car just by sitting in it, but the best part is turning the key and hearing all the horsepower roar to life.

Out in the driveway for the first time, the Camaro is looking good. Underhood photo reveals body color on firewall and shiny black wheel houses as well as several chromed items to make the engine look good.

What do you think of this Camaro?  Let us know in the comments below and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
Read My Articles

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