From our friends at Hagerty comes a story that is the epitome of what building a car is all about. At 10 years old, Lisa Healy knew she wanted a car and she knew exactly which one she wanted: a 1968 Camaro. No other Camaro would do. She was also certain of two other things: she wanted to work on it herself and she wanted it red. Lisa wasn’t even sure why, she just had that particular model year of this iconic pony car in her head.
She began saving her money and doing her research and scouring Craigslist and eBay for the right 68 Camaro. Her father, Tom, an electrical engineer by profession took her seriously. He promised to help her find a car and to assist her with the work necessary to complete her dream car.
They found a car when she was 13 and her parents loaned her the money to buy it. The epic journey began with the right stuff, they found a one owner car with 80,000 miles on it. It had been sitting unloved since it’s original owner had passed away years before, his widow only driving the car once a year. She sold it to someone who had too many other projects and he in turn sold it to Lisa. With a straight six under the hood, there was little chance of this car overpowering a new teenage driver. Lisa and her dad learned how to restore this car by themselves, sometimes by trial and error.
There was no room in the family garage for the Camaro, so they put up a carport tent. For the next three years, father and daughter worked on the car most days, and in all weather conditions.
“It got pretty cold in winter, especially touching metal parts,” Healy said.
The body was in good shape, but they did have to learn how to replace one of the quarter panels. When it came time for paint, Lisa stuck with her original vision. A family friend shot the car red with white Z/28 stripes in his home workshop.
The original 3-speed manual transmission gave way to a 4-speed manual, also installed by father and daughter. Lisa remembers, “I was young. It was just dad and me. We had the car on jacks, so there wasn’t much room to work. I definitely got some scrapes and bruises from that.”
The Camaro was finished when Healy was 16 and she drove it to high school. The first day she arrived with the car Lisa gave promised rides to one of the nuns and a priest from her catholic school. They had been following the progress of the build for nearly four years. The Camaro turned into a conversation starter for Lisa, normally shy by nature.
“I learned to drive stick on that car,” Healy said. “In Seattle, with the hills, it was pretty terrifying.”
Healy did not drive the Camaro while attending the University of Washington, where she studied architecture. She has since moved on to a professional career working for b9 Architects in Brooklyn, NY and misses her Camaro.
Around the same time that she bought the car, she also got a four-barrel carbureted, 350-ci V-8 originally installed in a 1968 Chevy Camaro SS and wanted to install it as part of the restoration. Her father, however, felt the six would be better for the young driver.
“I complained about it then, but I understand now,” she said. “We’ll get it in there eventually.”