Dana Performance-Built Camaro Found In Weeds Behind Shop

Some guys have all the luck! As car guys, we all want to be “that guy” that finds a seriously cool classic that most only dream of owning. You know what I mean; a Yenko, or another high-performance-built hot rod. James Vaughn is one of the lucky ones.

“I found this L88-powered Dana-built car in November of 2016,” states James. “The car was owned by a friend of my father who got the car in a trade deal from an unknown source. I was able to pick up the car for $5,000 as they did not have room for it at the time and it was sitting in the bushes beside their shop.”

As you can see, the car is in serious need of TLC. It came from the factory with a Deluxe bench seat sporting headrests. Apparently, only 2,234 cars came with headrests, and less than a handful were Deluxe benches with headrests.

Dana Performance

We all dream of finding a rare classic parked in or behind an old building. With this much natural camouflage encompassing the car, it’s no wonder it went undiscovered for so long.

“The car was originally purchased in California, from Dana Chevrolet when the original owner got out of the Army,” affirms James. “It had a price tag of $4,500.  The car came with the L88 big-block and an M22 four-speed. Since it’s a bench seat car, only a shifter boot is mounted to the floor because no console was available with a bench seat.”

But, many times, when classic cars are found, the engines are usually long gone. Whether because of a serious, unscheduled disassembly during some redlight action or an ill-fated rebuild, sometimes things get missing. Having the correct engine is something all collectors would like to have.

When was the last time you saw a Z28 with a bench seat and headrests?

“The engine was not with the car when I purchased it,” says James. However, while I never expected to find the original engine for the car, I did stumble upon it four years later. It was in a garage not even 30 minutes from where a previous owner most recently resides (Washington). I found it when I saw an ad listing an engine for sale, and I went to take a look at it. When I saw the ad listing, the numbers on the block were only one number off from what I needed. When I showed up, I quickly realized the ad was actually wrong and this was the correct engine for my car that had been removed more than 30 years prior.”

Dana Performance

James tells us this restoration was to be a project car for him and his dad. Unfortunately, his father passed in March due to terminal brain cancer. “I am lucky that he got to see the original engine make it back to the car where it belongs, says James. “Since pulling the car from the bushes, it has been put in my personal garage. I have started stripping it down, preparing it for bodywork to make it what it once was — another very weird combo with an Ash Gold and White Vinyl top exterior. The whereabouts of the original owner are unfortunately unknown. While I have his name (Charles Howard), I have had no luck finding anything other than an address from 1994 for this person.

“This is a very oddball car when it comes down to the options list, but it is a piece of hot-rodding history that I plan to restore and give a fresh life. Not only for the car itself, but in memory of my dad making it possible for me to have something so unique.”

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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