Many times, the story surrounding a car is as much about the people as about the car itself. Helge Meyer may want you to believe this 1979 Chevrolet Camaro is the hero of the story, but he is as much a part of it, along with so many others. You may have never heard the story of the Ghost Camaro or Helge Meyer until now, but to get the full story, you need to go back to the 1990s when Helge and his Camaro were flying under the radar – literally!
As is the case when various ethnic groups and widespread dissatisfaction within a political system collide, war is an eminent reality for those caught in the crossfire. Such was the case during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. Brutal urban combat, ethnic cleansing, and massive civilian casualties had turned Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia into a horrific war zone.
You don’t need to drive a Camaro into a war zone to make a difference. It’s about helping out on a daily basis.-Helge Meyer
While Yugoslavia was splintering apart amid economic, political, and social turmoil, many innocent and helpless civilians were drawn into the horrors of war. The United Nations made several attempts to soothe their suffering, but the heavily armored vehicles were too slow and an easy target for radicals and those wanting to halt the life-saving efforts. Likewise, supply trucks often fell victim to bandits seeking goods for their own use.
The Ghost Camaro
In true guerilla-warfare style, it was determined to take an unassuming 1979 Camaro and turn it into a fast-moving supplies vessel that would act as a lifeline to those in need while confounding opposing forces. The high-speed solution was conceived by a Danish soldier named Helge Meyer. Previously part of the Danish Jaegerkorps special forces, Helge was touched by the need he saw in those caught up in the fighting, especially the children who were losing their parents in droves.
Helge approached a United States military commander at the Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany with his idea on how to successfully deliver aid to those who most needed it. The commander approved the plan and Helge purchased the Camaro from a U.S. serviceman as the foundation for the Ghost Camaro.
The car was immediately stripped down and fitted with armor plating and the rear window was covered with steel plate to protect the driver. To help Helge navigate the dangerous war zone, the car was fitted with thermal imaging cameras and night-vision since most of Helge’s driving would be under the cover of darkness. Helge kept in constant contact with air support via an installed ground-to-air radio system.
Since the Camaro was destined to see war service throughout the essentially lawless Yugoslavian landscape, it was further fitted with run-flat tires, as well as a mine-sweeping front spoiler. The car was painted with special black paint that prevented infrared imaging and locating it on the radar. When looking to get out of a tight spot, more power is always a welcome solution and the Ghost Camaro team fitted the car’s engine with nitrous oxide for those special bug-out moments Helge and his Camaro were sure to encounter.
The duo faced many obstacles and those various upgrades to the car helped them both return safely to base. Small arms fire and car chases were the norms, and with all the upgraded armor, Helge still cherishes the helmet that saved his life. Even with all the steel plating, an additional Kevlar helmet was just enough to stop the bullet’s trajectory.
Amid all the gunfire, land mines, and harrowing visuals of war, Helge and his Camaro, loaded down with medical supplies, food, and clothes, continued to tear through the night on regular missions. Helge and his Camaro completed over 100 supply runs in what would come to be known as the “Bosnia Express.”
For The Children
Helge Meyer never wanted to be tagged as a hero, but rather as someone who just wanted to help children. Seeing the atrocities forced upon those who couldn’t defend themselves, Helge’s faith drove him to do something to help. Helge never carried a firearm on any missions with his Camaro, relying on his faith in God, the Camaro’s handling, and a healthy dose of nitrous to carry him to safety.
Helge and his Camaro dodged bullets and bandits to deliver supplies. Once arriving at his destination, he would change into civilian clothing so as not to frighten the children. The medical supplies and toys were a welcome solace to the suffering and a generation of survivors now fondly remember the Ghost Camaro and its routine visits.
Helge still owns the Camaro, but thankfully, he and the Ghost Camaro no longer need to travel under the cloak of night. Helge has started a Facebook page to help document his seat time in the Ghost Camaro, which he still owns. The car was painted orange recently and many prefer that Helge kept it in its notoriously darker shade.
No matter the car’s color, it stands as a stark reminder that even in the heat of war, there will always be those affected through no fault of their own. Striving to end wars should be the goal of every individual, but until that day happens, we can’t forget to help those caught between the two sides. We can start by helping those in our own neighborhoods as well. Helge explains, “You don’t need to drive a Camaro into a war zone to make a difference. It’s about helping out on a daily basis. We can all do something to help others.”