Jim’s Blog: Yes I’m a car addict. No it’s not a problem

I took a week of vacation in early August, but it wasn’t to go someplace sunny to sip on umbrella drinks. Instead, the week was spent in my dad’s garage, finally wiring and firing his 1968 Camaro.

We built the engine back in 2003 or so — a de-stroked 454 with a huge cam — and making it run was the final major piece of nearly-complete Camaro project. Cranking it over meant wiring the whole car with a new Painless harness, and doing that took the better part of a week. But the headlights and taillights were working by Wednesday, and by Thursday I was setting up a Demon carburetor for it on my Caprice’s wideband-equipped 468 so we’d have the idle mixture and the float level dead-on for that first crank of the Camaro. On Friday we verified the new engine’s top-dead center, ballparked the timing, and let her rip. After 20 minutes of screaming 2,500-rpm flat-tappet cam break-in, the new engine settled into a nasty idle lope and the interior undercoating on the floor above the mufflers burned away. Smelled like success.

The next week I was in Monterey, CA, driving a snarly purple 2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat from Car Week auction to concours event and documenting everything I saw with my Canon 6D. Monterey is car overkill at its most decadent, with the cars you only ever hear about surrounding you at all times. I shot rows of GT40s and Miller Indy racers at Pebble Beach and even saw a Tucker and a few original Shelbys cruising around downtown Monterey. I also got some wheel time in a Superformance Cobra as well. It was over in a flash, but our photos and our reports on what happened there will be in the next issue of ACC.

Then I was back in dad’s garage again, only this time helping to stretch and fit the Camaro’s reproduction vinyl top and installing all the top trim. Getting the top right was a real chore — they’re typically glued, and once you stick the top down, there’s little chance of moving it again to fix wrinkles or to reposition things if you got it in the wrong spot. My friend Rick has been an auto trimmer for years, with his help, we got the top straight and wrinkle-free. But it took an entire day of work to get it there.

Looking back at how much work all that was is staggering to me, but it really didn’t seem like it at the time. Chalk it up as more proof that I’m a car addict who doesn’t know when to stop. But all things considered, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.