THE OBJECT OF DESIRE

Luis and Boni Rosa’s ’67 Pro Street Camaro SS

By John Machaqueiro   –   Photography by the Author

Over the years many desirable muscle cars have been saved as a result of some form of racing, with drag racing arguably the biggest contributor. Luis and Boni Rosa’s ’67 SS Camaro falls into that category as a former quarter-miler. Their journey with this first-gen Camaro started as an object of desire—they knew the car and the owner but were never able to cut a deal for it.

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The Camaro’s journey down the assembly line started in 1967 dressed in Bolero Red paint, black interior, and an L48 350 small-block mated to a four-speed. By the late ’70s it was seeing regular weekend track duty at places like Maple Grove Raceway. With each passing year, it crept further away from street trim and was eventually tubbed and caged with a very aggressive small-block underhood. Due to its uncivilized nature, street usage was very limited, however, there are always exceptions, and in 2008 the owner allowed his nephew to drive the car on the street and he ran out of talent and stuffed the front end.

006 Custom Rear End 1967 chevy camaro

With a heavily damaged car, the options were few:  junk it or fix it. He went for option two and had the car sent to Superior Paint & Collision in New Holland, Pennsylvania, for repairs. While at the shop, Duane Mellinger oversaw the resuscitation on the Camaro, which included some structural damage repairs and the addition of a new frame, front clip, 4-inch cowl induction hood, and a door. Part of that also included a fresh coat of PPG two-stage ’08 Toyota Impulse Red Pearl paint.

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Once the repairs were wrapped up it went back out to flex its muscles down the track, and when there wasn’t any racing taking place the owner would occasionally show up at a local show with it. Luis and Boni were hitting the same shows and the conversation often came up about the Camaro changing hands—it was a conversation that took place so many times that a sense of hopelessness set in. In 2014, while at a local car show, Boni took the reins in her own hands and once again approached the owner. She recalls, “I told Luis, I am going to try one more time. I asked the owner if he was going to sell me my car. He gave me a price and I told him, how about this amount in cash? He said ‘OK’, and I was shocked. I told him I would get Luis and they could work out the details. I went back and told Luis, ‘Go buy the car,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you kidding?’ He didn’t believe me, so I told him, ‘This is the price, go get it done.’” One day later, the deal was sealed.

003 Red 1967 chevy camaro
Like Buttah: Nelson Banuelos’ 1967 Camaro

The Camaro was everything that they were looking for in terms of a car that was in really good shape overall, however, it was still in need of a makeover. Roadworthy manners were at the top of the list, along with some fresh paint. Boni was pushing for a fresh coat of gold and some black stripes, but Luis took a more reserved approach and went back to Mellinger to get his opinion, and if it needed a repaint. Since the repaint in 2008, the only attention it received was a power wash at a local car wash after each race outing. Mellinger was up front and told Luis that he could bring back the faded paint—and that is what you see on the car currently. The only change was the swap to a 2-inch steel cowl-induction hood.

007 V8 1967 chevy camaro

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Also on the table was the 350 underhood. Rebuilding and detuning the existing engine wasn’t in the cards, so the decision was made to pull the trigger on a crate long-block from the folks at BluePrint Engines. Luis dropped some cash on their 355ci Chevy small-block fitted with a cast steel crank, OEM type rods, four-bolt mains, and 10.0:1 hypereutectic aluminum pistons.

008 Custom Air Filter 1967 chevy camaro

On the top end it wears their H8002K aluminum cylinder heads and a Comp Cams Mother Thumpr camshaft. At the time they installed an Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake capped off with a Holley four-barrel carb. That has given way to a Holley Sniper EFI system. Longtime friend Josh Hillard was who Luis leaned on for the engine work and EFI swap. At some point in the car’s racing history the four-speed was swapped for a Turbo 350. That same tranny is what still powers the car. It was sent out to Newswanger’s Automatic Transmission Service in New Holland, Pennsylvania, for a complete rebuild with a Transmission Specialties 3,000-rpm torque converter and a shift kit, while the plumbing is a combination of Hedman Hedders’ ceramic-coated headers and 2.5-inch pipes mated to Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers.

019 Custom 5 Spok Wheel 1967 chevy camaro
Intoxication: Miranda Built Custom 1969 Camaro

The suspension is old-school flavored with a stock frame and GM control arms, spindles, and QA1 coilovers up front. Braking comes from a pair of 10-inch slotted rotors and single-piston calipers. At the rear, a narrowed Dana 60 posi fitted with 4.11:1 gears is still a remnant of the strip setup. Also mounted are 32-inch ladder bars and QA1 single-adjustable coilovers with stopping duties handled by stock drums. His wheel and tire choice came down to a set of Billet Specialties Street Lite mags wrapped in Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro rubber. Up front they measure 15×3.5 with 26×7.50-15LT tires, and at the rear they measure 15×14 wrapped in 31X18.5-15LT tires.

012 Custom Interior 1967 chevy camaro

The last item they addressed was the interior. Luis didn’t plan on deviating much from the existing interior because much of it was in decent shape. He did have the front seats restitched, a new dashpad installed, and new carpeting from PUI fitted. Also added was a center console from a ’68 Camaro, Classic Instruments gauges, and a Billet Specialties steering wheel.

016 Custom Center Console 1967 chevy camaro

After nine years of work on the car, Luis claims that he is not finished with it. Asked what he would do differently, he notes, “I’d add some patina and also go with a bigger engine.”

004 Driver Side 1967 chevy camaro

Tech Check
Owner: Luis and Boni Rosa, Leola, Pennsylvania
Vehicle: ’67 Chevy Camaro

Engine
Type: Chevrolet small-block
Displacement: 355 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore: 4.00 inches
Stroke: 3.48 inches
Cylinder Heads: BluePrint H8002K aluminum
Rotating Assembly: Cast steel crank, GM stock forged rods, hypereutectic aluminum flat-top pistons
Camshaft: Comp Cams Mother Thumpr flat-tappet Hydraulic roller
Ignition: Holley distributor, Moroso wires
Induction: Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake, Holley Sniper Hyperspark EFI
Exhaust: Hedman Hedders headers, 2.5-inch stainless exhaust pipes, Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers
Ancillaries: Auto City Classics aluminum radiator, 14-gallon fuel cell, Billet Specialties 14-inch air cleaner, Vintage Air A/C
Output: 400.5 rwhp at 6,000 rpm, 425 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm
Machinework and Assembly: BluePrint Engines (Kearney, NE)

Drivetrain
Transmission: Turbo 350 automatic, Transmission Specialties 3,000 stall torque converter
Assembly: Newswanger’s Automatic Transmission Service (New Holland, PA)
Rear Axle: Narrowed Dana 60, 4.11:1 gear ratio, 30-spline axles

Chassis
Front Suspension: GM stock upper and lower control arms, stock spindles, QA1 shocks
Rear Suspension: 32-inch ladder bars, QA1 coilovers
Brakes:10-inch rotors with one-piston calipers (front), 11-inch drum brakes (rear)

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Billet Specialties Street Lite 15×3.5 (front), Billet Specialties Street Lite 15×14 (rear)
Tires: Mickey Thompson Sportsman 26×7.50-15LT (front), Mickey Thompson Sportsman 31×18.5-15LT (rear)

Interior
Carpet: PUI Products
Seats: GM stock (front), GM stock narrowed (rear)
Door Panels: GM stock
Steering: GM stock column, Billet Specialties steering wheel
Shifter: GM stock
Dash: GM stock, ’68 Camaro console
Instrumentation: Classic Instruments gauges
Rollbar and Cage: four-point mild steel, Cuchy Chassis (Lancaster, PA)

Exterior
Body and Paint: Duane Mellinger, Superior Paint & Collision (New Holland)
Paint: PPG ’08 Toyota Impulse Red Pearl basecoat/clearcoat
Hood: Goodmark steel 2-inch cowl induction
Grille: Aftermarket billet
Bumpers: GM stock

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