September 12, 2016
A CAMARO PICKUP? YES, AND IT’S A BEAUTY!…
by Jim Corbran, Automotive Columnist
No, it hasn’t been Photoshopped. This 1968 Chevy Camaro has literally been brought back from the dead by North Tonawanda’s Joe Lovullo, and turned into a fairly accurate replica of the 1968 Chevrolet Caribe concept car which was built and shown by General Motors back in ’68. That’s Joe with his labor of love in the photo at the top of the blog
Lest you think this is some slap-together kit car — think again. The custom pickup bed was fabricated in Lovullo’s garage from real, live metal, using only poster-sized reproductions from the book The Great Camaro as a reference, plastered on the shop wall. “It was look at the wall, make an adjustment, look at the wall, make an adjustment,” he recently told me. And that went on from 2009 until 2014 when it was pretty much finished. He bought the car, which he told me was so rusted-out it probably should have been scrapped, from a seller in Dayton, Ohio. And then got right to work
Although the car is, for all intents and purposes, finished, when asked just how long the transformation took Lovullo answered, “1,111 hours… so far. I guess there’s always something else to be done.” And that 1,111 hours is even more impressive when you glance at the detailed notes he kept on his time and expenses while working on the project.
“I assume this started life as a convertible,” I said with confidence, only to be told “No, it was a coupe which I cut the roof off of.” Holy cow, no wonder it took 1,111 hours! Lovullo also replaced all of the floor boards, which were nothing but rust, and added a Camaro convertible windshield and A-pillar he found at a Carlisle, Pa. swap meet. The seats are from a 1969 Camaro, as they were a better match for the seats in the concept car photos.
Under the hood, replacing his Camaro’s original six-cylinder engine, is a big block Chevy 454, connected to a Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission. Does this combination get a good EPA mileage rating? “In the two years since the car was finished I’ve put 378 miles on the odometer,” Lovullo told me, “so no, gas mileage wasn’t a factor in deciding on a powertrain.”
The car is a real head-turner, and looks factory made. Would he do it again? “I invented a lot of new curse words during this project, “ he told me. “My wife kept saying ‘This was supposed to be fun.’”
Now that it’s done (for the most part), I hope it was fun. And Lovullo can get on to the other Camaros lurking about in his garage in various states of undress.
The world could use a few more good curse words.
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