On my bike ride today I saw a guy cruising around the lake in a hot rod (big block Chevelle with a blower, tubs, and slicks). I gave him the universal sign for “light up the tires” and he obliged. This got me thinking about my first love — my 1970 Camaro.
It’s a little known fact that I used to be a “grease monkey”. I bought my Camaro in 1986 for $500 and it was a mess. I had no idea what I was getting in to. But I spent countless hours under the hood and eventually rebuilt or replaced just about every part on it with my own hands.
I built three engines for it, and each one was more powerful than previous. (I also installed a nitrous oxide system for good measure)
By the time I was done, it was a pretty sweet ride — and easily the fastest car in my high school. I must have been a paradox to some of my classmates — a clean-cut, preppy-dressing honor student cruising around in a loud street rod.
A few guys from the auto shop class assumed that my parents had bought the finished car for me so they confronted me at school one day to test my knowlege. Suffice it to say that I turned the tables on them pretty quickly. I had an encyclopedic knowledge of small block Chevys and to this day I can recite all 10 displacements that the engine came in (262, 265, 267, 283, 302, 305, 307, 327, 350, 400).
I raced quite a bit on the streets of College Station (and was on a first name basis with a few of College Station’s finest) and I also raced at the track a few times.
When it was time to go to college, this car was the primary reason I chose mechanical engineering. I was naive enough to think that engineers just sat around talking about cars and engines all day. I was sorely mistaken.
These days, my interests have turned to other things and I don’t even change my own oil any more. But every once in a while I wish I could fire up the 70 Camaro, pick up Pete and Reed, and go cruising…