15 years ago the terms Pro-Touring and G-Machines didn’t even exist. There were simply new cars and old cars, but then something happened. Those old cars started to become cool again, I mean don’t get me wrong, they were always cool, but beginning in the mid-90’s a trend started to develop whereby classic muscle cars were being turned into some pretty serious street machines. Over the next few months Ridelust.com is going to be profiling some these uber updated G-Machines to give people not only a glance, but a little bit of insight, as to how these cars are built, who the owners are and why they decided to zig as opposed to zag.
The first car to be showcased in the new Corner Carvers section is Jerry Forthofer’s 1977 Chevrolet Camaro.
At 63 years old Jerry had been heavily involved with Porsches and the Porsche Club of America. However, upon moving to North Carolina a couple of years ago, he befriended a guy with a 1938 Chevy rod who was located in his subdivision.
Jerry states that: “We have a cruise-in every Thursday night at the local Sonic. After going there with my friend and meeting the other car nuts, I decided I needed an appropriate car.” This is how it usually starts, so guys, don’t show this article to your wives or you won’t be going anywhere.
Since Jerry had a background that was well versed in sports cars, he knew that a street rod was not going to cut it. He would need something that not only stopped well, but did great in the curves. So, after searching E-Bay he found a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro in Dallas, TX.
Jerry states that: “The car has in interesting history. It was purchased new by a guy in Indiana in 1977 and he owned it until he passed away in 2006 from cancer. The car passed on to his best friend who I talked to. The original owner showed the car the first three years he owned it. After getting bored with that, he began to drag race it. He raced it up until he was not physically able. Through racing he met his best friend. I have tons of period time slips and a car log he kept at events where he recorded the temp, humidity, temperature, tire pressures, etc. His friend never titled the car and kept it a year or so and then sold it to the guy in Texas. The car only has about 18,000 miles on the chassis. Another tidbit: The original owner was from Leesburg, Indiana which is five miles from where my wife grew up and her first teaching job!! I think we were meant to own the car!”
The Texas owner built the current 406SB motor, installed the suspension components and disc brakes. The Richmond 6-speed transmission was in the car at the time of purchase. All the suspension, brake goodies and tranny (Jerry’s not a fan of automatic transmissions) attracted him to the car. Even though the Camaro only had 300 miles on the motor and the car wasn’t properly aligned yet, Jerry decided to drive it home from Dallas to North Carolina which is a tradition for him. Then after getting the car back to North Carolina, Jerry decided to dive in… this is usually a bad idea. As with any older vehicle, especially a muscle car there is always the urge to personalize it to your taste, which is exactly what Jerry was about to do.
Jerry explains: “Here in the south, AC is a necessity so that is where it all began as I installed a Vintage Air unit. One thing led to another and I ripped the interior apart, did some minor floor repairs from various drag racing modifications, added the Auto Meter gauges, a rear view mirror with temp and compass, new carpet, new headliner, new seats, new sound system, and a AF gauge. The wiring was a nightmare so I basically ripped out everything that had been added over the years and began anew. I detailed the engine bay, installed the front-runner, a new vacuum booster, new brake lines and on and on. The UPS and Fed-Ex guys and I were tight last summer and fall. I even redid the Wilwood disc brakes, as the Texas guy had not installed E-brakes. After installing them, I discovered that 6 piston front calipers were a bolt-on to replace the four piston and so it was done. I was happy with the rear ride height but the front was too high so my son and I cut the springs to get the stance right.”
Once all the mechanics were done Jerry decided on a new paint job, finished all the additional detail work and completed the beast you see before you. Jerry, like the rest of us poor souls on the East Coast is now just waiting for the cold to subside so that this beast can return to its rightful place on the open road.