Finished photos by Matthew Litwin. Restoration photos
provided by Christopher Tucker.
It takes a lot of drive and determination to see a collector
car restoration project through from start to finish. Aside from the obvious
obstacles, i.e., money and time, there’s the frustration of having to repeat a
task over and over until it’s exactly right, or having to spend days repairing,
rebuilding or refinishing something that should by all accounts only take a few
Sometimes life just gets in the way, too.
The August issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines features
a Restoration Profile about Christopher Tucker’s Mountain Green 1967 Camaro SS
396 four-speed convertible. It’s a story that illustrates just how elusive the
ultimate restoration can sometimes be.
Tucker, a Tonawanda, New York-based homebuilder, did a lot
of the final finish work on the car, but it was his friend Rick Kramer who
handled the metal work, body work and paint. It was Kramer, too, who first
discovered the Camaro for sale in the pages of Hemmings Motor News back
in the 1990s, but when Kramer called about the car, it had already been sold.
A few years later, the very same car appeared in HMN for
sale again. When Kramer called, this seller, too, told him the car had already
been sold. Kramer decided to get pushy and offered to pay more than the other
guy for the Camaro. The seller told him he’d already taken a $1,000 deposit and
couldn’t back out of the deal. After a week, Kramer called again. The seller
said he hadn’t heard from the buyer but he wanted to wait another week. So
Kramer waited and when the week was up, he was the Camaro’s new owner.
Kramer spent the next few years gathering parts, like an NOS
SS hood and a pair of NOS front fenders to replace the originals, which had
been damaged in an accident. But before Kramer could begin work on the car, he
and his wife split up. As part of the divorce, the Camaro had to be sold, and
Tucker, the car’s current owner, offered to buy it. When Tucker decided it was
time to restore the Camaro, he tapped Kramer – a machinist by trade who
moonlights as a restorer – for the job. The build was fairly straightforward
until it came time to paint the car.
Matching older colors up in new basecoat/clearcoat urethane
paints can be difficult, because the paint manufacturers simply don’t have many
of the older formulas in their catalogs. If you have a perfect section of old
paint to use as a reference, many shops can scan it and come up with a match.
But if you don’t, you have to experiment.
The first time Kramer painted the Camaro (basecoat and
clearcoat), the color wasn’t right. No good. So he scuffed the paint off and
shot it again, altering the paint color slightly. This time, it looked great
inside, but when they rolled it out into the sun, it looked altogether
“Inside the shop, the car looked on the money, but when we
pushed the car outside, the color was off,” Kramer said. “Too much gold, then
too much silver… each time I swore I had it, but we were getting a slightly
Kramer sanded the car down again with 800-grade paper,
tweaked the paint formula and sprayed the car a third time. Luckily, that
proved to be the charm.
The entire restoration took about two years, and the car was
finished in 2005. It has since won awards from the American Camaro Club as well
as AACA Junior, Senior and Grand National honors.
by Mike McNessor
YOU ARE NOT JUST BUYING PARTS – YOU ARE GETTING OUR CAMARO EXPERTISE
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