1968 L30/M20 Camaro Restoration
Click the following for a directory of more exterior photos of
the completed L30/M20 - more photos.
A goofy smile on my face after I hear the engine start
again in Ken's garage for first time in more than seven years.
Updated interior shot with restored steering wheel.
5May2004 - Ken has completed the steering wheel resto and
patched a hole in the dash (see above). Some unfortunate
nicks in the passenger door due to previous garage storage
caused that door to have to be repainted, but having the
exact paint formula previously used (thanks for saving it,
Rick Ager!) was a huge help, and an exact match resulted. A
small dent in nose was also removed. Jerry replaced the
throw-out bearing, as the previous replacement was noisy.
About ready to go now. Still having issues with a couple of
the gold interior parts, but they will have to do as-is for
23Apr2004 - Seven and a half years (yeah - that's right)
after start of the project, a photo above is of me sitting
in the nearly done L30/M20 in Ken's garage after hearing the
engine start; the first time in seven years I've heard it.
Jerry's drivetrain work was awesome, and Ken has done a
fabulous job in both detail trim/assembly workmanship as
well as the undesirable job of sorting through my dozens of
boxes of parts (with many spare or not-related junkyard-find
parts adding to the confusion of a long-distance final
assembly). Only a few more small things left to be done.
Plan is to give it its first public display at Carlisle 2004
in June - so on track for that. This the car that led to the
full definition and documented recognition of the 1967-68 L30/M20
Camaro, and - as such, also played a role in the
formation of the Camaro Research Group.
17Apr2004 - Jerry and Ken and Don have nearly completed
final assembly. Progress pictures below, showing soft
("technically incorrect") door panels, radial street tires.
and sans wheel covers. Car is to be a "show driver", so I
haven't attempted to install certain show pieces (spiral
shocks, bias ply tires, etc). Steering wheel was still
being restored as of this time, and a few trim pieces remain
to be sorted out.
The rebuilt L30 (327ci/275hp) engine in its refurbished
Looking up underneath, with re-built 12-bolt rear axle,
multi-leaf springs, and installed Gardner exhaust:
Links to other shots:
Oct2003 - After a year with Jerry and Ken, working in their
"spare" time, huge progress.
4Oct2002 - Started this little progress page three years
ago; the story is badly out-of-date, but this is all I have
time to document at the moment. The car has just been moved
to Jerry MacNeish's in Maryland for final assembly, as I've
run out of facilities and time at home to do the rest of the
work. This is the car body in 2001, the year before it was
moved to Jerry's, after extensive metal work, paint,
striping, and replacement of the vinyl roof - most of this
was done out of Rick Ager's former shop (or other area
subcontractors that he used) in Winter Springs, Florida.
Start of the restoration
I bought this car after a 3-month search, in November 1996.
I found it in Ocala, FL, in response to an Auto Trader ad
for an SS350 (I'll post a copy of the ad sometime). The car
had the SS hood and badges, but upon closer inspection was
found to be a L30/M20, 327ci/275HP 4-speed car.
After purchase I did a state-by-state title search, from
Florida to Kentucky to Virginia to Kansas. Fortunate not
to have lost the trail, I found out that the car was
originally sold to Stanley H. and Donna Grigsby in Ft.
Collins, CO, on 10 May 1968. A barely readable copy of the
Manufacturer's Statement of Origin from Chevrolet at Van
Nuys, California was included in the last title search. The
car was transferred from Chevrolet to Poudre Valley Motors
(still operating today as Dellenbach Chevrolet, 3111 S.
College Ave., Ft. Collins, CO, 80525, 970.223.4414 or
303.226.2438) on 9 Jan 68 via invoice KL143xx (last two
digits poorly legible but perhaps "35").
There were a large number of intermediate owners of the car,
but the first owners kept the car until 13 Aug 1982, more
than 14 years. I was fortunate enough to track down Stan
and Donna, and were they surprised! Since then, and a
number of phone calls and emails later, I have not only been
able to complete an understanding of the original equipment
and configuration of the car, but I have become friends with
the Grigsby's. Stan and Donna visited the car in August
1998, and Stan saw it after paint in late 2000.
Here are three photos of the British Green car when it was
brand new, showing almost all of the options as well as its
Donna and the gold interior, showing the N30 custom steering
wheel which was included in the Z23 special interior option.
It also shows the whitestripe tires, the P01 wheel covers,
and the C08 vinyl roof, as well as some of the Z21 exterior
trim that accompanied the Z22 Rally Sport option in 1968.
Donna in front of the RallySport front end.
A view of Stan polishing his new paint provides
a good view of the D91 stripe and the U63 AM radio antenna.
The car also had the AK1 custom deluxe seat/shoulder belts,
along with the pairing of the optional L30 327ci/275HP
engine and the optional M20 4-speed manual tranmission that
defined the L30/M20 combination.
After I began to strip the car to the metal it became
quickly obvious that it (unfortunately for me) required an
extensive body restoration. It is interesting how rusted the
metal was in certain areas (rear quarters, trunk pan, and
front windshield frame) - but how good it was in other areas
(floor not as bad as first feared, and subframe in very good
shape). A liberal application of original undercoating
helped keep the rust down over at least part of the car's
underbody and probably saved the car's life.
- The windshield frame was rotted out. As the previous
bondo patches were stripped off and the entire section
cleaned to bare metal it became obvious that the frame was
too rotten to easily repair by welding in patches. No 67-68
donor cars were to be found in Central FL that weren't
already in trouble with major rust. A decent 69 roof was
found, but there are differences in the front roof
structure, plus it had already been cut from the donor car
cut above a portion of the left A-pillar that needed to be
replaced. A fellow CRG member, Martin Foltz, found me what
I needed in S. California just before the donor car was
- A shocking "sunroof" version of
the car shows the body after the old windshield frame
was removed but before splicing in the new one.
- Right front view of new
windshield frame. The donor car had been extensively
stripped, but it still had a fine windshield frame
remaining. The extracted piece was awkwardly shaped and
cost a lot to truck freight from CA to FL, but was worth it
in the sense that it was a correct car (68) also built at
the LOS plant (as mine was) and was almost totally rust-free
(one small pin-hole) with all the window frame tabs intact.
(The new full rear quarters had already been installed at
this point, as had a new right rocker. I'll catch up on
documenting the intermediate work another time.)
- Right side view of new
windshield frame. The donor section was spliced as a
step joint, which is very good structurally. The outermost
upper connection was made at a factory joint at the front
corner of the drip molding. Then a notch was made farther
aft in the donor metal (where a piece appears to be missing)
to allow access for welding the original side frame to the
new piece. After this picture was taken, the overlapping
sheet metal in the roof itself was trimmed flush and the
sheet metal butt welded and ground flush on top. The
A-pillar was welded at the root in place of the old one.
Everything was tack welded in place and position verified
before the final full weld passes were made.
- There was very little major rust on the subframe. Some
usual battery acid surface pitting at the right front, but
not severe, and it'll be covered anyway. The rest of it was
pretty mint after the undercoating was removed and it was
cleaned. New tie-rod ends, ball joints, and bushings. The rebuilt front subframe, painted
semi-gloss black. At this point the subframe is nearly
finished. Looks good here but you can see a light coat of
body shop dust over the new paint.
- A very ugly underside view of
the transmission tunnel shifter hole before repair. A
previous owner had hacked a large hole in the driver's side
of the tunnel, apparently for to allow access for a custom
shifter (a typical early modification for "hot-rodded"
- Left side interior view of the
replacement transmission tunnel section at the shifter
hole. Rick Ager found a FL donor car just prior to being
crushed that still had the intact tunnel section, complete
with the underside shifter hole "window-frame" reinforcement
that you can see half-gone in the previous photo. At the
point of this photo most of the welding has been completed
from the underside; topside welding remains, along with
grinding the welds flush.