By Rich Truesdell
Sitting in the Berghoff Cafe in O'Hare's Terminal C, sipping one of their excellent root beers, I am enjoying the time before my flight home to reflect on what I saw at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals here in the Windy City this past weekend. The event was the single best assembly of muscle cars in one place I have ever seen. From the spiritual home of Nickey Chevrolet and Grand Spaulding Dodge, the show presented the definitive assembly of American supercars from the Sixties and Seventies.
This included what might be the most comprehensive assembly of cars from Yenko Chevrolet in Pennsylvania--including three Corvair Stingers, among them the very first example--and Baldwin Chevrolet on Long Island, where dealer specials were the order of the day. More than 30 cars spanned the entire 50 year history of Hurst, with "Miss Golden Shifter" Linda Vaughn and Hurst legend Jack "Doc" Watson signing memorabilia both days. There was muscle car eye candy no matter where you turned. I even had the opportunity to conduct a video interview with Diane Sox, widow of the legendary Ronnie Sox. (We plan to post the interview soon.)
Organizer Bob Ashton put his heart and soul into this event, which promises to grow even larger next year. Word will no doubt spread that this is a must-attend event for muscle car and Corvette owners. Ashton has already warned that the Corvettes in particular, culled from Bloomington Gold and top-flight NCRS-certified cars, have set the bar high for next year's invitational.
For me, there were two highlights of the show. First was the 1968 Dodge Charger, which was entered in the judging competition by Ken Mosier of Finer Details outside Indianapolis.
This fresh restoration scored a perfect 1,000 points in the Platinum Pick Concours. From bumper to bumper, the car was absolute perfection. Since time did not allow for a post-event photo shoot, consider the photo on the previous page a teaser: We're planning a follow-up in the pages of Automotive Traveler.
The second highlight of the show was Terry Litzeau's Cherokee Camaro. The Cherokee was a one-off, production-based 1967 Camaro concept that was restyled by the studio headed up by the legendary Bill Mitchell.
Together with the father of the original Z-28 Camaro, Vince Piggins, he added a 396-cubic-inch V8 topped off with a Moon intake sporting four two-barrel Weber carburetors visible through the clear center section of the car's unique fiberglass hood. The Cherokee Camaro is clearly one of a kind. Check out its details and options:
The Cherokee Camaro's ownership has been traced all the way back to its GM show car days, when it served as the pace car for three races in the 1967 Can-Am Championship. Bill Mitchell arranged for it to be sold to his good friend Augie Pabst, of Pabst Brewing fame, preventing it from sharing the fate of so many show cars: an appointment with the crusher.
Three years later, Pabst traded in the Cherokee Camaro to Vilter Chevrolet in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. There, it was bought by Dan Frank, who owned an auto trim shop, the Custom Top Shop.
Frank kept the car from 1973 to 1987, ditching the special 396 and installing a 427 Corvette motor in its place. In 1987, the car moved on to its third owner, Ed Mauer, another auto trimmer. While in Mauer's pos-session, it received another heart transplant, a date-correct 396 that, like its original incarnation, was decked with the four Weber setup on a Moon intake.
It was at this time that Terry Plateau learned of the car through family friends. After Mauer suffered some health setbacks, Plateau competed with a well-known Chevy dealer/ collector to acquire the car in 2006.
With the exception of the missing Marko Shark-style wheels, the vehicle is exceptionally original. Plateau flirted with selling it at the 2009 Mecum Spring Auction and now shows the car at selected events such as the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, where it is always a crowd pleaser.
It certainly caught my eye. We're pleased to present it here, where Camaro and Chevy enthusiasts can appreciate its special place in automotive history. AT