The Midas Thing - A Pro Touring Gold Standard on a Budget. Kind Of. By David Freiburger Photography: David Freiburger Everything this guy touches turns to powdercoating. See, Bob Bertelsen owns A Plus Powder Coaters in Columbiana, Ohio, but the business venture is clearly a front for his automotive habit, one that started with his mom's hand-me-down '67 Camaro and ended (so far) with this dipped-in-cool ragger. He found this unit stuffed in the back of a dusty warehouse, and when the tarp was pulled back, all that was left was a tub and subframe, and it needed quarters and trunk floor at that. But as you've seen, a convertible First Gen is worth salvaging at nearly any cost these days. We've seen guys pay stupid money to restore these things, and Bob's deal was no different, at least until he started to ladle out the homegrown trickery. He and pals Tom McKenzie and Rick DeSalvo did stuff like smooth the firewall, add PT Cruiser door handles and coves, flush-mount the antenna and gas door, hide a third brake light in the spoiler, smooth all the bumper bolts, cut the valance for exhaust tips, minitub the car, and fab their own single-hoop-style bar. Can't call it a rollbar in good conscience. That was all the look-close stuff, but we admit that the initial grab was the unique combination of DuPont Chromabase Mazda Sunburst Yellow and a custom-mixed beige leather interior that perfectly matches the engine color. Even deeper, you see that the powdercoated yellow parts--which includes much of the suspension--perfectly matches the painted parts. How? As a pro coater, Bob revealed his secret: First he picked the yellow powdercoating color he wanted to use, then had local Color Car Auto Body Supply do a spectrum analysis to match the color, which tuned out to be virtually identical to the Mazda tone. The engine-to-interior match was exactly the opposite: First he picked a leather from Ron Garrod at Garrod's Upholstery, who did the entire interior, then he sent a sample to his powdercoating supplier to have the color matched. That was a pulling-strings deal that average dudes might not swing without a big bill. Regardless, it matches nicely, as do the painted beige parts in custom DuPont Chroma One with a 50 percent flattener. But it's not like we've never seen a clean Camaro before. The clincher was the passenger-seat time, where we were impressed that the 383 small-block actually ran crack-snappy with twin Weber sidedraft carbs on an '80s-style B&M hat atop a Weiand 142ci mini blower. The entire induction is from swap meets and eBay, and while we hooked Bob up with the source for EFI throttle-bodies to replace the Webers (www.momarefi.com or www.twminduction.com), we're not sure we'd mess with that. And we'd live forever with the suspension, a complete conversion to '85 Corvette independent jounce and rebound at both ends. It's a kit from Wayne Due's Chassis Shop (www.waynedue.com), and according to Wayne, '85 is the prime C4 setup because the earlier versions don't have available trick brakes and the newer ones have ugly ABS pickup points. As for brakes, Bob's Camaro 100-to-0's with Stainless Steel Brakes 13- and 11-inch rotors behind those Billet Specialties 17x8 and 17x11 GTX-01 shiners. The Vette rear was purchased on eBay and has a Dana 44 centersection with 4.11 gears, a nice match to the Borg-Warner T56 six-speed, also an eBay score. So the bottom line is that this is a mostly homebuilt Pro Touring rig that motors as brightly as it shines, maybe more so. But our Crusher Camaro is faster. Sorry, jealously got the better of us. HR Quick Inspection Bob Bertelsen Columbiana, OH '67 Chevy Camaro RS Bob did all the coating and assembling in his own shop. A kit from Wayne Dues eases installation of the coated Corvette IRS. The openings of the fenderwalls were moved to better line up with the C4 suspension. ENGINE Type: 383ci small-block Chevy Block: OE 350, four-bolt mains Oiling: Stock powdercoated oil pan Crankshaft: Eagle 3.75-stroke with 350 mains Connecting Rods: Eagle H-beam Pistons: Forged, 8.5:1 in a kit from Eagle Cylinder Heads: Canfield (made in nearby Canfield, Ohio) aluminum, 2.055/1.60 valves Camshaft: Comp Cams, 0.480/0.501 lift, 230/244 duration at 0.050, 113-degree LDA Induction: Powdercoated Weiand 142ci mini-blower, B&M carb hat, twin Weber sidedraft carbs Exhaust: Bent by Calvin's Service Station Built By: Bill Davis, Bob Bertelsen DRIVETRAIN Transmission: Borg-Warner T56 six-speed rebuilt by Ken Thomas of KTRE, B&M shifter, Weir Hot Rod Products bellhousing, Wilwood throwout bearing, Fine Lines stainless plumbing Rear Axle: '85 Corvette Dana 44, 4.11:1 gears. CHASSIS Front Suspension: Wayne Due's Chassis Shop complete subframe with '85 Corvette IFS, Afco coilovers with 400-pound springs, Stainless Steel Brakes 13-inch rotors, Fine Lines stainless plumbing, suspension powdercoated Rear Suspension: Homemade subframe connectors, Wayne Due's Chassis Shop brackets to hang an '85 Corvette IRS, Afco coilovers, 550-pound springs, Stainless Steel Brakes 11-inch rotors, Fine Lines stainless plumbing The rollbar was fabbed from two tubes welded to form an elliptical shape. When was the last time you saw this induction setup? Bob plans to update it with EFI throttle-bodies to replace the Webers. Note the inner wheelwells with modified openings to match the location of the Corvette suspension. Bob purchased new PT Cruiser door handles and gaskets from the Chrysler dealer as well as a pair of doorskins so he could cut out the coves and put them into the used doors from eBay. WHEELS & TIRES Wheels: 17x8 and 17x11 Billet Specialties GTX-01 Tires: Bridgestone Potenza RE 730 in 225/45-17 and 285/40-17 BODY & PAINT Paint: DuPont 2640S epoxy prime and seal, DuPont 1120S Euro High Build Primer, final coat of DuPont 2610S prime and seal; ChromaBase Mazda Sunburst Yellow, DuPont 7800S High Glamor Clear, wet-sanded with 1,000- then 2,000-grit; details powdercoated by A Plus Powder Coaters Body: Smoothed firewall, wiper motor relocated under left fender, PT Cruiser door handles and coves, remote door locks, flush LED third brake light in rear spoiler, flush remote gas filler, exhaust cutouts in rear valance, smoothed bumper bolts, front inner fenderwell openings moved to align with Corvette suspension, minitubbed in the rear Interior: Custom GM Medium Beige leather by Ron Garrod of Garrod's Upholstering, Pontiac Grand Am front seats minus headrests, narrowed stock rear seat, custom console by owner, Auto Meter gauges, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Flaming River tilt column, Vintage Air heat and A/C, custom hoop Top: Black Hartz cloth with glass rear window from Snyder's Restoration The trunk got the full street-rod treatment. Fuses and such are hidden behind the oval, removable panels secured with Velcro. The console was fabbed from 16-gauge steel, then powdercoated for rust-protection before being skinned in leather. The Grand Am seats fit well. With no leaf springs to get in the way, Bob was able to tuck the exhaust higher in the quarter-panels and cut reliefs in the rear valance. Note the smoothed gas door and bumper bolts.