Jireh Customs in the News

Robb Report Collection Magazine
November 2009 Issue
From A to Z28
by Larry Bean

For proof of the enduring appeal of the first-generation Chevy Camaros, look no further than the latest generation, the 2010 model. “The new Camaros have merged a lot of the ’67, ’68, and ’69 styling,” observes Steve Reinero, owner and president of Camaro Restorations in Granite Bay, Calif. “Chevy has taken a combination of features from those first three years to create something that will appeal to the masses.”

Reinero refers to those early Camaros as over-the-hump cars. “They appeal to people who’ve made it over the hump,” he says. “Maybe you had one when you were in high school and had to get rid of it because you were going to college or moving into an apartment. But now you’ve made it over the hump, and you’re able to get that car back—or at least one like it. Or maybe it was your dream car when you were in high school, and now you’re finally able to have one.”

For those who have a Camaro and are planning to restore it, or want to acquire a Camaro that will need some work, Reinero and two other restorers who specialize or have specialized in Camaros—Mike Robertson, owner of Jireh Customs in Decatur, Ala.; and Anthony Abiuso, owner of Camaro Crazy Restorations in Lindenhurst, N.Y.—offer the following advice.

Know why you want a Camaro.
Are you planning to acquire and restore the car as an investment? Or do you intend to display it, race it, or just drive it around town?

Reinero tells of a client in Los Angeles who sent him a car to work on this summer. “He bought the car sight unseen from a guy in Texas and had it for less than a week in L.A. when he sent it to me. It had been completely restored when he bought it, and it was immaculate when he sent it to me. But he said, ‘It’s not perfect,’ and he wanted it perfect. He wanted to take it from a 10 to an 11.”

It turns out the new owner was never going to drive the car; he just intended to put it in his garage and show it to his friends, and then in a couple of years he would sell it and make some money from his investment. “It had to be perfect if it was going to be in his showroom,” says Reinero. “He wasn’t concerned with how it rides, just how it looks. It was sound mechanically, but the previous restorer wasn’t concours detail-oriented.”

Get a car that suits your purpose.
If you’re acquiring and restoring the car as an investment, says Abiuso, the first-generation models—’67, ’68, ’69—generally are the most valuable. “Any limited edition will have more investment value—the Super Sports, convertibles, pace cars,” he says.

Reinero notes that the Z28s and SS models from 1970 and ’71 have the same engine and offer the same performance as the ’69, but that they tend to have lower prices. “Though,” he adds, “at this year’s Barrett-Jackson auction, a ’71 Camaro went for over $100,000.”

If the car is a rarity, says Robertson, consider restoring it to its original condition, keeping as many original parts as possible. “If it’s a more common car, then you might want to restore it into a street racer or a custom show car, because it might be more valuable that way,” he says. “But if it’s a Yenko [an extremely rare, modified, high-performance Camaro that was sold exclusively through Yenko Chevrolet of Canonsburg, Pa.], you don’t want to go hot-rodding it.”

Keep it real.
A reproduction can be valuable, says Robertson, if it’s well done. “A pristine reproduction can sell for $100,000 because of the quality and craftsmanship put into it,” he says.

Nevertheless, Abiuso prefers a Camaro that is an original. “The reproduction parts are all very good, but there’s nothing like the original parts,” he says. “They might have a little bit of marking that can make all the difference. As long as they’re not totally gone, as long as they still look good, the more original parts you have, the better.”

For ego gratification, as well as investment purposes, says Reinero, original definitely is better than reproduction. “You want to be able to boast about the car having its original parts,” he says.

Negotiate the buying price.
As with a home, says Reinero, the car’s advertised price is not necessarily the selling price. “Sellers can throw the prices out there to go fishing,” he says. “Find out what the car last sold for, and find out what other cars like it are selling for.” If you plan to buy a car at auction, Reinero says, set a bid price and stick to it. “Be willing to let the car go if it’s not the right price,” he says.

Reinero recalls how at last year’s Barrett-Jackson auction, he had his eyes on a Camaro that he figured was worth about $50,000 and would be a great deal at any price around $40,000. “I was outbid at $41,000,” he says. “I stayed where I was going to stay.”

Don’t be fooled by a fake.
Reinero says that the demand for early Camaros has flooded the market with buyers who are looking to make a quick profit by flipping the cars, as you would a house. That prospect, he says, has led to many instances of fraud and deception. “With the Camaro you can fake it all,” says Reinero. “There are reproduction parts, fake trim tags and VIN numbers, and even blank documentation forms.” Be sure, therefore, that the parts numbers match and that the documentation is authentic. “It can be a really great car,” says Reinero, “but if the numbers don’t match, the reality is the original motor is gone.”

Abiuso advises contacting one of the various Camaro clubs nationwide to help guide you through the documentation process.

Know what the car will need.
“Determine what you want to spend and then expect to spend more,” says Abiuso. “Often the frame will have to be repaired, or the floor will be rusted and have to be fixed, and these might be costs that you didn’t anticipate.”

He notes that the car’s location can affect its condition. “I just got an eBay car from Oregon, and it’s rust-free,” says Abiuso. “I guess there are some dry spots in Oregon. Here on Long Island a lot of cars are near salt water, so there’s a lot of rust. And in the Northeast in the winter, there’s a lot of salt on the roads that will rust cars.”

Select the right restoration shop.
Collecting price quotes is not necessarily the best strategy, says Reinero. “You don’t want a shop offering you a low bid and then trying to make margins,” he says. “You don’t want them minimizing the hours on the job.”

Robertson agrees. “Some shops are in the business just for the business,” he says. “Other guys who have shops are passionate about what they do. That’s the type of shop you want.” That’s the type of shop Robertson runs. “I used to work in a plant where I’d look at the clock and it would be 4 o’clock,” he says. “And then I’d look again, and it would be 4:30. It would take forever to get to 5. Now my wife calls me at 7 and wants to know when I’m coming home for dinner.”

Get involved in the job.
“We want people to do work on their own cars, even if it’s just cleaning the dust from the vents,” says Abiuso. “That’s less that we have to do, and it allows us to concentrate on more complicated things, like whether the alignment is right.”

print coppied from www.robbreportcollection.com/From-A-to-Z28

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