Camaro Restoration Project Builds Father - Son Relationship
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Camaro Restoration Project Builds Father  -  son Relationship

Five years ago, Tony Vercillo was on his way to visit a friend in Yucaipa when he saw a rusty 1985 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta(without Car DVD) sitting in a field.

An avid muscle car enthusiast, it was only natural for the Yorba Linda resident to take a closer look. When he did, he was surprised at what he saw

“It was nothing but a shell. A nasty, rusty shell. It didn’t have an engine, no transmission, nothing. It was just a shell. Really nasty,” he said.

“But I fell in love with the body because it was straight, there was no damage to the body. I imagined in my head, oh my gosh, if I just paint that and clean it up it would be so nice.”

He offered the owner $400 and the deal was made.

This would not be the 57-year-old’s first restoration job, but this one would be different – he was looking for a way to spend more time with his son Nick.

“For 40 years, I was building engines. I’ve had a muscle car like this every few years for the last 40 years,” Vercillo said. “I’ve always built them, restored them and then three or four years later, I would sell them. This is a craft I’ve had since I was a kid. I just know how to do it.”

In many ways, Vercillo and his son could be considered polar opposites. But when Nick said he wanted a car for his 16th birthday, his dad proposed a deal:

Nick would get a car, but he had to help his father restore it.

That car would be the ’85 Camaro. And father and son would work together to bring it back to glory.

“It’s a great way to find some really good time to spend together,” Tony Vercillo said. “He picked out all the colors, all the interior, the tires, the wheel combinations. He picked out all the electronics and that was great because that was part of the whole idea. I did all the mechanical work. so everything with the engine, the tranny, the suspension. All of that I did.”

Teens generally may start off driving the family’s old minivan or a super safe sedan, but not Nick. Dad loaded the Camaro with a supercharged 383 stroker engine, yielding 550 horsepower.

The only thing the car lacks: air conditioning.

“Air conditioning robs about 20 horsepower,” said Tony Vercillo, a professor at Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona, whose schedule mostly limited his car restoration work to the weekends.

It took father and son three years to complete the project, finishing up around a year and a half ago – although the tweaking never ends.

“These things are temperamental. You have to constantly watch it. Every two years it’s due for smog, which is a pain,” said Tony Vercillo.

These days, Nick Vercillo, now 19 and a student at Santiago Canyon College, drives the Camaro out for special occasions – it’s perfect for date nights, he says.

And he plans to work on a future project with his dad: restoring an old Ferrari or Maserati.

“I literally knew nothing about cars and now I know a very good amount about them,” Nick Vercillo said. “It was definitely a good experience. A lot of my interests are a lot different than his, so this is actually something we can come together on and both really enjoy.”

The two also customized it with an automatic transmission, a six-speaker stereo system with a slide-up Car DVD player and a 2,500-watt amplifier, and a neon yellow LED strip along the side of the car.


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