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Sensory overload: amazing interior, stunning exterior, flawless execution

8 April 2016


If you want to build a car that stands out, you’ve got to be willing to take a few risks

Painting a muscle car pink is a big call. You’ve got to be prepared to take some abuse for it. But the owner of this flawless ’67 Camaro had a plan to build something that stood out, and that was built to such an exceptionally high standard, that those knockers would be very few and far between.

Aucklander Nick Fremaux is a mechanic by trade, and has played with all sorts of cars over the years, starting off with a 1957 Chev he bought as a youngster for just $330! It was nine years ago now that he decided he’d like to build himself the car he’s always been dreaming of, and that was a first-generation Camaro. Little did he know at the time of purchasing a shell and a trailer-load of parts that it would be another eight years before ‘the piece of shit’ (as his daughters called it at the time) would be completed. 

After stripping the car back to bare metal, the choice of who to trust with reviving the panel and paint work was a difficult one. After issues with other painters, Nick handed the task to John Lisle at Cascade Auto Refinish, and couldn’t have been happier with his decision. Wanting two-tone to emphasize the iconic hipline of the car, Nick made the dangerous decision to use a raspberry colour top along with a custom silver bottom. While there was a risk of making the car too feminine, I think you’ll agree that the result is far from it, and more importantly, it stands out as Nick wanted. It’s a look that is appreciated by all ages, genders and walks of life, and the amount of comment it draws pretty much exceeds anything else around.

The only downside is that with the paintwork being of such high quality, Nick knew he couldn’t just throw the old parts back onto it. Instead, the whole level of the car had been drastically lifted beyond his first expectations. But rather than get upset, he embraced it, and took all the required steps to make the car as impressive as he could. Ideally he’d have loved to see the car with a Scott Shafiroff 434ci crate motor. But with the budget rapidly disappearing on the rest of the built, he decided to design everything so that it could handle that power at a later date, and just keep the stock 350 for now. Not knowing the origin of the motor though, he stripped it down and freshened it up, complete with slightly oversized pistons and a mild cam. 

It’s not the internals of the motor that impress people though, it’s how the set-up looks. With plenty of painted items, along with chromed and polished pieces including an Edelbrock manifold and Holley carb, the engine looks like it’s got a million horsepower, even if it doesn’t. The Turbo 350 trans behind it has been built to accept that extra power whenever it arrives, as has the Diffs R Us–built nine-inch fitted out the back. As with the rest of the undercarriage, the diff was detailed before being fitted. The quality of finish you see up top has been followed through to the entire undercarriage. But make no mistake, the car was only ever built to be a driver, not a trailer queen. In fact it hasn’t been on one yet. 

With the unique exterior colour choice, Nick was torn when it came time to trim the interior. All recommendations lead to Kelly at Stitches Upholstery though, and that’s where he went. “I told Kelly basically what I wanted, as far as design of the door panels and seats went, and he and his team delivered. I couldn’t have been happier with the end result, the carpet, hoodliner, seats and belts are all the same colour, they nailed it,” he says, and he’s right. If ever an interior of a car was a standout feature, that’s the case here. The amount of work that has gone in to stitching the custom-coloured leather together is mind-blowing, as is the final result.
Nick had sourced the seats from a BMW, and had cut them down to suit, prior to dropping the car to Kelly and the team for trimming. They add a modernised touch, but don’t look out of place as many modern seats do. 

The rest of the interior is just as high class, with a Flaming River tilt column, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Dakota Digital gauges and a Pioneer audio system to top it all off.
As with a few other parts on the car, the choice of wheels was one that was made a few times. After not being happy with the first set, the car now rolls on 18×7- and 20×8.5-inch Fooses, the big and little combo suiting the look of the car perfectly. With the beautifully coated three-inch exhaust hanging under the car, ideally Nick says it’d ride a little higher than it currently does with the King Springs and Heidts drop-spindle combo. But since we don’t have to drive it and negotiate our way over speed bumps in it, we’d love to see it even lower. For now at least, he’s not going to change it though, as not only does it look good, but it rides great too. Even his daughters, who didn’t hold back on what they thought of the car when it first arrived home, have conceded that it really is a work of art, and are rightly proud of it, and what their dad has achieved.  

Nick himself is over the moon with the outcome as well, and besides the looming engine upgrade, there really isn’t a thing on the car he’d change. That’s not something many other car builders can or do say, and is a testament to Nick’s dedication and efforts to ensure he chose the right people to be involved with the project. Well done to all involved, you built a pink muscle car, and you pulled it off flawlessly! 

  • Engine: 350ci small-block Chev, .030 oversize pistons, stock rods, stock crank, mild cam, Holley 670cfm Street Avenger carb, Edelbrock Air Gap manifold, Carter fuel pump, Carter fuel pressure regulator, braided fuel lines, MSD ignition, MSD coil, MSD leads, Hooker Super Comp headers, three-inch exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers, alloy radiator, custom fan shroud, Billet Specialties overflow tank, custom power steering reservoir
  • Driveline: Turbo 350 trans, 2400rpm stall converter, shift kit, nine-inch diff, 28-spline axles, 3.7:1 ratio, LSD head, heavy-duty universals, custom driveshaft
  • Suspension: King front springs, re-set leaf springs, Koni adjustable shocks, heavy-duty sway bar, Heidts drop spindles, Energy Suspension bushes
  • Brakes: Wilwood tandem master cylinder, nine-inch booster, Wilwood proportioning valve, Wilwood 13-inch front rotors, Wilwood six-pot front calipers, Wilwood 12-inch rear rotors, Wilwood four-pot calipers
  • Wheels/tyres: 18×7- and 20×8.5-inch Boyd Coddington Junk Yard Dog rims, 215/40R18 and 255/30R20 Falken tyres
  • Exterior: Shaved handles, shaved locks, shaved body mouldings, Spies Hecker custom paint, billet grille
  • Interior: BMW E46 front seats, Flaming River tilt steering column, Billet Specialties steering wheel, B&M Quicksilver shifter, Dakota Digital gauges, Dynamat, full custom leather re-trim, custom Mercedes carpet, Pioneer audio
  • Performance: Approx. 300hp

Driver profile

  • Occupation: Mechanic
  • Previously owned cars: ’57 Chev Bel Air, VS Commodore, HK Monaro and many others
  • Dream car: This one with 500 or 600hp
  • Why the Camaro?: I’d always wanted a first-generation Camaro
  • Build time: Eight years
  • Length of Ownership: Nine years
  • Nick thanks: John Lisle at Cascade Auto Refinish, Kelly at Stitches Upholstery, Liza at Chucks, Lee at Diffs R Us, Nick at Hyper, Pro Parts, Tim at Shores NZ, Pioneer Equipment, Autolign, BG Wheels, Lex Greaves, PG Hydraullics, Tony at Manukau Auto Electrical, Lance at Freelance Automotive

This article originally appeared in NZV8 Issue No. 95. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: