How do I write this one up without turning into a groveling, slobbering mess of a human being? This isn’t just a 1970 Chevrolet Camaro. This isn’t a re-creation. This is the real-deal, verified and signed, validated and proven Grumpy’s Toy VIII, the July 1970 Hot Rod Magazine cover car, the beast that was ready to give Grumpy’s Toy IV, the 1967-turned-1968 Camaro that he had bought off of Penske Racing, a bit of a rest. This is the car that was wheeled by Dave Strickler. This was the car that was rented out to Bruce Larson. This is the car that went to Richie Zul, and yes, it’s the car that was running 1975 model-year sheetmetal and wore the bigger back window. Even Dennis Ferrara was behind the wheel of this machine. It’s the real deal.
This is the only form of second-gen F-body that, in my mind, trumps the Baldwin-Motion Phase III cars on sheer mechanical violence and bold-faced intimidation. This was Jenkins at work, picking through the GM parts catalog for items like a heavy-duty 12-bolt and the 5.13 gear set with Posi-Traction. This was Camaro SS396 rear leaf spring packs mounted inboard. This was the Camaro fuel tank painted white and fitted with a Carter pump. Why white? To keep the fuel cooled down and to reflect the heat. This was lots of work in the front clip to make sure that the demon lump that Jenkins was going to drop in wouldn’t just twist everything into funny shapes, sub frame connectors, and torque straps on the engine just to make sure that the eight ports of violence didn’t do damage when the lights dropped.
Now, look at the car itself. What’s missing from a street Camaro of the time? Outside, it would be license plates and DOT-legal tires. Inside, that’s the nicest Camaro interior we’ve seen in forever and most of the mods would be considered Day Two stuff. It’s a race car, make zero mistake about that. But this was the origin of Pro Stock, and there is very little about this Camaro that doesn’t equate to any given street-going split-bumper. Then again, very few of those machines are both this clean and this violent. There’s a laundry list of reasons why Jenkins is held in such high standard in the drag racing community. And there are a thousand more reasons why a car like Grumpy’s Toy VIII should get your heart racing, brand loyalty be damned.