Donut Media Sees the Funny Side of Daily-driving a Classic Camaro
Vintage 1969 Camaro SS offers ‘magnum opus’ American muscle car experience.
It’s a question that every gearhead gets but few can answer: “If you could drive one car for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Most people might go for the latest, the fastest, or the most expensive thing they could go for. But others may go for a timeless classic. Like, say, a 1969 Chevy Camaro SS.
The ’69 Camaro isn’t a bad choice. It’s arguably the most iconic Camaro model ever, and arguably the most influential car to ever wear the badge. But as many gearheads know, cars have changed a lot in the near half-century since the ’69 was sitting in showrooms. On top of more power, more efficient engines, and a hell of a lot more safety regulations, old cars are a completely different beast to drive. For a small but few bands of maniacs (some forum members included), daily driving a classic is a joy and a badge of honor. For others, it’s a nightmare.
And that’s what this latest episode of Donut Media’s Miracle Whips tackles. At the outset, this ’69 SS isn’t exactly stock. Fat tires and aftermarket wheels poke out from the skinny fenders, and a giant air intake sticking out of the hood. Looking at the Los Angeles-based listings on DriveShare by Hagerty (think Airbnb for classics) James Pumphrey, host of Donut’s Up To Speed, says “Byron [Bowers, Miracle Whips host] liked the Lincoln. He thought it was cool, but it wasn’t his Miracle Whip,” he says. “The speed and power of the Skyline, and the vintage feel of the Lincoln. ’69 Camaro SS.”
At first, Byron is in love. “Now, the ’67 version was good,” he says. “But we can all agree that the 1969 version was the magnum opus.” Instantly, he’s in love with the smell and sound of the Camaro. He loves the spring in the suspension. He loves the way it looks, and he loves the way it throws him back in his seat.
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But pretty quickly, he sees the limitations of driving a car built before man walked on the moon. The lap belt doesn’t exactly make him feel safe. There isn’t a cupholder in sight. And the old Chevy’s stopping distance is cause for alarm. “You’ve gotta brake a whole football field for you to stop when you wanna stop in this car,” he says. There are also a number of noises and squeaks. And the big V8’s tendency to overheat has him worryingly checking gauges at every stop light.
In the end, these foibles are too much for him. “I really like this car. I mean really like it,” he says. “This is somebody’s Miracle Whip, but it’s not mine.”
For some people, daily driving a classic is more than worth the trouble. Sure, you need to check your temperature and fluids, keep a trunk full of spares, and give yourself plenty of room to brake. But it isn’t for everyone. Still, Byron’s assessment of classic muscle cars rings true to us: “In today’s Ford and Chevy rivalry. Chevy wins.”