Old School Dreams – Imagined in Study Hall Built 30 Years Later

June 10th, 2010

As a high school kid in Iowa, Craig Hull had an active mind. All the cars he lusted after were built in his head, thanks to that active juvenile imagination. Sound familiar? Oh yeah. We all did the same thing. If you were a diehard gearhead, you were hooked at an early age. You’d see the latest crop of muscle cars on the dealer’s lot and imagine how they’d look with Cragar SS wheels, big tires and big power.

As Barry White said, “Craig chose functionality over flash. Everybody loves the feel of a big-block Chevy, and this one has just enough grunt to get you in trouble.” Accessories from Edelbrock, Holley, Billet Specialties, and Doug’s make this one fun.

Craig noted, “Like every other kid my age, I poured through all the car magazines. Pro Stock was catching on and I got hooked seeing cars like Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins, Wally Booth, Richie Zul, and Joe Satmary’s ‘We Haul’ Camaro. The Baldwin-Motion Camaros from Long Island were really cool, too. And though I always liked the first gen Camaros, the ’70 and ’71 models really got my attention.” According to the various registries and enthusiast clubs, Camaro production in 1971 is reported to be in the range of 114,650 units or so. Almost 91,500 of those were basic coupes that carried a price tag of just under $2,900. Z28 production that year came in under 5,000 units, which clicked the price tag up by less than $1,000 – all in all, not a bad deal, though a bit pricey for a high school kid.

The interior was kept basically stock except for the addition of a new Hurst shifter for the Tremec six-speed transmission.

Just over 10 years ago, H&H Trailers was launched when Hull went into business with his brothers. Surrounded by Iowa farm country, Dean, Calvin, Curtis, and Craig Hull brought manufacturing jobs to the area and started a new family legacy. Curtis had an engineering background and Craig had the gift of gab, so you can guess who designs and who markets the popular line of H&H Trailers. Craig told us, “Once we had things up and running, I started traveling all over the U.S. to meet with dealers and see what the market had (and needed). Car and truck shows taught me what guys liked, and I began stumbling across all kinds of cars for sale. Eventually, I started paying more attention, noticing good deals left and right. Since I usually had a trailer behind me, the occasional acquisition became a no-brainer.”

In keeping with the ‘70s theme, Lakewood traction bars and a chrome cover are all that’s necessary to dress up the 12-bolt rear. It’s fitted with a 3.73:1 gear set for quick green light launches.

During the late ‘90s, the enterprising Mr. Hull hatched a new marketing program, which hinged on developing relationships with high performance journalists across the country. His plan was to loan them trailers for editorial evaluation, while transporting their various project cars from one shop to another. Yours truly jumped at the offer while planning some upgrades for “Project X” from a prior editorial lifetime. As you can imagine, these two car guys hit it off and Hull became a fast friend instead of a mere “contact,” as others in the media viewed him. Along the way, Craig was introduced to Barry White, of Barry’s Speed Shop (Corona, CA), and another friendship started.

A high-capacity Powermaster alternator charges Craig’s Optima battery, in order to keep current flowing to the air conditioner and Flex-a-lite fans. The car runs cool even in the brutal Midwest heat, thanks to its aluminum core from U.S. Radiator.

Although he’s a big fan of fast “rice rocket” motorcycles and outrageous choppers, Hull also liked what Barry’s Speed Shop was turning out: hand-crafted, genuine California-style street rods and muscle cars. Barry was soon using H&H Trailers, while Craig was entertaining thoughts of his next garage occupant, destined to receive the proper massaging from Barry’s Speed Shop.

Enter the aforementioned 1971-model Camaro. Craig found it during his travels and was delighted to learn it started life as a genuine Z28. It wasn’t what you’d call a “trailer queen,” but it wasn’t something that needed major sheet metal work, either. Tony Correia, proprietor of Speed Shop Custom Paint (Corona, CA), categorized it as, “Fair, needing a bunch of dents and dings repaired.” More on that later, though.

Hull put Barry White in charge of the project, where the first order of business was to install a GM Performance Parts 502 crate motor. Keeping with the traditional theme, Craig had to have an Edelbrock manifold, Holley 780 and Doug’s Headers. For convenience (and dress-up appeal), next came a Tru-Trac pulley system from Billet Specialties. Since Hull was accustomed to cruising in his Duramax pickup, the Camaro had to have air conditioning and therefore, the big-block Chevy may have been difficult to cool. Barry remedied that with help from one of his trusted suppliers, U.S. Radiator, which offered a healthy, multi-row aluminum radiator which is helped by twin Flex-a-lite electric fans. Problem solved!

Craig noted, “Barry nailed the period stance I was looking for. As far as I’m concerned, this car absolutely needed Cragar wheels and Mickey Thompson tires.” We’d say the solid red PPG color coat adds to the appeal of this boulevard cruiser, too.

The whole premise of this project wasn’t to go hog wild and create a smooth, slammed, slick cruiser. Craig’s intention was to build a simple, period-style boulevard bruiser that was light on dazzle but big on throwback. With that in mind, the stock disc brakes were retained up front and drums were kept on the rear. It absolutely had to have Cragar SS wheels, 15 x 4 in front and 15 x 10 out back. The Cragars were mounted on 26 x 7.50/15 and 29 x 12.50/15 M/T tires, respectively. Barry’s Speed Shop made minimal suspension mods, basically freshening up everything along the way. When you think about it, aftermarket parts weren’t all that sophisticated back in 1971, anyway. And once his Lakewood traction bars were installed, Craig had just about the most popular bolt-ons available at the time, save for the Tru-Trac pulley system we mentioned earlier.

Always a fan of these split-bumper Camaros, the owner also demanded that a cowl-induction hood be part of this project. Slightly taller than the OEM version, this aftermarket hood fit the bill perfectly.

As we mentioned earlier, Speed Shop Custom Paint took care of the dings and dimples before prepping it for a smooth new red PPG two-stage color coat. Craig initially decided on period-style hockey stripes, made famous by the legendary Baldwin-Motion “SuperCars” of the era. In the end, though, he and Tony went with the solid red, instead. Once completed, Craig’s mission was certainly accomplished. Now he had a time machine, of sorts; a period-correct Z28 that could easily get up to cruising speed and take him back to those old school dreams in classic fashion.

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