California Father and Son Restore a 67 Camaro
Lindsay Lohan’s movie Herbie Fully Loaded may not be at the top of your Netflix queue, but collision repair pros John and Paul Morrow get a kick out of watching the flick. That’s because they, along with their beloved 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, are in the movie.
John and Paul Morrow are a son-and-father team, respectively, who work for Hall Associates “The Shop”—a collision, mechanical and customs shop—in Torrance, Calif.
“Our car was in the backdrop of the movie. You can actually see the Camaro for about a good 40 seconds while Lindsay Lohan is getting oil sprayed on her shirt,” John Morrow chuckles. “[My dad and I] got to walk around in the background as extras and I think you only see two seconds of [us].”
“The Camaro,” as Morrow calls the car, was a nearly 30-year labor-of-love restoration. The car came home with Paul Morrow in the early ’80s after John Morrow received what his dad said were some “good grades” in school. The real reason his dad had sprung for the ride—before the young Morrow could even drive—was the hope for some classic father-son bonding time.
“In the ’50s and ’60s, my dad built race cars and raced them,” Morrow says. “When he found out I was interested in cars, he bought the Camaro because he thought it would be a car we could rebuild together.”
And that they did. So far, working side by side, they’ve invested 27 years in the project.
Morrow’s father, who now does mechanical work at “The Shop,” was working for the airlines as a heavy equipment mechanic when work began on the Camaro back in 1983. First, they had to get it running. A total rebuild of the engine ensued, and as soon as it was done and Morrow was legal to drive, he drove it as his first car to high school.
The work, and the learning, motored on for the duo. “In high school I was pulling the dents and all that. My dad was teaching me the mechanics, and I was showing him the bodywork,” Morrow says.
The car was to accompany Morrow to college where he was, naturally, planning to study collision repair. But shortly before the school year started, there was an accident.
“A kid squealed out of a side street and t-boned the side of the Camaro. I said a few words that can’t be published,” Morrow recalls, laughing.
That gave Morrow his first school project. “The accident kind of cut my teeth in the collision repair industry,” he says. But he didn’t stop at repairing the damage. With his dad’s help, he set out to customize the Camaro. “I built a couple of the interior quarter panels—completely custom made,” he says. “I replaced the total [front] exterior quarter panel section. And I custom-made some fender flares on the rear quarter panels to facilitate bigger rims.”
Eventually, the men removed the rebuilt engine and dropped in a new Blown 350 Supercharged one. Morrow estimates that he and his father have put about $10,000 to $15,000 in parts and labor into the car, and that it’s probably worth about $30,000. The money aspect of the project has always taken a backseat to the father-son partnership.
“We never got into the money portion because it was more sentimental than anything,” he says. “If we both weren’t working on it [together], it sat. I don’t think [a father and son] could get any tighter. It’s kind of hard to put into words. We just really got along.”
From banging out dents in the garage as a kid, to hitting the big screen, to creating custom car parts at “The Shop,” Morrow and his father have walked a shared path through the automotive industry for years. But Morrow has never thought of his career choices as following in his father’s footsteps. Putting it simply, he says, “I guess all sons want to be like their fathers.”