Camaro for a Cause

Jan. 1, 2012
After his father was diagnosed with colon cancer, Branden Aldous restored a Camaro for his dad instead of with him.

The 1968 Camaro Branden Aldous’ father received as the last payment for his service center in 2002 was supposed to be restored as a father-son project.

Aldous, who runs a 4,400-square-foot shop called Unique Collision Center in Redmond, Ore., had planned to do the bodywork and paintwork and his dad would do the mechanical work.

That was before Aldous’ father was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer. Worried about whether his dad would survive to see the finished product, Aldous got to work. “I wanted to get the car done so he could at least drive it and see it,” he says.

Aldous bought the car from his dad and brought it to his house in autumn 2007. He had always liked Camaros and wanted one of his own, anyway. “I remember when I was little kid… [my dad] took us for a ride [in a Camaro].”

At that point the car was just a shell sitting on a jack stand. “No suspension, no doors, no windows, nothing,” he says.

When it was time to start the project, he loaded up a 30-foot trailer that held all of its parts. Then he put the Camaro on a rotisserie to work on its floor and trunk pans, and after that, he got to work replacing the worn-out suspension with new parts.

Under the hood, the Camaro has a 400-cubic-inch Chevy small block engine, which was built with H-beam connecting rods, flat-top pistons and roller rockers. The motor is balanced and blueprinted, too.

An automotive painter by trade, Aldous painted the car himself. He and a friend sprayed the car a deep black with blue pearl stripes on the deck lid.

He also had some friends who were laid off and had time to help with the project. They helped him install an all-new interior, door panels, a stereo system and wiring. The windows are tinted black, too.

It wasn’t an easy restoration project because it was hard to find the time and money to work on it.

“I almost gave up a couple times,” Aldous says.

All in all, the project took about four years to complete. He said he hasn’t yet tallied how much he spent on it, because he doesn’t want to. “I don’t think my wife would want [to know], either,” he jokes.

Aldous worked on the car on nights and weekends, and whenever he got the chance, he says. Between working at a body shop in Bend, Ore., and raising two daughters who are now 6 and 10, he was a pretty busy guy. In October of 2009 he also launched his current business.

He kept his dad in mind the entire time. By Easter weekend of 2011, Aldous was able to take his father out for a ride.

“He was pretty impressed with it,” he says.

They drove around the block in the car, which in the end was restored to its stock appearance. 

“He’s pretty excited,” Aldous says of his dad, who had surgery to have the cancer removed and is now on the mend. “He still wants to be able to drive the car.”

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