Ditmar Walker's garage, and what's in it, is probably the envy of his neighborhood.
Walker, of Springfield, not only has one car that would cause a gearhead to salivate, but three. Walker has a 2007 Indy Pace Car Corvette, a 1956 Mercury Montclair lead sled and a 1969 Camaro RS.
Line all three of them up in his driveway and passersby are craning their necks and driving up onto the sidewalk. Starting them up or looking at the engines is a jaw-dropping experience.
He got the Camaro five years ago. The Chevrolet Camaro was Chevy's answer to the Ford Mustang. The mid-'60s generation cars were the pony cars. Sporty, compact and highly styled, these cars were born to run.
Car-talk legend has it that the name Camaro is a loose derivative of the French word for friend or chum. Legend also has it that when the Automotive Press asked Chevrolet officials what a Camaro was? They said it was a "small vicious animal that eats Mustangs."
The upgrades to Walker's Camaro send a "pack your lunch" message to other pony car owners. The 502 engine with dual quad carburetors (two four-barrel carburetors) never met a gas station it didn't like - but it can go like the wind.
Painted a beastly Dodge Viper Red, with all of the rally sport accompaniments, Walker's Camaro has added to his trophy collections displayed in one of his garages.
Walker said it will likely get a mirror upgrade when the fifth-generation Camaros roll off the assembly line in spring 2009.
Walker's '56 Mercury Montclair is a lead sled. No, that doesn't mean it's a very heavy car.
That's car-speak for lean and mean. All the extra side moldings are literally shaved off the car, as are the door handles. The extra spaces are filled in and the suspension is lowered. It becomes a car built for looking good but not going fast. With the lowered suspension, it would bottom out going 65 mph on the interstate.
Painted Ford Canyon Red, it is a tri-power. It has three - count 'em - three carburetors. If Walker's Camaro never met a gas station it didn't like, the Mercury owns stock in any gas station's parent company. The engine looks good, though, and it sounds good when you start it up. It came with a toolbox and cooler in a matching paint job, and the upholstered trunk is a sight to see.
"But for pure driving pleasure, nothing beats the Corvette," Walker said with a sigh. While his Mercury turns heads, the Corvette snaps them sideways.
The 2007 Corvette convertible Indianapolis 500 Official Pace car he owns is one of only 500 production replicas.
With its Atomic Orange paint and distinctive gold ribbon graphics, the small block V-8 has a powerful hum when it's driven. It has a six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission, ebony seats with embroidered "Indianapolis 500" door logos and aluminum "split-spoke" wheels.
Story published Friday, November 7, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 6 )