Take a memorable automobile, it’s original owner and a body shop owner who’s younger than the car, and you have a recipe for rebuilding a classic car.
After returning from Vietnam in 1969, Bastrop native Bill Galler took his savings and started car shopping. When he saw the 1969 Camaro convertible in the showroom of Ryan Chevrolet in Monroe, he realized it was his dream car.
Within the next two months, the special edition Indianapolis Pace Car will look just like it did the day he drove it home.
“I’ve kept it all these years, hoping there would come a time when I could do something with it,” Galler said. “I’m at that point in life where I figured if I was going to, now is the time.”
He drove the car during his time at LSU and for many years afterwards. Several years ago – he cannot remember exactly when – he parked it as his parents’ home in Bastrop, hoping the day would come when he could restore the car’s former glory.
When he made the decision earlier this year to begin work on the project, Galler decided to have it done locally.
“I could have taken it or had it sent somewhere where restoring cars like this is all they do,” Galler said. “I decided we aren’t going to build it to put in a museum, that I’m going to drive it as long as I can drive. When we got to that point, I decided to have the work done right here.”
George Brown and Brown’s Auto Care Center are overseeing work to rebuild the 350-cubic inch V-8 motor and automatic transmission in the car. Thomas Drinkwine and his staff at Bayou Customs are handling the bodywork. Drinkwater will use the same Dover white paint for the body with Hugger Orange used to paint the rally stripes on the hood and trunk of the 3,675 cars built with the Z-11 option package in 1968 and 1969.
“I’m thankful Mr. Galler is giving us the opportunity to do this,” Drinkwine said. “This is one of the most classic Camaros ever built, and will give us an opportunity to show him and others who will see the car what type of work we can do.”
Galler said he expects to take re-delivery of the car before the end of the year. He also said he has plans on what he’ll do when he does.
“There are some friends I used to go cruising around the courthouse with back then,” Galler said. “We’ll burn rubber at all four corners just like we did back then. Hopefully the police won’t be too rough on an old man and his friends.”