Many times, as family members grow, hand-me-downs become a part of daily life. All to often, the recipient of those hand-me-downs does everything they can to make sure their friends don’t find out about the dirty little secret. But then again, sometimes, the recipient proudly announces that fact. That’s the case with Tyler Harris, and his hardcore project, this ’79 Camaro Berlinetta.
“Back in September 1978, my father, Mark, started working at the GM Plant in Doraville, Georgia. By December of that year, he picked out all the options he wanted on a ‘79 Camaro Berlinetta,” Tyler stated. To save money after the gas crunch of the ‘70s, dad ordered the gas-sipping 305 small-block instead of the larger 350. He also had a Turbo 350 installed, and a 2.41-geared rearend.
“With the help of my Grandfather, Carlton, who worked as a Production Clerk in the assembly division at the GM Plant in Doraville, the order was placed. From there the vehicle was assembled and delivered in April of 1979.”
The car was Mark’s daily transportation, and after he was laid off from the plant, he started working at dealerships as a Technician. During this time, he acquired a lot of maintenance parts he might need down the road to keep the car original as possible. During this time, Tyler’s dad started to date a young lady who was actually more interested in the Camaro at first. The story goes that the two went out to lunch, started dating, and eventually got married.
Eventually, tragedy befell the Camaro. “In the late ‘80s, my mother wrecked the Camaro, putting my dad in a very emotional state once the insurance company decided to total the car,” Tyler said. Fortunately, his dad did not allow that to happen. He acquired all the new parts needed and had the body work done through a local shop. After that, it was back on the road. The car still remained a daily driver for years, that is, until the late ‘90s. That’s when Tyler’s dad decided to park it after dealing with a lot of little issues that made it not so reliable.
When Tyler reached the ripe old age of 16, he badgered his dad about getting him a car. After all, his sister got one earlier. Tyler quipped, “to my amazement, he opened the left side garage door revealing the dusty old Camaro.” With a freshly charged battery and a bit of gas in the carburetor, it fired up. It became Tyler’s car that he could drive back and forth to school, and to the job he needed to pay for gas.
After a few years, he spent some time on his project, deep-cleaning the interior, and replacing a few parts to fix her up. Unfortunately, reliability was still an issue, and it was too costly to keep on the road – at least for a 19-year-old with little automotive experience and well, no money. The car sat in the driveway under a car cover to keep the elements from beating on it too badly. Finally, in 2016, Tyler couldn’t stand the sight of it sitting outside with a now ruined $300 car cover, so he took it to a friend’s house where he was living so he could work on it in a garage.
After a few small-ish repairs, the car was insured and registered. “It’s back on the road with a pretty cool vanity tag, and is actually pretty reliable. There’s much more to come for this car,” stated Tyler. “To my dad’s dislike, I think the car deserves a bit of a warming over with a few aftermarket parts to bring that engine to life, and well, get rid of all the emissions junk they crammed into those cars back in the day.”
Tyler says that his plan is to keep the car running and driving, and eventually, when he settles down, hand it down to his son in the future.
Do you want to read about other Reader’s Hardcore Projects? All you need to do is click here. If you’re working on a project, we want to hear about it. Since we’ve started the Hardcore Project series, we have received more than a few candidates, but we still want to see more, as we can never get enough. Send us a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and we’ll make you Internet famous. You can send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Randy Bolig