At first, the submissions only trickled in. Was our country truly in such economic doldrums that nobody cared about hot rodding any more? The fact that the Reader Projects issue was announced the third week of February at the depth of an economic tsunami didn't bode well, or so we thought. Then the envelopes started hitting about one a day. OK, things might not be all that bad, but the stack of mail was still hurtin'. It looked like we might even have to scratch our idea for a Readers' Projects theme issue due to lack of interest. Then about a week before the April 2 deadline, the floodgates opened, and the mailman was delivering your entries daily in tote boxes. Ay carumba!

Not only was our faith in the state of DIY hot rodding fully restored (and then some), it looked like we might even have to renege on our promise of publishing every single submission. In the end, we decided to run every entry that had the bare bones requirement of high-res digital photography, and enough info and specs to support at least one good paragraph and a small spec box. Thankfully, that was the vast majority of them. (If you didn't send a readable CD or a write-up like we asked, you won't find it here. But don't worry, if you reload with what we need, we'll run it as space allows in our "Under Construction" and "Hometown Hot Rodding" columns.)

By promising to include all comers, and to put one (in this case, actually three) lucky reader projects on the cover, the Readers' Projects issue was--in hindsight--destined to fire people up about the iron sitting in their garages and carports. In the case of reader Jim "Violation" Gollwitzer, it inspired him to take a series of really fine photos of a home-built project that was in its own right really fine. There is no doubt in our mind that Jim totally embraced the spirit of the "cover competition." He read, understood, and executed our material requests, and delivered it on time.

If you're wondering what happened to our annual Popular Hot Rodding photo contest, don't worry. We'll be rolling out the official contest details next month, so keep your eye peeled here, and keep checking the website. We can tell you that the 2009 contest will be better than ever, especially now that Nitto Tires has stepped in as the official contest sponsor. We'll be giving away a new set of Nitto tires (in the size and model of your choosing) to the winning photographer, so get your cameras ready!

1969 Camaro * Mark Antrim * Wanatah, IN
A chance discovery in the corner of a barn in 1990 by Mark Antrim's future father-in-law got the ball rolling for this high-profile '69 Camaro, and it's been the glue holding this family together ever since. Mark writes: "Initially, I thought about restoring it to its original state. Then I stripped three layers of paint and started to see a blank canvas. No rules, no limits, lots of dreams. Plans quickly changed, and I decided that the Pro Touring design was the way to go. My wife wanted comfortable seats and air conditioning--her only two requirements." In spite of unforseen health problems and the attendant medical bills, Mark and his wife, Cami, continue to make good progress on the Camaro. Their goal is to reveal it at the Goodguys event in Charlotte this fall.

By The Numbers
Engine: 355ci small-block Chevy
Transmission: 700R-4 overdrive
Suspension: DSE, Hotchkis, Global West
Brakes: ’94 Corvette (front), '96 Camaro (rear)
Rear: GM 10-bolt with 3.42 gears
Wheels: Intro Twisted Vista (17-inch)
Tires: Nitto 235/45R17, 255/45R17