Remember those games in kids' magazines where you try to spot the differences between two pictures? Bob Bertelsen's '71 Camaro would be great for the car guy's version of this game. There's not a body panel on it that hasn't been re-formed, modified, or otherwise massaged, but most of the changes are so subtle, without a stock example sitting next to it, they escape the eye. That exemplifies what Bob does as a car builder. He works with the original design, and without trepidation, crafts it into the vision of how he sees the car in his mind.
Bob is not a professional car builder, although he certainly possesses the ingenuity and capability it takes to be among the best in the business. Most importantly, he lacks that mental block that most of us have-the one that mocks us, saying, "You aren't capable of doing that!"
Bob had RPM Hot Rodding do the interior, starting with a clean slate. They fabricated a cu
Take, for example, the roof of his Camaro. Bob wanted to integrate design cues of a fifth-gen Camaro into the car, including a 12-inch-wide recess in the roof panel. Most people who don't do professional metal-fab work would shun the idea, and even quite a few pros would be hesitant to launch into such an endeavor. Not Bob. He dove in, starting by rolling two 3/8-inch tubes and adhering them to the roof to create a basic structure and shape. He then cut out the 12-inch-wide section and crafted a new centersection. He didn't get the consistent arch he wanted the first time, so he modified his metal stretcher, welding a socket to the tool and using a torque wrench to modulate a consistent torque applied to the stretcher. He welded the recessed section into the roof for a subtle enhancement that looks so natural that many people don't even notice it.
That design element continues as the air flows rearward over the decklid. An original spoiler would have looked disproportionate and clunky with the flush and smooth rear panel of the car. Bob created a new spoiler that is 3/4-inch shorter and 1 1/2 inches smaller (front to rear), incorporating the same 12-inch recess from the roof panel into the center of the spoiler.
Another critical part of Bob's craftsmanship is functionality. This is true in the basic hardware, and also in the design aspects of the body. All of the ports and ducts carved into the sheetmetal of his Camaro-aptly named Brute Force-perform a purpose, whether it's directing fresh air toward the engine, onto the rear brakes, or exhausting hot air from the engine compartment. Nothing on this car was overlooked, and every millimeter of sheetmetal was intentionally shaped.
The casual glance doesn’t uncover the extraordinary craftsmanship in this car. What looks
Even with his exceptional level of fabrication capability, Bob took the Camaro to Area 51 Autoworx when it was time to have the finishing bodywork done and the car sprayed. Choosing the color was an adventure in itself. His local paint store mixed a dozen or so variations of blue and sprayed them onto sample panels, but none of them were exactly what Bob envisioned. So he talked the paint shop into letting him do some mixing on his own. A dash of this, a drop of that. He was able to create a color he loved, but there was no formula for it. He sprayed it onto a panel and took the pieces to BASF. They scanned it and created a formula, complete with the name Brute Force Blue!
Bob is the owner of A-Plus Powder Coaters, so he made generous use of his company's coating capabilities on the car. Anything that wasn't painted on the Camaro was powdercoated in a special gray texture that he created. On some surfaces, such as the valve covers, he added black with orange accents, creating detail and connecting the engine to the exterior graphics. In addition to a unique look, the powdercoating is durable and easy to clean. He even mixed up a special orange powder and sent it to Baer to have the calipers powdercoated to match the detail paint he used throughout the car.