Remember back when having $100 to spend meant something? With a bill like that burning a hole in your pocket, there were so many options for things to buy or do. Nowadays, $100 doesn’t go far at all, especially when it comes to project cars. That is, unless you’re Rodney Prouty. So far, he holds the PHR award for the best $100 ever spent.
That’s because rather than just buying a part for project car, Rodney managed to get an entire car for $100. And not just any old unwanted or unpopular model: a 1968 Camaro. Sure, it was a rusty shell with no glass, dash, seats, engine, or trans, but it was still a first-gen Camaro and the moment Rodney laid eyes on it wasting away forlornly in a garage, he knew he had finally found his car. Meanwhile, we’ve seen guys selling Camaro doors for twice that much. Some dudes just have all the luck.
So how did such a lucky stroke happen without the inner circle of Camaro lovers knowing about it and snapping it up long before just a regular muscle car enthusiast could have a chance? It was actually just the beginning of a string of happenstance that allowed Rodney to put together a good-looking autocross ’68 Camaro for about $15,000 total, which is less than most guys end up with in their drivetrain.
A few years back, Rodney was working at a Camaro restoration shop when a call came in from a local lady who was looking to vacate a ’69 Camaro project from her garage. It seems that it was her estranged son’s car that he had abandoned in the backyard about 10 years ago. She and her husband had eventually pushed it into the garage, but now they wanted to remodel, and the Camaro was in the way. Rodney was mildly interested since he had always wanted to build a first-gen Camaro for himself, so he inquired what she was looking to get for it. “I don’t know,” she replied. “Maybe $100.” Rodney laughed to himself, assured that it likely was neither a Camaro nor a 1969 anything, and was likely beyond rough, but still he decided to go check it out from sheer curiosity.
When he arrived, the garage door lifted and light revealed a tailpanel he recognized immediately. It wasn’t a ’69, but it was a Camaro: a ’68 RS to be specific. Getting a little excited, Rodney proceeded to examine the find. It was rough with a lot of missing parts, and had heavily dented fenders and very rusty floors. Still, it had a certain feel to it that told Rodney this car was meant for him. He asked the lady if she was sure about the price since the parts were probably worth more, and she affirmed she was; the car just needed to go. Rodney gladly paid, and while he was loading it up he got another pleasant surprise; the sale included a bunch of random parts. So Rodney rolled away with a ’68 Camaro roller and several hundred dollars worth of parts for $100. Do you hate him yet? We do, just a little bit.
Like most of us, Rodney was on a budget, but rather than spend all that money he saved on the initial purchase price of the Camaro, he decided it would be much more fun to try and continue the theme of making his own muscle go as far as possible on the build. So he began going to swap meets, bartering, and hunting through classifieds to find more bargains. Fate was smiling again, and Rodney ran across an interesting ad; apparently a vindictive divorce led to a lady listing a ton of parts her ex had left behind for $50. Rodney responded first and loaded everything up. Since the car gods seemed to be on his side, Rodney decided to pay it forward and everything that he wasn’t going to use, he put back up for sale super cheap. That kept his karma clean and helped get some other guys further along on their projects.
You can’t skimp on gauges; rather than stock, Rodney installed Auto Meters to monitor all
It must have worked too, because the stuff he needed kept coming his way. When Rodney threw the Powerglide trans that came with the Camaro up for sale for $100, a Super T10 four-speed popped up for $300 and he got to it first. With things going so well, and Rodney handling all of the work himself, he set the goal to get the Camaro moving under its own power in a year. He wasn’t too far off; it took 14 months before the Camaro fired. It was ugly, resplendent in its six shades of primer sans interior other than two front seats, but the CHP agreed that it was a roadworthy Camaro and issued Rodney a new title.