Over time, hundreds of “project cars” have graced pages in a variety of automotive enthusiast magazines.  Some were worth following; some were little more than “parts obtainment” opportunities secured in exchange for editorial exposure. Of those cars that had a significant impact on the high-performance community, few fall into the class of what Chevrolet’s now-retired motorsports czar, Herb Fishel, once affectionately dubbed a certain ’67 Camaro SS as “The Red Car”…it had that much significance, from his perspective.

Much has been written about the little Bolero Red coupe that first appeared (as a road test car) on the pages of Hot Rod magazine in late 1966.  Some of the experiences it provided have even appeared in MaxChevy.  But to the best of my personal awareness, there has never been an attempt to chronicle and lay bare the essence of essential events that were woven into the fabric of this little maverick as it darted in and out of public awareness over a span of 40-plus years. 

Pieces of what we’ll share you’ve either read or heard about, but I assure you there’s more.  Stories you might get from its current owner, Vic Edelbrock, are based on his recollections, many of which are probably inaccurate.  Besides, he was only around the car piecemeal and seldom showed much interest.  During the time it was periodically covered and parked behind Edelbrock’s El Segundo, California, facility, Vic often asked me why I didn’t just find a buyer and get rid of it.   

We’ve developed a topical outline that puts in chronological order its milestones as the car evolved into its present state.  For each of these topics, I’ll share all the elements that remain in my head.  Some of the events were fortunate, some not.  Others were clearly fortuitous and many transpired in a way that would have defied any form of scripting.  There are times when you simply cannot plan how things work out, particularly when in retrospect it’s clear that destiny was at play and therefore quite unavoidable.  This story will very likely never be told again.

HRM Vs. Motor Trend
It was late spring of 1966.  I first got wind of the car when a Motor Trend staffer told me they were picking it up from the GM Proving Grounds in Mesa, Arizona.  The plan was they had first-crack at a road test story, after which “you guys will get it and we’ll see what you can do.”  Game on.  As was standard procedure, since they were really Petersen’s road-test pros and we HRM guys were bent more toward high performance, the presumption was M/T would put their professional on-road spin on the evaluation and we’d be left with the scraps.  Game still on.

Motor Trend did their thing but all we were concerned about was the quarter-mile times.  The car was a 4-speed, and we reckoned to be more like Ronnie Sox than  Tom McCahill.  While I don’t recall the exact elapsed time comparisons, I do know that we managed a bone-stock 14.84 at 86 mph…and M/T lost that race.  But in the process, we discovered that this new GM offering had potential.  (Little did we know the “care and precision” this car had been provided during assembly.  That came out a bit later.)  All we needed was a little time to explore options, including an opportunity to circulate the car among a select group of parts manufacturers (Hooker, Chute Metal, Bill Thomas Race Cars, Edelbrock, Schiefer, Perfection-American, etc.) for some new parts explorations.  Don’t forget we’re still in a mid-summer ’66 time frame and the car’s introduction was about three months hence, so how slick would it be to have high-performance parts on the shelves at new-car dealer introductions?