12.99/$1,299 Update – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.



Life: The general or universal condition of human existence

I thought it was fitting that I woke up at 5:16am on the day of celebration for this great country we live in only to be overflowing with thoughts of how to translate the feelings of both pleasure and pain while attempting this exercise and it hit me…it was just that, life.

Life is a silly thing; it always tosses ups and downs, hurdles and obstacles at you. Sometimes you see them coming and sometimes you do not and that pretty much sums up the 12.99 Camaro. In the beginning it was hopeful that a couple of guys, some redneck engineering and little luck could get that 3rd-Gen into the 12’s and slide under the budget, but once again that thing called life got in the way.

At the start of this journey it was assumed that we only had some basic mechanical problems to overcome and fighting 1980’s GM fuel injection along with some basic repairs was all it was going to take to get this thing up and running – not.

It was not the best way to go at it and lord knows the internet warriors were quick to point that out that we had bigger problems than some leaking intake gaskets and bad injectors on our hands. But that was the whole point, we did not want to tear the car down to a bare shell in the beginning, only try and fix what was broken and then shave off the necessary items to hit the goal…but much like so many plans that change.

And change they did…

Somewhere in the middle of all this chaos was a budget and it was not going very far, sorry I did not magically sell “vintage” t-shirts out of the trunk for $40 bucks a pop or headlight bezels for ten times the going rate and I had no intentions of building a shell of a car with a lawn chair strapped to the frame and a gas can bungeed to the rear quarter panel hoping to relive the “legacy” of someone else’s property. So you need to fast forward a bit to where we were stuck with the situation of having a broken block, a lot of frustrations and $374 dollars left to hit what at this point seemed like a impossible goal.


Liberty: Freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, power to think or speak according to choice.

Around the start of the year I thought I had just maybe, been tossed a lifeline to get to that magical goal of 12.99 for $1,299 in the form of a short block, but as it started to come together it was also sinking in…is this what I want for the end game with this car and is there any way in hell it’s going to come in under budget?

That’s when I had to make a hard decision, do I continue to pursue the 12.99 Challenge or do I veer off course and build it the way I would like to and at the end of the day look into my garage and like what I see or have a discard-able heap that “maybe” hit a goal and “might” make the internet warriors happy?

Well you know what direction I chose, the one to not only continue the growth of Cars Illustrated from an industry relationship point of view, but also very importantly to make myself happy with where my car was going to end up.

It’s also where things went south, really south.

Recently I got to spend some time with the original editor and a recorder and something he said was both interesting and to the point – I asked him what made the original run of Cars Illustrated such a underground/cult favorite with its audience?

He said “we were just a bunch of guys doing whatever we wanted to and did not care what anyone else thought or said about us” ….apparently this was not okay for me to do and as both former contributors of Cars Illustrated and their minions revolted to the tune of both verbal and physical threats of violence for doing just that – whatever I wanted to do and not caring if anyone likes it or not. It’s not like they were contributing anything to the page or the social network outlets.


The Pursuit of Happiness; To pursue joy and live life in a way that makes you happy.

This is my favorite part….

All I ever wanted to do when I got the chance to be a part of Cars Illustrated was to bring it into the year 2015 (when I started) and get it back to the greatness that it once enjoyed. I have spent countless hours trying to do it on my own, posts, stories, photos, social networks and trying desperately to bring the original crew together to get their input on a regular basis, but they did not have time for such things until of course they abandoned ship and started their own brand and now have TONS of time to post, write and do all the thing I asked of them for Cars Illustrated – funny how that happened.

But it’s not about them, it’s not about me, it’s about that “The Pursuit of Happiness”…and mine is to continue to build my 1991 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 into what I want it to be. It’s that simple, it’s not about ego, legacy and all that other bullshit that I had to hear about from crying wives and bitching like a girl internet warriors, it’s about building what I wanted to build and yes…SURPRISE I failed the 12.99 Challenge, man did I fail the 12.99 Challenge miserably and you can too. I won’t belittle if you fail, if you try and fail or if you just say to hell with it and build something cool and send me a photo, guess what I’ll dig that too.


Because you will do what has gone on since the dawn of the hot rodding day…take something you like, make it your own and love it til the day you die. So if you want to follow along, get involved, be a part of the fun…climb on board, if not – there are plenty of choices out there for ya.

One last thing…it’s not the last time I’m gonna attempt the 12.99 Challenge – because just like the original attempt, I’ll get another shot.

– the Janitor



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