A custom pro touring styled 1968 Chevrolet Camaro is one of the final five vehicles selected to compete for the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Cup. Built by East Bay Muscle Cars of Brentwood, California the custom silver Camaro screams performance muscle car and is the only true muscle car in the competition. We talked to the builders as they waited for the final votes to be tallied later this week.
2022 Barrett-Jackson Cup Competition
Barrett-Jackson originally invited 50 cars to compete for the cup, and the vehicles were all on display at the auction site in Scottsdale, Arizona on Saturday, January 22, 2022. The field was winnowed down to five cars. The public is now invited to vote for their favorite to be crowned the “People’s Choice” award winner.
Besides the 1968 Chevorlet Camaro, the entries include a 1963½ Ford Galaxie, a 1965 Pontiac 2+2, a 1932 Ford Roadster, and a 1936 Ford Roadster. When co-owner of East Bay Muscle Cars, Laura Keefer, heard that the Camaro made the final cut, the news was emotional. “I was crying,” she said.
East Bay Muscle Cars
Laura runs East Bay Muscle Cars with her husband, Steve Keefer. In 2016, they were approached by Ryan Gates and tasked with building a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro for him. Gates had seen other cars built by the Keefers and appreciated their craftsmanship and slick pro-touring style. Once Gates dropped off a donor car, the build commenced.
Gates gave them free rein on what needed to be done, though the Keefers did consult with him on major portions of the build. Three years and 5,000 hours later, the Camaro, dubbed “Rhodium,” premiered at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in late 2019. There the car won the prestigious GM Design Award for innovative use of technology.
In January 2020, the Camaro journeyed to the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California where it won the award for the Pro Touring class. After COVID-19 canceled most car shows for the remainder of 2020, Gates took possession of the Camaro and put nearly 2,000 miles on the car.
For 2021, the Keefers again took the Camaro out to shows, winning the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association pick for America’s Most Beautiful. The Keefers were eventually contacted by representatives from Barrett-Jackson and asked to enter the Camaro into this year’s Barrett-Jackson Cup competition.
Steve Keefer stated that Gates is happy for the awards but especially happy that the shop is earning some notice for their workmanship and skill. Gates is, however, anxious to get the Camaro back so he can put more miles on the build.
1968 Chevrolet Camaro: Custom Mods
Steve noted that the Camaro was widened five inches and every body panel except the roof was modified by the shop. He said the front grille was particularly difficult to make. It consists of seven pieces of billet to include linear activated hideaway headlights, which are recessed, unlike a stock 68.
The Camaro rockets down the street thanks to the direct-injected LT4 which sports a ProCharger supercharger and is connected to a TREMEC T56 Magnum 6-speed transmission. The car is almost perfectly balanced with 51% of the weight at the rear and 49% on the front. The stance is enhanced by a custom chassis with independent rear suspension, via cantilevered 4-way shocks.
2022 Barrett-Jackson Cup Voting
Attendees at the auction have made positive comments on the build, some wondering if the car was for sale. When not checking out the “Rhodium” Camaro, they have had the chance to swing by the nearly 1,900 cars for sale and check out the many builds on display.
Steve and Laura felt all the cars in the competition were well done. Barrett-Jackson judges told the Keefers that they were impressed with the attention to detail and the pro-touring theme of the Camaro — but whether it can best its four competitors in the Barrett-Jackson people’s choice cup remains to be seen. Now, all that’s left for the Keefers to do is wait for the Barrett-Jackson car enthusiasts to voice their opinions.