A Long Road: Willie Bullard’s 1970 Split-Bumper Camaro

Building a car from the ground up is no easy task…it involves a lot of planning, time, as well as hordes of money — in our case anyway. Another problem is the timeline. Typically, people tend to be overly-optimistic and expect the car to be done in a third of the time than it will take in reality. Things like fabrication, custom interior, paint and body, wiring, and assembly can chew up some serious time and resources. If you want a killer custom car, you don’t get to rush it, and no one knows that better than Willie Bullard.

Willie was introduced to the car scene years ago as a kid. His dad would take him to the drag races where they would watch the NHRA’s top cars tear it up for a 1/4-mile. Wille however, was not as fond of these events as his father was. In fact, the Top Fuel dragsters scared him to death. Willie said, “My dad got me into racing as a kid. I was so scared of watching Top Fuel dragsters, but he loved it, so I went.”

Several years later, Willie got out of high school and went to work for a car dealership — and still does. He was able to turn his love for cars into a business where he sells some of his personal vehicles and helps customers with their financing.

While at a Summit Racing car show nearly a decade ago, Willie overheard some guys talking about a Camaro. Willie said, “Everyone has a 1967-69 Camaro, and I wanted to build something different. While I was at the show, I saw this black car and everyone was saying it was a split bumper. At the time, I didn’t even know what a split bumper was. When I asked about it, a guy told me it was a 1970-1/2 Camaro.”

Willie decided that was the car for him, and nine years ago he purchased a 1970-1/2 split bumper Camaro from a lifelong friend. Willie installed a 383 small-block Chevrolet engine and then took it to the body shop to have it painted Hugger Orange. As you can tell by the pictures, while this is the car we photographed, it is apparent that it’s not orange. So what happened? Willie explains, “I went and picked up the car from the body shop and headed home. On the way, the hood flew off the car because it was not secured. I towed the Camaro home and parked it for three years.”

As the car sat, Willie’s father decided that he wanted to purchase the Camaro and he would fix it. Willie agreed. As his father started working on the classic, they began to argue on a vision and how the finished product should look. They both had their ideas, and it was apparent that the two were not going to agree on a common theme. Willie said, “We argued back and forth about me repurchasing the car. Dad finally said he would sell it back to me under one condition: as long as he’s alive, I can’t sell the car to anyone else.” With that family feud settled, Willie got back to building the car.

Willie had a few years invested in how he wanted the Camaro to look and wasted no time in executing his plan. The first order of business was to get the car to the body shop and have it repaired. The color was not the only thing to be replaced, either. Wille redid the interior, the transmission, as well as the engine in the ’70 Camaro. The entire car was about to get a serious makeover.

When purchased, the Camaro was in good shape and would pass as a nice driver, but Willie was looking for something more. With the car in the body shop, he decided to scrap the Hugger Orange paint. Paint By Travis in Cummings, Georgia handled the bodywork and added a factory hood and a stock rear spoiler. He then laid down eight coats of Aston Martin Tungston Silver with a smoke stripe down the center of the hood. The final result is a classy color with a laser-straight body to match.

The 383 small-block was removed, which made room for a new 2017 GM LS3 built by Terry and Danny Henson of Cummings, Georgia. The engine has a mild cam and is fueled by MSD Atomic Fuel Injection. A set of Hedman Hustler headers were used to get the LS3 exhaust gasses moving down the pipes.

You can tell that Willie wanted this car to be a driver, and the Tremec T56 backs it up. The transmission connects to a 12-bolt rear-end with a set of 3.73 gears and a posi unit. The rear of the car was modified with a Detroit Speed Engineering (DSE) Quadra-link system and mini-tubs to make room for the massive 20×11 HRE C109 Bronze wheels and the 285/25/20 tires. The factory front suspension components were removed and replaced with everything that Hotchkis has to offer for the second-gen Camaro, including upper and lower tubular control arms. The brakes were also upgraded to a set of red calipers and drilled and slotted rotors. HRE 20×9 wheels and a pair of 255/30/20 sized tires complete the front of the car.

For the interior, Willie called upon Rick’s Interior in Social Circle, Georgia to handle the stitching duties., “The interior is a one-off design. Basically, they put a crate in the car and had me sit on it. Then I showed them where I would like the radio, shifter, cup holders. All of these little touches and details make the car feel like it belongs to me, Willie says”

The interior of this car is simply stunning. Rick’s used a mocha brown leather and grey carpet, which ties the color combination together quite nicely. Every component in the interior of this car is a one-off custom design, including the entire dash, seats, and console with cup holders.

It’s taken Willie a few years to get the car where it is today, but if you ask us, it was well worth the wait. This Camaro screams style and performance with a modern feel. It’s the perfect balance of a show car as well as a daily driver. The only thing we would do differently is put our name on the title.

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
Read My Articles

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