The “Little Old Lady” who owned a cool muscle car has long been a part of car guy mythology. Usually she putted around town in her killer ride, barely registering any miles on the odometer because, as the legend goes, she only took it to the grocery store and on other mundane errands. Of course she always kept it incredibly clean, showroom-fresh, and meticulously maintained with the records to prove it. The story generally ends with one of your buddies scoring this immaculate one owner ride for next to nothing, and leaving the rest of us to wonder why we never get that lucky with our project cars.
The rest of us, like Gary Cropp from Sierra Vista, Arizona, get stuck repairing all of the problems created by the previous owner’s neglect and recklessness, along with the ravages of time. Gary actually picked up his 73 Camaro RS/Type LT from its original owner; a little old lady who didn’t quite show the same cautiousness as the little old lady of legend. Other than some typical rust, most of the body issues were caused by, as Gary puts it, “the previous owner running into just about anything she could get to stand still.”
While she didn’t leave Gary with a 100% immaculate ride, she did leave him with a great starting point for an LS-swapped hot rod Camaro that any car guy could be proud of. Gary went straight to work and yanked out the original 2-barrel 350 to make room for a low mileage 6.0L LY6 he scored from a wrecked Fed-Ex Van. The LY6 is essentially the Gen IV upgrade to the Gen III LQ4/LQ9 found in many GM heavy duty pickups and vans, with one major difference – the LY6 comes stock with those awesome L92 cylinder heads that are all the rage.
The stock bump-stick was upgraded to a Comp Cams 228/230 114+2 LSA, and the VVT components were ditched. To keep things old-school and simple Gary used Edelbrock’s Victor Jr. intake for carbureted LS engines, and a Pro Systems 4150 carb with a Holley 950 main body that flows 846 CFM. Edelbrock’s LSX swap headers for 2nd Gen F-Bodies get the duty of dumping the fumes through a 3-inch Torq Tech exhaust. The rotating assembly was kept stock except for some Katech rod bolts, as a little bit of a high RPM insurance policy.
As for the exterior, long gone is the grandma-fresh look, as now the Camaro sports a sinister flat black primer job. If that wasn’t enough, the full roll cage and meaty 28×11.5/15 Hoosiers leave no doubt that this car means business.
When we asked Gary about his motivations for swapping in an LS engine instead of building up the SBC the car already had, he said “I own a low 11 second M6 99 LS1 Trans Am that I bought brand new, and over the last 12 years I’ve fallen in love with the LS platform for a variety of reasons. I see a lot of guys on the message boards gripe about us carb’d LS swappers, saying that you’re defeating the purpose by ditching the fuel injection. But my love for the LS motor has little to do with anything north of the cylinder heads. I’ve already got a fairly quick injected LS and I wanted this one to be carb’d. To me it’s about the technological advancements in everything from block strength to cylinder head design and everything else in between. It’s just a better mousetrap. Heck, even the gaskets in this motor are light-years beyond that of a conventional SBC. To build that 350 into something that would compete with my basically stock junkyard LY6 would have taken a significant cost investment, and it still would have been much less drivable and reliable in the end – no question.”
I bet your grandma couldn’t even argue with that kind of reasoning…