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Custom Camaro celebrates motorsport legends

Published November 12, 2012

If you were choosing a car to modify and sell at a charity auction, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Canada’s biggest and most important auto show, what would it be?

It should be something spectacular; it should be something collectible; and it should be Canadian-built.

In which case, it would have to be the hottest, most-limited-production, most-desirable Camaro of the modern era: the Corvette-powered ZL1, which is built exclusively in Oshawa.

The ZL1 is evocative of the legendary COPO Camaros (special, outside-normal-channels, Central Office Production Orders) of the 1960s and early ’70s, which formed the basis for the Camaro’s racing success.

As such, it was the ideal canvas for a custom paint job celebrating the living legends of Canadian motorsport — specifically Ron Fellows, Scott Goodyear, Richard Spenard, Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy, whose signatures are reproduced inside the car.

Just who at the Canadian International AutoShow came up with this fundraising idea is shrouded in mystery. But there’s no doubt that those involved, including CIAS president Sandy Ligouri and general manager Tom Tonks have both a respect for Canadian motorsport history and a love and appreciation of beautiful and powerful automobiles.

In tying the two together, the ZL1 was just their starting point. Since delivery in September, the car destined for auction has been customized with unique graphics, paint and special equipment valued at more than $40,000, on top of its original price of $58,000.

The graphics and paint were designed and applied by Canadian artist Ron Gibbs, of Burlington, who is famous for his spectacular automotive art. His work is found on everything from factory customs to the private wheels of celebrities and rock stars.

Gibbs gave the ZL1 a professional BASF custom paint job with purple and silver graphics, based on the CIAS’s signature sweep logo.

Continuing the Canadian theme, the car’s exterior has been enhanced with special carbon-fibre accented wheels, and with carbon-fibre aerodynamic and ground-effects aids, produced by Multimatic, of Markham, whose engineering and racing expertise are also globally recognized.

The interior has been subtly accented by Gary Nolan of Diamond Trim, in Aurora, whose portfolio includes multiple award-winning customs and one-off designs, as well as restorations.

His custom leather graphic cues include the autographs of the five legends, four of whom will be on hand to see the car auctioned to the highest bidder.

The auction will be part of the CIAS 40th Anniversary Charity Gala, to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Nov. 16, in advance of the milestone auto show next February.

Spectacular as it is, the car will be only one of the stars of the gala, which will feature Dan Aykroyd as guest host and Scott Goodyear as master of ceremonies. Rumour has it that the Blues Brothers will also be in attendance, driving their ’74 Dodge “black-and-white.”

Although the ZL1 will be the featured auction item, it will be just one of many.

Gibbs has painted a second Camaro hood with the likenesses of the five motorsports stars, which will be auctioned separately.

So will an original collage featuring the five drivers and the car, painted by world-famous Canadian automotive artist Ken Dallison, of Mississauga. Dallison’s paintings sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and have frequently been the poster art at such prestigious Concours d’Elegance as Meadow Brook and Pebble Beach.

Other auction items include an original Ron Gibbs painting of Dan Aykroyd and memorabilia.

The net proceeds will further the work of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Foundation in supporting causes such as the Ronald McDonald House, The Trillium Gift of Life Network and The Canadian Safe School Network.

Although the gala is billed as an automotive industry event, some public tickets are still available at a price of $300 per person. For more information, go to autoshow.ca/cias40 or call 905-940-2800.

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