When Tulsa-based Brand New Muscle Car built a new Shelby Mustang two years ago, it was a major project that took eight months to complete.
Velocity, a producer of automotive programming, turned it into a television show.
Velocity is back in Tulsa, and Brand New Muscle Car is taking on a more complicated and rare car, a 1969 Yenko Camaro, for a 14-show series to be filmed over seven months.
“The Yenko is a very, very, very rare car,” said David Miller, owner of Brand New Muscle Car. “There were only 198 Yenko Camaros built. Chevrolet made 185,000 Camaros that year.
“The parts list has 800 lines. But Camaros are my first love. I’ve had five of them. So, for me, this was a project I couldn’t wait to get going.”
Miller, who is president of US Restoration, has about 15 employees working at a combination garage/manufacturing plant just off Memorial Drive at 46th Street.
“I don’t know exactly what we are,” he said. “We’ve done hundreds of restorations. That’s how we got into the building of historic cars.
“We’re literally building classic cars from scratch in our building. We’re building these old cars with all new parts. And, depending on what the buyer wants, we can add all types of modern conveniences to any classic car.
“It looks old but drives like new.”
Velocity got involved when Miller’s company built the Shelby Mustang. They filmed the “entire build from the time we ordered in all of the parts to putting the car together from scratch, the painting, the interior and all of the little touches the buyer wanted,” he said.
A market has always existed for classic cars, especially rare machines that have been fully restored.
“We can do that,” Miller said, “but that’s not what Brand New Muscle Car is. … This is not a car kit.
“We order all of the parts from licensed manufacturers. Then we put it together with the specific wants and needs of the buyer. The buyer tells us what color, what interiors, what size of motor, everything.”
The Yenko Camaro was a modified Chevrolet Camaro under the supervision of Don Yenko, a Pennsylvania car dealer who increased the engine size to a 427. He believed there was a market for a more powerful Camaro, which at the time was capped with an engine no larger than 400 cubic inches.
“Getting everything approved and making sure we had all of the parts we needed has taken awhile, but now we’re ready to go, and it’s very exciting,” Miller said.
It normally takes about nine months for Brand New Muscle Car to build a classic. At any given time, about a dozen cars are in various stages of construction in the garage.
The shop can produce six to eight classics each year.
“A lot of people think it’s very cool,” Miller said. “It is almost like a time machine.”
But all of the specially manufactured parts do not come cheap. “Every nut and bolt are new and must be manufactured,” said Miller.
As a result, the Yenko Camaro will come with a price tag of about $ 149,900.
“This is an expensive car,” said Miller. “I understand there is a limited market out there for these kind of cars. But there is a market. There are people who want these cars.
“We don’t do much marketing. People who want these kind of cars are finding me.”
And they are finding him in growing numbers.
Miller plans to ramp up the construction of the new classic cars in the near future. He’d like to increase production to several dozen per year to keep up with demand.
“That would require almost an assembly line-type plant,” said Miller. “For me, this is a blast. I’ve been a car guy my entire life. So getting to do this — from ordering the parts to seeing the finished product — is fun.”
Velocity will be filming the build of the Yenko Camaro from January to July with hopes of broadcasting the series in the late summer through early fall in 2018.
“We’ve already been through it with our Shelby Mustang build, so we know what to expect,” said Miller. “We’re looking forward to getting the film crew back in our shop and going to work.”