Written by Nicole Ellan James
Sometimes life can throw a slow curveball that seems more like a 95-mph fastball.
Five years ago, Harold Lewis – a longtime friend of Barrett-Jackson – experienced symptoms that revealed some health complications requiring prolonged treatment. Although he has spent the past two years in good health, a recent regular checkup showed signs of returning issues. Realizing the need to fully focus on his health, Lewis has reluctantly decided to part with one of his prized possessions: his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Nickey/Bill Thomas 427 Stage III re-creation, which will be offered with No Reserve at the 2023 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, January 21-29 at WestWorld.
Lewis is a master craftsman specializing in high-end residential finishes and painting. He has been a muscle-car enthusiast for over 45 years, and, in that time, Lewis has restored several vehicles to concours specifications, often working with the late renowned builder Patrick Pogrant of Patrick’s Classy Cars.
Over the course of his life Lewis has collected, restored and built several significant cars, including two 1969 Ford Boss 429s with back-to-back numbers KK1455 and KK1456. His current project car is an all-original, matching-numbers 1968 Plymouth HEMI Road Runner.
One vehicle Lewis had always dreamed of owning was a 1967 Nickey/Bill Thomas Camaro. Thomas rose to prominence in the 1960s while he was a research and development specialist for General Motors’ racing program. He worked on the Cheetah and the development of various powertrain and chassis combinations for Stock and Super Stock racers.
Thomas was contracted by Chevrolet in late 1966 to perform big-block conversions for the newly introduced 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. With the help of Thomas, Nickey Chevrolet of Chicago, Illinois, – one of the largest Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. – came up with a plan to install high-performance 427 Corvette engines into the Camaro in late 1966. It is estimated there were only 14 Nickey Camaros built in ’67. The special Camaro is often hard to find and unobtainable for most, so Lewis did what any other skilled car fanatic would do: he re-created one for himself.
The 9-year project serves as the culmination of his years of experience restoring classic cars, along with his research and gathering of original parts to create the ultimate tribute 1967 Nickey/Bill Thomas 427 Stage III Camaro. Lewis asserts that if the car was being judged as original, it would stand up against any out there: “It doesn’t know it is a clone.”
Lewis has always used the best in the business for all his vehicles when it comes to paint, body and engine work, and this car is no exception. Under the hood sits a real Tri-Power 427ci L89 engine, one of only 14 ever built, according to Lewis. This engine – which utilizes the original block, heads and crank – has been balanced, blueprinted and dyno-tested with 500 horsepower.
The engine is hooked to an M22 4-speed manual transmission complete with an L88 clutch and flywheel that turns a 1967 12-bolt rear end with 4.10 posi-traction gears. It also features square bar traction, a chambered exhaust, a transistorized ignition, the original power disc brakes, the original wheels with trim rings and the correct red line tires. This Nickey/Bill Thomas Camaro is finished in Tuxedo Black paint with an Ermine White stripe and has a radio delete interior featuring a speed warning.
Harold Lewis’ re-creation has the heart of a true enthusiast and master craftsman under the hood, and it shows in each piece of metal, each panel and each piston. Register to bid today to bring this special tribute home.