Carl has a love for Camaros that started when he got his first one at 17 – a 1968 dressed up in SS badges. He had to sell it after being hit by an uninsured motorist, so Carl then bought himself a ’67 Camaro. Alas, money was tight back then, and he was forced to sell his dream yet again.
Carl joined the Army and ended up in Fort Hood, TX. He decided to pursue another true love, his high-school sweetheart, Cheryl Ann. Cheryl and Carl were married on December 20, 2000. Soon after, Chevrolet announced they were going to stop making Camaros in 2002, and Carl decided he had to own one.
While searching for just the right car, Carl received orders to go to Korea and didn’t return until July 2002. Once back in Texas, he began the long search for any 2002 SS Camaro left on a lot. It took four months to locate one – the last documented 35th Anniversary SS Camaro that SLP had built. Although it was a very nice car, Carl soon got bored with it. It just didn’t seem like the car he’d always dreamed of.
Little did he know that his dream car was just around the corner: a perfect first-generation ’67 Camaro RS/SS. Unfortunately, it was located in Massachusetts and priced out of his range. When Carl showed it to Cheryl, she not only reminded him of that fact, but that they were expecting their first child in a few months. Carl decided to sell his new Camaro to buy the old one.
Carl put his new car up for sale on the Internet. In December a man from California decided he wanted to buy the car as a Christmas gift for his wife. “Now, if you ever want to upset a pregnant woman,” says Carl, “tell her that the first Christmas that the two of you will get to spend together since you joined the Army five years ago, you’re going to road trip to Los Angeles to make another couple happy.”
As soon as he returned, he checked to see if “his” ’67 was still for sale. It was – with a lowered price. “That told me it was fate that I must have that car.” But when Carl called the owner in Massachusetts, he said that it was too far away and Carl was wasting his time. But Carl was persistent; he knew that this was “the one.”
Then things went from difficult to impossible.
Cheryl was due to give birth to their first child on February 27, 2004, but the Army wouldn’t let Carl stay back for the birth of his child. So Carl was packing for deployment to Iraq on February 25, moving his pregnant wife back home to Missouri and trying to buy a Camaro that was 2,000 miles away all at the same time. Carl says he was no longer in the dog house; he was “in the neighbor’s dog house seven towns over.”
Carl drove all day and night to get to the Camaro. After getting lost, he finally found the house and the car. Carl says the 396 big block fired right up and his heart stopped. In minutes, she was loaded onto a trailer and headed back to Missouri. A few days later, Carl’s son was born.
Carl showed the car once and won first place for best original car. He says it was worth going to extremes for it, but couldn’t have done it without the real true love of his life, his wife Cheryl Ann. He says that while many people look up to soldiers as heroes, “my wife Cheryl Ann Smith is my hero.”