Growing up around cars has given Cam Woolley a deep appreciation and love for the automobile.
He loves the smooth lines, classic designs and engines that growl. He’s owned them all – erraris, Range Rovers, Jaguars, Rolls Royces, Mercedes, along with a host of military vehicles.
Woolley is a traffic and safety reporter for CP24 and a former police officer (Sergeant) with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in the Greater Toronto Area.
A 30-year veteran of the service, he became the face of the OPP as media co-ordinator for the Toronto area highway safety division. He has been in public eye since 2000, warning of impending traffic blitzes and providing his perspective of accidents and their causes.
What gives Woolley an edge is his extensive knowledge of automobiles, a love-affair that began when he was just 10 years old.
He’s always been mechanically inclined, he says, tinkering with everything from cars to old radios. He learned by doing and he’s now a very competent mechanic and has restored literally dozens of vehicles, ranging from ambulances and police cars to a Universal Gun Carrier (commonly referred to as a Bren Gun Carrier) used during the Second World War. He still uses a Canadian military 1.25-ton pickup, complete with camo paint, to plow his driveway in rural New Tesumseth. He loved his 1953 Ferret Scout Car, made in the UK by Daimler and used by the British army (as well as many other countries). When the mood strikes him, he hops in his menacing M37 Vietnam-era gun truck and treks around the back 40.
Woolley, along with a partner, owned a company that supplied emergency vehicles to movie sets and he worked on several Toronto-shot films and TV series, including the pilot for the acclaimed Flashpoint, starring Nobleton’s Enrico Colantoni. He also worked on FX, Monk and Psi Factor to name a few. His company was unique in that he not only supplied accurate vehicles, but uniformed, off-duty personnel. In the movie business, it’s feast or famine, and Woolley said after 20 years, he sold the company.
Now, the reporter, who still gets up every day at 4 a.m. to patrol the highways and streets of the GTA, loves searching for “barn finds” as he calls them.
His newest prize is a 1969 Corvette Stingray, which sat in a local barn for more than 13 years gathering dust. While it had been restored, the years sitting idle took their toll and he had to review and revamp almost every system in the car, even the clock, gauges and radio.
He loves it, though. And he enjoys hunting for parts. Fortunately, a reliable and knowledgeable auto guru in Caledon manages to offer advice and find almost every part Woolley needs. Coincidentally, he even worked on this very same car. Woolley has all the bills and paperwork on this beauty.
He was thrilled to find the car he wanted – ilver with a red leather interior. The model is unique in that is boasts the side grills, chrome bumpers, T-roof and removable rear window. The C3 was modelled after the Mako Shark.
In 1969, the 327 small block was replaced by the 5.4-litre 350.
All cars featured 8-inch-wide steel wheels and the majority opted for Positraction. The “Stingray” nameplates appeared on front fenders, and became one word. Reverse lights were integrated into the inboard tail lights; headlight washers were added, and front grilles were made all black. Side mounted exhausts and front fender vent trim were options for this year only.
On the inside, revised door panels provided additional shoulder room in the C3’s tighter cabin and headrests became standard. Coupes, with their removable roof panels, began a trend of outselling roadsters. An extended production cycle due to a labor dispute increased ‘69 volume. This was the last year for the L88 engine and the only year for the ZL1 option, which offered an all-aluminum 427 cubic-inch, 7-litre big-block engine, listed at 430 horsepower.
Woolley had to replace the large steering wheel with a smaller one, so someone of his stature can fit into the comfy confines of the Vette.
Woolley finds working on cars is often more fun than driving them. The fiberglas bodies of the Corvettes means they’re more expensive to paint, and body work is something Cam doesn’t have any patience for.
His rule of thumb is if he’s driven a car twice or less in a year, it’s out.
For him, it’s definitely a labour of love. And he gets a kick out of meeting all the car buffs he comes across.
Having contacts, especially tow truck drivers, makes finding these diamonds in the rough a bit easier. It’s a lot like detective work.
Woolley could fill several dozen police notebooks with his car-related stories.
Working in his man-cave garage is where he’s at home the most.
Written by Mark Pavilons