Women and Cars: Kim Noncle’s 1969 Camaro Restoration in Belgium

They have hot rods in Belgium? Yes! But fully restored gems cost an arm and a leg, which makes learning to wrench a necessity for anyone with aspirations of acquiring the car of their dreams. So when first-gen Camaro afficionado Kim Noncle found a rusty 1969 project car online—completely devoid of drivetrain and interior—she knew she’d be getting her hands dirty.

Considering the Camaro’s less-than-stellar condition at the time of purchase, the 23-year-old not only had to learn to wrench but to weld and do bodywork as well…in a country where large garages and workshops are hard to come by.

“Housing and land are extremely expensive here in Belgium,” Kim says. “Most people can’t afford a house with a big garage. They have a one-car garage or none at all. It’s very common to see people put their daily ride outside to restore their classic in their one-car garage.” Kim and her boyfriend were lucky enough to purchase a home with a two-car garage, which, she says, gets the job done despite the close quarters.

From Neglected Parts Car to Beloved Project Vehicle

A self-described tomboy, Kim grew up playing with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars and building her own vehicles out of tissue boxes. The Fast and Furious franchise and Transformers films further stoked the embers of her passion, catapulting muscle cars, specifically Camaros, to the top of her wish list.

When Kim’s boyfriend came across the 1969 Camaro a couple of years ago, he sent the listing to Kim—who was in between jobs at the time and getting ready to move—as a joke. It wasn’t ideal timing (it never is!), and Kim didn’t know the car’s history at the time, but that didn’t stop the couple from striking a deal with the seller a few days later.

As it turns out, the Camaro was bought and imported to The Netherlands to be used as a parts car, which is likely why it was missing the drivetrain and interior.

“The owner had an accident, passed away, and the car sat for years and years,” Kim says. “I have no idea how many times it switched hands before me, and I’ll probably never know for sure.”

Future Plans for the “Patina Cruiser”

Working with essentially a base-model Camaro (that needs a new trunk floor, lower quarters, floor pans, and window surrounds), Kim has a goal of not “overrestoring” her project vehicle.

“A patina cruiser is what I like to call it—nothing too wild or crazy,” she says. “The car has amazing patina original Hugger orange paint that I want to preserve as much as I can. The new sheetmetal will be blended to match the original paint. I want it to look rough and mean—to show its scars.”

Keeping it simple is not only a matter of personal preference but will help the car pass Belgium’s strict inspections laws and keep her fuel bills down. Kim’s plans include lowering the front, adding some nice wheels, swapping the engine out for a 383 stroker or LS, upgrading the original Muncie to a modern five- or six-speed gearbox, putting a manual floor shift back in the car, and restoring the stock black interior, but with a few personal touches, including alloy door handles and hip belts.

After months of wrenching, Kim says she enjoys every minute in the garage. “I love turning old, rusty pieces of junk into beautiful automotive pieces of art,” she says . “I’m so happy now that I wasn’t able to afford a restored car, because each drop of blood, sweat, and tears on that car has taught me a valuable lesson.”