It is strange how much the development, culture and availability of the automobile have been shaped by taxes. In America, we have had a shortage of imported small pickup trucks for years thanks to a tax on chickens, engine displacement taxes in many European countries played a role in the turbocharging boom and kept many American cars from being competitive, and, perhaps the funniest result, tax loopholes created unbelievably improbable and deliciously absurd vehicles. Like the Camaro and Firebird pickups from Finland from the 1980s.
One of our shit-hunter henchmen sent me some pics, Hans, and I think what’s most amazing about these Camaros – beyond the massive rear overhang and that amazingly bed usable – that’s how many there are. in Finland.
What exactly is going on? It seems there are too many to be just coincidences from gloriously deranged Finns – there must be a story here.
There is, of course, a story, although it contains a few details that I would like to know. Here is the best explanation I have found, on a Third Generation Camaro Forum, from someone claiming to be a Finn and owning one:
I’ve always wanted a third generation car from the 80s, so last spring I bought this “beauty”, an 85 Z28 that someone decided to turn into a nice pickup truck?
In the ’80s you didn’t have to pay any car tax if you bought a pickup truck or a pickup truck, so one guy would import about 140 F bodies and roughly cut them into pickup trucks. They later corrected this loophole, possibly because of people driving Ladas and so forth complaining that it is unfair that someone can buy a Western car for less than their Soviet-made miracles. This one was modified by an amateur again on an unspecified date, but I think everything went well, all things considered.
The key information I would like to have that has eluded me so far is who this ‘guy’ was who imported 140 F-body Camaros and Firebirds with the aim of turning them into duty-free vans, but whoever brilliant Finn is, they probably deserve a medal or at least a commemorative plaque or something.
It’s a very smart plan: People wanted American muscle cars like the Camaro and the Firebird, but by the time the Finnish taxes were applied to the cars, the prices made them unobtainable. But with the pickup truck loophole, everything changes: just to sacrifice that backseat and maybe a bit of style and dignity, but adding a parcel In practicality, a V8-hungry Finn might have the best America has to offer, at a fair price!
If this story is true and these cars are all the work of one person / workshop, that makes it all even more impressive. The work and effort put into these Camarominos is significant: the overhang has been lengthened, the B-pillars have been extended into a graceful pair of buttresses, and it also appears that most have provisions for a snap-on canvas bedspread. this kind of restores the original lines – if elongated – of the car.
These seem appear on Finnish car dealerships from time to time, and sometimes in other Finnish media, and most appear to be of a similar design, with the original rear fascia and taillights kept intact, although at least one, our friend from Finland who wrote about it on this third-gen Camaro forum, seems to have a very well-made tailgate and taillights borrowed from … an Opel Omega? No wait. They come from something that we’ve never had in the States that I can’t really think about. Some Europeans in the comments, put me here, please.
(UPDATE: Saab lights! They come from a Saab!)
Really, it’s remarkable how beautiful they are, and this bed seems long enough to be really useful. They look a lot like the sportier El Caminos of the same era, which I guess just weren’t desirable enough to import, compared to the Camaro? I would have thought it would be an easier way to get a cheap Americana Finn, but I guess the heart wants what it wants, and it seems to want a Camaro. Or the fire bird.