When Roger Bartow took a look at the birthday present from his older brother Ron this weekend, it seemed familiar.
It should have: It was the same car Roger, 47, had bought three decades ago.
Ron Bartow, 50, of Arroyo Grande, spent many years preparing this gift: a gleaming, metallic blue, fully restored 1972 Chevy Camaro.
The older Bartow brother spent 1,000 hours restoring the vehicle in addition to the $35,000 he and the Bartows’ parents laid out.
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The car had been damaged and left deteriorating since 1990 at their parents’ Calabasas home, where it was exposed to the elements and developed gaping holes and rust.
Roger believed his parents had eventually placed the car in storage.
Instead, his brother was carrying out his own plans for the Camaro.
When Roger, an Army Reserve sergeant, deployed to Iraq in 2006, Ron decided to restore the car as a gift to say, “Thank you for defending our country.”
He completed most and coordinated some of the repairs, and his parents paid for the materials.
Early Saturday morning, in the Orchard Supply Hardware parking lot in Pismo Beach — where car enthusiasts gather weekly to show off their rides — Ron presented his younger brother with the car he had first bought when he was 17.