14 February 2013

1979 Camaro Z28 - More Than Skin Deep

Is there such a thing as a late 70's muscle car? We're talking about a post-EPA emissions era, between about 1975-1980, where mighty legends were reduced to neutered shadows of their once glorious selves. The fourth generation Dodge Charger that looked like a boxer that had fought one bout too many, the Mustang II that Ford initially launched with a weedy 2.3 four before hurriedly refitting a 302ci V8 coughing out a snivelling 140bhp. Chevrolet was little better in the horsepower stakes; the 350ci small block fitted to the C3 Corvette pushed out all of 185 asthmatic bhp. The fastest American car you could buy in 1979 (for example) wasn't even a car; it was the limited edition Lil' Red Express version of the humble Dodge D-150 pick-up truck, that was able to be equipped with a decent 225bhp because of a loophole in the EPA regulations. The shame.
But while performance had for the large part become a subject best not talked about, some cars from the golden era had kept their looks, even if they weren't quite able to back it up, like the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 seen here.
The second generation Camaro lived a long and varied life from 1970-1981; it sported a variety of engines, from a full fat 396ci L78 big block rated at 375bhp to the skinny latté 350ci in this car, plus three different fronts, two different rears and two different rear windows. Phew. The second-gen Camaro and sister Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am enjoyed record sales in later years, due in part to the fact that nearly all of the 'pony car' competition had fallen by the wayside.
Now to this particular example; a matching numbers Z28 (Z/28 up to 1972 for the pedants) with (drum roll) 3191 miles on the clock and the subject of a restoration to better-than-new condition. That black paint looks flawless, set off by those oh-so correct Z28 stripes and gorgeous factory fresh GM turbine wheels. It may not win a traffic light grand prix with a '70 396 example, but it will probably lose it in the the corners, as the 'Z28' moniker isn't just for show. According to this Camaro's build sheet, it's equipped with the Z28-specific F41 special suspension, which for 1979 added higher rate springs, stiffer valved dampers, and a thick rear anti roll bar.
I can't go any further without mentioning that interior. It is- #looks over top of glasses# hmm. It is- #sniffs air#
It is red.
More red than the Kremlin, circa 1980. More red than Simply Red, circa 1986. More red than- well, you get the point. Now, I'd love to get some 80's Recaro electric seats, re-trim the interior in black leather with houndstooth cloth inserts, or even tartan, like they used to have in certain 1970's sports cars, but that very red interior does kinda grow on you after a while. The car has grown on me, that's for sure; RK Motors in Charlotte, Carolina have a couple more Z28's in stock and apparently prices are rising for the late 70's F-body. No surprise to me; it's an overlooked classic that deserves anyone's attention.

- Amazosan

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