By Pete Jamieson New Castle, DE
A 5-year body-off restoration turns this ’69 Z/28 into a real stunner
I was only 7 years old in 1975 when my uncle, Kevin Green, wheeled this car into the back corner of the garage. It wouldn’t see the light of day again until 2007. He had paid $400. I would later learn the car had been traded to the dealership where my uncle worked in exchange for a Datsun 280Z by its second owner, a friend of George Alderman (who was using the car for autocross racing). The first owner (identified by the Protect-O-Plate), Olive Hicks, has eluded us for years, despite our best efforts to find her. What we know for sure is that she purchased the car at Van’s Chevrolet in New Castle, DE, just a stone’s throw from my home today, and that the car had never really traveled more than a few miles from there.
A fuel-injected ’57, a ’66 Chevy, ’70 Chevelle SS big-blocks, Camaros, Novas, Corvairs, Trucks, Impalas– you name it, my uncle’s owned it, raced it, wrecked it, restored it. My uncle Kevin was well known in the business– he was the service manager at Alderman Datsun. My large cache of NOS parts have hand-written notes to him: “Deliver to Big Kev at Alderman”. Everybody knew him, and everybody respected him.
When Kevin passed away at such an early age, I knew which car to keep– this was the one car that he would never sell, despite the many offers.
What began as an effort on my part to clean up the Z and get it on the road quickly turned into a five-year (every weekend) body-off restoration to restore it to factory original condition. So, with the help of friends Dennis Mikell, Vernon Gonce, Paul Biery, Kenny Petro and my girlfriend Allison Stine, we stripped the paint, removed, bagged, tagged, documented and restored every nut and bolt. We scraped the undercoating by hand, rebuilt the motor, restored the interior, re-installed the original flat hood, and repainted the car. 98% of this Camaro has its original parts or NOS parts that had been hoarded by Kevin.
The 1969 Z/28 was a racer first and a street car second. The car came with a hot 302 cubic-inch engine, a Hurst-shifted Muncie 4-speed transmission and 3.73:1 gears standard. This car has the optional Posi-Traction. It was repainted in its original LeMans Blue color with white stripes, and its rare Dark Blue interior is mostly original to the car. The odometer reads only 61,000 miles.
A rolling tribute to my uncle, the now completed car has traveled to the Camaro Nationals where it scored Gold in its first-ever judged event. It was a guest of the GM Plant Workers Reunion in Norwood, OH, where the car was built. The car was also featured at the 2013 Philadelphia Auto Show where it competed in a Camaro vs. Mustang competition.
My plan for the car now is simply to enjoy it. So, this spring we will remove the wheel caps and rings, replace the 2-inch exhaust system with something bigger, trade out the manifolds for headers and toss the smog kit into the weeds (ok, not really) and just drive it. We participate in fund-raising efforts with the local Camaro clubs– the Delaware Valley Camaro Club and South Jersey Camaro Club. What we really enjoy most about owning this car is it allows us to meet so many wonderful people, which we have certainly done.
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By Pete Jamieson New Castle, DE