Despite its commonality when launched, a Z28 from 1979 is not a car that gearheads get to rub bumpers with on a regular basis. Unlike its corporation cousin, the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the Camaro wasn’t getting all the love and care from every owner, so many of these classics are now lost. (It’s appropriate to call them what they are, even if they aren’t even 50 years old yet. And the age is random – after all, an SVT Cobra Mustang from 1993 is as much a classic as a ’64.5).
Granted, some build quality hindrances might have annoyed Camaro owners to the point where the TLC faded below the ‘I’ll keep it for my kids’ level. One nagging bug of the ‘79s was the disproportionate doors relative to their respective hinge mechanisms. The bushings weren’t up to the task of holding the long, heavy doors and wore out quickly. If we were cynical, we’d say that the Camaro nameplate had a rubber-consuming reputation to defend.
But there are exceptions to this saddening rule that haunts the Camaros from the Malaise. Some survivors are a splendid opportunity to bring back nostalgic smiles and youthful memories from 44 years ago. Look at the beautiful black Z28 example in the video – a perfect display of what top performance was like in the pony car segment from the closing year of the eighth decade.
There’s a lovely story about this Chevy: the car was bought new in 1979 by a discerning gearhead, and one year later, it was passed down to the man’s son (then in his high school years). The young man took a personal approach to piston addiction and painstakingly impeccably kept the Camaro. Months of ownership turned into years, years rolled into decades, the millennia turned over the hourglass, and the Camaro never changed its owner. In the meantime, the proud proprietor grows into a responsible man, starts a family of his own, and has a son (the youngster smiling next to his father’s heirloom Z28).
The 350 V8 is a Chevrolet monument of American automotive engineering – the same engine has powered trucks without batting a valve guide. With four degrees of camshaft timing retarding, the emissions could be slightly lowered, and the low-end torque could go up. This Z28 has some options, like the Turbo Hydramatic 350 three-speed gearbox (a $70 option in 1979), intermittent windshield wipers, cruise control, or cyclone wheels. The rear duckbill spoiler was standard on the Z28 and its little performance brother, the Rally Sport. Still, the brawny Z28 was the first Camaro to surpass the $ 6,000 mark for the manufacturer's suggested retail price.