1969 Chevy Camaro SS - Joy Ride

Mark Miyamoto's Sly Z10 Pace Car...Coupe

Ro McGonegal Sep 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
0909chp_01_z 1969_chevy_camaro_ss Front_side_shot 2/12

So it's a weird clone or something of Miyamoto's twisted sense of humor, right? All those Pace Cars were convertibles, weren't they? According to popular history (as well as archival proof), the RPO Z10 Coupe was an option but only in certain geographic locales (no reason given) during the 1969 Indy season. In this case, the lucky states likely included Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Production estimates range from 250 to 500 units, all of them built at the Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant (apparently the Van Nuys facility was under a union strike at this time).

"I bought the car from a guy in southeast Texas and had it transported to Southern California. It was in pieces," Mark Miyamoto said. Once it was under his wing, Mark took the basket case to Hazleton in Gardena, California, for the PPG Dover White/Hugger Orange signature.

Although the demeanor was to continue the revitalization without halt, Mark soon sank into dreaded limbo, where all the good intentions and febrile rush condense into a cantankerous waiting game. Stuff happens, you know.

"After it was painted, I brought it home...where it sat in my garage for the next three years. I worked on it on weekends, but at that rate, I soon realized that I might be dead before the car got finished. I made some progress but eventually handed the project over to Mike Saiki at Motivational Engineering in Carson."

Mike Saiki, you might remember, builds some hellacious radial tire race cars. Akin to that pursuit, Saiki constructs a mean street car via the disciplines of race car building. "Mike had a clear vision of what I wanted," said Mark. "He's very detail-oriented and knowledgeable with all his projects, a true perfectionist; hence the car looks and runs perfect. Before we go further, let me say that nothing at all would have happened unless my LOVING [caps are Mark's-Ed.] wife told me to go ahead and buy the Camaro that I always wanted."

Aware that the First-Gen F-bodies were not paragons of handling or anything else save for laying long, black stripes on asphalt, Mark aimed to undo that knot. Sure, there was the Z28, but it pales when pitched against matched, modern aftermarket suspension components available from almost anywhere these days.

It was Mike's idea to make the small-block look mostly stock, too, but with some high-tech highlights-stainless fasteners and Earl's black braided fuel lines and fittings-but mainly he wanted to restore the look of the original engine, ZL2 cold-air intake and all. The theme is daily-driver reliable. Not too much grunt, but a whole lot of handling and braking power easily over-match the power quotient. At a glance, it looks like Pro Touring (how about Pro Fun instead?) but is not.

Mike naturally blew the car apart to get at the chassis (smoothed and powder coated), redo the motor, and install the interior. Along the way he glommed an M22 four-speed. Right. No overdrive, lots of noise beneath the boards. Some people just like it that way and aren't slaves to all the popular tenets of Pro Touring.

"Some of the best advice I received when building the car was 'If you're going to keep it, then do what you want,'" confided Mark. "It's worth more if restored to factory specs, but it's not as fun... Isn't having fun what this whole thing is about? Nothing we've done is irreversible and there's nothing that can't be placed back to factory spec." To a caretaker of some bit of automotive history, that notion is most sacred.




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