The long timeline of human history is punctuated by our many great achievements: the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, the industrial revolution, the Wright brothers taking to the skies, and somewhere around 1969—the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS.
Jim Goodlad has been lucky enough to own one of these legendary muscle cars not once, but twice. In an odd twist of the fate, it just so happens to have been the same car both times! Jim put quite a bit of work into owning and restoring this piece of American history but has also had a whole lot of fun rolling down the road making some history of his own.
The story of this twice-around Z/28 started when Jim purchased the car in 1988 from a collection in North Carolina. He made a few improvements to make the car more roadworthy and then drove it to nearly every Camaro event in the USA and Canada. While the Camaro was solid, it was in need of a restoration. At the time, Jim didn’t have the money for such an undertaking so he sold the car to a friend with the agreement that it be offered back to him if it ever came up for sale again.
Amazingly, Jim got the chance to buy his Camaro back in 2000. He drove the car again for about a week before making the call to put it up on the rotisserie for a frame-off restoration. Cheap or fast rarely go together in auto restorations, so with the car slow-cooking at the body shop Jim had plenty of time to turn on the “way-back machine” and uncover the car’s true history.
Starting with the DMV in North Carolina where he originally purchased the car, Jim found out it was once titled in Maryland. The next call to Maryland had Jim on the phone once more, this time with the Chevy dealer in Virginia that had originally sold the car. Not only was the dealership still open, it was at the same address! After Jim got Sales Manager Larry Flynn to promise not to laugh, he asked if they might happen to have a record of a Camaro they sold in March over 39 years ago. “We just might. Call me back in a few hours,” said Larry.
The two-and-a-half years it took to restore the car seemed like a few minutes compared to those two hours Jim spent waiting to call Larry back. When Jim finally made the call there was good news. Larry began rattling off the contents of the bill of sale. Yes, it really was a genuine Fathom Green numbers-matching X33 Z/28 RS with a Midnight Green Deluxe interior. Jim made the pilgrimage to Bob Peck Chevrolet in Arlington, Virginia, about a month later to collect the original paperwork required to authenticate the car. The folks at Bob Peck Chevrolet even offered to have the paperwork notarized.
While a small-block V-8 and rear-wheel drive is a timeless formula for success, Jim decided to update the equation with a ZZ430 engine and Tremec TKO 600 transmission. He started out by disassembling a perfectly good GM Performance 385 Fast Burn crate engine and sending the block and assembly out to Mississauga Engines for a zero decking and balance. Jim reassembled the bottom end and stabbed a GM Hot Cam into the valley.
The heads were treated to a five-angle valve job and a bit of mild porting before being cinched back up to the block topped with a set of GM 1.6 roller rockers and Crane pushrods. With a little port matching on the GM intake and a Holley 750, Jim was good to go. The engine kicks out 447 hp thanks to modern carburetor tuning by way of an Innovate Motorsports LM-1 wideband O2 air/fuel ratio meter. Jim sealed the original 302 and Muncie M21 in a top-secret location.
Rowing through the gears of the Tremec is handled by a Hurst Blackjack shifter, while a 3 1/2-inch Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft gnashes the limited-slip 3.73 gearset inside the GM 12-bolt rearend housing. Jim kept the suspension factory but added a few modern updates for a firmer grip on the road. Some Energy Suspension bushings got squeezed in place of the original rubber and KYB gas-charged shocks went on all four corners. The stock brakes work better thanks to some modern tire technology in the form of Goodyear Eagle GT 235/60R15 tires.
Taking an iconic car like the 1969 Camaro Z/28 into the future while holding onto its proud heritage is a job Jim enjoys and is reminded of every time he gets behind the wheel. Sweeping First in Class at the Camaro Nationals and clicking off an 11.99 at the local dragstrip in the same day is the most prized reward.
A modern classic that kicks out 447 horsepower on pump gas and turns just 2,150 rpm at 70 mph on the highway is just what Jim had in mind when he set out to build his dream car the second time around. Only this time he’ll be holding onto the dream.
Jim states, “It will be a very long time before I sell this car again.”
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