No doubt, most of us dream about that elusive barn find in hopes that dumb luck will lead us to a super cool piece of vintage automotive treasure. Well, the lucky stars didn’t so much align for Dean Smarr as he just kept his eyes peeled for the right car to come his way. A longtime second-gen Camaro fan, Dean caught wind of a 1970 Z28 that was rumored to have been purchased brand new in 1970 then put away for safe keeping in 1977.
Turns out it was more than just a rumor. The car actually existed and was in Milton, West Virginia. Turns out the original owner had parked the car in his barn back in 1977, as he wanted to keep it in good condition until he retired so he could enjoy driving it throughout his golden years. Unfortunately, in 2010, shortly after retirement he passed away and the car never made an encore performance. It wasn’t until 2014 that his wife decided to clean the car a bit and put it up for sale.
“There were quite a few people interested in the car before me,” Dean tells. “But they had all thought the engine was locked up so they passed on it. Locked up or not, I bought the car anyway and took it home with the help of my friends Don and Jimmy. Turns out that only the smog pump was locked up—not the engine. We put a battery in it, poured in some gas, and the car started right up.”
The glovebox was stuffed with original paperwork, including the owner’s manual, Protect-O-Plate, bank statements, order form, original title, appraisal sheet, pre-delivery check sheet, etc.
Dean did some research and found out the car is one of 8,333 Z28s built for 1970. The nicely preserved Camaro came with a 350 LT-1, four-speed trans, power brakes, and no power steering. With 82,000 miles on the ticker, the owner was all about driving the car as that equates to about 11,700 miles a year. And the fact that he ordered the ride with a manual transmission and no power steering tells us he was a true man’s man, or he wanted to make sure his wife stayed out of the driver’s seat.
The paperwork indicated the car was purchased from Rex McCormick Chevrolet in Kenova, West Virginia, on July 1, 1970, and the car has never left the state. The surprising thing to Dean is that the AM radio, lights, and all the gauges are still in excellent working order.
Dean’s immediate plans are to go through the car and replace all the belts and hoses and brakes so he can get it roadworthy. “I’ve always wanted an original, early second-gen Camaro that I can drive regularly,” Dean tells. “I also want to take this cool survivor to some car shows so other enthusiasts can appreciate it as well.”