Factory-built small-block muscle doesn’t get much better than a First-Gen Z/28. What the high-winding little 302 may have lacked in torque was more than made up for in top-end fun. In later years the Z/28 would become more of an exterior dress-up package with little in the way of performance mods to back it up. But in 1967 the Z/28 was in its purest form. There were no badges to warn the Ricky Racer in the next lane that innocently pulled up next to it. In some ways this stealthy look may have contributed to the low production run of only 602 units. Most musclecars buyers wanted flash, looks were almost as important as performance. GM really didn’t care as long as they produced enough to get the engine eligible for racing on the Trans-Am circuit where the Z/28s showed their true potential.
The Z pictured here was purchased new in Arizona by Albert Bricklin, the son of Malcolm Bricklin, designer/builder of the gullwinged Bricklin sports car. The Camaro stayed with Bricklin’s untill the mid-’70s and then traded hands several times during the next 10 years until in
located the Camaro there and identified it as one of the rare Z/28s. He tried, unsuccessfully, several times to get the owner to sell, but then one day in 1989 the owner finally relented and let the Z loose.
Ellis brought the Camaro home on a trailer and spent the next two-and-a-half years restoring it to as close to factory new as he could. The 302 was sent out to Jim’s Racing in Peoria, Illinois, to be machined and then reassembled by Ellis with stock GM pieces. The suspension was brought back to new with rebuilt and original components. The body was sent out to Topline Autobody in Creve Coevr, Illinois, where the original panels were straightened and covered in the original Marina Blue with black stripes.
In 1993 he took it to the Camaro Nationals in Dearborn, Michigan, and scored 940 out of 1,000 points. Ellis showed the Z/28 for the next couple of years but was then faced with a divorce and was forced to sell his pride and joy. The Camaro bounced around again from dealer to dealer for the next eight years and finally ended up at the Mecum auction at the Goodguy’s show in Pleasanton in March of 2001.
This is where Brett Radanof comes in. Like so many Camaro enthusiasts, Brett had always wanted a First-Gen Z/28 and a ’67 would be a dream come true. Brett stepped up and drove away with his dream car. He showed it at several shows that summer, but was met with lackluster interest. It seemed that most people still didn’t recognize the rare wonder for what it was.
Brett felt the car needed some dressing up and knew just what he needed to do. Brett turned his attention to the engine much like a buyer in 1967 would have. He located an original crossram intake and dual-quad setup, swapped in a GM “140” off-road cam, and added a transistorized ignition. These simple, although hard to find, additions were all that was needed to grab the attention Brett was looking for. As a bonus, these add-ons gave the stout little mouse an added kick that Brett enjoys every time he takes it out for a