This is beautiful.
Thor Mollmann does it his way and winds up with one of the neatest projects yet, unsullied and unaffected by the boredom that inevitably follows the usual modern convention.
Thor's original '68 Z28/RS doesn't languish in some unapproachable salon icon-like, only to be admired but never driven, as if its appearance in the light of day or contact with the grit of tarmac would suddenly diminish it; might cause it to vanish in a rare vapor. There's always the off-chance it could be taken out by some hump in a $3 beater. It's much too valuable, too precious for that, right? Thor smirked, harrumphed, and then strove to bring some heat to the traditional contract.
To prove the point, car builder Cris Gonzalez (JCG Restorations & Customs, Oxnard, California) drove the Camaro from Thor's home in Ventura, California, to south Orange County and laid the keys on Editor Nick with the stipulation that he should try to hurt it, do his worst. Fine attitude, that.
Californian Thor found this genuine article a well-known island chain in the middle of the Pacific. It had been a race car of some sort all of its days and the engine it came with wasn't even close to the bright-day 302 of record. It flustered Thor not in the least. He wanted a high-rpm but torquey and powerful small-block based on the original internal dimensions. No mega-stroker, nitrous folly, or supercharged air. In fact, he made no popular concessions at all, just atmospheric in, atmospheric out.
"It's a high-winding motor. It's not meant to be chugging at the bottom of the rpm band," said Gonzalez. "Thor's goal was to build the Z/28 like he knew them in his high school days. He isn't old enough  to have experienced this when the cars were new, but there were still a lot of them being used every day. He's of German heritage so he firmly believes in heirlooms. He has three young sons and a daughter, and the first one will get this car. Eventually, he wants to do a car for each one of his kids."
Thor's toil produces the wherewithal but leaves little time for family outings or turning wrenches. The hard-core of Thor's legacy is his work as a firefighter who maintains as many overtime hours as possible. In light of the recent epic 260-square-mile burn near his neighborhood, he's been getting plenty of that. He's also a military reservist who spends weeks at camp every year, so family quality time becomes his priority at every opportunity.
"The car was owned by Larry McGee [race driver] who then sold to a guy named Rodney Camaro in Hawaii," related Thor. "I bought it in 2002. It had a built 396 and it was pretty fast. We rebuilt the car for my sons, now 4 and 6. My 1-year-old baby boy is also now part owner. I did this so they could learn to appreciate American muscle car history. And they are big fans of Disney cars and Lightning McQueen. They love to ride in it. Even my daughter loves to ride in it."
Thor wanted cornered-rat ferocity from the miniscule mouse, but he also wanted it to be completely streetable, to start, idle, and honk around town like one in a modern vehicle, even though it wouldn't be doing this on a daily basis. Since he's unlikely to be present at any given time, Thor named Cris Gonzalez his emissary and the Z/28 his ward. Consequently, Gonzalez has been having lots of fun beating up on Thor's heirloom.