1981 Chevy Camaro Z28 - Self Medication

Mike Coughlin's 1,400-Mile '81 Z28

Ro McGonegal Feb 1, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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"After looking at the pictures closer, I noticed the car had an Ohio license plate on it. Looking closer at the plate, it had a 21 on the corner, which [denotes] Delaware County, the same county I am from. So I emailed the fellow for more info, he gave me his phone number, and I called him. I was standing outside on my driveway, on my cell phone, and after a while I asked about the location of the car. He said, 'Do you know where Bean-Oller road is?' I said 'Do I know where it is, I can see it from here!' I thought to myself, 'This is too good to be true!'"

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That last phrase suggests foreshadowing and that maybe the package wasn't all Mike thought it was. It was too good to be true, but it was what it was: genuine and complete.

"I went to look at it and sure enough it was exactly what I was looking for. It turns out that this fellow had bought the car from the original owner about seven years prior. It would have been for his son to drive, so he'd updated the belts, hoses, tires, and battery to get it 'road ready' but decided to go another direction because he felt that the car was just too nice to drive. We talked back and forth a bit and agreed on a price, and I bought the car, got dropped off at his place, and drove it home-about a three-mile drive. The car is absolutely spotless and all stock. It was just one of those deals that seemed too good to be true," exclaims Mike.

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As for the car's incredible preservation: "The original owner bought it and put it away in a controlled atmosphere, perhaps not in a strict climate-controlled environment, but one good enough to produce results you see here," says Mike. "Though it appears absolute, the car has some very small issues, in that it's not perfect but I'm not worrying about it. The interior is perfect. The car is absolutely bone stock except for the tires, battery, hoses, and belts. I was just flat lucky to find it, and so close to my house."

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The example now in Coughlin's stable could have easily been a zooted-up press vehicle of the day. It was loaded with all the opportunistic stuff imaginable-from air conditioning, to lift-off roof, to that schizoid silver-colored leather, and every imaginable option. This writer was working at Motor Trend in 1978 when Pontiac released the Tenth Anniversary Trans Am (Mike has one of those, too). It was slathered in metallic silver leather upholstery that was later re-effected for the '81 Z28 you see here, and was not available in any other model year.

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As a Z28, Mike's car was equipped with the F41 suspension package (special shock valving, higher rate springs, and matching antisway bars) and 15x7 styled steel wheels shod with P225x70R15 tires. It has the RPO LM1 350ci, 175hp (165hp California) V-8; either a 200C or Turbo 350 transmission (automatic only with the 350), and computer-controlled torque converter clutches for Second and High gear. If you wanted to stab a clutch, you could only do so behind the much-maligned RPO LG4 305.

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A functional cold air intake hood had been carried over from the '80 Z28 and included cowl induction. In terms of air exchange, it was teamed with functional fender ports (or louvers) that extracted hot under-hood air to the outside. The cowl hood was first available on the '80 Z28. The rear-facing hood scoop fed cool ambient air to the carburetor via a solenoid triggered by a switch connected to the accelerator pedal. At full-throttle, it opens wide, but stays shut during part-throttle.

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