Any First-Generation Camaro is a rare sight on Australian streets-if you imported a brand-new Z/28 back in 1969, you would have probably had the only one in the country.
The original owner of this Hugger Orange Z, Maurice Della-Valle, must have felt pretty special on the day he drove his brand-new, right-hand-drive Z/28 out of a Sydney dealer's showroom in 1969. Maurice kept the car for 16 years, and in that time he drove just 11,000 miles-which averages out to less than 700 miles per year . But Maurice wasn't your average Sunday driver. On any summer Sunday Maurice could be found putting the 302 through its paces down the quarter-mile at Sydney's Castlereagh drag strip.
The sight of a genuine American musclecar lined up against Aussie classics, like the Chevy-powered Holden Monaros, GT Falcons and Valiant Chargers of the day, would have created quite a spectacle in the early '70s.
Maurice kept racing until matrimony interrupted his drag racing career some time in the late seventies. The car was carefully stored until 1985, when it became the prize possession of another Camaro enthusiast, Julian Spad. Julian tidied up the car, and although he showed it regularly around Sydney, he put very few miles on the odometer.
Canberra Camaro enthusiast Shane Richards was one of many people, including myself, who admired the car at shows and were blown away by the fact that such a good-quality, low-mileage example of a real American musclecar had survived the '70s and '80s without the addition of bonnets scoops, flared guards and the other '80s mods that have devalued so many cars of this era.
Camaro-obsessed Shane, whose backyard looks like a parking lot for First-Generation Camaros, vowed that he would one day own the car and began calling Julian on a regular basis.
For eight years Shane got an emphatic "This car is not for sale" reply from Julian. But the combined forces of matrimony and paternity that have caused so many great cars to trade hands once again intervened, and Julian agreed to sell the car. In 1998 Shane got his Camaro, Julian got his house ... and we all know what happens next.
Like Julian before him, Shane has had very little to do to the car except drive it. The Z/28 now shows 27,000 miles on the odometer. The Hugger Orange paint is good as new, and everything except for the steering weel is exactly where the factory placed it on this matching-numbers classic. It sports its original DZ 302, a Muncie four-speed, 3.73 gears and no options.
The Camaro is a regular sight at shows and on the streets. Shane's only addition has been a set of 8-inch Rally wheels and four red-walled Yokohamas which make the car even more driveable.
Shane says he plans to convert the car back to left-hand drive, but for now, he'll keep driving it-unless of course the forces of matrimony and paternity once again cause this Camaro to change hands.