There's no arguing that the ultimate in First-Gen Camaros is the very rare and equally nasty ZL1. Of course, rarity carries a heavy price, and these aluminum 427 beasts are priced well out of the range of everyday enthusiasts. As a result, most original examples are stuffed away inside garages and museums, never being used for their intended purpose.
Every Camaro fan has probably dreamed about owning one at some time, but for Al Wallace it almost became an obsession. When he started searching for his next Camaro, the only real stipulation he had was that it was a Rally Sport. He finally found one advertised out in Southern California and had an appraiser go out and take a look at it. The report came back favorably and a deal was struck. The Camaro was originally a RS/SS 350, but back over the years it had lost its original engine and trans and had its factory Olympic Gold paint covered with LeMans Blue. It was just what Al was looking for because he wasn't interested in a numbers-matching car that he wasn't going to be able to modify or drive.
Fate always seems to have a way of intervening in the best laid plans, and when an errant driver took out the Camaro's front end, it ended up in the body shop for seven months. Seventy percent of the body was going to need to be repainted, so a color change was not going to be a problem. Al had always liked the COPO 9567 prototypes built by Vince Piggins and their black-and-gold color scheme. He figured that if he couldn't afford a real ZL1, he could at least have one that looked like one.
Then, a few months after the Camaro was back on the road, Al ran across an ad for an original ZL1 engine for sale in Florida. He called the seller, negotiated a deal, and flew to Florida to personally see it loaded on the truck. The trip proved beneficial: He was also able to talk the seller out of a rebuilt Turbo 400 trans and a curved-neck radiator.
After a lot of research and a long hunt for the correct parts, Al yanked the small-block out and swapped in the legendary big-block. He now has his ultimate Camaro, and when asked if he's going to drive it, he replies with an authoritative, "Hell yes, life's too short so you'd better enjoy it all you can and reach for your dreams. You may just grab hold of them and make them come true."
Al and Becky Wallace, Kettering, OH
'69 Camaro RS ZL1 clone
ZL1 aluminum 427 with forged 10.0:1 pistons, aluminum heads, and intake with Holley 850-cfm carb
Race-prepped Turbo 400
(F) Rebuilt stock with disc brakes
(R) 12-bolt with an Eaton 3.07:1 posi and stainless steel disc brakes
GM Rallys (15x7s & 15x8s)
BFGoodrich Radial T/As (215/65s & 245/60s)
PPG basecoat/clearcoat Black with Gold stripes by Marx Custom Body Shop, New Castle, OH