The one that got away. Most car guys have at least one story about a car long departed that evokes a quiet moment of reflection and personal suffering. Usually the stories involve a Bow Tie that might've had something special about it, or enough potential to fill a supertanker. Seldom does it involve one of the rarest cars Chevrolet ever made, the '67 Z/28. Out of 220,906 Camaros built in the 1967 model year, only 602 would have the special Z/28 option. That's less than half a percent of Camaro production!
Back in 1983, Ron Casadei was working for Anheuser-Busch in Newark, New Jersey, as a brewer alongside his dad. Life was good and Ron decided he wanted a fun car. Looking through the local Want Ad Press, he saw this: "1967 Z/28 ex-SCCA A-sedan for sale call after 4 p.m." Ron went to investigate, finding a '67 Camaro in rusty primer with a black vinyl top so dry-rotted it was peeling away like skin from a birch tree, and rust all over the top of the car, but the floors were in great shape, and the options Ron could see told him this was a car worth having.
The 12-bolt rear with a "funny looking bar on the passenger side," center console with gauges, tach, fold down rear seat, power disc brakes, and a four-point rollbar hinted at the car's racing past. After some haggling, the owner settled for a price of $1,300 for the car, and Ron took his new toy home.
With the help of his good friend Randy Kurachik, the '67 Z was disassembled for restoration. In Randy's home garage, the motor was pulled, and Ron discovered it had a forged steel crank, with forged pistons, big valve heads, and a factory aluminum intake and distributor. Even the Rally wheels had DF codes and matched the car. Checking the bore and stroke, Ron found he had an authentic 302 engine and that the car might really be a Z/28. Being 1983, the trim tags hadn't been decoded yet by restoration experts, so Ron looked at everything the car had in it, factory aluminum intake, factory tach with a 6,000 rpm redline, and a small-block heater cover, and determined it probably was a real Z.
In Randy's garage they set out to restore the car back to streetworthy condition. All new GM sheetmetal was bought at the local Chevy emporium at dealer cost (GM was just starting to discontinue some parts for the car, like valve covers, headlamp trim bezels, taillight bezels, and other trim parts), and with no real Camaro aftermarket except for Rick's first-generation Camaro, a lot of parts had to be cleaned up and reused. The bolt-in rollbar the car came with was also removed. Ron admits that the first restoration wasn't the best job in the world, but at the time it was just fine for him. With new sheetmetal in place, the '67 was lacquered in Corvette Arctic White, and black Z/28 stripes applied to the top. In 1984 the car was finished and back together.
Ron enjoyed three years of weekend cruising in the Z/28, going to races to watch friends, and enjoying it as much as possible. In 1988, the bug bit him to buy a new Corvette, but to do so meant selling the '67. After about five months, Ron sold the car to another New Jersey resident, but the joy of the new Corvette didn't last long before regret started growing about selling the Z/28. After a 12-year hiatus from the car hobby, Ron got the bug again, purchasing an Olympic Gold '69 RS Z/28, and later a '68 Z/28. But the '67 still held a spot in his heart, the car's VIN still clear in Ron's mind. Starting with the Camaro Research Group and the help of Rich Fields, its webmaster, the car was tracked down to its current owner at the time in Texas.