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1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - Quarter Flash

Patrick Hill Jul 1, 2010
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While its SS396 and 427-powered brothers were meant for quick sprints down the 1320, the '67 Z/28 was engineered as a long-legged marathon runner of road courses, a special to homologate an engine for the SCCA's Trans-Am racing series. Still, many of the 602 produced that first year found their way into the drag racing arena in Stock and Super Stock classes.

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This particular Tahoe Turquoise car was bought by Walter Ray Fairall from A.D. Anderson Chevrolet in Baltimore on July 21, 1967. As Ray was shopping, he came across two Z/28s, one white with black stripes, the other turquoise with white stripes-both with the Rally Sport option. Ray picked the Turquoise example, with its parchment interior and 4.10 gear-equipped rear end being the deciding factors.

It wasn't long before Ray couldn't resist taking his new F-body to nearby 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia, Maryland, to see what it could do. With 1,800 miles on the odometer, the Z/28 racked up some high 13-second passes around the 105 mph mark. The car later spent a lot of its life as a weekend warrior at Capital Raceway (Crofton, Maryland). In 1975, Ray decided to get serious with it, converting the Z to race in NHRA's new C/Super Modified class. Most of the original parts were pulled for the conversion, and the color was changed to black with silver stripes.

Fairall and his racing partner, Willie Hornberger, raced the car successfully in C/Super Modified, winning the Modified Eliminator crown at Capital Raceway in August of 1975. After a few years of running that category, Ray and Willie converted the car to run as a Super Gas bracket machine.

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After 18 years of ownership, Rays sold the car. For a tumultuous short period, the Camaro changed hands four times, the final purchaser being John McLaughlin in late 1986. McLaughlin put the car back together to run on the street and strip with Rat power and a fiberglass front end. This is how the car remained until March of 2006, when renowned Camaro expert and author Jerry MacNeish entered the picture.

MacNeish owned and raced the original '68 Z/28 that was prepared when new by Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins and driven to the 1968 NHRA Super Stock world championship by the late Dave Strickler. "The Old Reliable" car was perhaps the most famous and valuable first-gen Camaro on the planet and Jerry had been racing it in Stock Eliminator. With the prices of original race cars skyrocketing, Jerry felt it was prudent to retire the F-body and build something else. The Strickler car was restored to its original '68 race trim and parked (it was a no-sale at auction, failing to hit its reserve).

Now in need of a new car to race, Jerry knew the turquoise Camaro's history from his days running at Capital Raceway. Jerry raced a '69 SS396 Chevelle then and struck up a friendship with Ray. Both men knew the Camaro was a rare piece, but since factory production numbers were unknown at the time, neither had any idea how uncommon it actually was. When MacNeish learned Ray's old Z/28 was for sale, he had to have it. An added bonus was that Ray had kept all the car's original documentation, including the dealer invoice, service records, Protect-O-Plate, dealer inspection form, and more.

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Since the car's original drivetrain was God-knows-where, Jerry decided to restore the car back to mostly original condition and race it in NHRA's Stock Eliminator class. Stock Eliminator is a haven for factory muscle cars, where almost everything on the car has to be just the way it was when new from the factory, including cylinder head casting numbers, intake manifolds and stock-size carbs (modern safety equipment, tires, and wheels being some of the exceptions).

The Camaro's body was stripped down, and NOS quarter-panels, floor sections, and fenders were installed. Once the metal was straight, the body was reshot in its original Tahoe Turquoise with white stripes. On the inside, an original parchment interior was installed, along with a factory steering wheel.

For power, Jerry found an original 302 engine, and Bub Whitaker of Burtonsville Machine in Maryland was given the job of building the NHRA-legal Stocker bullet. It was given an 0.030-inch overbore, refreshed forged crank, and original GM pistons with forged connecting rods. Since class rules prohibit porting of any kind, the stock Z/28 heads were left untouched and the stock-sized valves were given a three-angle valve job.

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A Crane cam was installed (stock lift, per the rules), along with a fresh stock valvetrain that included original "O"-stamped steel Z/28 rocker arms. Behind the 302 is a Jerico four-speed with Bonafanti clutch parts sending power to a GM 12-bolt rear with Posi-traction and 5.86 gears hung on a fresh set of monoleaf rear springs.

In October of 2008, once the car was back together and running right, Jerry took the '67 to the NHRA Virginia Nationals for its debut in Stocker trim. In the cool fall air, the Camaro laid down a 10.79 at 121.6 mph on its first run. Jerry eventually took the D/Stock trophy for the event. A few weeks later at the NHRA Pennsylvania Dutch Nationals, the Camaro fired off a 10.60 at 124 mph. A year later, at Maple Grove again, the Camaro ran a best of 10.57 at 124.5 mph, only three hundredths off the NHRA D/Stock national record of 10.54. Jerry firmly believes that with the right conditions, the old Z/28 can claim the class record.

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High 10-second elapsed times at over 120 miles per hour? Not bad for a little 302 ci small-block that usually carved corners instead of taking home Wallys.



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