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1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - Z28 take Two

An online auction basket case gets transformed into one stunning Car Show winner

Jul 27, 2007
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To the general public a "daily driver" means some form of gas-sipping import or half-hearted domestic compact car, but second-gen Camaro owner Jeff Pont will have none of that, thank you very much! You see, Jeff's first love affair wasn't with little Suzie down the street. Jeff's first crush came in the form of a dark metallic green Camaro Z28. At the tender age of 15, the young buck would feverishly pedal his Schwinn Stingray past Suzie's house at just under warp speed to spend time with his favorite car. The neighbor who owned it was kind enough to let Jeff wash it on weekends. To some this sounds like work, but to Jeff it was an absolute privilege.

One day he and his dad were driving home from running errands. Taking the usual route, they passed the house where his favorite green Camaro resides. Only this time Jeff noticed the unthinkable: the metallic green machine he'd devoted so much time dreaming about had a "For Sale" sign taped inside the rear window.

Remember, being only 15 years old at the time, Jeff didn't have a driver's license, but he still wanted that car. He knew in his heart that this Camaro was somehow going to be his. Jeff did everything he could in order gain possession of the car: he drained his savings account, did odd jobs around the neighborhood and even got a loan from his grandmother. His hard work and perseverance paid off: he finally became the proud owner of one badass 1970 Z28 Camaro.

Once Jeff was old enough to drive the car, he and his father rebuilt the engine and upgraded the interior with new upholstery and carpet. It wasn't long before he was entering the car in some local shows and even taking home a few trophies.

Years later Jeff packed up and left rain-soaked Oregon and headed due south for drier pastures in sunny Southern California. Unfortunately, moving ain't cheap. He was forced to sell the Camaro to cover the cost of relocating.

Since car culture is a way of life for many in SoCal, Jeff was eager to fit in. He began to acquire a nice stable of vintage muscle-two tri-fives and a deuce coupe for starters.

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This consummate car guy had a nearly completed '32 Ford that was unfortunately involved in a shop fire (another story in itself), so his weekend cruising plans were abruptly put on hold for at least a year. It was then he made the decision to build a musclecar that he could have on the road sooner than later-a daily driver he could enjoy anytime without worry of rock-chips or door-dings. And with fond memories of the metallic dark green '71 still in his head, the vehicle of choice was easy: a 1971 Z28. He envisioned a mild build with a big-block, not too over-the-top, that would be street-ready in a couple of months.

A quick search on eBay netted the find Jeff was looking for: a reasonably priced 1971 Z28 that needed work, but wasn't a total basket case. He put in an aggressive bid on the car and was the high bidder by the auction's end. Being on the East Coast, the car needed to be shipped out West for restoration. Like in the online description, the car arrived basically stock, with the exception of a big-block. Jeff liked the idea of keeping the rat motor, so he went to Rex Buxton of Buxton Motorsports in Irvine, California, to handle the build. Rex is big on power, so it was a perfect fit.

Jeff's original plan was to keep the build mild and simple and to have it on the road within a few months. But Buxton had other ideas for the car. Rex's plans included building a more show-style car with tons of chrome and shine in the engine bay. Jeff, eager to get the project started, met Rex halfway and they agreed on a build that would include a considerable amount of shiny stuff under the hood and incorporate performance suspension components necessary to eat up the street at the crack of the throttle.

Continuing with that plan, the duo went with a 4L60 transmission and 2,500-stall lockup converter. In order to handle that kind of power, a 12-bolt limited-slip rearend with 3.73 gears became part of the mix.

With a tasty blend of performance upgrades in the drivetrain, the chassis was next in line. They agreed that the car would also need to take a low and aggressive stance. So Bell Tech 2-inch drop spindles, Global West Tubular A-arms and coilovers with QA-1 adjustable shocks were bolted up front, while Deaver 2-inch lowering springs and 1-inch billet aluminum lowering-blocks would suffice in the rear.

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Baer brakes took charge of the stopping duties with a Bear Claw 13-inch rotor Track System up front and 11-inch discs in the rear.

American Torq-Thrust IIs at all four corners keep the vintage look in check (17x6 front and 17X8 rear), while Kumho ECSTA SPT tires keep a firm grasp of the road.

The interior was an important factor in the build to Jeff, so Bill's Upholstery in La Habra, California, was called upon to stitch up a custom ensemble with leather seats and door panels complementing the one-of-a-kind carpeting piece featuring special edition Z28 emblems.

Surly Silver pearl stripes adorn the smooth Indigo Blue exterior, giving the car a beastly musclecar look of the '70s era.

A thorough trip around the car might lead one to mistake this gorgeous F-body as living life as a pampered trailer-queen of sorts-this is hardly the case. Jeff wanted to make a point that the car was originally built as a driver, and although it came out much nicer than his original plan, it still gets driven on a regular basis.



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