Sometimes we find our Camaro projects when we least expect it. This is what happened to Rob Barretto back in 2007. “I wasn’t really in the market for a 'toy,' but I was on eBay looking at pictures of second-gen Firebirds and Trans Ams when I came across an interesting ’80 Camaro," mentions Rob. "It was faded and shabby, but looked solid in the pictures. I didn't win the auction, so it was no big deal since I wasn’t looking to buy anything anyway. I continued to search around, and for some reason I kept on ending up at this posting. It was like falling in love with a girl you barely knew. Just for grins, I called the guy and told him if the buyer changes their mind to give me a call.”
Rob didn’t hear back so he just assumed the car was gone. "About a month later the seller called to inform me that the auction winner didn’t want to pay to have the car shipped,” recalls Rob. “The seller told me that his reserve was $3,000, but that he really needed to get rid of the car and would negotiate. It needed work, but it was solid, so I bought it for $2,500. All I had to do next was explain to my wife why a rusty old car on four spare donut tires was sitting in the driveway. The wife was a little mad, but I convinced her to give me one year to get the car presentable, and done so with very little money. She agreed and my adventure began!”
Needing a little rust repair, Rob worked the body for a solid six months. Every day after work he would sand, align, and assemble. Jeff isn’t a painter, so while he was able to lay down some primer and do some block sanding, he left the final prep and paintwork to his friends Chris and Tom over at Thayers Auto Service in Commerce Township, Michigan. The bright Millennium Yellow paint helped the project get its nickname of “Double Take.”
The Camaro was dropped with a set of springs from Hotchkis while the handling was further tightened with some KYB shocks and poly bushings. Rolling stock consists of 18-inch Mondello wheels wrapped in Nitto 555 tires.
In 2009, he blew the original 350 at the Woodward Dream Cruise, so he called up GM Performance Parts and ordered up one of their hopped-up 350 small-blocks.
“Some people ask me why I didn’t just upgrade to a big-block." Informs Rob. "My answer is simple: I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a conversion, and I value the love of my wife!”
Hooker headers, a Flowmaster exhaust, along with a few other speed parts got his Camaro back on the road and running faster than ever. He also installed a rocking high-end audio system and worked over the interior. Both of these items were crucial since he drives the Camaro just about every day. Best of all, he pulled it off under budget and is still happily married.
Two for One Deal
It almost isn’t fair. Some people dream their whole lives of having a Camaro, while others have an abundance. A good example of this is Gary Kilbride and his two F-bodies. His first one is an ’82 Z28 he picked up back in 1989. As Gary told us, “I was tired of doing the four-door sedan thing because my wife and I had four boys. We got her an ’80 Cutlass and I decided it was time to buy her a real car. I wanted a third-gen Camaro. After a day of looking, I called my wife to tell her that all the Camaros I looked at were not what I was interested in. She mentioned that while shopping that day she saw one at a Nissan dealership near our house. Well, this turned out to be my third-gen.” Over the years, the Z28 has gotten fresh paint along with a stronger TH350 trans and a posi rearend. Eventually, he wants to tackle the suspension and tired small-block, but for now he’s just enjoying the ride. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had from a daily driver," Gary mused.
His other ride falls more on the new side in the form of an ’02 SS. “This is the first new car I ever bought. I’m not a convertible guy, and I don’t gravitate to the color red, but I do love this car. This purchase was to get one of the last Camaros to be built. Although we knew, or at least hoped, that the Camaro would make a comeback,” recalled Gary.
The ’02 has all the SLP options offered and is the six-speed version. Gary only takes it out on special occasions, which explains the scant 3,700 miles on the clock.
Typically, when we use the term “survivor” in relation to a car, it’s generally associated with a first- or second-gen Camaro. But let’s face it, enough time has passed that we need to open that envelope to encompass third-gens as well. After all, even a newer example, like Scott Mayo’s ’90 IROC-Z has been around for over 20 years of potential abuse. Scott is the car’s fourth owner and there’s only 21,000 miles on the ticker, or around 1,000 miles a year. As such, it’s in pristine shape. The IROC has all the right options including the 1LE package, 305 TPI engine, and five-speed manual transmission. “The 1LE package was developed so that Chevrolet would be competitive in the SCCA Showroom Stock Racing Series. For the ’88 and ’89 model years, only licensed SCCA drivers could purchase the 1LE package, but that restriction was lifted for the ’90 model year. The 1LE package would be included when the IROC was ordered with the G92 Performance Rear Axle and Air Conditioning Delete. "These are the COPO Camaros of their era,” relayed Scott. The option also added four-wheel disc brakes, 3.42 rear gears, an aluminum driveshaft, engine oil cooler, larger sway bars, Koni shocks, a baffled gas tank, and larger 12-inch front rotors with 'Vette calipers. This makes for a fairly rare Camaro; in fact, Scott’s is number 27 of only 34 made in 1990 with the 1LE and five-speed.
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