That’s a beautiful second-generation Camaro Z28 you’ve got there Omar — but it wasn’t something you were always after was it…
No, it wasn’t on my wish list but it was too good an opportunity to turn down. It was available for a decent price, usually these cars command a higher fee than what I paid for it, and so I decided to take a chance on it and I am really glad that I did because now I understand what the fuss is all about when it comes to the classic Z28. I guess you have to own one of these to really appreciate them.
It was imported from Japan and wasn’t nearly as nice as it looks now. While I started to restore it and bring it back to life I was falling deeper and deeper in love with it. It’s now been mine for two years and I hope it’ll still be mine for many more years to come.
So, what car were you actually after before you bought the Chevy?
I wanted a second generation Trans Am but just could not find a Pontiac for sale that I liked. It shared the same platform as the Camaro and the body is also very similar. I spoke to my dad because he used to own classics back in the day and I love and trust his car taste in cars. He told me to go for the Chevy and I am glad I did — I love my Camaro!
Tell us about the restoration work that you did to it….
Well, it had a pretty bad paint job, the body was a little rough and the interior was a mess so it needed quite a lot of work but fortunately the important things like the engine, transmission and the electrics were all OK.
I sorted out the cabin by re-upholstering the seats and the door cards, fixed the headliner, sorted out the cracks in the dash and lay down new carpet. Then the next thing to do was to sort out the exterior. A few panels needed to be realigned before the body was brought down to bare metal and resprayed.
Even though the drivetrain was solid, I improved the output of the 5.7-litre V8 by adding a larger carburettor, higher quality plugs and plug wires and a new coil. I also added a larger air filter and improved the cooling system by giving it twin fans. And since I added a new AC system, which blow nice cold air I can drive this all year round.
It ain’t no garage queen! These engines make a lot of low-end torque don’t they…
Yes, and it proves a lot of fun to drive. It has around 185bhp, which may not sound like much these days but it has double that amount in torque — more than enough to get it up and going pretty quickly — and plenty to smoke the rear tyres!
The original carburettor on the engine wasn’t in good condition and when I first drove the car I was very disappointed and thought it was very slow. But after changing the carb and tuning the engine, I have to say this Z28 is a real thrill to drive. It’s potent, chirps the wheels even up to second gear and it sounds like thunder. It’s a proper old- school muscle car and I love it. It also handles really well; no it isn’t as sharp as a Porsche 911 but for a large and heavy car it sure is fun to throw around. You can do U-turns using just the throttle by flooring it and breaking traction and it’ll spin around 90 degrees! Now that’s fun.
I make sure to take it for a drive at least three times a week and I love those days; I’ll end up taking it for a long drive even when I tell myself that all I want to do is to start it and let it idle for a while but the temptation is just too great!
You’ve really taken to this car haven’t you...
I’m really proud to own this classic, it brings me so much joy. I have always been a classic American muscle car fan and to own one now is just a real pleasure. I love cranking it up and then listening to the exhaust rumble away. It puts a huge grin on my face but I am not the only one — this car makes every passer-by that I see smile too. I am always getting the thumbs up from others and at the traffic lights I have noted many other drivers whip their smartphones out to get a photo of my car. That makes me feel happy and proud and it makes me realise that all my hard work on restoring this car has been worth the time, effort and money. My parents and family loves this car too, especially my wife. She spends as much time with it as I do!
She’s expecting your first child soon — does that mean a more practical car will be needed?
I already have a Toyota Prado that I use daily but I’ll purchase a new family car for my wife. My dream is to get a 1967 Pontiac GTO — but no, that isn’t very practical!
You could squeeze four people into that! Tell us about the time you entertained a bus full of tourists…
That was hilarious. I was on my way to work and pulled up next to a tour bus and noticed that the passengers were looking rather bored. So, I revved the engine a few times and it sure woke them from their slumber! They started laughing and waving and again, out came the mobile phones and cameras! I was glad that my car helped to brighten up their day!
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