For some reason, the one place that my mind finally relaxes, my phone goes in my pocket and I tune out the world at large is at a car show, race or on the road in my 1968 Z/28 Camaro. I don’t need to pay for therapy because the sound of an engine seems to reduce the glitches of my day-to-day nonsense to nothing. Cars are not just pieces of metal, plastic and leather slopped together. They are mobile works of art that shed light on the dynamic of the generation in which they were made.
Muscle cars have been and will always be my favorite cars, especially those like my first-generation Z/28 with an 8 cylinder 302 engine. GM rolled out the Z/28 performance package to offer virtually “race-ready” Camaros for sale from any Chevrolet dealer. The story of how it came into my possession is a great one. My father, Joe, sparked my passion for all things auto, just like his father did for him. My dad grew up in a typical, middle-class family, but they were atypical in the fact that my grandfather was always trading in cars for the newest and coolest GM, Ford, Pontiac, etc. It came time for the annual trade-in, at which point my dad headed to Jack Maxton Chevrolet. His mother, Connie, wanted a family car that was easy for her to get into and drive around town. By some miracle of God, my then 17-year-old father convinced his parents that the perfect solution for the family was a souped-up muscle car!
My dad was a popular guy in high school, but the brand-new Camaro sealed the deal. I remember when I still lived in NYC, I randomly bumped into a man from Columbus who talked about a kid named McAllister, who drove the coolest car in school, a 1968 Z. Turns out, he and my father were buddies!
Dad drag raced at National Trail Raceway, but as of today, has only managed to put a little over 30K miles on the thing. Nowadays, the Z only graces the masses with its presence on sunny, warm days throughout the spring, summer and fall months, mostly because I’m extremely paranoid about taking her out. If anything ever happened to her, I believe my father might murder me. No, he definitely would murder me. It’s not the most powerful, nor the most perfect car you’ll see at a cruise-in, but it is typically the only one that has stayed in one family, without any restoration to the interior or exterior. That is extremely rare. It’s got a few dings and scratches, which only adds to its badass, tough- around-the-edges, no-muss-or-pomp personality. It’s the epitome of an American car made during an iconic decade and still, more than 40 years later, its character is still the perfect representation of 100-percent All-American pride and power.