PH CARPOOL: CHEVROLET CAMARO Z28
5.7 litres of Dee-troyt muscle? It's hard to argue with the appeal of that
Name: Matt Fullwood (300bhp/ton)
Car: 1999 Camaro z28
Owned since: Sep 2005
Previously owned: The Camaro was a direct replacement for my 1982 XJ-S 5.3 V12 HE. But I'd also owned a 200SX Turbo S13, MGB GT, a couple of MGF's, a Tdi Defender 90, modded Disco 200Tdi and at the time had a V8-powered TR7 which I still own today, although in 2005 it was laid up with a broken axle.
In short I wanted something fast! And in 2005 I believe I couldn't have bought anything any faster for the money that offered the same blend of age, reliability, running costs, practicality and rareness.
My love of American pony cars started with the black 1977 Trans Am SE as featured in the film Smokey and the Bandit. This is the car that started it for me and got me hooked. I've been a fan of this genre of car ever since.
Whatever I bought had to be a V8 and preferably a Chevy LS1, which created a rather concise shortlist.
So the fourth-generation F-body, being a 1560kg, svelte-looking coupe with plastic composite panels for (weight reduction), double-A arm front suspension and an all-alloy 5.7-litre motor kicking out 350hp, seemed to me at least, a highly logical choice.
Nothing really, I'd been researching them for some time prior to purchase, so nothing has been a surprise.
Things I love
The controversy it causes on PistonHeads maybe...?
But in truth it's that American soundtrack coupled to a capable and fun chassis and the speed the thing can move at.
I love that almost nobody in the UK knows what it is, and even when you tell them it's a Camaro, most seem none the wiser.
I also like the look of it and love the fact I can remove the roof while maintaining a coupe profile.
Things I hate
Never really loved the colour, but I can live with it. Oh, and not getting to use it as much as I'd ideally like!
£2.27 for a broken hazard warning switch, but apart from some oil and filters and tyres, nothing at all. Not bad for six years-worth of V8 motoring.
A full set of discs and pads cost £353 plus nothing for me to fit them, and a stainless SLP Loudmouth exhaust cost £250 so now it sounds like a muscle car!
I like to use the car whenever possible. So not only has it visited Santa Pod, but it's been camping to Devon and touring in the Lake District. If any of you here know what the Hardknott Pass is like, by the way, imagine it on a -2C November day with deserted roads in a powerful Rwd muscle car!
Every year the car will attend local car shows, the biggest being Classics on the Common in Harpenden where around 1200-1500 cars are displayed. It's a hugely fun event where the car received very positive comments as it burbled its way into the display area.
Sometimes I think I could swap it for something else, such as a 2003/4 supercharged Mustang Cobra, as this would give me a manual transmission and a car with badass looks and an easy 500+hp potential. But I think I'd miss the glass removable roof and that noise that only an OHV pushrod V8 can make.
So, what next? Well I reckon it'll be a loan to basically overhaul and improve the Camaro, replacing all bushes and ball joints. Uprating the suspension and the brakes, new 17" Torque Trust II alloys shod with sticky 275-section rubber, 3500rpm Yank Converter, long-tube headers and a 125 shot of nitrous. I would be aiming for 400bhp n/a and over 500bhp on the gas with handling and stopping power to match.