PH Carpool: Chevrolet Camaro Z28



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.


Why I bought it
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.


What I wish I'd known
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 love how it attracts positive attention most places you go and how everyone has to look over whenever you start it or throw a rev.

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!

Costs
£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!


Where I've been
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.

What next?
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 while change is appealing, I think it's really a keeper long-term. The new Camaro doesn't really do it for me and a new Mustang or an Evora is way over my budget.

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.





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Comments (209) Join the discussion on the forum

  • 300bhp/ton 30 Nov 2011

    LuS1fer said:
    sparkster8 said:
    Just seen a '98 on the R Mustang on ebay, 4.6 GT with a manual box for £3900 been around a while so I imagine that £3500 or maybe less would buy it, however my question is about the lump. Obviously it doesn't compare with an LS1 at all. I just wondered if anyone here knows if they are much good from a performance point of view? Just curious as it's not the dearest thing in the world and a manual box helps........

    Is it the same lump that is in the MG ZT260 ?
    The GT made about 215hp. It's not really a performer and the later V6s made nearly as much. The Cobra made 305hp and is the one to look for though early ones didn't make the full herd of 305 horses even though Ford put out a major recall to get them re-shoed. The Cobra did get IRS though (albeit nothing to write home about).

    Ford have always tried to keep up with the Camaro in terms of performance but failed until 2002 when they brought out the 390hp supercharged Terminator just as the F-Body kissed the world goodbye.

    The thing the Mustang has over the F-Body is compactness in size - it's the only reason it could ever have outsold the combined F-Bodies 2 to 1. Even the Cobra DOHC engine is massive, physically, by LS1 standards though both cars weigh about the same.

    Edited by LuS1fer on Monday 28th November 21:58
    Some additional info:


    1994-95 Cobra
    These used the old OHV 5.0 litre V8 engine, as did the GT's of this period. Power was boosted to 240hp and used a 5 speeder manual and live rear axle.

    1996-98 Cobra
    These used the DOHC 4.6 V8 and made 305hp, these where not the ones recalled by Ford, they did make 305hp. These were also live rear axle and used a 5 speed box.

    1999 Cobra
    This was the first of the "new age" sharper styling Cobra's. It also used the 4.6 DOHC engine, now rated at 320hp. A 5 speed manual remained, but the biggest change was a move to IRS at the back. This is the year Ford recalled the Cobra due to not making the claimed power output, very big story in the day. Although Ford did rectify the issue with a host of new engine parts. If you are buying in the UK, then the recall won't have been valid if it was here when new, so make sure the works been done or haggle hard.

    2000
    There was no Cobra this year, mainly due to the issues of the previous year. I think there might have been an ultra limited edition Cobra R, but not a proper production model.

    2001 Cobra
    This is largely the same spec as the 1999 model, 4.6 DOHC V8, 320hp, but a real 320 this time, IRS. There where some minor changes and it gained the 6 speed gearbox.

    2002 Cobra
    Only about 100 RHD ones made for the Australian market, very little is know about them in the wider market and very very rare. I think based on the 2001 spec.

    2003-2004 Cobra
    Dubbed and known as the Terminator, this was the last of the sn95 Cobra's and easily the best. 6 speed manual, IRS and the addition of a Roots M112R supercharger.


    I believe most, if not all of the Cobra 4.6's used the aluminium block variant of the engine, certainly 1999-2001 but I'm not sure of the 96-98 models. The supercharged 2003/4 used a cast iron block engine.


    The other notable sn95 Mustang models to keep an eye out for is the Mach 1.

    2003-2004 Mach 1
    This used an aluminium 305hp DOHC 4.6 V8 but retained a live axle with a 5 speed manual. Similar spec to the 96-98 Cobra's, although this latter engine is more torquey low down. Styling wise the Mach 1 had a function "shaker" scoop on the bonnet. A 4 speed auto was an option, but engine is slightly different and I think down on power.

    Bullitt
    This is essentially just a standard GT model with a different throttle body, hood scoop and some styling changes. Made 265hp with a 5 speeder or optional auto and a live rear axle.



    GT history:

    94-95 GT
    First of the sn95 vehicles. 5 speed or auto, live rear with the old OHV 5.0 engine, although with a newer ECU than the previous model. Only 215hp and despite this engines legendary status, it wasn't that easily tunable in this vehicle and the sn95 weighed more than the previous model so performance was blunted. The manual could still do 0-60mph in 6.6 sec and run 15 sec 1/4 miles and 135+mph top speed. So sort of not far off a stock Focus ST. But not anywhere near as quick as some alternatives.

    1996 GT
    Basically the same car as the 94/95 but now with a 215hp 4.6 SOHC V8 (cast iron block). Very similar performance or slightly worse maybe.

    1997-98 GT
    Power increased to 225hp. Not a slow car, even today, but way off the pace compared to the power the Fbody's where making at the time.

    1999-2004
    New age styling introduced which remained until the models end. Although some variances occurred over the years. Same 5 speed manual and 4 speed auto options and same live rear axle. The major change was the 260hp PI 4.6 SOHC variant of the engine (same engine as in a MG ZT 260). Performance improved to 5.5 sec 0-60mph and 140mph+




    The Mustangs are capable cars and I think you need to drive one to fully rule it out, but in terms of raw acceleration they have always (bar the Terminator) been behind the Trans Am/Camaro's. Also oddly Mustang's seem to fetch more money in the UK for some reason, so a 1999 Mustang GT maybe be a couple of grand more to buy than a same year Camaro. Cobra's on the other hand often don't fetch any more money than GT's do. So if you want a Stang finding a Cobra's is probably worth it and not a bad alternative to an Fbody performance wise.

    Mustang auto's aren't great though, not sure why. The GM ones are tolerable, even quite good, but I've never heard anything good about the Ford AOD and they always seem to take a bigger performance hit too.

  • sparkster8 29 Nov 2011

    Thanks for that - the Mustang is now out of the running as frankly there is no comparison !!

  • LuS1fer 29 Nov 2011

    sparkster8 said:
    Just seen a '98 on the R Mustang on ebay, 4.6 GT with a manual box for £3900 been around a while so I imagine that £3500 or maybe less would buy it, however my question is about the lump. Obviously it doesn't compare with an LS1 at all. I just wondered if anyone here knows if they are much good from a performance point of view? Just curious as it's not the dearest thing in the world and a manual box helps........

    Is it the same lump that is in the MG ZT260 ?
    The GT made about 215hp. It's not really a performer and the later V6s made nearly as much. The Cobra made 305hp and is the one to look for though early ones didn't make the full herd of 305 horses even though Ford put out a major recall to get them re-shoed. The Cobra did get IRS though (albeit nothing to write home about).

    Ford have always tried to keep up with the Camaro in terms of performance but failed until 2002 when they brought out the 390hp supercharged Terminator just as the F-Body kissed the world goodbye.

    The thing the Mustang has over the F-Body is compactness in size - it's the only reason it could ever have outsold the combined F-Bodies 2 to 1. Even the Cobra DOHC engine is massive, physically, by LS1 standards though both cars weigh about the same.

    Edited by LuS1fer on Monday 28th November 21:58

  • Axe Murderer 29 Nov 2011

    sparkster8 said:
    I think the LS1 Camaro is the way forward to be honest. I knew they had a bit of puff but not that much !

    The search goes on !!
    If I may add, the wait is definitely worth it. I got a 2002 Camaro SS in the summer - after a six year search (I was being quite particular). I was on the lookout for a Z28, it was a real bonus that an SS became available at the same time I was looking.

  • sparkster8 29 Nov 2011

    Hi Matt,

    thanks for that (I should've known that I could count on your plenty of knowledge on this !) and yep you are right its the more rounded shape which I am not a lover of. I think the LS1 Camaro is the way forward to be honest - your car has opened my eyes. I knew they had a bit of puff but not that much !

    The search goes on !!

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