The first Camaro I fell in love with was the vehicular equivalent of a pound dog. My buddy’s car, it was a hideous collage of primer, weird green paint and scratches, a mean-sounding and rough ’68 model on its last legs. Sadly for him, that was one year shy of what many think of as the most notable Camaro version, so notable, in fact, that they modeled the new Camaro Concept after the vintage ’69 edition. But no matter. It would have taken a miracle to get that ol’ beater in Barrett-Jackson shape, and we scarcely cared; it was our ticket to freedom.
We’d meet up at the AM/PM, get ourselves a coke, sit around for awhile and then, eventually, take off into the night, cruising for girls (fat chance) and challenging the Camaro’s mechanicals and our own guts to see how fast we could go around one certain sweeper on the outskirts of Orange County. Made it past 100 mph. Once. And breaking the century mark around that corner felt like a rite of passage. The second Camaro I fell in love with was a bright yellow 1979 edition, far different than the old 1968 model and fun in an entirely different way. My Dad’s car, it was fast and bodacious – fitting for the time. That Camaro made me realize – to be a Camaro was to be powerful, sure – but it also was to be something special to look at. And brother, the old man’s Camaro was like a shiny penny in your hand. Unfortunately, he loved that car as much as I did, so I knew when he’d let me take it out that the mileage had been checked and the body examined. That took all the damn fun out of it, except for the part when we’d open that sucker up on a nice long straight-away just to see how fast we could go.
I never forgave him for selling it to a brother-in-law who didn’t really appreciate the Camaroness of it. He was a Mustang guy, of all things, rarely washed it and eventually blew the engine on the 405 freeway. Left it for scrap in the middle of LA and broke my young heart.
By Brian Chee