From Then to Now

Where does an obsession start?  As I mentioned in my first blog post I think mine started with my Dad playing the name the car game.  Somehow that interest stayed with me as I was growing up.  First by building car models at a very early age.  Then I caught the customization bug and started using modeling putty to my spin on a design.  But then reality hit as I found out about the tedious process of shaping and meticulous sanding.  It was hard work!  And then in the end my custom model was usually pretty ugly.  So after that I settled on building my dream car in a variety of wild colors.  I remember using gold often. That now seems so sad.

As I hit my teenage years I fell into more of a hot rodding mode.  But I wasn’t a Little Deuce Coupe kind of kid, I was more into modern 1967-1971 muscle.  The New York Motion Chevys really caught my eye.  They advertised that they could build you the Phase III Motion Camaro which was guaranteed to run an 11.5 second quarter mile or better.  Wow!  That was incredible back in the day and stuff dreams are made of for a young motor head.  That ET promise has stuck with me all these years.


I would be remiss not to mention my very first car a 1960 Plymouth Savoy 2 door sedan.  My high school friend Conrad had this car and at 16 decided to go in a different direction.  Or was it his Dad said to get it out of the back yard?  I forget, but as I remember he acquired it for free and so to show a profit he sold it to me for $1.00.  It ran and was drivable.  Other than family gift cars this was the best deal I ever made on a car as I later sold it for $15.00.  A 1,500% profit!  Did I share this windfall with Conrad?  I just don’t remember but I should have.

That car sat in our driveway for about a year until my Dad said get that thing out of our driveway.  Conrad and I used to walk over to Cook’s Market, buy some snacks and retire to the Savoy to play chess.  The front seat was as big as a picnic bench, four could fit in the front in a pinch. One day when my parents were out, I was practicing my later Atco launching techniques and ran into the front porch.  Somehow I managed to get the crooked porch column back to something resembling ninety degrees by laying on my back pounding the column with my legs.  I was a pretty strong kid.  The Savoy was not damaged at all.  If my parents knew about all this they never mentioned it. I guess I gave them more pressing issues to consider.  That is not my car below, but except for the shiny paint, my car looked exactly like that in extremely faded white.  This clearly was the most artistic I ever owned.  You can get lost in those fins.

1960_plymouth Savoy

As I grew up and was the responsible family man for many years I did try to buy fun cars when I could.  An there were a number of them such as Mustang GTs, a Lincoln Mark IV LSC, A Nissan 300ZX, three 4th generation V8 Camaros and a Firebird.  And then I graduated into the 5th gen Camaros after all of the peeps left the nest.  I owned three of those including an LS3 2SS, a 2SS 1LE, and finally a ZL1.  All manuals.  I added twin turbos to the 1LE but then that car met an untimely end.  Another story for another day.  Next I acquired a black 2015 M6 ZL1.  And I thought I had finally reached the end of my car quest.  The ZL1, a do everything fun car and the second best looking car I ever owned.  But then the electronics acted up and GM bought back the ZL1.

What to do next?  I loved the Camaro 5th gens, but they had come to the end of their run.  They were a show car come to life that was fast and in the right trims was a world class handling car.  But they were based on a large Australian sedan.  This made them larger and heavier than they had to be.  Chevrolet re-thought the Camaro for Gen 6 and based it on the smaller Cadillac body built to be a BMW 3-4 series competitor.  Really, a small BMW with a small block Chevy?  A dream Camaro?

It turned out even the base CA6 SS was a world class handler with the speed to match my last ZL1.  Sold!  I picked one out and months later I was the proud owner of a black M6 2SS, with a sunroof of course.  I added almost all of the bolt on power adders and drag tires and had a ton of fun with this car.  But it never was quite as fast as that original dream Phase III Camaro.  So I looked into adding a supercharger.


But the more I thought about it, was that a good idea?  I had previous experience building my Twin Turbo 1LE and I knew, while it was fun building a project car, there were bound to be frustrations, breakage, and was destroying the value of the car while flushing all of the mod money down the toilet.  And in the end I enjoyed driving my bolt on 1LE more than the Twin Turbo 1LE.  And while I beat an 11.5 ET once with the TT 1LE most of the time it was an 11.8-12.0 car.  It had big launching problem.  So while it was very fast with 600 HP to the wheels, in the end it was a bit disappointing at Atco.

Wait a minute.  What about the Camaro dream car Chevy was already building for me?  The 6th gen ZL1.  I could never build a Camaro like that.  Let’s do it!  So surprisingly I sold my CA6 SS in a couple of days. And began my search.  I also searched my soul.  Almost all of my performance cars were manuals up to now, but that new A10 automatic was getting rave reviews.  I should try one.  And I did not know this at the time but most dealers will not let you test drive a ZL1.  However luck was with me and the very first dealer I landed at let me drive a black A10 ZL1.  And the salesman with me said “Let’s see what it can do!”  In his defense he was new to his job.  I resisted temptation and drove it like a sane person.  But surprisingly I really liked it!  A10 it is.

After more searching and driving I found a loaded Red Hot A10 ZL1 for a great price.  It was 200+ miles from my house so I made a day of the delivery and took a train and an Uber to pick up my new red beast.  I stopped on the way home and gave my daughter Melissa a ride home from work in the car I now call Big Red.  That was a fun day!

After driving as recommended through the new car break in I changed the oil and took Big Red to the drag strip.  Lo and behold, my A10 ZL1 is an 11.5 second and faster 11.4 car all day long (with a good launch)!!!!  I know it has more in it but this was eye opening for me.  GM built me my very own Phase III Camaro.  And it is faster around a race course than a Ford Shelby GT350R, a Ferrari 458 Italia, an Audi R8 GT, a Lexus LFA, a Mercedes AMG GT, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, and many more super expensive sports cars.  And it matches my dream Motion Camaro ET which is now a $500,000 collector’s car.  Completely stock with a warranty!  And while I will never race that list of world class super cars on a race track it is fun to know they all should run and hide in a garage while my ZL1 is on the track.  I might need the driver mod though.  And remember that black Zl1 was the second best looking car I have ever owned?  Big Red is number one.

This is my ZL1 as I first saw it sitting in the showroom in Virginia.  Car love at first sight.  I did sit in that Z06 behind it and decided this ZL1 is the Corvette I always promised myself I would get one day.


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