You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why Has This 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Gone Just 8,500 Miles?

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 11/8/2019 Drew Hardin,Richard Prince
a car driving on a road

This 1970 Camaro Z/28 has less than 8,600 miles showing on the odometer. As remarkable as that is, consider: The car's original owner had it for nearly 30 years and put just 3,000 of those miles on it.

Now, a 1970 Z/28 is a driver's car. It's no one-trick dragstrip pony. With a tractable, torquey small-block V-8 backed in this case by a four-speed manual transmission, sport suspension, front disc brakes, and Positraction in the differential, it was meant to go places quickly and hug curves doing it. Heck, it was Chevrolet's Trans-Am race car!

And yet, New Orleans resident Clyde Reeves Jr. spent the better part of three decades, from when he bought it in July 1970 to when he sold it in August 1998, admiring the car, not driving it.

"Clyde was in his 50s, an engineer by trade and a pilot," says Jeff Polly, the Camaro's third, and current, owner. "He kept it in his garage and admired the mechanical workings of the car. The guy I bought it from, Rodney Snow, knew Clyde, and he said he saw him drive it once, to a wedding. That's the only time he saw it out of Clyde's garage."

a car parked on the side of a road

© Richard Prince

Rodney, the second owner, "never drove the car either," says Jeff, from 1998 to when he sold it to Jeff in 2012. Instead, Rodney "wanted to make the car look brand new." Not that there was much wrong with it. After all, it was barely broken in and had been parked inside its whole life. But during 30 years, pieces will deteriorate no matter how little they're used. So Rodney addressed those things, Jeff says, "like replacing seals and hoses, and keeping the brakes in working order. He did an outstanding job maintaining the car."

Rodney also had the car repainted its original Forest Green in 1999 by Danny at JP's Auto Body in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Danny "did a beautiful job," says Jeff, and the 20-year-old finish still shines line new.

Rodney's efforts at preserving the Camaro ensured that it's still around today, in like-new condition, for the second-generation Camaro's 50th anniversary. Yet he's also responsible for very existence on a whole other level. The fact that he owned the car in 2005 saved it from drowning when Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans. (Rodney was on higher ground in nearby Harvey.) Jeff found out that the car's original selling dealership, Stephens Chevrolet in New Orleans, also flooded during the storm, eliminating any chance of finding the car's original sales paperwork.

a close up of a motorcycle engine© Richard Prince

That query was part of a larger research quest Jeff undertook after he bought the Camaro. Though he was told "everything was original" on the car, he wanted to learn more. He poked around the Internet and found the Nasty Z/28 forum (nastyz28.com), where he could learn about second-generation Camaros, ask questions, and post info about what turned out to be, in fact, a largely original car.

Research

The sheetmetal is all factory, including the tall rear spoiler, a homologation part for Trans-Am racing manufactured by A.O. Smith and installed by Chevrolet. It carried a COPO number (9796), and although it was the only COPO option for 1970, it qualifies this Camaro as a COPO car. A Z/28 of this vintage is already rare, as just 8,733 were made in the strike-shortened 1970 model year. But since A.O. Smith needed to produce only 500 of those spoilers to qualify it for racing, a tall-spoiler Z is rarer still.

The driveline is original, too, from the LT-1 V-8 to the Muncie M20 four-speed and the 12-bolt in back. Jeff wanted to update some of Rodney's work so that the underhood parts would be "as correct as possible: the right hose clamps, correct markings on the hoses, that sort of thing," he says. "For those parts that are difficult to find as originals, or that you don't want as originals, like hoses and spark plug wires, I bought reproduction parts so the car would be drivable. To me, it's a driver, not a, quote, show car."

He did preserve and reuse key engine components. The original Holley 780-cfm carburetor went to Holley's restoration shop for a rebuild. Even the original alternator is back on the car, courtesy of alternator guru Jim McCune.

a car engine© Richard Prince

"It's amazing what people notice," recalls Jeff. "A guy [McCune] who saw a photo of my car on the Nasty Z/28 forum asked me where the original alternator was. He spotted in that photo that the alternator wasn't original! When I told him I had the original in a box in my basement, he offered to rebuild it—so he could get his hands on a virgin, original 1970 Z/28 alternator that had never been touched—for nothing."

Jeff was a little hesitant to ship what he had just learned was a valuable alternator from New York to Colorado to "a guy" he had never met. But others on the forum vouched for the quality of McCune's work, so Jeff took the leap of faith, "and it came back brand new. He even took pictures of it during the rebuild. He was the nicest guy."

© Richard Prince

The Z/28's first two owners would likely be horrified to learn that Jeff has put more than 5,000 miles on the car, nearly double how far those two men drove it in 42 years.

"When I first got the car, I never drove it, because of the low mileage," Jeff recalls. "But I want to enjoy the car. I could be dead tomorrow. What good will it do me to have a 3,000-mile car? I want to show it, talk to people about it, not leave it sitting in garage."

Jeff has taken it to car shows and won a few awards, but he prefers the "impromptu" car gatherings that regularly pop up at restaurants and parking lots around his Long Island home.

"I'm never going to sell this car. I'll keep taking it to meets until they bury me in it."

a close up of a car© Richard Prince

At a Glance

1970 Camaro Z/28 RSOwned by: Jeff Polly

Restored by: Unrestored (repainted in 1999)

Engine: 350ci/360hp LT-1 V-8

Transmission: Muncie M20 4-speed manual

Rearend: 12-bolt with 3.73 gears and Positraction

Exterior color: Forest Green with white stripes

Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat

Wheels: 15x7 five-spoke gray steel

Tires: F60-15 front, L60-15 rear Goodyear Polyglas GT

Special parts: COPO 9796 tall rear spoiler

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from HOT ROD

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon