You are currently viewing 40 Year Obsession Part 2:  Reunited at Last

40 Year Obsession Part 2: Reunited at Last

Never in my wildest dreams did I think this day would come.  In December 2020, I connected with the guy who bought my 1979 Camaro Z28 in 1981 (yes, John still owns it to this day!).  My ownership history with that car was short, but it left a lasting impression on me.  I detailed that history, as well as the conversation I had with the current owner in the article 40 Year Obsession:  A Z28 Story.

John has the Z28 stored in his barn.  It has not been moved since 1992, so other things were stored around it–namely a big boat during the off-season.  John moved the boat and invited me to come see the Z28, which I did yesterday.

Range of Emotions

During the one hour drive to John’s house, I found myself going through a range of emotions.  Should I turn around, leave well enough alone and let the fond memories continue?  What if the car is in really rough shape and erases my memories?  Am I going to drop to the ground in the fetal position and cry like a baby? 

Yes, I am that crazy about cars.  It is a curse and a blessing.  It is also what fuels my passion to nurture the automotive interests of young car enthusiasts.

The Unveiling

Enough with the background of my feelings.  Shown below are the pictures I took during my time with the car yesterday.  It is still tucked into a corner of John’s barn, so I was only able to get images from a few angles.

Don’t let all of that barn dust fool you…this car is in terrific shape!  There is ZERO RUST, which is something you don’t see in a car that spent its entire life in Michigan.  The only time it saw rain or snow was when I owned it.  John only used it for nice weather cruising and auto-crossing.

Last thing:  I sold the Z to John with 22,000 miles on it.  Today, it has 26,732.  You read that right.  John only drove it 4,000 miles in 40 years.

Here are the pictures and a video of a conversation I had with John about the car.  

When I added the 1980 Air Induction hood scoop in 1980, I also installed this plaque on the dash.  When the accelerator pedal is about 1/2 open, a solenoid activates the flappers at the rear of the hood scoop.  Because I am weird, I also wanted more razzle-dazzle when the air induction flappers opened–I wired this so a light flashed and a buzzer sounded (which could be deactivated with the switch shown).

OK, I had a little fun recreating a pose from 1979.

Video Overview with John

Passion for the Hobby

I watch a lot of car shows where they uncover “barn finds” of cool cars.  I never thought I would find my original Z28 in a barn.  It is an incredible feeling.  In fact, I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel compelled to buy it back or leave well enough alone.  This was time well spent.  I resolved my past feelings for the car and gained the closure I needed.  This is John’s car now.

By sharing this experience I hope to ignite the passion in young car enthusiasts.  I also provide ongoing support of automotive programs designed to inspire and educate young car enthusiasts through the sale of items in the Vehicle Nanny Merchandise Store.  All proceeds go directly to programs that support youth automotive. 

I hope you can find a fun item for yourself that also supports our budding car enthusiasts.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Brady Ferron

    Such a cool story, Bill!

    1. Bill

      Thanks, Brady! I can’t help myself at times!

  2. Scott Montgomery

    Dude…when is it coming home?

    1. Bill

      Hi Scott! The guy who owns it now still has plans for it, so it stays with him. He knows if his plans ever change that I am happy to talk to him!

  3. Scott Sabo

    Cool story and how fun! Are there any plans to get that beast back on the road?

    1. Bill

      John, the current owner, is looking at retirement in the next few years. At that point, he plans to reanimate the Z! I don’t think it will take much…just clean out the fuel system and give it a rip! The rest is cosmetic. It is such a solid car with NO RUST!

  4. maryannmcr

    Great pics and video! Lucky you to have the opportunity to revisit your life from 40 years ago! Looking forward to the follow up post when John has her restored to her former glory! Great post!

    1. Bill

      Thank you!

  5. Lee Snyder

    I had one just like it, although mine was a PEP car. These were fun cars to drive. Mine was a 4-Speed. A young guy at a local family owned drive through beer distributor (no comments) loved the car. I coordinated his purchase of the car at a local dealer. Last I knew he still owned the car.

    BTW, I drove a twin to this car immediately after this one. It was speeding ticket red.

    1. Bill

      You know where I’m coming from, Lee.

    2. Steve Clark

      A.K.A. Arrest Me Red. Stopped in a Red Monte Carlo SS company car but got warning.

  6. Kelly O’Neill

    Same car used in the homecoming parade at North Farmington? I love how you found “closure”.

    1. Bill

      Not the same car, but close! Mary hated this car (we were dating when I had it). Too many date nights started with me chasing down a rattle or some other service. I made her take off her shoes before entering the car. Yeah, I’m lucky she married me.

  7. Jeff Haag

    Great story Bill. Thanks for sharing

  8. Frank Rauth

    Bill, as we were conversing the other night about what unique things we had done to our Z’s I believe now that maybe the empty thread spool conversion was your idea as I had the 80 model year and yours the 79. After watching your reunion video I do remember swapping out the ball shift knob for the Hurst handle style shifter like they had in the Buick Grand National. Swapped out the factory audio for some brand I can not not remember and had those free standing speakers on the back dash, maybe those were Bose. Bad idea as they would slide around and bang off the back glass. Loved that car, and for external personal reasons(young & dumb)did not own it long enough. Just to jog your memory it was black with the blue striping with black steel 5 spoke wheels and beauty rings, which In my opinion also were better then any chrome Cregar wheel that were popular at that time. It had T-Tops and not the sun/moon roof your 79 had, there were covers included and they would store fairly easily in the trunk space. I drove that car two of the five fastest speeds I have ever been in any vehicle, and one of those times was a motorcycle. I was alone on east bound 94 somewhere around Selfridge in the middle of the afternoon and pinned the speedometer which if I remember right topped out at 120mph. It started to shake rattle and roll just like the song and I backed off. The other time involved other people and I don’t want to disclose names but I can tell you about it privately! I sold the car to a guy named Gerald ( can not remember his last name ) who worked at MPG. He brought the Z by the service station sometime after and it had a Star Wars themed custom paint job! Glad you were able to reunite with something more stock original condition!

  9. Dan Hogan

    Very cool story Bill. I know where my first car I bought is. I need to follow up with the guy since it has been a few years since I last spoke with him. He wanted me to buy it off him, but he want over double for what I sold it for and damn near 6x more than what I originally bought it for. Plus I’m not sure it would be fare to my wife to buy it back knowing all the memories I had with that car…

    1. Bill

      Love it!

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