My 78 Z-28
Here's a story about my 78 Z-28 that I have owned over 20 years:
"Mean Streak"- a car built with minimum wage and No candy bars!.
"My name is Chris and I am Chevy addict". This is the story of my 78 Z-28 I call "Mean Streak" that I have owned for over 20 years. It is my "baby", my first love and something that has been with me through thick and thin. No matter how rough times got or how other "things" came into my world, this car kept me going. If it wasn't for the car, I'm not sure where I would be today...
Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with cars- mainly Camaros and Corvettes. I collected them in Hot Wheels and Mattel versions, I built models of them and I dreamed of one day owning a Camaro.
When I was a kid my brother and I were offered a candy bar a day or the money equivalent. I ALWAYS took the money, my brother always took the candy bar. I had a savings account as a young kid. I picked up and sold aluminum cans and took care of all of my clothes and toys so that when I got tired of them, I would hold yard sales and sell them.
I went to college on scholarships and also worked full time. After my tuition and books were paid for, I stashed all of my extra money into my savings account. I was the ONLY student who took their lunch with them each day, while everyone else, including my friends were eating at the local McDonalds or Dairy Queen.
I bought my first car with cash I had saved through the years of not eating the candy bars, selling cans,selling off my extra wares and the money left over from my scholarships. It was a black 1978 LT Camaro. That was in 1992, as I did not learn to drive until I was in college. The very next year I bought my 1978 Z-28, also with cash. I was working at the local Ramada Inn, cleaning rooms when I had found it in the classifieds section. I asked them if they would hold it for me until I got off work that day, and all day at the motel I was calling the owners to make sure they still had it. The car was 2 hours away and my friend and I took my black Camaro down to get it.
It was pretty rough to say the least. The interior was totally ragged out of it but it had a brand new paint job on it. I would later learn when I went to wash it that the rag would turn BLUE! The car also had big old truck tires on it. I went ahead and bought it for $1800- mainly because I wanted another 78 and I liked the color, and I really wanted a Z-28. I made my friend drive it because it would only run about 35 with those tires on it. To this day she STILL remembers that!
After I got it home I made a two page list of what all it needed. After getting new tires on it and a new interior put in, I drove the car to college when not driving the other 78. I was the only girl (or guy) who owned 2 Camaros while I was in college. I also got them published in "All Chevy" magazine in 1993 which was a total shock when I went into the local Harps, picked up the mag, and my cars were in there!
Owning the car for over 20 years it has seen a lot of changes. The majority of the work did not come until I married my husband Gabe,11 years ago. When I met him I told him I only cared about cars and bikes and he was down with that. I told him what I wanted in the car and we proceeded to making it happen.
In the previous years it saw several 350 engines and I had started drag racing the car with the 327 I had put in it but it wasn't FAST! Gabe and I decided to put a 383 in it, which I built. We added Dart 230 cc aluminum heads, Victor Jr intake, 850 Demon carb, MSD pro billet distributor with 6AL and Hooker comp headers. The motor has 11.5:1 compression, a 306 flat tappet Competition cam and 1:6 full roller rockers. It uses a Scat crank, flowing through 3" exhaust with 2 chamber Flowmasters.
The transmission is a Turbo TH350 with a B&M hole shot 3000 converter. Shifting is done with a B&M mega shifter installed in the factory console. A lightweight aluminum driveshaft is also used.
On the rear is Lakewood lift bars, sub-frame connectors, a 8.5 10-bolt with spool and 4.10 Richmond gears. It also sports 4 wheel disc brakes since pushing 500 hp @ 6300 rpm requires a good braking system.
In 2005 I went to work at a local body shop. Before working there I had been sanding and preparing my car for paint in our shack at home. We were going to spray it but in the end I paid them to paint it the original color. At the same time, Gabe and I started a local Camaro Club- North Arkansas Camaro Club. We wanted to be able to get everyone together who loved Camaros. I was the President and also became the Arkansas State Rep for the Worldwide Camaro Club, one of only five women.
I continued to race the car for a few more years but it really just got too expensive. We make less than $20,000 a year so we have to be selective and FRUGAL as to what we do.
On a side note, we both ride vintage Harleys that we build. Gabe is an ASE certified master mechanic. I am learning to weld, pinstripe and lace and true wheels. I have done a lot of the work on my 78 and with his help, we have made it into the car I always wanted.
Up until last July (2013), I had only owned Camaros and Corvettes. I have owned a total of 9 cars- 5 Camaros- 78 LT, 78 Z-28, 79 Z-28, 81 Z-28, and an 86 Z-28 and 3 Corvettes- 1981, a 75 Stingray (a 4 speed car I learned to drive a stick in- bought it without being able to drive it) and a 1980. Last July I sold my first Corvette- the 1981 that I owned for almost 14 years and decided to expand my car love and bought a 1974 Dodge Charger that is presently at the body shop getting ready for a new paint job- color Green Go! I have owned 10 motorcycles, presently having 3 old vintage Harleys.
At one time I owned 5 cars- 3 Camaros and 2 Vettes and that was really just too much to keep up with in conjunction to what Gabe owned, not to mention, EXPENSIVE!
I call my 78 Mean Steak because I am a HUGE AC/DC fan and on my other 78 I had "Back in Black" vinyl on the back of the spoiler. Let's face it, with almost 500 hp it DOES have a Mean Streak.
Building a car with hardly NO budget leaves something to be desired but at the same time no one would ever guess that we are "poor". When I was married before, my first husband resented the fact that I loved cars so much and wanted me to have kids. I knew I never wanted kids, so I divorced him, got my tubes tied (for FREE here in Arkansas) and proceeded to living my life. My love of cars and motorcycles was just too great to let anyone stand in the way of my dreams. My husband today supports me in all that I do and we live a life that is much much different than most people. First off- we don't have kids (obviously). We live without television, we have no microwave, we line dry our clothes and the only meat we eat is what we kill. I only go to "town" (14 miles away) once a month and only spend $100 a month on food and other essentials. We don't buy soda, chips, ice cream or any other items that doesn't nourish our bodies. We live a very natural existence where we let the love of the machine flow freely. We grow a garden, fish, reload our own ammo and are able to have the things we really want.
I hope my story can inspire others who have lived or are living similar to me. I have not had ONE thing given to me. My parents didn't buy me a car, pay my insurance or gas or help in any way. I have worked minimum wage jobs my whole life and have been self employed for the last 8, earning WAY WAY less than minimum wage.
I have my priorities straight. Cars and bikes are what mattered to me as a kid and they still are the only things that matter to me as a 41 year old adult!
My husband is definitely my "soul mate" as the only things he cares about are cars and bikes too. Our motto is "Old Iron Never Dies" and our love is based on God, guns and the freedom to own and have what you want in this life.
I would like to thank Valley Springs Quarry for letting me shoot my 78 there. I appreciate them very much as they provide an awesome background.