In January 1980, Jimmy Carter was in his last year as President, the Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan, and this Camaro was born. A few months later, in April 1980, Robert Mugabe became the leader of Zimbabwe and Alan Kay walked into his local GM dealer to buy this car off the showroom floor.
There were two things that remained constant from early 1980 – Mugabe still runs Zimbabwe and Alan still runs his 1980 Camaro.
Actually, Alan has only owned 2 cars in his whole life – a 71 Camaro and this one. He discovered this car when somebody told him, “you’ll love that new Camaro at the Chevy dealer”. Indeed he did because he drove it constantly for the next 12 years with no fear thanks to the bulletproof 305 under the hood.
The 305 was a low compression 80s grade, and so far it’s clocked 175,000 miles with little or no effort- if you don’t count the impeccable maintenance program since Day 1.
Alan admits that performance has always been a little tepid with the 80s mandated regulations, but the longevity outweighs any performance issues.
Alan decided to paint the car in 1993 when it became a 2nd stringer daily driver. At that point, a truck made more sense in his daily world, so Alan decided to give the old Camaro new paint. Alan sanded down the peeling factory finish and discovered that he had kept the Chevy rust free thanks to his high standards of maintenance.
He painted the Camaro in his garage and the only setbacks were a few door dings, enabling his backyard paint booth to lay down a nice finish.
The other upgrade was a flattop piston set to upgrade the compression in the old 305. At this point, Alan wanted a little more punch in his former driver. Other than that the only mechanical issues with the Camaro were a heater core, 2 radiator rebuilds and a master cylinder. That’s a decent record for a 32-year-old car.
Clearly, Alan has babied this Chevy since his first day and the end result is a show car. According to Alan, he “wins at least one trophy a year”. He still has most of the initial paperwork for the car with the exception of the first window sticker – clearly, Alan didn’t think 31 years ahead of his new Camaro.
The car endured some real life experience when a misguided thief broke in to steal his then-new sound system, but the Camaro looks better than Cher did in 1980 or 2012, with remarkably less bodywork.
At this point Alan had owned 5 vehicles-2 Camaros and 3 trucks but there is no way he’s interested in replacing his 1980 car buddy.
That would be like selling your car soul.
For more of J Sutherland’s work go to mystarcollectorcar.com