Car Collector's Corner: 1980 Camaro, A Mint, One Owner Berlinetta

J Sutherland
by J Sutherland

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.

Some scenarios work out much better than others…

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.

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J Sutherland
J Sutherland

Online collector car writer/webmaster and enthusiast

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4 of 39 comments
  • CougarXR7 CougarXR7 on Mar 07, 2012

    Is this guy single? Must be. If he was married, that Camaro would have been traded in on a luxury SUV or hocked for a new dining room set years ago!

    • See 1 previous
    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Mar 07, 2012

      @PrincipalDan You're right about getting the right woman. Mine likes fast drives around curvy two lane roads. I dated a woman who told me that you were supposed to slow down for curves, not speed up...that relationship didn't last...she bought an Explorer and then a Sonata...

  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Mar 07, 2012

    "You felt the need to rub it in by posting about it twice?" Whoops - I saw that. I did the first post earlier in the day and my computer locked when I hit "Submit Comment" so I was sure it didn't go through. Should have checked I guess. Just disregard either or both comments!.......LOL

  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.