Barn-find road burner by the numbers

It was a very bad year for the Camaro in 1972, so heinous in fact that the F-body (and brother Firebird) came very close to being scratched from the roster--permanently. Total Camaro production dropped to a low of only 68,651 units. For that we can thank the UAW, whose members struck the Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant for a grinding and unprecedented 117 days.

By the time labor and management were speaking to one another again, the cars that had idled on the line could not be finished. Revised government safety and emission standards set for ’73 production had become law and there was no way to modify those Camaros to meet specification. More than a thousand (1,100 units) half-built F-bodies were summarily scrapped. Oh, holy shit!

The bean counters at the most bean-countin’ car maker in history wanted the F-car drawn and quartered. Sayonara. See ya. But there were many faithful within the walls of Warren and they lobbied hard for the unfortunate one. They devised a less expensive way to play the new game. The good guys had won.

When the first 2nd-Gen cars appeared as ’70½ models the Z28 rumbled with the solid-lifter LT-1 350ci, 360hp engine. Emissions certification was more stringent in the years immediately following, solely emasculating the mighty 5.7L Turbo-Fire. By ’71, the flywheel rating had dropped to 330hp. The year following, GM began to list net power numbers by what they found at the rear wheels. In ’72, the 350’s produce plummeted stone-like to 255hp (after parasitic losses to accessories and drive train and included a lower compression ratio and milder cam timing), a number quite in line with a 330hp flywheel rating.

About a year ago, we featured Steve Wilson’s promising ’69 Z28 clone. The item shown here is a genuine Z28 RS and is still a work in progress. Steve did the car nearly ten years ago and it has since gathered the usual drama, dust and dingle berries that are inevitable during long periods of inactivity. Steve manages a large collision center in Kissimmee, Florida, and has the right hands on deck. Body man Felix Arrufat and painter Shawn Pagel, the duo that resurrected his lace-fendered, severely clapped out ’69, had a much easier time of it with the ’72.