Bwana: tribute to a clone

By Ro McGonegal
Photos by Ro McGonegal

It seems that the word “clone” has become anathema, as if it somehow infers inferiority. But really, it’s like that banana on the counter. Does calling it a yellow banana make it any more of a banana, bwana? In the sometimes silly world of this car hobby, terminology can change with the whim of an editor or an “expert,” especially when it has to do with trampling on the hallowed past. Now, such rebuilds are often referred to as “tribute” cars, especially if they mimic the ones of an old-time hero. At any other time, this ’69 Z28 is a clone like the Roy Batty clone in the movie Blade Runner, human-like to be sure, but endowed with individual traits as humans are.

Like many, this Camaro began as something less. How much less we’ll never know for certain because its owner has passed on. Rather than slather it with every known bit of aftermarket equipment, thus reducing its originality even further, Will Delizia replaced only the rear axle leaf spring system. The rest of the suspension is original equipment but rebuilt to behave as new, all bushings, bolts and cotter pins as new. No tube A-arms, no fat anti-sway bars, no coil/over shocks, no giant tires. Will built the car to do one thing: to eat up a straight line as quickly as possible.

He felt that the automatic transmission had a place in everyday life, but would not tolerate it in his hot rods. Like the entire geezer population, he had perfected the art of the stick-shift and discovered the great fun he could have manipulating and working the hand/foot continuum. He loved the control and the spontaneity it afforded but surely he could have done without the clutch pedal as well. Come down to it, he just liked rowing the stick, banging gears, sort of like inflicting punishment.