My story begins in December 1973 when I purchased a brand-new Z28 off the showroom floor at Terry York Chevrolet in Encino, California.
Starting in the ‘50s, and continuing throughout the late ‘70s, the street race scene was very much alive and well in southern California and I had every intention of making it in my brand new Camaro.
The problem, I oh-to-quickly came to realize, was the car’s dramatic lack of power. This drop in the horsepower rating was due to the stiffening air-quality regulations that had started in the early 1970s and continued all throughout the late ‘80s.
By the 1974 model year, the engines in the Z28 Camaros were only producing 245 horsepower to the crank and GM, in its feeble attempt to keep the legend going, decided to produce the Z28 for one more year. This is where my 46-year journey to build a competitive muscle car begins.
Modifications to the car started in 1975 and continued until 1979 when, due to priority changes in my life, I decided to stop investing in the car and placed it in storage. The car remained there for the next 38 years, until February 2017, when I finally decided to put it back on the street.
The interesting part of my car story is not the relatively short time I had it on the street, all the modifications that were done, or even the 38 years it sat in storage, but the fact that my mother, not my father, helped me to build my car.
My mom was always there, from sourcing out parts in those days without the assistance of the internet when you had to let your fingers do the walking in the yellow pages, to changing out the entire drivetrains with multiple engine and transmission swaps.
My mom was always there, even when the task at hand required getting herself covered in grease. My mom was always there, to receive all the bruised knuckles and pinched fingers right along with me without so much as a murmur or complaint.
Now that I am older I’ve come to realize that my mother’s goal, unlike mine, was not to build the ultimate street car, although I truly believe she enjoyed it, but it was to build a mother and son relationship in ways that nothing else could.
My mother has since passed away but up until this day, and for the rest of my life, I will never forget that most special time we shared together building my dream car so many years ago.
I’ve acquired several other collector cars over the years but the 1974 Z-28 is my favorite, not because it’s the best car I’ve ever owned but because it’s the only car my mother and I built, or will ever build together.
— Joe Boucher, Oxnard CA
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