Finding the right home for a collector car is important, especially if that collector car was the pride and joy of a loved one who has passed away. And sometimes, a venue like ClassicCars.com becomes a little bit like a matchmaking service that helps pair up a deserving new owner with a special car.
In our March 24 Pick of the Day, I featured a Sunset Orange 2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with just 36,000 miles on the odometer that had been listed for sale by a seller named Alex in California. The car, as I’ve since learned, is named Sasha and had been driven by Alex’s late father up until his passing in 2007. It was then stored away in safekeeping for the next 15 years before the family decided to let it go.
On the other side of the country, automotive enthusiast Dave in Pennsylvania had recently started ramping up his search for a clean F-body Camaro from that generation when he came across my Pick of the Day and was instantly drawn in by the stunning photography accompanying the listing. The rest, as they say, is history, and the Camaro was soon on its was via cross-country transport to a new home.
I first learned of Dave when he reached out to me in early July via Facebook with a message that my Pick of the Day was his new car: “I am the guy who bought this car as a result of your article,” Dave’s message to me said. “It is a time capsule. Even has the OEM brake pads.” Naturally, I had to find out more about how his purchase went.
The fourth-generation Camaro, and its F-body sibling the Pontiac Firebird, have been a favorite of enthusiasts and collectors for some time now. The design launched in 1993 and used an aerodynamic exterior design language, lightweight fiberglass materials for select body panels, and am improved suspension design. A facelift was applied in 1998 with a new 5.7-liter LS1 V8 in addition to revised styling.
Dave’s Camaro comes from the final year of the generation in 2002 and been upgraded with a modern audio system and exhaust tweaks but is otherwise largely stock. I caught up with Dave for a Q&A about his ownership experience via email:
1) What was it about this particular Camaro that caught your eye initially?
DAF: The pictures really popped!. Also, I was looking for an unmolested Gen 4 Z/28 or SS Convertible with an LS-1 and a 6-speed manual for several years. 2002 was my preferred year and Sunset Orange was my preferred color. So your article was like mana from heaven, as it checked all the boxes. Actually, after I read your article….the little voice inside my head said “Damn now I have to buy another car…how am I going to explain it to my wife!”
2) Was this your first time buying a car sight unseen from out of state, and was that process fairly easy to navigate? Any advice for people who are timid about it?
DAF: No but I do not do it often. In this case, my cousin lives near the bay area, and he was able to both look at the car and organize with the shipping company. So the process was easier than it would have been if I had no one in the area. In fact, without family in the area, I would not have purchased it without first flying out to look at the car personally. My advice is to know what you want, know what it should have, and go look at the car once you are serious. Pictures only go so far. And the cost of the trip will be a big savings if you see it and it is not worth buying.
3) Are Camaros from this generation becoming collectible, especially for low mileage examples?
DAF: I would say Gen 4’s are just starting to be collectible. What is more desirable is low miles and unmolested. Cars like that are worth having. Too many people bolt-on parts and tunes onto these LS-1’s and perform suspension mods, but 1% know what they are doing. These cars will last a long time in stock versions that continue to be cared for. Sadly a lot of them get beat to death.
4) Is the car a daily driver or more of a show piece/weekend toy?
DAF: This car is a weekend Summer toy. And my daughter loves it so much, that it will be my gift to her when I pass away. I belong to several car clubs and I am detailing this car and restoring what little needs restored. It will take me to many shows in the future.
5) Was it important for the seller that the car find a good home? Do you stay in touch with her?
DAF: Alex is a kind and noble woman. After her father’s untimely death, she kept his car safe and maintained it well for more than 15 years. Even though in the bay area finding places to store it safely must have been a $$$ task. This sentimentality and honor for one’s parents resonated with me. As my own father and I built several cars together as I was growing up. When he passed way too young all I had was the cars we had built together. After texting for some time it became apparent that she wanted to know that her father’s car would be safe. That something he loved so much was going to last. After getting to know her, I am honored that she chose to sell it to me.
Alex and I remain friends. We text often about the car and what I am doing with it. She has a keen interest in every detail, and she says it makes her happy to be involved in her dad’s car’s future. It also is nice for me. My family members are not car people, and my little greasy hobby is of little interest to them. But with Alex, I can share some car talk with someone who is genuinely interested in the process and the outcome.
6) What was it like the first time you took the car for a spin, was it everything you wanted it to be?
DAF: Well you will laugh, but my first smile came when I first started it up and noticed over 40 lbs of oil pressure at idle. This told me that most likely the car did not have a hard life. On the way home from the delivery truck it was raining. I was disappointed that I could not drop the top. But I was quite pleased that she ran so smoothly and that the transmission shifted so well. I am used to having to overhaul things to make them work well…and I was very pleased that this was starting out so well.
Sasha is more than I wanted her to be. She is fun, nibble, fast, and also has given my daughter and me some common ground. My wife ended up loving it and wants it around, my boys expressed their first interest in learning to drive a stick, and I have a new friend Alex.
The human side of car collecting is what I love. It is why almost everyone that loves their car loves it. It’s the memories of love’s past and the days of youth. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best in the last line of “The Great Gatsby” that in the human experience we are all “born ceaselessly into the past.” It doesn’t hurt that one can be born into the past…smoking the tires. 🙂
7) Aside from installing the back-up camera, have you updated the car in any way or are you planning to do any other modifications to it?
DAF: I am a restoration owner, not a modification owner. This is why it took so long for me to find the right unmolested car. I have gone through the car front to back now, and I replaced and or restored all the little things that get easily broken or deteriorated. I found original OEM hood stops to replace the cracked ones that allowed the hood to vibrate. I repaired the normal issue with the front fender tabs being bent by incorrect lifting. This usually makes the front fenders flare and misalign at the bottom. I knew this car had this issue from the pictures in your article. I installed a brace that fully encapsulates the front fender tabs making it impossible for them to get bent again. I replaced the broken passenger-side cup holder, and some OEM trim screws. I had to fix the cruise control via the clutch position switch adjustment, and I replaced the missing Jack and spare with OEM versions.
While Alex has the stereo upgraded and she sent me the original stock radio with the car, the steering wheel controls were not working. So I replaced the head unit with one that could be programmed to work with the original steering wheel controls. this unit also had an input for the reverse camera so I put one in as these cars are notoriously hard to back up. I also installed a subwoofer… because it seemed incomplete without it. And the steering wheel controls are a must…as well as the Apple CarPlay modernization. She is now road-trip-ready.
I also did some paint restoration and some deeper scratch repair with the correct color matched base and clear.
The only thing remaining is to further detail the engine compartment, which is now going to be a winter project. I am having too much fun in the warm weather with the top dropped and the tires chirping! It is already nice… I with my greasy little hobby will make it unbelievable!