Next-Gen Gems – 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – A True Second Gen Survivor
Larry Poggio’s 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is a survivor if we’ve ever seen one; a time machine to an era since past. Cars like this, meticulously maintained, give us hope that future generations will be able to appreciate these beauties for what they are.
Ultimately, this car was one of the last of a dying breed – the second generation Camaro. Just two years later, Chevrolet moved on to the F-body platform, and while the Z28 lived on, it was a different beast. These cars (as well as many others from the malaise era) got a lot of hate from designers and “purists” for their big plastic bumpers and headlight treatment but that has eased over time.
Larry was keen to point out that this car was one of the first to have a computer on board, and when you look under the hood, it’s a complicated series of hoses running this way and that over the 305 cubic inch V8 underneath. This is in part due to smog regulations as well as Detroit’s late 70s and early 80s power choke.
The other reason this car seems to have such an overwhelming amount of plumbing under the hood is because it was fully loaded — in fact, this very car was driven by a top-notch executive at Chevy before being handed off to Larry.
As the story goes, every 3,000 miles the suits at GM would get a brand new car to drive around in, often passing their current rides on to other folks working in the office. Larry’s car, however, didn’t quite make it to the 3k mark.
For whatever reason, the gent driving this car back in the day got the itch for a new ride around 1,500 miles, illegitimately ran the odometer up, and found someone else who was keen to take it off his hands. There’s nothing quite like the good old days…
So, Larry essentially was the first true owner of the car. Eventually it ended up in his wife’s hands, and together they racked up the 60,000-plus miles that are on the chassis now. Besides a new paint job, everything is exactly as it was from the factory, though.
We spotted Larry’s gem at the Goodguys Autumn Get-Together last fall and with the coming excitement of next-gen cars being invited to all Goodguys national events in 2018, we decided we needed to feature the car. Coming up on forty years old, even cars made in the eighties now have a classic air about them, and it’s not every day you see a pristine Z28 from the eighties rolling by.
Unless of course you’re Larry, who has the luxury of living in the eighties any time he wants. Just hop in to the comfy, bouncy bucket seats, flip on the forty year old factory air conditioning, roll down your electric windows, and put on the FM radio.
This was the pinnacle of a livable muscle car in 1980, let us tell you. Complete with all the bells and whistles required of a brand new decade, this was Chevrolet’s masterpiece. Ironically, Larry tells us you couldn’t even get the car with a stick shift at the time, but perhaps that’s just made it more comfortable to drive after all these years.
With boxy design elements finished with swooping panels that are calling cards of the era, this big old girl is seriously something special. Complete with the three-tone striping scheme that’s complete throughout the entire car, this is the real deal.
With everything running just as it should, Larry’s Z28 is a testament to GM’s engineering and early 80s design.
Photos by Trevor Ryan