This Chevrolet Camaro Has Been Brought Back From The Dead Twice
Photography by Nikki Martinez and Chris Luthi
My father spent his childhood watching street races in front of his house, and riding along with his brother, until his brother gave him a ’64 Chevrolet Nova as a teenager. It was his first car but not his last, he eventually sold it to start a mechanic’s shop that he’s run for 32 years now. The moment my brother and I could work, we were there. We worked on cars and heard all the stories—and the bug bit me the same way it did him.
This is a 1970 Chevrolet Camaro. My car was bought by my father in the ’80s as basically a torn up and beat up shell, but he thought my mom would like it. She didn’t, at first. My mom had tried selling the car for $100 but couldn’t get rid of it, and when they found the parts they needed—an entire interior was found stashed in a barn after following a classified ad—she figured it was meant to be.
They built it up together, and my mom drove it through college but then my older brother came into the picture. His complicated birth set them back quite a bit, and they were forced to sell the Camaro to pay the bills. Several years later, a cousin recognized it in Phoenix by the distinctive paint job my parents put on it. Unfortunately, it was back in the shape in which my parents first found it. My cousin brought it back to El Paso, and (long story short) roughly 7 years after they first sold the car, it was back with my parents.
At this point, I was roughly three years old and I vividly remember the day we got the car. I remember the day when my dad drove it back to our shop and watched him put it up on jack stands. I asked him what they were going to do with it, and he said, “Maybe one day we’ll fix it up for your mom, or maybe it’ll even be yours”. Then when I was ten years old, my brother got the pick of the Camaro or a Chevelle that my dad also had, he chose the Chevelle and I got the Camaro. Over the next 6 years we would buy what we could until is was “done,” my dad said he’d help me make it look presentable and drive but everything after that was up to me.
Since, it’s had almost every part of the drive train changed by me. The car built me just as much as I built it. I learned almost everything I know from building this car, how to build an engine, install a 4 speed transmission, tune the multiple carburetors I’ve had on it, build rear ends; all kinds of knowledge that opened me up to diagnosing and repairing classic cars. My car is like a family member to me, I don’t know how I’d live without it.
Editor’s note: We generally like to add in the website or contact info when readers submit stories, but you’ll just have to find the El Paso, TX shop Zenitram Automotive the old-fashioned way.