Motoring | Reader's Drives

Jean's 2001 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Jean loves muscle cars and dreams of owning a classic 1969 Camaro ZL1. But until then, his hot fourth generation Z28 is all the car he needs

  • By Imran Malik, wheels
  • Published: 14:02 October 18, 2012
  • Wheels

  • Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
  • Jean's Camaro was imported from Japan.
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Nice Camaro! This isn’t your first is it?
Nope, this is Z28 number two! That’s not surprising as I am a huge fan of muscle cars.
I love Chevelles, Mustangs, Camaros, Trans Ams, Corvettes — in fact, the list is endless. When I was a kid, my father used to own an auto repair and spare parts shop, so whenever I had the chance, especially during summer breaks, I used to spend time there checking all the cars out, learning about each part, how it works and so on. That’s how my passion started. I know a lot about cars, all the makes and models, but classic muscle cars grab my attention the most.

Tell us about your previous Z28…
It was a green 1996 model and had a tan leather interior. I bought it as soon as I got my UAE driving licence and remember having lots of fun with that car. It had a small block 350 cubic inch (5.7-litre) LT1 V8 with lots of torque and horsepower. A year later I had to sell it because it was difficult to insure the car given that
I was just 23 then and my driver’s licence was relatively new.

But you’ve since bought another. Where did you find this one?
I started searching online and was looking around all the used-car showrooms. I spotted this in Sharjah. It had been imported from Japan and the minute I saw it, I felt this was the car I was looking for.

It had been rather well maintained, right?
It was in excellent condition; it didn’t have a single scratch or a dent. The interior was very clean and it was clear the previous owner took good care of it. Mechanically, it was fine too. I only had to do a routine service and it was ready to go. I took it for a test drive and, a few days later, all the paperwork was done and I was enjoying my new ride.

Was your wife OK about you buying another muscle car?
I had to do lot of talking to convince her before buying it. But eventually, she gave up as she knew what these cars meant to me. We have another family car and use that when we’re taking our two-year-old boy out, so owning a two-door sportscar isn’t an issue. The Mrs and I cruise along Jumeirah Beach Road around sunset, and when she drives it, we get strange looks from other drivers — they’re probably not used to seeing a woman drive a muscle car!

I bet you burn a lot of rubber in it…
I sure do! Under the bonnet lies a Corvette-based 5.7-litre LS1 V8, a truly reliable and powerful engine that’s been mated to a four-speed automatic. On paper, it produces 310bhp but it’s widely believed this figure is understated.

Performance is one area where this Z28 won’t disappoint you. It has a lot of power and guts. With that strong V8, overtaking or changing lanes is a piece of cake and it cruises comfortably at highway speeds. The Z28 has plenty of power — I only touch the throttle and it takes off like a rocket. It is all stock and in very good condition. I don’t dare to drive it with traction control switched off as the car can be hard enough to control with it engaged!

Have you had any work done to it?
It’s just had a few minor upgrades so far. I have installed a performance thermostat that helps to keep the engine cool given the heat in this part of the world. I’ve just put in a set of ceramic brakes to enhance the stopping power and I am planning to install a cold air intake and performance exhaust because the best thing in muscle cars, apart from the power, is the sweet sound of the rumbling exhaust.

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Does it give you any problems?
Not at all. As long as I am taking good care of it and doing the regular maintenance it should be fine. Spare parts are available at the Chevy dealer or the used parts garages. If I don’t find what I am looking for, I can order it online.

Where do you enjoy driving it the most?
I enjoy driving it to Fujairah and Dibba. I frequently drive around the mountainous roads and valleys around Al Aqah as I can unleash its power and enjoy the performance of this Z28. I intend to take it on the track some day.

Do you plan to keep it for ever?
Yes. Camaros were built to last; they are great cars with lots of history. The best thing about mine is its muscular looks, raw power and the fact it is from a long line of Chevys with amazing performance. I am planning on owning one from each generation, but this is a long-term project.

What is your dream car?
Any muscle car from the Sixties and Seventies will do for me. I like the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, but the one that stands out is the very rare 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

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