Z28 Dreams – Mark Perez’s Meticulously Restored 1969 Camaro
For many of us who dreamed of owning a 1969 Camaro Z28 since we were young, it often took decades to make the dream come true. Mark Perez had that same childhood dream, but he fulfilled his at the ripe old age of 24.
A random online classified led Mark to his dream Z. It had been parked since 1976 with 66,000 miles on the odometer and the original drivetrain intact. Mark says the car was rough but complete, which is a solid starting point for a restoration.
Mark did all of the work on the Camaro except for bodywork and application of the Cortez Silver paint, which was handled by the crew at Gary’s Rods and Restorations in Watsonville, California.
Mark’s work included the meticulous efforts to make sure only correct parts were sourced for the restoration. For example, he found a specialist to rebuild the date-code-correct original fuel pump. That sort of attention to detail produced a car that is exactly as it was manufactured by Chevrolet.
Anchored by the original high-revving, numbers-matching 302c.i. V8, the pristine engine compartment includes all of the correct components. The engine, though, is the jewel in this crown. Featuring a solid-lifter cam and 11:1 compression, this highly desired small block was rated by Chevrolet at 290 horsepower, which was probably under-reported given the games played the manufacturers in those days.
Topped by a Holley four-barrel carb, an aluminum intake manifold, aluminum-finned valve covers, and factory exhaust headers, the engine is backed up by a Muncie M-20 four-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter sending power to a Positraction rear axle with 3.73 gears. The factory heavy-duty suspension features power disc brakes in the front, drums in the rear. Optional quick-ratio power steering completes the handling specs.
The interior is stock for a Z28. The factory dash features an 8,000-rpm tach with a center fuel gauge. An AM push-button radio was standard. Dave Robeck at Finish Line Interiors in Santa Clara handled the interior restoration using original and reproduction components. Like Mark’s Camaro, many Z28s of the era did not have factory-installed consoles, although many were added to cars over the years.
Adding to the provenance of this Camaro is a detailed ownership history as well as the original Protect-O-Plate. Mark’s hands-on approach to restore the Z28, along with help from his father as well as Larry and Scott Jones, makes this a dream-come-true project that will last for decades.
Photos by Mike Christensen