"My name is Chris and I am Chevy addict". This is the story of my 78 Z-28 I call "Mean Streak" that I have owned for over 20 years.
Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with cars- mainly Camaros and Corvettes. I collected them in Hot Wheels and Mattel versions, I built models of them and I dreamed of one day owning a Camaro. I never played with dolls and the only thing I ever asked for on my birthday and Christmas were more cars.
When I was a kid my brother and I were offered a candy bar a day or the money equivalent. I ALWAYS took the money, my brother always took the candy bar. I had a savings account as a young kid, picked up, smashed and sold aluminum cans and took care of all of my clothes and toys so that when I got tired of them I could sell them at a yard sale. I put all of this money into my savings.
I went to college on scholarships and also worked full time. After my tuition and books were paid for, I stashed all of my extra money into my savings account. I was the ONLY student who took their lunch with them each day, while everyone else, including my friends were eating at the local McDonalds or Dairy Queen.
I bought my first car (with CASH), a black 1978 LT Camaro in 1992, as I did not learn to drive until I was in college. The very next year I bought my 1978 Z-28 (with CASH) . I was working at the local Ramada Inn, cleaning rooms when I had found it in the classifieds section. I asked them if they would hold it for me until I got off work that day, and all day at the motel I was calling them to make sure they still had it. The car was 2 hours away and luckily they did and my friend and I took my black Camaro down to get it.
It was pretty rough to say the least. The interior was totally ragged out of it but it had a brand new paint job on it. I would later learn when I went to wash it that the rag would turn BLUE! The car also had big old truck tires on it. I went ahead and bought it for $1800- mainly because I wanted another 78 and I liked the color. I made my friend drive it because it would only run about 35 with those tires on it. To this day she STILL remembers that!
After I got it home I made a two page list of what all it needed. After getting new tires on it and a new interior put in, I drove the car to college when not driving the other 78. I was the only girl (or guy) who owned 2 Camaros while I was in college. I also got them published in "All Chevy" magazine in 1993 which was a total shock when I went into the local Harps, picked up the mag, and my cars were in there!
Owning the car for over 20 years it has seen a lot of changes. The majority of the work did not come until I married my husband Gabe (12 years ago). When I met him I told him I only cared about cars and bikes and he was down with that. I told him what I wanted in the car and we proceeded to making it happen.
I had been drag racing the car for years when it had a 327 in it but it wasn't FAST! We decided to put a 383 in it, which I did all of the assembly work. We added Dart 230 cc aluminum heads (that was a HUGE goal of mine), Victor Jr intake, 850 Demon carb, MSD pro billet distributor with 6AL and Hooker comp headers. The motor has 11.5:1 compression, a 306 flat tappet Competition cam and 1:6 full roller rockers. It uses a Scat crank, flowing through 3" exhaust with 2 chamber Flowmasters.
The transmission is a Turbo TH350 with a B&M hole shot 3000 converter. Shifting is done with a B&M mega shifter installed in the factory console. A lightweight aluminum driveshaft is also used.
On the rear is Lakewood lift bars, sub-frame connectors, a 8.5 10-bolt with spool and 4.10 Richmond gears. It also sports 4 wheel disc brakes since pushing 500 hp @ 6300 rpm requires a good braking system.
In 2005 I went to work at a local body shop. Before working there I had been sanding and preparing my car for paint. We were going to spray it but in the end I paid them to paint it the original color. At the same time, my husband and I started a local Camaro Club- North Arkansas Camaro Club. We wanted to be able to get everyone together who loved Camaros. I applied and became the Arkansas State Rep for the Camaro Club through Eckler's. While we were leading the Camaro Club, we took the members to the dyno and put on several events including Burnout Contests, which I came in 5th the year I entered. I only came in 5th because I had a manual fuel pump and it couldn't keep up. I literally ran out of gas!
I continued to race the car for a few more years but it really just got too expensive. We make less than $25,000 a year so we have to be selective and FRUGAL to what we do. I do drive the car occasionally but since I only go to "town" (12 miles away) once a month, I usually use my other car, a 1981 Corvette that I have owned for 13 years that we have built also.
On a side note, we both ride vintage Harleys that we build. Gabe is an ASE certified master mechanic. I have done a lot of the work on my 78 and with his help, we have made it into the car I always wanted.
My whole life I have only owned Camaros and Corvettes. I have owned a total of 8 cars- 5 Camaros- 78 LT, 78 Z-28, 79 Z-28, 81 Z-28, and an 86 Z-28 and 3 Corvettes- the 81, a 75 Stingray (a 4 speed car I learned to drive a manual in- bought it without being able to drive it) and a 1980. I have owned 10 motorcycles, presently having 3 of them now.
At one time I owned 5 cars- 3 Camaros and 2 Vettes and that was really just too much to keep up with in conjunction to what Gabe owned, not to mention, EXPENSIVE!
I call my 78 Mean Steak because I am a HUGE AC/DC fan and on my other 78 I had "Back in Black" vinyl on the back of the spoiler. It was black and the song just fit. Mean Streak is another awesome song and let's face it, with almost 500 hp it DOES have a Mean Streak.
(Mean Streak Lyrics:
I've been to the left, I've been to the right
I've found myself in Abudhabi, just a mirage in the night
Been to the high, I've been to the low
And I've been to lots of places that I didn't wanna go
But I ain't see nothing to get me off my ass
And I laughed at all the jokers wanna make me walk on glass
I could walk 'fore I could crawl
And I was meaner than a bad dog with his back against the wall
See 'em fall, see 'em fall
I'm the guy that they call -
Meanstreak, I gotta meanstreak
Meanstreak, they call me meanstreak
I just don't know who I wanna be
The count of Monte Cristo or the sheik of Arabia
Eaten rich, and I've eaten free
And I'm the perfect culture vulture in the face of poverty
And I ain't met no one who told me I got class
They say never feed the animal, the boy's got too much flash
I'm a guy they just can't teach
And I always kick the castle that's been built up on the beach (heh ha)
See 'em fall, see 'em fall
Cause I'm the guy that they call -
What's your name?
I got a meanstreak
Ooh I got a meanstreak
Ooh I got a meanstreak
Wanna feel a meanstreak?
They call me meanstreak
All the children say meanstreak
What's my name?
Building a car with hardly NO budget leaves something to be desired but at the same time no one would ever guess that we are "poor". We just make good decisions like having no kids (had my tubes tied in my early 20's), no television, no microwave, etc and are able to have the things we really want.
I hope my story can inspire others who have lived or are living similar to me. I have not had ONE thing given to me. My parents didn't buy me a car, pay my insurance or gas or help in any way. I have worked minimum wage jobs my whole life.
I have my priorities straight. Cars and bikes are what mattered to me as a kid and they still are the only things that matter to me as a 43 year old adult! If enough passion and motivation, ANYTHING is possible!!!
I would like to thank Valley Springs Quarry for letting me shoot my 78 there. I appreciate them very much as they provide an awesome background.