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updated: 5/13/2013 6:36 AM

Owner of 1968 Camaro SS no longer engine envious

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  • 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS, Bob Zogarfos, Palatine

      1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS, Bob Zogarfos, Palatine
    Courtesy of Prestige MotorCar Photography

  • Bob and Mary Ann Zogarfos of Palatine found their Camaro while on an East Coast vacation.

      Bob and Mary Ann Zogarfos of Palatine found their Camaro while on an East Coast vacation.

  • This Grotto Blue coupe has spent most of its days in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Boston.

      This Grotto Blue coupe has spent most of its days in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Boston.

  • Zogarfos craved a Camaro with a powerful big-block V-8 engine.

      Zogarfos craved a Camaro with a powerful big-block V-8 engine.

  • A four-speed manual transmission was added during the Camaro's rebuild, requiring the "four-on-the-floor" stick shift.

      A four-speed manual transmission was added during the Camaro's rebuild, requiring the "four-on-the-floor" stick shift.

 
 

This 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS is the long-waited answer to Bob Zogarfos' childhood wish. It's not the car itself he wanted for so long, but rather what's underhood.

"When I was 18 years old," the Palatine resident said, "and looking to buy a new vehicle, my cautious dad said I couldn't have a car with a big engine in it."

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While Zogarfos would have preferred a Camaro packing the high-horsepower, big-block V-8, at the time he had to settle for the next best thing: a small-block V-8 Camaro Z/28.

"When I told my dad my plan, he didn't know. He heard 'small' and figured it wouldn't be that powerful and agreed" to the purchase, Zogarfos said.

They headed down to Lattof Chevrolet in Arlington Heights and picked out a new race-ready 1967 Camaro Z/28, packing the small-block engine, of course. Zogarfos enjoyed his cruiser for a year before his eyes laid sight on the new models.

Because '67 was the first year for the model, it didn't seem refined enough for Zogarfos. "I had to have a '68 Z/28," he said. So Zogarfos shelled out the cash, but that new bow tie bruiser didn't last long -- a mere two weeks before it was stolen.

"By the time the funds came in, the '69 Z/28 models were just about out. I placed an order for a bright yellow one." Zogarfos picked up that cruiser and relished it thoroughly, even causing his dad to view it, and its predecessors, in a different light.

"Over the years, dad grew to really like the cars -- and their 'small' engines," he said.

Despite his string of Camaros, Zogarfos never owned a big-block version. In 2002 he set to rectify that. This vehicle was located in Abingdon, Mass., and Zogarfos turned a family vacation into an inspection extravaganza.

"We were visiting Virginia and made a detour to swing by. I spent three days reviewing the car," he said. All that determination paid off as Zogarfos was confident this Grotto Blue coupe was a worthy successor to his Camaro line.

"The previous owner was a Pontiac fan but had held onto this one because of its rareness. Only 272 Camaros were manufactured that year with aluminum cylinder heads on a 396-cubic-inch, big-block V-8."

This particular car was assembled at Chevrolet's Van Nuys, Calif., plant and had spent time in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Boston. While the muscle car had been stored prior to Zogarfos' discovery, it required attention because it hadn't been driven. New shocks, springs and brakes were installed while the interior required fresh carpeting, dash work and original-style speakers.

Zogarfos likes the stock look, but also values driving fun and opted to make a change to the drivetrain. The Turbo Hydromatic automatic transmission was swapped out for the optional four-speed manual unit.

"Back then, the big-block cars were putting out serious power and most came with the auto. In the '60s, there were no rev limiters, so if you kept your foot on the gas and missed a shift, either the clutch was going or the engine."

While this enthusiast's Chevy may have a different, and more powerful, sound than his former rides, it's just the ticket to remind him of his younger motoring days.

"Driving during the '60s was truly special. All my teenage buddies who lived on my street would take our muscle cars out every weekend night.

"It was a sight to behold and thinking of it still brings a smile to my face."

• Email comments, suggestions to auto@dailyherald.com.

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