While growing up, Mark Litavsky had driven plenty of old cars but found one major flaw with them: he never knew their full history.
As a teen, Mark set out to rectify this motoring murkiness. At 19, he decided to purchase a new ride -- one he could keep for years, always aware of the full extent of the car's maintenance and miles.
"Knowing what the car was all about from Day One was very appealing to me," Mark says.
Being fond of American muscle, the Wheaton resident was keen on the 1981 Camaro. He came close to buying one off the lot until he happened to catch a glimpse of some advertising that revealed what was coming the following year.
For 1982, Chevrolet was overhauling the Camaro for the start of its third-generation body style, giving it a sleeker, modern look. It wasn't just the exterior refinements that attracted Mark. Chevy was injecting a healthy dose of improved handling and performance into the car, too.
The young man's enthusiasm was high but his budget was low. However, Mark was able to pull together enough money to head to Fencl-Tufo Chevrolet (Now Sunrise Chevrolet) in Glendale Heights to buy his Camaro. The total sale price rang up to $12,699 and Mark drove away with a dark blue metallic example, equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 and options such as a sport suspension, power disc front and rear brakes and Rally wheels.
That first year Mark used the sport coupe daily, recalling one fond road trip to the sun-soaked shores of Florida. He even drove it on Daytona Beach, posing for a couple pictures on the sandy shores with crashing waves in the background.
After making it back to the suburbs and accumulating a couple door dings over the ensuing years -- and, sadly, even a scar from some passer-by who keyed his beloved beauty, Mark pulled the car from regular use.
In the 1990s, he had it repainted and then in the early 2000s Mark "added more flair" with the addition of white SS stripes. The changes didn't stop there. Modern upgrades such as a new engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and rear end have also been installed.
"There's few pieces on the car left that came on it when I bought," Mark laughs. "It's evolved over the years but I got it exactly where I want it to be."
Along the way, the enthusiast drag raced the Camaro for a few years and now he's involved in the autocross scene. He's made all the modifications himself, including some metal fabrication under the hood. Unattractive pieces like the A/C and ignition wiring have been covered up. Mark first crafted the pieces out of cardboard, transferred them to sheet metal and then painted and installed them.
It's been a true labor of love but Mark wouldn't want it any other way. He knows the full in's and out's of his ride.
"If something is messed up, I have no one to blame but myself."
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