Roger Bacon's one of the luckier L.A./Orange County commuters. When everyone else in town is straining to hump north, he wheels south to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station that squats unopposed on some very expensive beachfront real estate. Roger's a machinist supervisor, which means he knows how to make stuff out of raw nothing. And a little of that knowledge was used to build a lot of this '73 Z28, one of four Camaros he's owned.
We like the hell out of this one. A 6-71 blower on top of a fat Rat backed by a six-speed? That takes stones. Flash on a Fuel Altered wheeled by a one-armed driver with one eye shut. Who's nuts enough to dig that combination? Our pal Roger. Why a '73 Z28? It was available and it was cheap.
"When I first came across this car in 1982, it was sitting beside a Dumpster in an industrial park," said Roger. "It was very rough, but at least it was all there, original, unmolested, and begging to be driven away. I just knew I had to have it." And so he did. Gave the original owner's son $1,800, peeled off the grime, tuned up the engine, and put a low-buck paint job on it. His wife Carol drove it to work for two years then handed him the keys. Right off he felt strange, knew something was amiss, an aberration. It needed more power, so Roger got right to work. He buffed out the 350 with higher compression, a bigger camshaft, and headers.
A couple of years later, the Bacons sold their Camaro to Carol's brother. But, gulp, he lost interest and it began to spiral downward. "Carol thought we should buy it back before it was too late, so we did. This is where the story gets good."
He stuck a 430hp 383 small-block in it, which held him for a few months. "I'd just sold my speedboat and had a spare 468 big-block hiding in a corner, taking up floor space. Great, the car was fast and fun to drive-yet still it needed something. I know, a six-speed transmission, a rearend makeover, suspension upgrades, better brakes, and yes, more power. Now my wife is starting to worry about me. The car is running strong and most of my friends are scared of it (and me)! So out comes the 468 and in goes a 496...with a B&M 177 mini-blower."
It might have gotten worse. But there wasn't time for another power injection because Roger's aesthetic sensibilities got in the way, and the Z did an eight-week jolt in Pete Santini's paint jail. When it rolled back into the sunlight, it "looked awesome." Westminster Auto Upholstery ragged out the entire interior in black vinyl-but in the end it really didn't matter that Westminster hands put the new glass, door panels, carpeting, and a new dashpad in, sealing it up tight with renewed weatherstripping. It didn't matter to Roger Bacon at all. You know what mattered to him. It's a siiiickkknesss. While Roger liked the idea of the Roots-type blower icon, he thought it should look in proportion to the engine. Besides, a bigger, larger-displacement blower would make, you know, more power.