Marty A. Otero, Los Lunas, NM
Photography by Jim Knight
One of the most enjoyable past times for me and my wife is taking weekend drives through the back roads of our small town looking for old cars. We enjoy going to areas we have never been and enjoying the scenery. It appeared while on our back road excursions my wife was coming along simply as a means of doing something different. In the beginning we had no intention of actually buying a car. Things changed, she began revealing a side of her that had been hidden all those years. She began spotting cars well in advance of me. Not only did she spot those cars, she knew what they were. “My friend in high school had a car like that it’s a…”, “My parents had a car like that it’s a…and I think it had a 4 something engine” ouch, “There’s a…” and “There’s a…. For a guy that was an immediate turn on! It was then I knew we might actually buy one.
We traveled through many a back road for over a year and saw countless possibilities but we still didn’t have a clear understanding of what we were looking for. To make things easier (so we thought) we decided to attend several outstanding local shows such as The SuperNationals and the Route 66 Casino Hotel shows. Boy was that an eye opening experience! We had no idea this hobby was so huge! Everywhere we looked there were cars that looked fresh from the factory. My first expression was that of amazement and my wife’s first expression was that of excitement which quickly faded to that of dollar signs! My wife and I have been married for 31 years and we’d known each for 12 years prior to getting married. Through the years I have learned to recognize several facial expressions and what they really mean. What expression did she have on her face at the first show we went to? Yup…what did I let this guy talk me into this time? We met a lot of wonderful people who were eager to talk about their cars. The information we received from these sometimes hardcore and sometimes novice car owners were priceless. One piece of advice I’ll never forget; “Once you decide on a car you like try to find one that is already in good condition because the price to restore will break the bank”. In hindsight, this was the best advice anyone could have given us.
My wife and I have two sons, Isaiah and Zachary. One of my goals (I know…sounds corny) in life was to find two muscle cars or classics that my wife and I could leave behind for our two son’s. In 2006 we found the first one and since this article is about Chevy’s I won’t mention what it is. Our search for the second car began in earnest in 2007 when we finally decided what it would be, a 1969 camaro and hopefully a numbers car. We searched just about every available source but no car really caught my eye. We then decided we would begin researching the new Camaro.
In the meantime, I became good friends with an employee at a local gas station. He would save me the out-dated car for sale magazines and I would go through each one before heading out to work. For some reason I tossed one of these issues in the back seat of my truck without looking at it. It stayed in the back seat of my truck for a week or so. I finally decided to look at the magazine and low and behold, this light Blue 1969 RS/SS Camaro was on the front cover. Not only was it in the front cover but it was only 15 miles from my home and less than a mile from where I worked. My initial thought, a day late and a dollar short, certainly someone has purchased the car. I made the phone call that same day at 7:00am (hoping I wouldn't wake him) and the owner stated he still had the car but he was getting calls from all over the country and had two individuals that were going to wire him a deposit. I made arrangements to meet with him that same day. My initial reaction when I saw the car, “WOW”! I couldn’t believe someone hadn’t beaten me to this car. I wanted it bad but my final decision would depend on whether the Camero was a numbers matching car. This was a criterion which was very important to me.
I could not have asked for a nicer guy to work with. He said he would give me two weeks to research the car and make a decision. It only took me a week to research the car and it was everything I had hoped for. All of the important numbers matched and it was in very good condition! Okay, next hurdle. Would my wife approve? I also had to convince the boys because they had their hearts set on the new Camaro.
The next weekend we all went to look at the car. The owner dusted off the car and parked it just inside the garage door of a large facility where we could all see the car as we drove up. Our son's started with oohes and awes but mom was still in her conservative expression mode. Introductions were made and the owner went into detail about the car with my wife. The whole time, dad was in the distance observing mom's every expression. Half an hour went by...an hour went by...finally, there it was, the thumbs up smile! You could not find three happier guys the day we brought our Camaro home.
For the avid car enthusiast most of the cars features would have been deciphered right from the start. As for me, a novice at the time, I had no idea how unique this car was. First and foremost the car is a “Special Paint” car. Which meant a customer could choose a color from another GM product line other than camaro. For this car, it was Oldsmobile which offered the color under the name “Powder Blue” (the previous owner stated the car was ordered by a GM executive for his daughter as a graduation gift from UCLA and she wanted a color that resembled UCLA Bruin Blue. This was the closest GM offered. The original paint can be seen in several areas throughout the car. The most preserved of which is behind the door panels. In addition, this is a highly optioned car; Pw, Ps, Pb, A/C, AM/FM “Blue Dot” Stereo, Vigilites, Speed Warning Indicator, Clock, Tilt Steering Wheel, Remote Drivers Mirror, Vanity Mirror, Space Saver Spare, Tinted “Soft Ray” Glass and SS Wheels. This car also has its original interior, Glass and Vinyl Top. It is a 350 V8, 300 HP, and THM 350 and 12 Bolt Rear.
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