As a fan and occasional writer of science fiction, there are some worlds I absolutely love and take inspiration from in my own work. The likes of Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica have kept me in amazement since first discovering them.
I like to group these together in what I call Analog Science Fiction. Where the technology is fantastical, but there is a rough, lived in aesthetic to the world. Things are controlled by buttons and levers. Computer read outs are often very basic. There are no fancy touchscreens or holographics here.
This leads to my car. While it isn’t the newest example of of it’s kind on the road, it isn’t in perfect shape, nor is it the top trim of its line, it’s one of my favorite cars I’ve ever driven. In Battlestar Galactica terms, I would say it’s most similar to the Viper Mark II. While not as new as the Mark VII’s, it is still able to hold it’s own under the right conditions. (Plus the colors match!)
In my last article, I wrote about owning a Bronco II, and that was true up until a couple months ago. However, I had discovered a problem with owning my dream truck… It was difficult to get in and out of.
It’s no secret that time hasn’t exactly been kind to my body. Working in the industrial fields I did left me in a worse state then a cared to admit for a long time. My knees having been a major casualty. While I don’t need it every single time I get up, having a cane just makes it easier for me to move around. However, it presents its own challenges. There’s not always a proper place to put it when I eat somewhere, or need more than one hand to carry something. I soon discovered that climbing in and out of my truck each day was getting more and more painful.
Working on the engine meant literally climbing on top of the engine bay and hunching over it to change things like spark plugs. What should’ve been a couple hour’s worth of work took me almost five, because I was constantly needing to painfully lower myself off the engine to give my poor knees a rest. As much as I hated to admit it… I should find a new car. Scarlet was too hard to live with, and I was doing myself no favors by ignoring that.
When working at Streetside Classics, I drove many examples of the third gen Camaro. They were all almost exactly the same. Red with black hood stripes. I-ROC or Z/28. Almost all had the Tuned Port Injected 305 or 350.
When I had the chance to test drive what is now my car, I was very surprised at how comfortable it was to get in and out of. I could pivot and fall into the driver’s seat and when I needed to get out, I could put my weight on my cane and and lift myself out with little difficulty. No running boards to worry about and a low slung driving position where I can keep both legs extended.
My Camaro is an example of the final year for this body style. It features the Heritage Edition paint scheme with red stripes over white. It has the option of wearing glass or solid T tops, and with it being Texas, I keep those on to make sure the car stays somewhat cool. It comes equipped with a throttle body injected 305 and an automatic four speed. I’ve heard people complain that the base model RS Camaro was an absolute dog but I don’t know what they mean. The car is plenty fast off the line and handles very well out on the highway.
The shocks are new and the brakes have been upgraded with drilled and vented rotors so that’s probably why. The AC has been converted over to modern freon and blows cold. The body is mostly original, save for the Z/28 front end that was swapped on some years ago.
One area I totally understand the criticism of is the quality of the interior. Even with new plastic on the dash and brand new carpet everything feels cheap. The squeaks and rattles and wind noise are sometimes so loud I have to turn up the radio just to hear it.
Still, while I never saw myself in a car like this and I’m sad to see my Bronco go, it’s amazing feeling to own a car like this. It doesn’t hurt me to drive and while the drivetrain isn’t the most desirable, it’s reliable technology that is easy to maintain. I know others have had some horror stories with their third gen F bodies but this one has yet to fail me.
The body isn’t perfect, and the interior is cheap feeling. It’s got this ugly kind of charm to it and I’m honestly surprised at the looks and compliments I get. This is no Z/28 or IROC-Z. It’s a base model with fancy paint and a red interior. Still, it holds to the spirit of what I believe the Camaro is. It’s a fun, rumbly little coupe and it looks faster than it is.
So when I’m driving along the highway at 80 miles an hour, listening to Aerosmith with the tops off, plastic interior squeaking and rattling away, with the exhaust rumbling behind me… What do I hear? Nothing but the rain…