This past August, I was taking a much needed vacation in a place that shaped much of who I am today. It’s kind of ironic that I would find so much pleasure in returning to the Rust Belt factory town where I grew up, Flint, Michigan – a place where I had probably literally counted the weeks before my family would move away over twenty-five years ago. I love this town in a completely non-ironic way, and I’m always seeking out familiar places before they shut their doors forever. The Dort Mall, the first and only enclosed shopping mall within Flint city limits since it was built in the mid-1960’s, is usually a destination of mine. I had lost the chain for my automotive-themed wallet and needed to purchase another one from Paradise Express in the mall, which has been open since the mid-80’s.
Ah, yes… the Paradise Express, with its fairly comprehensive range of tie-dyed t-shirts, bumper stickers, lighters, and other assorted things intended to be used with tobacco, was not the kind of place that kids like my friends and me would announce around adults that we were going to. If my parents had even heard about this place when I was a teenager in the late ’80s / early ’90s, they most certainly would have forbidden me from going into that store.
I might have been less successful than Tootie from TV sitcom “Facts Of Life” in convincing my elders that a bong was a container for holding jellybeans. Really, I was a good kid and didn’t use any substance – even beer – until I was away at college. I did get my new wallet and chain from the store, and it just made me grin like a goof, thinking about the teenage me and my painstaking avoidance of punishment (which ended up serving me well at a crucial age).
Since I’ve been alive for forty-some odd years, the Dort Mall was never all that great as a shopping destination. Even though it is and was the only enclosed shopping mall within Flint city limits, there were two other malls just outside of them – with the Courtland Center (neé Eastland Mall) being literally one main thoroughfare over into the suburb of Burton, and with the giant Genesee Valley Mall out in Flint Township, not far from Bishop Airport. It went through a series of name changes – first from Dort Mall, to the Small Mall in the late ’70s, to the Mid-America Plaza in the mid-’80s (which is probably in the top-5 of my list of dumbest mall names, ever), then finally, thankfully back to the “Dort Mall” in the ’90s.
This is the place to which I used to dread going before the elementary school season started in the fall, as one of its anchors was the Sears Surplus store. I really, honestly still love Sears and its value proposition, but back in the ’80s, it just seemed so downmarket to me to have to get my house-brand Toughskins jeans from a discount outlet… of Sears. I used to plead with my mom, “But, we’re not poor! Why do we have to shop here?” Mom’s answer might have been something like, “Well, we’re not poor because we shop here.” It would be like something out of an early rap from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. My parents just didn’t understand.
Besides Paradise Express, there were a few other noteworthy stores here, including Perani’s Hockey World, founded by legendary, Italian immigrant hockey player Bob Perani, who was the goalie for the Flint Generals. There was a Curtis Mathes TV Emporium with an adjacent video rental store. There was (still is) Star Brothers Coney Island, open in that location since 1975, which is still a wonderful time capsule with delicious, inexpensive diner food. There was once a Showbiz Pizza knockoff called Circus Time Pizza that was open for all of one year, most of which coincided with my family’s trip overseas when I was in the fourth grade. Perhaps most legendary of all, there was a large discotheque in the basement of the main, central entrance called “The Light”, which opened in ’77 and was reportedly quite the bumpin’, happening place until it closed in ’82.
Our featured ’79 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 would have been my chariot of choice to drive to The Light in the late ’70s. This car is, to me, a literal “paradise express” on wheels. I’m aware this was the era of the personal luxury car, but this Camaro does things for me that no Monte Carlo could ever make me feel. There is absolutely nothing I would change on this very period-correct vehicle, from its accessories (the Cragar louvers on the backlight; the “Camaro” license plate in the front) to its color.
The only thing that would make this example better would be tinted glass T-tops – the better through which to tan my chest with several dangling, gold chains hanging around my neck. After applying a liberal dose of Hai Karate cologne before leaving the house, my rocket-car Camaro and I would have been headed to The Light’s underlit, multicolored dance floor (yes – just like the one from “Saturday Night Fever”). Don’t call the mall – that floor’s not there anymore, with the former nightclub space reportedly stockpiled with hockey equipment and other inventory waiting to be sold.
Please pardon the aforementioned visuals… I was just getting into character. I’m probably a lot more low key than the last paragraph might indicate, but as loudly as this Camaro is “speaking” as opposed to my own, slightly more reserved demeanor, I still would rock this car as-is. How strange it might feel for someone who has not been to the Flint area in thirty or forty years, to see this Camaro in the parking lot of the Dort Mall and wonder where the party had gone.
This area of South Dort Highway was kind of like a blue collar paradise up through the mid-’80s. The nearest intersection to the mall was located less than a couple of miles from the former GM Fisher One plant (which was closed in ’87 and mostly demolished by the end of ’88), where the historic General Motors Sit-Down Strike of 1936 – ’37 had taken place. In less than a two-mile stretch, there was the Dort Mall, three bowling alleys, at least five bars, several fast food restaurants (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Burger King), a K-Mart, a health club, a fancy Italian restaurant (Trevi’s), a Color Tile, Frank’s Nursery & Crafts, and a movie theater – the Flint Cinema, where I saw “Return Of The Jedi” in first-run on one of its two giant screens. Besides the Dort Mall, and of the aforementioned businesses, only Arby’s and Burger King still remain open.
Camaro sales reached their high-water mark in ’79, with roughly 282,600 sold (of which about 84,900 were Z28s), which would roughly have concurred with the golden age of the area around the Dort Mall in the southern part of Flint. Before I start to sound like Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite” with dreams of time travel, I’ll confess that thought did cross my mind as I stared longingly at this beautiful F-Body. While time waits for no one, it has been extremely good to this fine example of what an aspirational car looked like for a factory worker when GM employed over 80,000 people in the Flint area. That party may be over, but on this particular Wednesday afternoon while on vacation back home, I was glad this Camaro had stuck around long after the lights had gone up after last call.
South Flint, Michigan.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017.
You can go home again – up to a point.
I was the same way regarding Johnstown, PA. Couldn’t wait to get out of there in 1968 (actually had more to do with couldn’t wait to get away from my mother), browbeaten to return in 1977, and stayed there until 1998.
Used to come back a couple of times a year to make motorcycle club meetings, and that drifted off until it was pretty much every Thunder in the Valley in June. Still had the local M/C clubhouse to call home (first Phoenix Riders, then Outlaws), and I suppose I’m still welcome around there . . . . . . but the desire to go back died about three years ago.
The town has been falling apart very badly in the last half decade, and the process is accelerating. It’s not being helped by the local attitude that the President is, of course, going to bring the coal and steel industries back just like he promised in the campaign, all we have to do is sit and wait for it to happen.
The place is too depressing to visit anymore, virtually every place that had any kind of meaning to me closed down years ago (when the local hamburger/hot dog emporium, in business since 1917, and THE place to grab a bite when the bars close at 2am closes – that really says something).
And there are damned few CC’s in town like the above Camaro. If you want to see vintage on the streets, you have a better chance looking for Shovelhead Harley Davidsons.
Syke, thank you for this – everything you said resonated with me. This seems to be the case in so many places that had depended on manual labor for so long. My other half is from the Shenango River Valley area of NW Ohio and NE Pennsylvania, not too far from Youngstown. Black Monday (9/19/77), when Youngstown Sheet & Tube closed unexpectedly and eliminated thousands of jobs overnight, is still something people talk about forty years after the fact. The economy has never recovered.
As far as Flint goes, at some time I had allowed people to convince me to be ashamed of being from there. My first trip back in close to ten years, back in 2009, made me break down and realize how much I love that place. Sadly, since 2009, the economy has not been improved to any substantial degree. There has been progress… then the water thing happened. I’ll keep going back, though. It’s just too big a part of who I am.
These posts resonate with me. I’m now living where I spent my teens and 35 years have passed. Most of the places I cared about back then have been torn down (Sunset Drive-In, A&W Root Beer with their huge heavy glass frosty mugs, the hobby shop where I spent hours deciding which model airplane and paint to buy) and the AM & FM radio stations I listened to are either broadcasting a different format or are off the air. Even the house I lived in with my folks is now owned by some other family. It’s like some alternate reality has been transposed over the same template. I didn’t feel any nostalgia, regret or any feelings really when I looked at the house, but I didn’t knock on the door and ask to look inside, either.
I haven’t seen any 1st, 2nd or 3rd gen Camaros. The currently made monstrosity seems to be everywhere.
I won’t feel any regrets when I leave, probably for the last time.
Our death was two months earlier, July 19,1977 when the third Johnstown Flood hit. Things had been going quietly downhill since the town had received All American City status in ’72, but this gave all the major companies and stores the perfect excuse not to reopen.
By 1981, we had the highest unemployment in the nation, and was the setting for the Tom Cruise film “All the Right Moves” because the town had become so depressing.
Nice musings, nice stripage.
One of the appealing things about living in Adelaide in the aughties is that it felt like Melbourne in the 1970s. I’m back in Melbourne now, and the rate of change here is only accelerating. Agree with Syke – you can go back, but only up to a (increasingly smaller) point.
The only thing wrong, is it should have something hanging off the rearview mirror. My recollection is that graduation tassels and fuzzy handcuffs were both popular depending on the owner.
Did the Flint malls have “Hot Sam” pretzels? I found myself craving one the other day and discovered that the whole chain closed a decade ago. 🙁
Dan, Hot Sam was one of my favorite things at the Genesee Valley mall – especially around the holiday season when my mom was usually in a more generous mood. I had no idea Hot Sam had ceased to be in business!
The chunky salt and the way a piece of hot pretzel would slowly break apart in your hand… so delicious. More flashbacks – thanks, Dan!
Isn’t it amazing how a car can take us back to a time and place that isn’t there any more.
Also amazing is how a few years and a hundred miles separated us then yet how differently we viewed this car. My respect for these has grown a lot in recent years but in 1979 these represented everything wrong with the world to me.
I love that both the car and the place where you found it were so huge to you then. Thanks for taking us back there with you.
JP, seeing this car at the Dort Mall was the perfect confluence of so many things for me. The timing was just right. It’s crazy how this mall was, hands-down, my *least* favorite when I was growing up, and how it has actually become one of my favorites. Not for the shopping, but for Star Brothers Coney Island and some of the old, Flint memorabilia in the main corridor.
I think the first time I ever rode in one of these later-edition 2nd-generation Camaros was while on a field trip in the second grade. My friend Karma’s dad had one, and he was one of the drivers to our destination one day – the For-Mar nature preserve just outside of city limits (still there, still great).
Mr. Valley’s Camaro would have already been several years old, and I think it had a respray by that point (dark green), but it left an awesome impression on this young kid. Karma’s dad seemed like such a nice, likeable, shop-worker type guy.
Great write-up Joseph. As an original owner of a mint condition 1978 Z28 I can appreciate this car. 1979 was the year the Camaro got a new more contemporary looking gauge cluster plus it was the first year for the passenger side outside mirror saying “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. The only incorrect item on the car is the Z28 logo on the sail panels. This style of logo was only used on the 1977 1/2 and 1978 models.
Just curious – have you ever had any significant offers to sell your car? We have a family friend who had a 1979 Z28, of which she was the original owner. She got rid of it last years because she’s now in her late 60s and was finding it harder to get in and out of. She hated to do it, but had to.
Is yours a manual or automatic, and have you ever had to rebuild or replace the engine or gearbox?
I have never had any offers to sell it. I am in my mid 60’s and while I can still get in and out of it OK I can see how it would have affected your family friend as it is difficult to get in and out of. You sit extremely low in the driver’s seat and the footwell is very small, especially with my big feet. I doubt that I ever would sell it as it has been a part of my life for almost 40 years.
Mine is an automatic (CBC 350). I have never rebuilt or replaced the engine or transmission. However I have added MSD Atomic throttle body fuel injection and at that time I had the heads reconditioned. I also had the AC converted to R134A refrigerant.
I have seen Glenn’s car and it is a real sweetheart! I have several pictures of it and plan to get it written up, so let’s consider this as a preview of coming attractions. 🙂
Glenn, thank you. And thanks for pointing that out about the decal on the B-pillar. I have only seen a handful of ’77 1/2 Z28s in person (probably a lot more ’78s), and while I was researching model years for this piece, the sail panel decals must have eluded me! I very much look forward to JP Cavanaugh’s write-up of your beautiful car.
Joe, the visual with you wearing gold chains and Hai Karate is way too vivid. You possess a terrific knack of putting a person into the moment you describe.
It also has me thinking way too much about a similar trip that will happen to the effervescent Cape Girardeau in a few days and how this trip will be a reminder of your statement how time stops for no one.
About the Camaro? Not sure I’ve ever seen one so nice. I’m barely older than you but am amazed how from the time of my consciousness these looked beaten even at a young age. You found a great one.
Haha! Jason, regarding the visuals, you’re welcome. LOL
My experience of these Camaros when I was growing up was that (as in your experience), many were clapped-out heaps by the ’80s. I suddenly love these now (within the past several years), and would consider ownership once I have a covered parking space.
Have fun in the Cape – I look forward to that write-up.
Joe, I was born and live about 8000 miles to the south of you (Montevideo, Uruguay). Yet, I can picture Flint from you as vivid as I did reading some Buick book from Automobile Quarterly in the early ’80s. I get more pleasure from the reading than from the cars…I’d probably read it if you were telling stories about cobblestones. Are you a writer by trade?
Rafael, thank you so much for your kind words. I remember drafting this piece this past summer within a month of having spent four or five days back in Flint, so much of what I remembered was somewhat easy to write about.
I’m not a writer by trade, but I really enjoy it – much like my fellow contributors here at CC. It really is a labor of love for many of us. For me, it’s win-win – I get to pick subject matter, write, feature some of my photography, and interact with others. I have many car books at home, but once I’ve reached the saturation point with those, I’ve learned more here at CC through the pieces, dialogue and comments than from any other source. I’m honored to be a part of this collective, even if I tend to focus more on the creative writing aspects of it. Cheers!
Given how I associate Flint with Buick, it’s interesting that the mall is named for the city’s less-known automaker…or perhaps it was named for the company’s founder, as he was also an early partner in one of the early, fledgling firms that eventually became part of General Motors.
I’d never heard of Dort until the company was a subject of a multi-part series of articles in Cars and Parts, probably 20 or more years ago.
BuzzDog, Tek (below) is right – the Dort Mall is named for this stretch of Michigan Highway M-54, which is named in honor of J. Dallas Dort.
This reminds me of something else… There are a lot of “Dort”-named things and places in the Flint area. I’ve heard it joked that if someone wanted “buy” the re-naming rights to the city of Flint after infusing money into it, front-runner names might be “Dort, Michigan” or “Mott, Michigan” after Charles Stewart Mott.
“Dort” rather reminds me of Johnny Dortmunder, the criminal mastermind cursed with bad luck in Donald Westlake’s hilarious caper novels. His short story “Too Many Crooks” had my wife and I ROFL.
One of his gang is the driver, a car guy who monologues about the shortcuts he takes thru NYC, and whose mother, a taxi driver, plays LPs with auto racing noises.
Neil, this sounds like a fascinating series – thank you for the reference! Time to read is always so scarce for me, but at times when I’m (forced to be) completely “unplugged”, it would be great to have some good fiction to read.
Your wallet has a chain? Oh, Joe… 😛
Love your storytelling, as usual. I used to go to a website called DeadMalls that chronicled dead (or dying) shopping malls, so your description of the Dort Mall intrigues me. Oh, and I’ve always wanted to dance on one of those disco floors…
I wonder what powerful pangs of nostalgia will strike me in 10-20 years…
Joe, Thank you for another delightful article.
This reminds me that while the places and locations of our memories (sometimes from the now fading distant past) are always changing, the cars that captivated us at the time of that memory formation persist as the touchstones to that time and place. The cars like this Z28, and others like it in these CC chronicles are the time machines delivering us back to the personal important memories, good or bad, that we each have.
You have a delightful, personal style of writing that always give me a warm smile. Thanks again.
GeelongVic, thank you so much for the good words! This one was fun to write. 🙂
BuzzDog, I think the name “Dort Mall” had more to do with the fact that it was at the corner of Dort Hwy. & Atherton Rd. Both of the above road names however are part of the history of the people of Flint.
Joe’s posts pertaining to Flint bring back similar memories for me as I’ve been in this area my entire 62 years.
Nicely written post, reminds me of my misspent youth on the west side of Cincinnati in the 80s. I even toured the Norwood GM plant with my cub scout troop around 1977 and watched F-bodies coming off the line…it was cool.
I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a Z28 or TransAm…that was something public school kids drove. Now, I lusted after Mr. Fiala’s BMW 320i and Mr. Humbert’s Porsche 928…
That is a beauty of a Z28. I don’t care for louvers myself but perfect other than that.
Yes, the 79 Camaro is a fixture of the disco era and thank you Joseph for your description of those things we bought, sprayed on ourselves or enjoyed in the late seventies. The discos I hung out in didn’t have the lighted floors, but were still wonderful places to dance with the ladies.
The 79 Z28 was on my short list of new cars to buy that model year, but rising gasoline prices had me rethink what was best for my personal transportation. So I put down $7,400 on a Mustang Cobra with turbo 4 and TRX suspension.
When I was in the Air Force (mid to late seventies) I was stationed in California and fully intended to stay there after my discharge. I even had a job lined up at the Anheuser-Busch brewery that was just opening in Fairfield. In the end I couldn’t do it and moved back to my hometown. I told myself it was because of family but I suppose the actual truth is that I moved home because I wanted to. The irony is that once my wife and I got married a few years after this, we ended up living in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana and I have lived here ever since. My siblings all still live in our Kentucky hometown (it is merely across a bridge from Evansville), and it does seem somewhat small and pokey now. We are somewhat fortunate that this area has not suffered the economic downturn that has affected so many other rustbelt communities. Things are not perfect here, by a long shot, but at least there is hope for the present and the future.
There was a pretty cool 1981 Camaro Z/28 magazine ad with the car pictured head-on with the doors wide open – “Spread your wings”
Tonyola, I don’t recall ever seeing that ad back in the day. Very cool.
I loved that ad, it really helped cement the mystique of the Z28 in my mind! Before that I only really appreciated the Trans Am, (which of course I still do). Any reference to wings always fired up my Harley love which I carry with me imprinted on my right forearm. My older brother bought a new ’73 Camaro, then a year old ’76 Trans Am, then finally a two year old ’78 Camaro. My younger brother later got a ’78 Black and gold Trans Am. I got see Smokey and the Bandit first run in the theater when I was lucky enough to borrow my brother’s ’76 T/A. I even got to dance on a couple of those lighted up floor Disco’s. Oh, the ’70s were a lot of fun! Maybe it was just being in your early Twenties.
Last August I passed a Camaro of this vintage on a two-lane highway. The car was in good condition and driven by a couple of young guys who looked like they were in their early twenties. The thing I remember most was they had the biggest shit-eating grins on the their faces.
Very enjoyable read, with a great mixture of local history, personal story, and societal context. The same can be said for several of the comments.
You are so right!! The personal stories and related context add so very much to these write-ups. This needs to be mentioned more often.
What a great story. This Camaro, and the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, were the “dream cars” of my high school classmates and I.
The Camaro from this vintage that still sticks in my memory, however, is the 1980 Berlinetta that a classmate’s father bought her as a graduation present. It was white with a blue cloth interior and wire wheel covers.
Harrisburg has witnessed its share of factory closures, but its status as the seat of state government and major transportation hub has softened that blow. Our malls have seen better days, however, as people continue to migrate to online shopping.
“Things intended to be used with “tobacco.”” Mmm-hmm. 🙂
I remember the Brickyard mall at Narragansett and Diversey and Harlem Irving Plaza at (unsurprisingly) Harlem Ave and Irving Park Road. Brickyard is now knocked down and a collection of strip malls. HIP is still there but drastically different.
Most Early Nineties Story Ever: when we were at the brickyard in 91 or 92 my buddy got rolled for his black and silver Sox Starter jacket.
Wonderful write-up. I’m 38 and as a kid in Denmark in the eighties, these pics and the description of the mall illustrate the magical lure that the US had on me at the time. Great, great stuff.
Thanks so much, everyone. I’m glad I finally scheduled this post after leaving it on ice for months. It is also great to have a functioning computer again. 🙂
Wow! I used to shop in that area while I attended GMI (General Motors Institute, now Kettering University) in 1984-86. It was a happening area for sure back then, although visually garish (no sign laws so every business along the road was trying to out-sign the neighboring ones). I bought all of my auto parts along the Dort Highway as well (and then went back to the now-demolished campus parking garage and installed them).
The Dort Highway, and the arterials leading to it, between campus (on Chevrolet Avenue) and there, were the worst-condition streets bar none that I have ever experienced in my entire life. Riding shotgun in my dorm-mate’s 1977 Plymouth Volare Coupe down the Dort Highway one day, I actually caught a dashboard screw that had unscrewed itself as we drove down the road!
Especially the outer lane where the garbage trucks and other heavy trucks ran – the two feet of pavement along the curb had been patched and repatched so many times that it was teeth-rattling to drive over. And I am dead serious about the screws – I remember at least three different screws falling out in that same car when we were driving around Flint.
Going on a Google Streetview tour today, I am astounded at how nice the streets are in that part of down, as compared to back in the mid-1980s. What is even more puzzling is that back then, the city still had a lot of GM jobs and thus the city had a significantly-higher annual revenue stream than it does today, yet somehow now that most of the jobs are gone, the roads are much nicer. Go figure.
OK, time for one good F-body Flint/GMI car story that happened while I was in the midst of a rear axle seal replacement job on my 1975 Pontiac station wagon, on the 4th floor of the campus parking garage (so rear axle cover off to remove the C-clips, axles pulled, drum brake parts scattered everywhere).
Another GMI student drives up in this brand-spanking-new 1985 IROC-Z Camaro (L69HO 190hp 305 with a Quadrajet 4-bbl) that was running poorly and belching black smoke out the back (as I was thinking: that’s weird – that’s a brand new car and it looks like the choke is stuck closed). He rolls down his window and asks “Hey, do you know anything about cars?”
“I little,” I said (isn’t it obvious?) as I stood up with my brakes apart and axles lying on the ground, wiping the stinky, tacky axle lube off of my hands.
“My car isn’t running right, and I just got back from a gas station and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.”
“Pop the hood.” On that generation GM, the Delco alternator was the highest and most prominently-mounted engine accessory, and it was immediately obvious (to only the trained observer, apparently) that there was no belt on it. “So what’s your voltmeter on the dash read (knowing that the Camaro came with full gauges)?”
“Oh, well the needle is down a bit. Is that a problem?”
“Well yeah. I found your problem – your alternator belt is missing (remember, the car has all of 350 miles on it). Were you driving fast recently?”
“Uh, well uh . . . yeah, last night (a Friday) I was out driving with some friends.”
“How fast were you going?”
“Uh, we got it up to 110 I think (meaning 130) . . .” (all puzzle pieces coming together now)
“And it’s been running this way ever since then?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess so.”
“Drive me to the parts store and we’ll buy a belt and I’ll put it on for you,” as I locked my tools inside the back of my wagon (no third seat, so plenty of space to keep tools/valuables in that under-floor compartment out of sight which was critically important in that part of town, where cars were commonly broken into or stolen completely even in broad daylight).
As we drove to the parts store (yes, back over to the Dort Highway), I learned that the owner of the IROC was a fellow student whose dad was some upper GM executive who bought him the brand-new car for college (still expensive even with the employee discount), but this kid knew so little about cars that he wasn’t able to determine that he had a missing belt on his alternator (nor did the gas station pump jockey, which saddened me even moreso). And he was an engineering student!
Old car 101: If you aren’t aware of this, the electric choke was powered by the stator output of the alternator. You didn’t want the choke heater connected directly to ignition power, as if the driver didn’t start the vehicle right away, the choke would open prematurely and you wouldn’t be able to start the engine if it was cold.
Using the stator output, the engine had to be running in order to power the choke heater, so the choke warmed up as the engine did. This is why his choke was full-on (but the vacuum pull-off provided enough air for the engine to start and barely run when hot) without the alternator belt on that car.
This was *epic*, all-around. Thank you for this.
My first thought about your dormmate’s ’77 Volaré and the screws falling out on the roads around Dort Highway were… “77 Volaré”. My folks had one, and it wasn’t the best put-together thing they ever owned. Though I liked it.
It’s true – many roads in the Flint area were rough on cars back then and are much better now. The things we complained about back then! Though far from perfect, Flint was hardly a bad, little berg.
I used to love all that super-scaled signage in the area by the mall: Embers Lounge, the giant neon “K” from K-Mart, the Flint Cinema, Palace Gardens Lounge… I remember thinking on my very first trip to Vegas how it reminded me a little of the way the large-scale signage on Dort (autocorrect keeps substituting “Don’t” for Dort) Highway used to look.
I hope your friend with the Camaro gave you a decent reward for your efforts.
Reward? Heh heh heh! I’m hoping for that in the afterlife. He might have said “Thanks.” He’s probably a CEO somewhere by now, and still couldn’t tell you if his belt was missing or not 😉
I test drove a mint 79 manual back in the day and should of bought it. Instead bought a 73 red, white interior Crager SS wheels manual trans. Always had a weak spot for the 79 to 81 Z28. Sure the performance was down but the appearance was the most radical for the Z car. It’s amazing to recall how bold design was compared to today’s endless sea of grey, silver and black funeral cars, trucks and SUVs.
What a time capsule! And thanks for sharing the memories.
Having grown up in a much smaller town (around 10k population) things were quite different for me. No mall, just the main street which I don’t think was the same thing. No anonymity of any type for starters. In the 80s there was a Blue Light disco occasionally – these were run by the police so they were safe for young teenagers. Later a nightclub opened but not really my scene.
Thank you for sharing, only some odd years later now, but this is my dads Z28 and it’s nice to see someone appreciate it and the story line was a good read.