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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to drive an obnoxious red and silver 1988 Camaro when I was in high school here on the Jersey Shore (1998/1999). After graduation when I went to college in the Bronx, I took it off the insurance and left it in our driveway in until the summer, when I threw it back on and used it to get to and from my Seaside boardwalk jobs. Annoyed by this, my parents sold it to my younger brother David the next year, who graciously banned me from driving it, borrowing it when he wasn't using it, sitting in it or looking at it. He then desecrated it with a bunch of stupid stickers from Hot Topic and took all the photos of the car I had taken during high school from out of my desk while I was at college and claimed them to be his as he now owned the car. Then, he blew a hole in the engine and he and my parents let it sit in the driveway for another few months before scrapping it to some gearhead kid in the next town. Needless to say, I was a whole lot less than pleased to have had the car sold from under me and then trashed and thrown away (though at the time, what the hell could I have done about it). I told them all that they gave me a complex to deal with at middle age when I would have to scour the nation for that damn Camaro.

Fast forward to now. I'm 28, I have two kids and a wife, lost my job in Manhattan in December due to economic layoffs right in the middle of signing on a new (old - 1922) home with a detached double bay garage. As I'm now home most of the day job hunting when I'm not interviewing, I was there when on Tuesday my wife Maria came home sick but wanted to get the kids from the sitter and wanted me to go with her. Heading south on the local two lane highway, traffic was an oil painting (sure, we don't need mass transit and trains down here) so I pulled off to take the back way through Ocean Gate, a river borough pretty much cut off from everything else but providing a quick 'locals only' back way. Making a right onto their main drag, Maria goes "Look" and I turn and see the car sitting in front of an auto body shop. I almost hit a telephone pole.

Swinging around, I threw my Jeep in park and pretty much just walked out of it without cutting the engine, walked right up to a guy near the garage. I asked if it was for sale, he said probably but it was the mechanic's sons. I asked that guy and he said yeah it's my son's, he'll probably take a thousand. He said he got it in exchange for a debt payment from the guy my brother sold it to. I went back and looked at the car and positively ID'd it as mine, but the decade and the kid who originally bought it treated it like a bastard son. The interior, which was fine when I had it, was torn to pieces, the backseats ripped out, the hatchback interior detached and thrown away, the console missing most of its screws, a stupid looking racing steering wheel installed, seats ripped and the carcass of a frigging plant growing through the engine compartment into the passenger seat well. The exterior, which was given a new paint job when I had it, was cracking and peeling, with rust forming in the pits and grooves around the seams. Also, I couldn't get the hood open. But the goddamn thing was mine, and with the new house, I knew that with the detached garage and two bays, I now had a new home for this long lost missing link.

I told the guy it was my car, he said yeah yeah, I used to have a '68 Camaro but it was stolen when I was in high school. I kept babbling semi-incoherently about it really, really, REALLY being my car, then gave up and said I'd be back the next day with an offer.

My wife agreed to all of this because I had sold, unbeknownst to her at the time, my drum set when we were dating in order to fund a date trip to Manhattan. She eventually figured it out after noticing I wasn't making as much noise as I used to and carried the guilt ever since.

Next day I showed up, offered him $650 (figured I'd sell a couple of my cameras on eBay), we talked about the car a while (it also had a flat tire; apparently it was sitting in his backlot for the better part of five years) and I started referencing all the ways I knew it was my car with things like a half moon mark on the bumper from when my idiot friend egged it as a joke senior year, the missing Camaro tag I took out of the interior that is now in my safe from when my brother "bought" it, the the decade old paint job, etc. Suddenly he was hit by the lightning bolt and realized that I really meant it was my goddamn car, immediately took the $650 offer (stupid thing isn't worth much more than a dinner for two at Outback in the shape it's in now), offered to fix the flat for free. I agreed.

Yesterday I showed up and he gave me the title and told me to look at it. It still had Dad's name on it and the date we bought it off the lot in Lakewood - September 23, 1998. He said nobody ever bothered to change the title. I thanked him, had the thing towed back to the house and stashed it in the side garage.

Once we move in around May/June I'm going to scrape my brother's stickers off the back window, take the pins he put in the interior ceiling off and mail it all up to him with the note, "You left these on my car. Don't ever let me catch you near it again," and let him figure it out.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to sand and stabilize the body, clean out the interior and begin the long road of rebuilding my Camaro, piece by piece. The funniest part is that I know absolutely nothing about cars, so thank you, Team Camaro Tech, for existing. It's going to be a lo-o-ong learning process (and one I'm not stupid enough to trust myself over the professionals with anything but the smallest, least damaging tasks), but the beast will ride again.

Click this link to see my car after it got the new paint job in Spring 1999, and then right before it was sold and carted off in 2003:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/heathenclerk/sets/72157611217657780/

Click below to see the car as I found it in Ocean Gate on Tuesday:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/heathenclerk/sets/72157615205856540/

I took a zillion more photos that I'll upload in the next day or two at that last link -

Erik Weber
[email protected]
New Jersey Shore
www.beachwoodhistoricalalliance.com
 

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It's not as bad as I thought it would be. You are extremely lucky to have this opportunity. I can tell you that I'm recreating my first car, only it's not THE CAR like yours. Congrats! Good Luck we'll be watching for updates
 

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It took a decade but I finally found my ol 68 RS car. Its here in Texas. Welcome aboard.
 

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Hello and welcome to the site.:beers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Let my brother drive it? Ha ha ha ha ha ha, he'll be allowed to just barely LOOK at it from behind the locked garage door, but that's about it!

Erik
 
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