“The one that got away”
I’m taking a break from featuring other people’s rides to featuring one of my own. With Sept. 29th being “Camaro Day”, I wanted to share the story of my 2002 Camaro RS, “Son Of Ol’ Blue”.
First, a little backstory on the name. My first car was a 1985 Camaro Sport Coupe that I had dubbed “Ol’ Blue”, ‘cause it was old and blue. I drove that car for 5 ½ years before trading it on a ’98 Cavalier Z24. Now my roommate had a ’97 1LE Camaro he called “Trigger” after the 1977 Trans Am in Smokey & The Bandit, which Bo “Bandit” Darville named after Roy Rogers’ Horse “Trigger”. Then in 2001, my roomie, after spending a short interim in a pickup, bought a 2000 Camaro SS he named “Son of Trigger” again, after Bandit’s second TA in Smokey & The Bandit II.
It was now November of 2001. We were two months removed from the tragic 9/11 attacks and GM was trying to boost national morale and the economy (not necessarily in that altruistic order) with their “Keep America Rolling” campaign. My dad had an accident with this Chevy Corsica and was looking for a replacement, considering a deal on a new Cavalier. I loved car shopping, especially with other people’s money, so I tagged along. We walked into the showroom at (the now former) Devereaux Chevrolet in Freeport, PA and there she was, a 2002 Camaro in the same livery as my ’85, dark blue with grey cloth interior. I noticed a bowtie emblem below the passenger taillight and as I walked closer, it read ‘RS’ next to it. Rally Sport! Just like my mom had in 1971! Only, the 4th Generation Camaro Rally Sports I had seen to that point were almost exclusively ordered with the ground effects package. I personally felt they looked clunky and awkward, seeing that GM had designed the feel of the 3rd gen ground effects into nose and rockers of the 4th gen already.
As I inspected the car further, I came to realize that it was a bit more special than the average V6 powered sport coupe. The RS Package was added by SLP, the same group responsible for converting production Z28s to the SS package and the highly coveted 2002 35th Anniversary edition. For the RS, SLP added the Z28’s exhaust with it’s dual squared-off tips, ZR1 style painted wheels, Bow-tie grill and rally stripes. The one upgrade it had over my 1985 that I had always wanted was T-Tops! I told my dad, “Hey, after you’re done talking to the salesman about Cavaliers, I want to talk to him about this Camaro.”
I had just gotten my Cavalier roughly two years before and was a few more years from paying it off. But, by 2001, the Z24 lost some of its mid-‘90s charm and its quad-four engine, in favor of the 2.2 L Ecotec. So, my dad and I came up with a deal. I turn the Cav-y over to him to take over the payments and I get the Camaro. I was able to work a deal that would let me drive it out of the showroom for only an extra $100 a month over what I was paying on the Z24. I was stoked!
In 1971, my mom bought her Rally Sport out of the showroom at Book Chevrolet in Altoona, PA and here I was 30 years later doing the same with my RS. My then girlfriend (now wife) said, “I can hear the smile on your face,” as I called her on the way home from the dealership. “Who would’ve thought that a two-ton killing machine could bring you so much joy,” she continued. In her defense, to her a car is an appliance to get from point A to point B. She doesn’t share our passion, friends.
Over the ensuing years, that Camaro took me between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia where my wife was studying medicine. I racked up a lot of windshield time on the PA Turnpike in those two years. It was the ride we took to the Station Square the night I proposed. It was our wedding car. And it helped us pack up our apartment and move into our first home.
When Chevrolet created the name “Camaro” based on the French word for comrade, the intended the car to be a “friend” to its owner. This Camaro was truly a great friend and companion for over 125,000 mi! We parted ways in March of 2012 as I traded her away for my current car, SunShine.
I did a VIN check earlier this summer and found out she’s still on the road. The last registration record showed she’s somewhere in central Ohio with over 200,000 mi on the clock. If the opportunity presented itself, I might just have to buy her back and give her the restoration I wished I could have afforded as a 30-something newlywed. This was, for sure, the one that got away.
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