Moments In Motorsport (26): Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – Brian Muir

For fans of powerful, big-engined automobiles the 1960s were a high point for American enthusiasts. In 1964 the ‘Big Four’ automobile producers became embroiled in a battle for the youth market when Ford launched its new ‘sporty’ car, the Mustang, a car that created records by selling in excess of 400,000 examples in its first year and one million by the end of year two; the other car makers rushed to catch up.

Moments In Motorsport (26): Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - Brian Muir

The Mustang was responsible for creating a new genre of sporting saloon cars and the range expanded rapidly from the small six-cylinder-engined original to barely road-legal V8-powered, tyre-shredding supercars. Ford had the market to itself for a short time but the response from General Motors provided some serious competition when its Chevrolet Camaro was unveiled in 1966. Despite a gentlemans agreement amongst the big auto corporations to stay away from motor sport, Ford’s sales director, Lee Iacocca, understood the value of advertising to a younger audience and initiated a programme to turn the Mustang into a race  car. GM had no option but to follow his lead which led to creation of the Camaro Z28, a version that came equipped with a 5.7-litre, 302 V8 engine suitable for use in the hugely popular and competitive Trans-Am race series.

In 1969, a German mechanic returned to Europe from the USA along with a Camaro Z28 that had been built as a spare race car for Roger Penske’s Trans-Am team in 1969. It was then shipped to the UK having been purchased by team principal Malcolm Gartlan to compete in the newly created FIA Group 2 European championship in 1970. It was immaculately prepared by a talented mechanic, Ted Grace, and sponsorship was sourced from the major UK paper company Wiggins Teape who invested £9,000 for the season. In the end, the team spent just over over £8,000, largely due to the cost of importing Trans-Am specification tyres from the USA. Driving duties were entrusted to the Australian saloon car specialist, Brian Muir, who proved to be both fast and reliable. In the photograph, car and driver are shown at south bank during the Lombard Trophy Group 2 support race at the British Grand Prix meeting at Brands Hatch. Throughout the year, Muir’s Camaro was engaged in a close battle with the Ford Boss Mustang of fellow Australian Frank Gardner although in this race it was Brian Muir who took victory after the Mustang suffered gearbox problems.


From ‘Moments in Motorsport’ by Trevor Legate


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