There’s something about survivor Chevys that gets the blood pumping and the brain all excited. Survivors are like time machines, taking us back to an era when there were no cell phones, personal computers or email, to when gas was cheap, and you could honestly get away from it all.
Dave Beem owns Beem’s Collision Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He’s been in the paint and body business for years, and has painted several classic cars for customers. Finally, he got the itch to have his own and started building a super accurate ’69 Camaro ZL1 clone. During the process, he started hunting down N.O.S. parts, along with checking out every survivor car he could find at shows to make sure he had everything correct. From there grew a love for the unrestored and the window to the past they opened.
Before he knew it, Dave owned a pretty amazing collection of never-touched American muscle. We first spotted his survivors at the Denver Super Chevy Show back in 2012, and after talking with him about his unusual collection of cars, realized we were dealing with a car nut true to our hearts.
Besides the four Camaros you see here, Dave also has a survivor ’70 Hemi Barracuda, and will soon have an ultra rare black, stripe delete, bench seat ’70 LS6/M22 Chevelle in his garage with only 4,000 miles on it.
Hugger Orange ’69 Z/28 RS
This came into Dave’s possession in 2007 after he located it in Northridge, California. The car’s original owner racked up no less than 160,000 miles before she died in 2003, and a neighbor who had been chasing it bought it, then sold it to Dave a short time later. With it came a load of original paperwork, including the buildsheet, Protect-O-Plate, sales contract, condition contract, every registration since new, the original California license plates, original recall letter about the factory chambered exhaust being too loud for California noise ordinances, a recall letter for the motor mounts, “Thank you” letter from the dealership after purchase, dealer post cards for maintenance, and the original letter from GMAC accepting the loan.
After Dave started doing research, he realized the build date on the car and factory buildsheet indicated it was the earliest car built with a ZL2 cowl hood. Further research and the help of Camaro experts Jerry MacNeish and Larry Christiansen confirmed that the car’s 12C build code came two weeks before the first ZL1 Camaro left the Norwood assembly line with a cowl hood. It’s now listed as such on the Camaro Research Group of America website.
Besides the RS option, the car is equipped with an M21 four-speed, NC8 dual chambered exhaust, and 4.10 geared Posi-equipped 12-bolt rear. And while it might not be the prettiest ’69 out there with its patina, dents and dings, it’s definitely one of the most interesting. Dave told us at the first show he took it to, he drove up and down the aisles looking for a place to park. By the time he backed into an empty space, there was already a crowd of people gathered around the car asking questions and drooling over its originality.
Cortez Silver ’69 Z/28 RS
This survivor came out of Del Mar, California. It had spent its whole life in the Los Angeles area after being built at Van Nuys, until Dave purchased it in 2012. He’d first seen it in Hemmings for sale, and contacted the seller about purchasing it. The owner said he was taking it to a Mecum auction to sell with a reserve, and after it didn’t change hands there, Dave negotiated a deal to buy it.
Another legit survivor with 33,540 miles, it didn’t have any paperwork, but Christiansen looked everything over and confirmed it was a legit Z/28. Cortez Silver with black interior, it had the factory stripe delete option (dash dash in the paint code), and an Endura bumper with the special Endura bumper jack in the trunk. It also has a D80 spoiler option, M21 four-speed, chambered exhaust, BV code 4.10 Posi rear, and factory tachometer with console gauges.
Dover White ’69 350
While not an SS or an RS, this one is unusual in its own right. Dave bought this Dover White/red interior example in early 2012, as a potential interior donor for his ’69 Garnet Red ZL1 clone. A little old lady in Pahrump, Nevada, had bought the car new, and put 42,000 miles on it before she died (it has 44,071 now). The family was going to donate it to Goodwill before a local mechanic stepped in and bought it. Dave purchased it from him because the date codes on all the interior items corresponded to his ZL1 clone.
Well, after bringing the thing home, he realized how absolutely pristine the interior (and rest of the car) really were. The 250hp 350 still had its factory spark plug wires and the original belts were in the trunk. It was well optioned for a base model, with power disc brakes, heavy-duty cooling, and factory Rally wheels. When he showed it to friends, they all told Dave he couldn’t touch the car, as it was such a pristine survivor. The F-body is so unmolested, the original spare has never been on the ground, and even though it’s 45-years-old, Dave says it drives like new.
’70 Camaro RS
Breaking the first-gen theme, this was the first survivor Dave ever bought. Another California automobile, the owner brought it with him to Colorado Springs, and with a son getting married, needed to sell it to help the new couple get situated in life. Dave wasn’t really into survivors at that point in time, but the fact the second-gen was untouched made it impossible to pass up. It has a 307, automatic, and factory air, and the odo reads 57,352.
Dave has promised this one to his teenage son as his first classic, so whether it stays a virgin or not is up in the air. But rest assured, however it ends up, it’ll be in a great home.
By: Patrick Hill