"My wife and I would milk about 60 cows, twice per day. That's about 200 gallons in a day." That's how hard Rick Fast was working during the only year he didn't own at least one Camaro. He'd been collecting them since he was 16 years old-buying, selling, and building dozens of them. They were cheap and plentiful back in the early '70s, and Rick took advantage. "I was buying cars like we were buying jeans. Every car was two or three thousand dollars; every lot was full of used Camaros at that time. I owned about 25 cars," he says.
Rick is from Grunthal, Manitoba, Canada, and speaks with stereotypical hockey slang when describing his GM exploits. It was there that he met lifelong buddy and bad influence Bob, who somehow had the money to buy a new Z28 in 1973 when they were both teenagers. Bob and Rick spent their time road tripping, drag racing, and cruising the car. Rick also remembered getting whipped by a '70 Z28 that was crowned the Fastest Car in Town. At the end of his goofball years, Rick was left with a '69 Daytona Yellow RS/SS and a '76 Type LT.
Then he found a girl on a dairy farm. When they got married she convinced him that the simple life was the way to go, so right out of high school they bought some cows with money raised through the sale of the Camaros. "I was so busy with the farm I did not notice the cars were gone," Rick says. Once the business was running, Rick decided to try and find another Camaro. He also had to make a deal with his wife to procure the goods: "I promised to quit smoking 100 days before I could buy a car." Rick found a '69 Z/28 for $6,500, and his wife called his bluff. The next day he quit and hasn't smoked since. "Whenever I wanted a smoke, I'd go look at the Camaro and decide which I wanted more." It was always the car.
By 1992, Rick and his wife had sold the dairy. To continue not smoking, he needed more Camaros. He bought an '82 pace car, a '00 Camaro SS, and a '70 SS. "It was spiraling out of control." Then he remembered Bob's '73 and the fast '70. Since the '70 SS was a basket case that needed a lot of work, Rick went looking for something to toy with. In Regina, Saskatchewan, he found an original 7011/42 Z28 with a Protect-O-Plate, build sheet, and everything needed to build a car like the fastest car in town. The paint was the original Hugger Orange, and Rick spent 16 hours working it with a clay bar to recover the shine and polishing it 25 times with an orbital polisher to get it to stay that way. He mixed up some correct paint and fixed "200 paint chips." No one could tell that the paint wasn't perfect. All of the stock drivetrain parts were carefully removed and stored, and Rick went looking for some speed.
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"A friend tells me one day that there is a 502 for sale from a street rod project. The engine was still in a crate and ready to go. So I bought it." Rick was interested in adding a five-speed but was afraid that the 502 would break parts if he decided to run a shot of nitrous oxide at the track. That's when he read the ad at D&D Performance for a Viper six-speed box that could handle 750 hp. It bolted in using the stock Camaro clutch linkage and pedal assembly.
The car originally came with a 3.73:1 gear, and Rick had installed a set of 4.10:1 gears to make it a little faster, but the combination of a four-speed and a steep ratio made the car harsh and almost unbearable. When he installed the six-speed he also installed 4.88:1 gears to take advantage of the overdrive. "It was all good, but I had to shift gears all the time," he says. "When the 502 came along there was plenty of torque, so I put the 4.10s back in. Buying the 502 was the best hot rodding move I've ever made."
At 70 mph the engine turns 1,800 rpm. The car is driven from Canada to St. Paul, Minnesota, for the Car Craft Summer Nationals, getting 15-17 mpg on pump gas. It also sees track action at Gimli Dragway in Manitoba, where it runs 11.90s at 117 mph. Rick and his family drive it to the track an hour away, run all night, and drive it home.