1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Russ from Wisconsin

If the Camaro named "Christina" could talk, she would have these stores to share….

Russ was in high school the first time he saw this brand new ’78 Camaro. It was owned by an older classmate who showed it off to everyone at school. He loved that car but his classmate graduated and sadly it was gone forever. A few years later, Russ was repairing a roof on someone’s garage. During the installation, drywall and other particles were falling onto the garage floor and onto a car inside. Russ asked if he could move the car outside, and it was the exact same ’78 Camaro he fell in in love with! Better yet, the owner was selling it! He drove straight to the bank and paid $3000 for the Camaro the same day. That same year, he took his girlfriend to the Iola, WI car show and spent the night in the car and eventually married her by year’s end. They’ve been attending Iola every year since that first date 25 years ago.

In 1985, he needed to sell the Camaro but hated to let her go. He started the vehicle up and rolled down the windows to put a “for sale” sign in the windshield. Then, he turned off the engine and went inside to have lunch. He came back later that day to start her up to move it outside. However, it wouldn’t turn over. He tried it again and still wouldn’t start. So, he removed the sign since nobody would want to buy a car that wouldn’t start. Russ looked the car over again but found nothing wrong, and gave it another shot…and it started! So, he put the sign back in the car but the engine stopped yet again. So, he removed the sign for good and never tried selling the car ever again.

In 1989, he and his wife, who was pregnant with their first child, were driving the Camaro along a country road when they saw dark clouds ahead of them. Suddenly, the wind picked up and the clouds grew more menacing. As they kept driving, debris and dust was soon engulfing the car. Russ slammed on the brakes, did a U-turn, and started speeding away from the storm. As trees were being uprooted around his family, he drove very fast to outrun the danger. He even passed a police officer who was also trying to outrun it. The worsening storm was gaining on them quickly when he saw a lone house up ahead. By sheer luck, that house had a garage that was open. Mr Rainey sped into the garage, slammed the garage door closed, and held on for dear life. After they arrived, the homeowner found everyone hiding in the garage and rushed them downstairs and waited it out. It turns out they had driven straight into a TORNADO! Luckily, nobody was hurt and neither was the Camaro. Russ and the homeowner instantly became friends and remained close until his friend’s passing.

After 100,000 miles, he decided to restore “Christina”. While removing the backseat, he found a picture of a cat underneath the seat. He removed the picture and the next day, he opened the garage door and found cat hair and paw prints all over the Camaro. The weird thing is he doesn’t own any cats.

After 31 years of owning “Christina” and being married to his wife Dawn, Russ continues to build memories with his 3 daughters who are still arguing over who’s going to sit in the front seat. Every once in a while, he drives his girls along that old country road where they can still see old tree stumps and broken tree limbs from that unforgettable day back in 1989.

Brad Landis