Shop Life Repairer Profiles

A Lifelong Z/28 Affection

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Frank Noble Jr. has always loved Camaros. When he was 16, a head-on collision totaled his first, a 1978. Little did he know, his next would be with him for a lifetime.

Noble’s 1984 Camaro has seen him through his first date with his wife, his high school prom, street races and the International Hot Rod Association’s North American Nationals. It waited for him to save enough money for a rebuild, and the time it took to do it just right. And if Noble’s living will has anything to do with it, the Z/28 will be with him all the way to the grave.
“In my living will, I am to go in my car when I die. The car goes with me,” says Noble, now 44.

The fascination with motors, cars and speed started when Noble was 2 years old. Noble says he has pictures to prove it, showing his young self working on a lawnmower in his dad’s garage.

As the heart and soul of Noble High Performance in Wolcott, Conn., Noble acts as both the owner and technician at his specialty shop.

LONGTIME LOVE AFFAIR: Frank Noble Jr., 44, has put more than $80,000 into his 1984 Camaro—the car he drove to his high school prom and on his first date with his wife. Photo courtesy Frank Noble

His interest in performance has coupled with his knack for fabricating parts. When he was in high school, he went through transmissions, one after another on the Camaro, until he built a cross member to support and relocate the torque arm. A similar aftermarket product is now mass produced.

“I had made them back in the day,” Noble says. “If I was smart enough, I would have done something with it. I was more worried about keeping my car going.”

Currently, the Camaro houses a Shafiroff 434ci Ultrastreet engine that he had specially made. Other modifications include everything from adjustable suspension to interchangeable carburetors, one for race day and one for shows, each with corresponding performance maps.

Noble takes pride in his Camaro’s clean stock look, apart from the cowl hood.

“There’s a lot of me in that car,” Noble says. “There’s even a nitrous plate in there, but I never hooked it up because I don’t want to put a wheelie bar on it.”

This story wasn’t always filled with fond memories and late nights, though. After high school, a fellow street racer gave Noble some advice about the machine he’d begun putting together.

“He said, ‘If you don’t park that car, you’re gonna get killed,’” Noble says. “I was fresh out of high school, but took his advice, parked the car and bought an S10 pickup.”

For more than a decade, Noble thought about how he wanted the car to be, while saving up the money for the multitude of parts and labor that would be required. After his wife gave him the green light to begin the build, Noble took it slow. Meticulously modifying and tweaking the ’84.

Now, Noble and his father, Frank Noble Sr., specialize in diesel performance, winning tractor pulls across the region with their 1998 Dodge Ram 3500 and 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 dually race-sleds.

But the Camaro is his clear favorite. Along with countless hours, Noble says he’s put more than $80,000 over the years into making it just the way he wanted. That kind of investment has built an inseparable bond.

“Nobody gets the car,” Noble says. “Right to the end that car is staying with me.” 

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