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Car and Dirver’s 1969 ‘Blue Maxi’ Camaro treasured by N.J. family


#1

Gerald “Jerry” Schmidt was a fixture at northern New Jersey car shows and cruise nights, where he would proudly park his blue 1969 Camaro SS350 and cheerfully answer the first question many spectators asked: “Why does it have Car and Driver decals on the doors?”


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/09/01/car-and-dirver-blue-maxi-camaro

#2

A very touching story for an unquestionable car hobbyist, his car, friends, and family.


#3

As a Hagerty customer, I eagerly await each issue of this newsletter, but none more anticipated than this.
I would like to thank the following people for their kindness and assistance and I’m sure I also speak on behalf of Jerry’s family.
In addition to Jerry’s close group of friends (the list is too extensive to write here) their good deeds do not go without notice and it needs to be shared with those reading this article.
First, thanks to my friend (and the author of this article) Jim Koscs for a wonderful story that Jerry would have been proud of. I’m sure he would have printed and displayed it in his binder of articles on the Blue Maxi that he kept in the trunk. (You know the one I’m talking about Jim)
As the Blue Maxi was a well documented car since its build, there’s enough technical info that anyone could have typed enough characters to fill the allocated word count, but that was only half the story. Being that Jim personally knew Jerry he was able to capture the essence of the man who I also called a friend, with these two words: proud and cheerful. I would like to add humble, and if you were one of the people to be fortunate enough to have known Jerry, you undoubtedly would agree. No amount of Google searching would give you the insight gained from personal relationships and his story shows it. There was no person more deserving to have cared for the car than Jerry. He saw himself as its Steward long before cars were considered Historical Artifacts and the Automobile Community has him (and him alone) to thank for the remarkable state of preservation the car is in. In his group of car friends (my father being one of them), Jerry and I were the only Camaro owners so we would park together just as we were displayed at the Chevrolet Nationals. You get to know a person pretty well when you spend several hours a week at car shows and cruise nights and I like to think that he and I had a special bond as fellow Camaro owners. I will always cherish the memory of the day Jerry insisted I drive the Blue Maxi. He giggled the whole time watching me go through the gears saying “Go ahead give it some gas.” I was in awe as to how well it pulled all the way through 7,000 RPM! When we got out I handed him the keys and he said all seriously “So, whatchya think?” and we both started laughing. I cant help to get a grin every time I think of that day. It was extra special to me as the number of people who drove that car since he owned it can be counted on one hand. Truly an unforgettable experience and I’m happy to have gotten to spend a short time behind the wheel of his pride and joy and piece of automotive history.
I would also like to thank Hagerty for publishing this so the story of the Blue Maxi could be shared with a larger audience. As long as I have known Jerry the biggest problem was lack of knowledge about the car; 99 out of 100 people just didn’t get its importance. Even the first day of the Nationals, most people simply walked by, remarking that “there was no such thing as a Z/29”, oblivious as to what they were passing. That changed on Saturday where the crowd trying to get a picture was 10 people deep after the Blue Maxi received the This Car Matters Award. Yes there IS a Z/29 and they only made ONE of them.
Which leads me to thanking HVA Historian, Casey Maxon, for seeing the Blue Maxi worthy of such an award. You would think he has it easy, but with over 1000 cars on the show-field, and about another 100 in the special display buildings, there was no shortage of worthy cars to pick from.
Casey, it took a few days for Brandon and Fred to realize the magnitude of the award and the shock of it all to set in. Bittersweet, but certainly the most cherished of all the trophies it won in its 4 decades of car shows. After you told them the Blue Maxi was getting the award, Fred and I had a short cry of joy behind the Blue Maxi, because Jerry was unable to witness the car’s pinnacle achievement to date. Hopefully it’s just the first of many more to come!
I would also like to thank author and Camaro Historian Phil Borris for his invaluable assistance in documenting the Blue Maxi. Phil took the time out of his busy schedule during the event to privately go over every inch of the car in detail for nearly two hours. You are an Encyclopedia of Camaro Knowledge and I owe you one (headlamp) Phil.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to give a HUGE thanks to Lance Miller, Ken Appell, and the entire Carlisle Events staff for the honor of having Jerry’s and my car in the Invitational Display. Everyone at Carlisle treated us like family and put on a World Class show. Although it was a very emotional weekend for Jerry’s family (and friends who were in attendance) it was the BEST event we have EVER attended BAR NONE and something we will NEVER forget! Yes, I am shouting words in CAPS!
On behalf of the thousands of people who got to see the Blue Maxi in person at the Chevrolet Nationals, I personally want to thank Jerry’s brother Fred, and nephew Brandon, for having the trust in me and my father to allow us the privilege of taking the car to the event and I’m happy you were able to make it after all. It was a responsibility we did not take lightly and was a huge leap of faith on your part to trust who, until the day of Jerry’s passing, where just two strangers you only heard about. It was a sad day when we lost Jerry, but that was the same day we gained two new friends and we all have Jerry to thank for that.

For those who would like to contribute to Jerry’s Scholarship fund, your TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation is GREATLY APPRECIATED. and can be sent to:
McPherson College 1600 E Euclid St, McPherson, KS 67460
Be sure to include Jerry Schmidt Scholarship in the memo field.


#4

What a great story about an amazing car and its owner. I live in Northern NJ and hope to see this car on a cruise/car show some day.


#5

I can still remember the Car and Driver Blue Maxi contest.
I was in High School and almost 16.
Even entered the contest.
I dreamed about that car for months. Months.

Great to hear about it again.


#6

after reading about this z/28 with a Lt-1. I remember one of my friends had one. His dad got it from one of his friends from work. I checked it out asking him about it, a Lt-1? he said it was…had the numbers checked out and was numbers matching. i remember it was green with white stripes, m22, and had 411’s.bitched about the heavy clutch a lot. i wanted to buy it off him but he didn’t want to. but any way long story short…he parked at one of his friends house and it got stolen and stripped.