The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 market has softened significantly in the last 12-18 months. The global recession is being felt in the collector car market. A few years ago a 1969 Camaro Z28, any Camaro really, looked to be a rocketship investment, regularly reaching six-figure bids. Now, good to great examples can be had for between $40-$60k.
That said, first generation Camaros have a lot going for them that will always keep them desireable. For one, they are handsome machines, well-proportioned with aggressive muscle car bodywork sure to turns heads.
Then there’s the legendary Chevy small block V8 rumble. From ChevyHiPerformance.com, “The 302 Z28 engine is the smallest V-8 ever installed in a Camaro to date. It is also the only engine available new in any ’67-69 Z28. Based on a 4.00-inch bore and a 3.00-inch stroke, the little engine made lots of power above 5,000 rpm and very little below. This engine’s 290hp rating was very underrated. In stock trim, actual power was in the mid-300hp range. These engines were designed specifically to compete in SCCA road racing and came with a huge resume of hardcore race parts: a Holley 800-cfm carburetor, big-runner aluminum intake manifold, 2.02 heads, a high-lift mechanical camshaft (0.485-inch lift), 11:1 compression, full-floating wrist pins, a forged crankshaft, and more. Because the engine did not produce much torque and had such high rpm capability beyond 7,000 rpm, 302 Z28s were only offered with four-speed transmission and were not available with air conditioning. Chevrolet also sold several cross-ram-intake setups (two staggered four-barrel Holley carburetors) and special race camshafts for the early Z28s that helped the 302 gain even more high-rpm power. With some modifications these engines would easily produce power well above 400 horses (at very high rpm).”
To keep your car burning rubber now and into the future, aftermarket, NOS, and factory-authorized reproduction parts are plentiful. The first generation Camaro is probably one of the easiest cars to keep on the road out there.
Perhaps the most important thing to look out for when shopping is rust, which can be hiding just about anywhere. Don’t assume the owner has been vigilant. Dig deep to prove it for yourself.
Besides that, make sure the car is original and not a clone, unless you want a clone, which can save you thousands of dollars for 90% of the fun. Also, these are not refined luxury automobiles and will always squeak and rattle.
Whether you’re a die-hard Camaro disciple or just want a great muscle car, first generation Camaros are easy to fix, to restore to original or to customize to your heart’s content.