One Of 200: 1984 Autoform Camaro Z28 Roadster

By Mitchell Gildea

About five years ago, my dad saw a third-generation Camaro convertible sitting outside next to a dealership that was closing down. When he stopped to look at it, he discovered that it was a 1984 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Roadster by Autoform, similar to this one here. To make a long story short, he ended up purchasing the car for $1300 and drove it home; the car needed some work but had a brand new $900 convertible top and a bunch of spare parts. Since then, I’ve always been on the look-out for another one, since they are so hard to come by. This 1984 Autoform Z28 Roadster is a bit more modified than the one my dad owns, but considering it is one of approximately 200 built, it’s still a rare machine to come by. Find it here on Hemmings in Toms River, New Jersey with an asking price of $12,000 negotiable.

Since a third-generation convertible would not be introduced until 1987, aftermarket companies typically converted coupes (such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Corvette, among others) to convertibles. One of those companies was Autoform Sales Corporation, based in Elkhart, Indiana. From 1983 to 1986 (or 1987, according to Third Gen.org), Autoform converted Camaros (Z28s, Berlinettas, and IROC-Zs) and Firebirds (Formulas and Trans Ams) to two-seat roadsters. Much like the other conversion companies that GM used at the time, Autoform roadsters were “built to order”, meaning that GM would drop-ship the order to one of Autoform’s conversion facilities (located either in Bremen, Indiana or Elkhart, Indiana), and the conversion would be completed. Autoform would then take the then-brand new F-body car and cut off its roof. The completed cars would then be shipped back to the dealers they were ordered from, with a conversion cost of approximately $5,500 and the list price of the car from the dealership before said conversion. Overall, less than 1,000 F-bodies would be converted from 1983 to 1986; for 1984, approximately 200 Camaros and Firebirds altogether received the conversion. This particular car is a Z28 roadster, though it looks to be fairly modified. An all-red exterior and base-model Camaro hood isn’t ideal, but Torque-Thrust wheels and a tan convertible top add to the overall aggressive and sporty nature. I would swap the hood for a correct Z28 hood or a Daytona IROC cowl-induction hood painted black, swap in some five-spoke Z28 wheels, and change the ground effects from red to gray, tan or black.

Unfortunately, the seller does not provide a picture of the engine or the engine bay, but this car is equipped with the 5.0L (305 cu. in.) High Output V8 and five-speed manual transmission. Rated at 190 horsepower, the 305 is no screamer, but keep in mind that a Z28 coupe in 1984 was the second-fastest car available at the time in the United States; with a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds, only the Corvette was faster (with a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds from its Cross-Fire 350). The 305 is also easy to modify; there is an article from Super Chevy that adds a few bolt-on parts to a 305 and gains almost 170 rear-wheel horsepower. Factor in T5 five speed, and you have a car with loads of fun and high-performance potential after said modifications.

For the most part, the interior appears to be stock, with the exception of the wood-rimmed Grant GT steering wheel and the tan leather seats. The car’s odometer reads at over 71,000 miles, but the owner does not mention if that is the correct mileage or if it has rolled over once. I would swap the Grant wheel for a correct third-gen steering wheel or an aftermarket one like this one with a third-gen horn button. I would also swap the tan leather seats for correct Z28 seats like these and preferably swap the shifter knob for a different one like this. Overall, however, the rest of the interior presents very well, though I am curious as to why this car lacks a radio. All in all, though, this car is an interesting take on the third-gen Camaro and once sorted out (or you can leave the way it is, I’m just listing the changes I would make to it) this would definitely be a cool conversation piece at a car show, cruise night or cars and coffee event. Feel free to express your thoughts on this rare car.

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Comments

  1. txchief

    Ick! They’re rare for a good reason.

    6+

  2. Elrod

    In this case, a 3rd party hack doesn’t equal rare in my book. These bodies were structurally marginal before the roof was cut off. The attempted reinforcements wont get the job done. People that paid extra for these didn’t get any value. Do not walk from these cars- RUN!

    7+

  3. PaulbZ3

    Mitchell: While I think your description of the conversion is fairly accurate, I would guess that the company probably added the bracing before cutting off the roof. A little high on pricing but if negotiated to something closer to $9K it would make a nice weekender for some one. I’d do some of your mod ideas but would lose the steering wheel.

    1+

  4. Mike

    Is there a reason why there is a Z28 badge underneath another Z28 badge?

    4+

  5. Mountainwoodie

    A rare radio delete!

    0

    • Hutch

      Actually the radio is there just the faceplate removed if you look

      4+

  6. Shawn Simon

    The stereo is not missing. If you look closely, just below the climate control panel, there is a black box with a CD slot and a data port. This is an aftermarket stereo unit with a control module that can be removed for security reasons. The owner simply removed it prior to taking the picture.

    3+

  7. Scott

    Wow… NOW I really appreciate my ASC convertible soooo much more!

    0

  8. Paul

    There is a guy in ortinville Michigan North of me has one for sale a little cheaper black and gold nice car

    0

  9. Doug Potts

    There IS a radio in that dash. It just has a removable faceplate. Look at the pic again and you can clearly see the contacts for the face.

    3+

  10. Vin in NJ

    Look closely at the nose. Doesn’t it look like somebody tried to fill in the vents of a base Camaro Sport Coupe’s nose?

    5+

  11. Sam gwin

    I have a 84 camaro z28 convertible conversion done by matrix3. The only problem I have is finding someone to replace the top

    0

    • BMW4RunninTundra Member

      Any good upholstery shop can custom build you a top. If you have something left of the old one, that would make it much easier by having a “template”. I know of one in North Georgia that custom built a full cover for my Pontoon boat. Absolutely a masterpiece of attention to detail!!!! And considering, was not too bad $$, opposed to an “Order by Number” one off the Internet.

      0

  12. Jeanne Kwedor

    I have had 2 of these conversion cars. I bought one in 1984 off the showroom floor then again in 2012 I was luck enough to locate and purchase a 1983. Still loving my ride.

    2+

  13. PAPERBKWRITER

    You can buy a gorgeous low mile ’84 Vette for about half and get a lot more car.

    1+

    • Jeanne Kwedor

      I like different. I have had no issues with either of my Autoform conversions.

      0

  14. Greg Locke

    A friend has one of these for sale in Anderson, In for $10k. Call 765.621.8022 and talk to Tim.

    0

  15. Troyce
  16. CMARV

    I don’t care if it has 5 radios , it’s still a structurally compromised underpowered mistake . Maybe with a full cage and a LS swap and a 6 speed I would feel different . I’m not that fond of Fords but I would rather have a 84 , 5.0 convertible Mustang . As the saying goes “There’s an ass for every seat” . GLWTS

    1+

    • AMCFAN

      CMARV Amen brother!

      0

  17. Sam gwin

    Mitchell did your dad have to get a custom made top?

    0

    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      The previous owner installed the top so I don’t know

      0

  18. Jamie B.

    An ASC-converted 1984 Z-28 is for sale in Marlton, NJ for $5500. Doesn’t have the fiberglass cover over the back seats. I had a factory-built 1992 RS convetible and liked it; the top looked better than these conversions, IMHO. You can find those for less than the 12 grand the seller wants for this red one.

    0

  19. BMW4RunninTundra Member

    Personally, I like the looks of this one, with most of the modifications outlined in the write up. Although, looking at the fit of the top, I gotta think that it is noisy and probably leaks a bit when driving. (I don’t see any seals where the top mates with the back cowl) I have one question. What is all that coming out of the air ducts?!?! That’s an awful LOT of dirt build up?!?!
    As for the $12K price, ha ha ha ha ha ha! Uh, I don’t think so!
    I have a BMW E series convertible that is older but looks and drives like knew and I didn’t pay but a bit more that 1/2 what this person is asking!!

    0

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