1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Garage Find!

Talk about an amazing garage find! There’s a lot to love with a 1st generation (’67-’69) Camaro Z/28! It was a perfectly sized, well-proportioned package but it was the high-revving, solid lifter, 5-liter engine that absolutely defined it. Today, we are going to examine a genuine (X77 designation), 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, located in Jackson, New Jersey and available here on eBay for a current bid of $18,000.

The story of the Z/28 is an oft-told tale and probably doesn’t need to be covered here again but there are a few notable items to reiterate. The ’69 version was the most common of the first generation Z28’s, primarily because of its long production year which commenced in September of 1968 and concluded in December of 1969. It was also the final year for the 5 liter (302 CI) engine as the ’70 employed the LT1 350 CI engine. Last but not least, it was the concluding year for the original Camaro “pony car” design; it was replaced in February of 1970 by a vastly redesigned car.

What made these original Z/28’s so special was the 302 CI, 290 HP engine. The engine was essentially a Corvette 327 CI, 365 HP engine with a 283 CI crankshaft utilized to reduce the displacement to 302 CI so the engine would comply with Sports Car Club of America’s rules for Trans Am racing which limited engine size to 5 liters or 304.5 CI. The 290 HP was a throwaway number, designed to keep the advertised horsepower rating under 300 thereby escaping lofty insurance premium surcharges. I have had the pleasure of driving a few of these original 302 CI equipped Camaros and they are a rough and raw package on the street – absolutely designed for road racing, not so much so in stock form for the quarter-mile. And there’s the rub, many of these first-generation Z/28’s lost their original 302 CI engines a long time ago – victims of hot rodding and hooning. This example is no different. The seller indicates that he believes the motor in this Z to be a 350 CI unit but there is no detail beyond that. He states that the engine turns over but does not run. It does have the mandated four-speed manual transmission and is backed up by a twelve-bolt differential which is correct.

The interior is quite worn and could use some help. It appears that it has been modified for racing with the shifter and auxiliary gauges but there’s a lot of “stuff” that looks like it needs attention. New interior components for a ’69 Camaro are very common and easy to come by so making improvements shouldn’t be too onerous – don’t know about straightening out all of those gauges and missing dash components. The seller indicates that the floors are solid on this Z.

And, speaking of floors, the entire underside of this Camaro looks to be quite sound as it has been in dry storage since the ’80s. I don’t know the car’s entire provenance but being in New Jersey and having an “Island Racing” (Great Meadows, New Jersey?) sticker on the quarter window makes me think it is a life long northeastern car so rust and rot would be of concern; doesn’t appear to be an issue however.

The body and panels on this Z28 appear to be in fairly sound condition. The seller claims that there is some minor rust in the lower fenders and quarters but it is all very repairable. This car was clearly a former racer, the tow hooks protruding beneath the front bumper are an obvious giveaway. That said, it does appear, as the seller suggests, a good starting point for a restoration. If I were interested in this car, I would want to return it to the original condition but… that missing 302 CI motor would make me think twice, I’d want that engine or certainly a correct replacement. How about you, if you had your druthers would you consider this example and what would you do with it?

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Comments

  1. chillywind

    Its got a roll cage, wonder what’s up with that engine. Might be a fast one, or a knocker. Big carburetor, dual feed, someone forgot to shorten the plug wires and it has an exhaust system. HMMMMMM
    Man what a great find.

    Like 5
    • Tony Primo

      Also note the tabs on the front for a tow bar. There looks like enough extra wire to make a second set of cables!

      Like 3
    • Raymond Jacinto

      Hell buy one already one fix-up, it will cost 20,000.00 to restore, not counting what you pay for the car it’s not worth it????

      Like 2
  2. Frank Sumatra

    Garbage. Plain and simple.

    Like 5
    • Paul

      Garbage? I wish I could find some garbage that is worth as much as this car!
      These cars bring good money and are very desirable!

      Like 24
      • Frank Sumatra

        Maybe if it had the heart of a Z-28. That would be the original engine. This is a pile of crap. I owned a 1969 Z-28 in 1971. This is an abomination and it takes nerve to call this a Z-28.

        Like 2
    • Chris M.

      Wow Frank, high standards ? This looks like a pretty solid foundation to start with on a legit rare car. The heart of the Z/28 could be replicated very easily. Hell I’d even consider taking the liberty of a modern LS-6 with a 6 speed since it has no chance of being a numbers car.

      Like 9
      • Frank Sumatra

        High standards? You betcha! I must be looking at a different car than everybody else. After the lucky winner brings this home, they are faced with a stem to stern restoration that will easily double the purchase price and the owner will have a “clone” at best. I just don’t get what all the excitement is about. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

        Like 2
    • Chris M.

      I doubt it would change your opinion Frank. Lol

      Like 7
      • Frank Sumatra

        Why would I? Lol.

        Like 1
    • Mike

      Agree. Unless you own a shop and 18 grand ,you would need another 30,000 plus to put in it ,buy it done ,unless you get free labor .

      Like 3
    • Chuck C.

      Nope

  3. Classic Steet

    These original cars brings good money.
    Modified bring less and backing out repairs its under water and less desirable due to resale value.

    Modified modified modified car…
    Pricey NOM means not original and never original. So whether the emblems are real or not its an abused car. Tachs indicate original not working as well as other parts and modifications. The primer scares me on fenders to what’s underneath or if a magnet runs over it.

    I owned a 69 rally z28 hidden headlights , spec engine with four banger in the past and this one here is about $$$$ cash influx to get to a non original Z28 at best.

    Like 2
  4. Gaspumpchas

    Another well cleaned car with a steep ask. Could have at least cleaned the acorns off the intake. without the orig block is it worth the coin? You could easily build your own 302 clone engine. Good inspection a must. Good luck to the new owner!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 2
  5. OhU8one2

    Non original engine leaves me out of the running. Even if this car was a driver, it still has no interest for me. Now if it were a Trans Am? Entirely different story.

    Like 3
  6. 71FXSuperGlide

    Looks like this car spent plenty of time at the racetrack, although Englishtown would be much closer to Jackson than Island Dragway. Maybe the person ran both?

    Those plug wires…wow.

    Like 5
  7. Arthell64 Member

    Appears to be a solid car. This is a project I could live with.

    Like 2
  8. Bob Baird

    I wish I had my 1969 Z/28 Rally Sport back. My friend had it and I was driving down the road one day and there it was at a used car lot and he hadn’t even told me! Soon it was mine. All original, of course, Hugger Orange with black stripes and black vinyl top, black houndstooth interior. It cost all of $1,495! Of course, that was 1974.

    Like 9
  9. Joe Btfsplk

    Could you source a correct motor for $20k?

    Like 1
  10. JoeNYWF64

    If a ’69z28 is not that fast in the qtr mile, does that mean an ss 350 with a 4 speed trans & the same gearing will beat it?
    I do not understand the reasoning in making the optional CLOCK on a ’69 the primary “gage” in front of the driver’s eyes. The clock should be on the console, or IMO, still in its box in the factory. lol
    Rear bumper guards on a Z28 i guess are not that common.
    I guess that carb does not have the provision for teenie tiny gas filter(s) to hide inside, like on a quadrajet. Not sure if the latter filters are any good. lol
    Is the accelerator spring supposed to be attached to the alternator bracket?

    Like 3
    • Dustin Lisner

      the Z28s were by no means slow in the quarter, definitely faster than a 350, but they didn’t have the toque off the line to beat a 396 from stock. as far as the bumper guards go all 67-69 Z28s came with them from the factory.

      Like 4
    • Gary beck

      Rear bumper guards were part of the z28 package

  11. Frank Sumatra

    I don’t think that is the correct steering wheel. Looks like an Impala wheel and there was no Bowtie emblem on the grill. More garbage.

    • gbvette62

      The 2 spoke plastic wheel was standard on all 69 Camaro’s. There was a 3 spoke woodgrain wheel, and a 3 spoke black cushion grip wheel available optionally.

      Like most cars in the 60’s, the base Z/28 was a pretty basic car. The Z/28 included the 302, HD suspension, rally wheels, white lettered tires, rear bumper guards, Z/28 stripes, plus power brakes and 4 speed as mandatory options. Everything else was optional, including gauges. A tach, or full gauges (which included the tach and console) were optional.

      Like 1
      • Frank Sumatra

        gb- Mine had the 3-spoke wheel. “Pretty basic” was the whole point of the car. As you well know, they were built for road courses.

  12. Troy s

    No factory supported racing from GM at the time, Chevrolet simply built a race car and put license plates on it ..the Z/28 Camaro. That’s how I’ve always thought of these first gen Z machines. Absolutely the highest winding screamer that could actual handle and stop too. ’69’s were also more high profile and that had to help sales as well, more than double the ’68 Z.
    From what little I know the stock 3.73 gearing was worthless,, quarter miles in the 15’s, even 4.11’s were all wrong. Took some serious gears, like 4.56 or even lower to really get these screaming through the traps. Anybody who bought one new still have the headers in the trunk? Amazing car, this one looks well used as intended. Edgy, very edgy.

    Like 5
    • Frank Sumatra

      These cars were not intended to be drag racers.

      Like 1
  13. Dave

    Every time a storage listing out of New Jersey comes up the first thing I think of is if Superstorm Sandy got to it. That would be a shame but many thousands of cars were flooded.

    Like 2
  14. Camaro Joe

    Troy, the 3.73 gears aren’t bad on the street as long as you have the M-20 Muncie with a 2.52:1 low gear. A friend had one with 3.73 gears and the M-21 2.20:1 close ratio transmission. It was fine over 40 MPH, but there was nothing you could do to get it to launch. It was either bog or tire spin, nothing in between. He eventually took the 302 out and ran an LT-1. That was spectacular.

    One of my cars had 4.11 gears and the 2.52 low gear transmission. It worked well as long as you didn’t drive it a long distance. I put 900 miles on it in a long weekend once. The solid lifter motor with a loud exhaust system singing away at 4,200 RPM going down the freeway gets really old really fast. The car made that trip a couple more times, but it was on a trailer behind a Suburban.

    Like 5
    • Troy s

      Heck yeah, Joe, I completely get your comment. Doing 60 and screaming all the way, no thanks. No, I was thinking of purely drag racing and how to exploit and take full advantage of that angry mouse. Like the feedback!

  15. Camaro Joe

    Troy, The drag racers I know used to figure that if you had about a 10:1 overall gear ratio in low gear (transmission low gear ratio x rear end gear ratio) the car would launch hard.

    I got my first car in 1982 with 4.11 gears and a Muncie 2.52:1 low gear trans. It was a fast ride, probably too fast for me at 29. But it survived. It had been raced, so it had 15% more cam, ported heads, and was balanced. If it hooked up you had to have your hand on the shifter, otherwise you would spin it past 8,000 RPM before you got your hand on the shifter. I never did it, but my friend who helped me build the motor did it. He never drove it again.

    The second car has a mostly stock 302 that came from a car that my friend burned on a garage fire. He had the short block sitting under his work bench when it happened. You haven’t really lived until you’ve picked burned 2×4’s off the top of the pistons. Fortunately it was a 35,000 original mile standard bore motor, so it cleaned up at .030″ overbore. It’s balanced and has some head porting work, but it’s mostly stock. My transmission guy changed the M-21 to an M-20, so it has around a 9.4:1 overall gear ratio. That works pretty well on the street, not sure I’d try it on the drag strip.

    I did race it once on Woodward Ave. on the day of the Dream Cruise. Fortunately it was about 6:45 AM, so not many people (including the cops) were out. It beat some good cars and I didn’t end up in jail, so I quit doing that
    and haven’t gone back, just in case they’re still looking for me.

    It took about 3000 RPM and I feathered the clutch a bit and it hooked up and launched hard. I wouldn’t recommend that for serious drag strip use, but I figured an 11″ Hays clutch should take it once. Of course . . . no driveshaft safety loop and no steel bell housing is a good reason to not do it again.

    Like 5
  16. Kelly Waldrop

    Pass. Over 20000 built in 1969 and not rare by any means. Several original matching numbers show up at various auctions in mint condition and really rarely bring over 80 grand. If you have a bottomless pit of money go ahead and buy.

    Like 1
  17. Tort Member

    Like the car and would love to own it however in my mind it isn’t a Z/28 unless it has a 302 under the hood. Had a 55 Chevy with a real 302 under the hood with a Muncie and a 4:88 posi in the late sixties and ran 12.80’s at 105 at the dragstrip in the late sixties. Have another on and engine stand I built last year with NOS pistons and rods but with Aluminum heads and other more current parts. One screaming little motor and fun to drive if it’s geared right.

    Like 4
  18. djjerme

    Good lord – always concerned about quarter mile times.

    These were designed for track racing – not herpa derp stop light rushing. So turning corners, at speed. Which also means, keeping the engine up in the higher RPM for sustained duration (a lot longer than some 15 seconds and spent).

    As for the 69 302, in order to recreate it faithful to the original, you’ll be needing an actual crank or custom – it’s not a 283 crank in 68-69. Small journal vs large journal (aka 67 vs 68-69). So these motors were very unique.

    With that being said, if the motor is not original, it loses any value as a “Z/28”.

    Like 4
    • Frank Sumatra

      Amen, brother. It’s just another Camaro.

      Like 1
  19. JC

    All the build up about the “original Z-28” with a 302 only to crush me by saying… but, like many others, this one has a 350… ugh….

    Like 2
    • Frank Sumatra

      Absolutely! BS on BF for playing the “clickbait” game with the headline! Not very well-played boys. Your loyal followers should not be played like that but you did get your quota of comments.

      Like 3
  20. Steve

    I think the tach is wrong for the Z28.

    Like 1
  21. Lynn Dockey Member

    This is a car to run away from. Cars that were drag raced will end up being twisted enough the the windshield starts leaking. Btw all 69 Z/28 s had the rear bumper guards. I ve read they were needed to line up the bumpers because the Z sat a little lower but I also have read it was because of push starting them a truck for racing purposes.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      Nobody seem to be running away bidding is high….these cars have a large following….therefore have great value….original motor may be gone however body is fairly solid and trim tag still says it’s a real 69 Z28.

      Like 1
      • Frank Sumatra

        So if I put a 289 in my 1995 Corvette and don’t touch the trim tag I still have a “real” 1995 LT-1 Corvette? I hope you are around if I ever have to sell it. I’ll be happy to take your money. Wow.

        Like 1
  22. TimM

    This is simply to me!! If it doesn’t have the original equipment it’s NOT a Z28!!! It could be restomoded and you could have a very nice car with Z28 badging on it but it’s not an original Z28 by far!!

    Like 3
    • Frank Sumatra

      At least a few people on this discussion have a grip on reality. There is absolutely no way on earth this can be represented as a “real” Z-28. A fool and his/her money will be parted very soon and the seller should go into the Witness Protection program after cashing the check.

      Like 2
  23. Paul

    It’s just my belief that a 69 mach 1 mustang missing its original motor is still worth more than a standard 69 mustang.
    A 69 Z28 Camaro missing its original motor is still worth more then a standard Camaro.
    Many muscle cars where thrashed upon during their day..and motors were blown….most of the original high performance engines died from very tuff life’s and yet these cars still bring higher prices across the board, most of these cars do not have their original motors and yet they can brake the bank when restored correctly….you can buy a 69 Z28 engine block and put it in this body and have a great car…..there is a reason that the bidding is over $19000. If it was an original 307 69 Camaro with the same body condition the bidding would not be this high!

    Like 3
  24. bobhess bobhess Member

    Looks like Frank’s shorts shrunk cutting off the blood supply to his attitude.

    Like 3
    • Frank Sumatra

      Ahh,gee now my feelings are hurt. I hope I can get over the pain of being insulted by a loud and proud Member! You spent your $50 Bobbo, have a good time!

      Like 2

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