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305/4-Speed: 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Some enthusiasts focus on total originality with a potential classic purchase, overlooking modified examples. They could find this 1981 Camaro Z28 irresistible because its only modification is a new exhaust. It isn’t perfect, but it is a tidy driver that can be enjoyed immediately. The Z28 is listed here on Craigslist in Smiths Station, Alabama. The seller has set their price at $29,000, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder arkie for spotting this promising pony car.

Potential buyers knew that the Second Generation Camaro’s production life was ending when this car rolled off the line. This helps explain the drop in sales volumes of over 50% compared to two years earlier. Our feature car is 1-of-43,271 examples of the Z28 sold in 1981, with the first owner ordering it in Code 19 Black with contrasting tri-tone stripes. The seller indicates the paint is original, and its condition is all you might expect from an unrestored vehicle of this vintage that has been treated respectfully. It has accumulated small marks and chips, but the lack of significant panel damage and the absence of rust means the new owner could confidently tread the preservation path. The graphics are beginning to show their age, and replacing this would cost peanuts and lift the overall presentation. Chevrolet continued offering the T-Top in this final year, with 30,445 buyers ticking that box on their Order Form. There is no mention of leak issues, and the lack of obvious water damage inside this survivor suggests the seals are sound. The distinctive alloy wheels are free from physical damage, and the indications are this is a driver-grade classic that can be enjoyed immediately.

The seller claims this Camaro has a genuine 54,000 miles on the clock, but there is no mention of supporting evidence. However, the interior condition makes the claim plausible. Its Red cloth and vinyl upholstered surfaces are free from wear, and the carpet appears spotless. There is no evidence of UV damage or abuse, and it is refreshing to find a classic from this era with no aftermarket additions. It never needed any because the original owner ordered this Z28 with air conditioning, power windows, a rear defroster, a tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio/cassette player.

There are no engine photos in the listing, and while the supplied information isn’t comprehensive, there is enough to confirm this is a turnkey classic. Its engine bay houses a 305ci V8 producing 165hp and 245 ft/lbs of torque. The desirable four-speed manual transmission backs this V8. That might be the most potent combination on the planet, but the stick shift promises an entertaining driving experience. Our feature car would be marginally faster than a 350-equipped example over the ¼-miles and possess a higher top speed. The seller claims the Camaro runs and drives exceptionally well, allowing the new owner to fly in and drive it home.

The recent trend of softening values for the 1981 Camaro Z28 means now could be the ideal time to place one in your sights. Predicting whether they will depreciate further is an educated guess, but buyers face those risks with purchases like this. The seller’s price might be slightly optimistic, but the four-speed transmission and T-Top will enhance its potential value. It has only been on the market a few days, and it will be fascinating to see how quickly it finds a new home.


  1. TorinoSCJ69

    Nice Z28.
    Fresh air hood accounts for 15 hp if I remember correctly.
    Glad to see
    Another one survives!

    Like 9
  2. Randy Smith

    Had a silver one without t top 305/4spd headers, fun car drove Califorina to Toronto and back. But had to get rid of it, one more point and I’d loose my license. Little too much at 21

    Like 4
  3. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    This Z28 looks in good shape. The price is a bit high. $20,000-22,000 is more like it. If I could I would drop a 383/450hp beef up the clutch. Add 3:73 posi gears. Keep it stock looking. And it would be fun to drive. Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 9
  4. George Mattar

    Too much money. A true LT-1 1971 Corvette sold on BAT yesterday for $28,000. While l like this generation Z, it will be a bear to keep up with today’s interstate traffic with that 305.

    Like 0
  5. Rw

    When this were new I used to love blowing the doors off on interstate 71 in my 57 Bel-Air 2dr post 283/292,same with the Corvettes…

    Like 2
  6. John Oliveri

    305 is a pretty dismal 165hp turd, sorry but it was over, 30,000 for a no power Camaro? Trans Am was done too, at least Pontiac held on with the 400 4 speed till 79, I went to look at a new bandit and was told with the automatic I wanted I had 2 choices, 403 Oldsmobile anchor or 301 Pontiac, I figured I’d take the 301, in a loaded Grand Prix, no one expected that to be fast, no disappointment

    Like 3
  7. Bick Banter

    I Blbelieve the dash, steering wheel, and console should be color key to the interior

    Like 0
    • JCA Member

      The black dash, console, etc is correct

      Like 1
  8. Stan

    Cool car Torino
    Brother Greg a member here, has the good eye for this vintage Camaro

    Like 0
  9. Trace

    ’81 T/A’s & Z’s had two-tone interiors last year of that bodystyle.

    Like 0
  10. Connecticut mark

    Had one like this bought from a mechanic who dropped in older 350 LT1 engine and a 4 speed, 17 years old , could not handle it, had it 3 weeks, then drove through a fire hydrant , telephone pole and stone wall, that ended that, parted it out, what an idiot I was.

    Like 0
  11. Frank Drackman

    85 mph speedometer kills it for me, although it’s probably appropriate

    Like 0

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