Rare 4-Speed: 1976 Chevrolet Camaro LT

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Classics from The Malaise Era spent years in the automotive wilderness, and enthusiasts focused on earlier or later cars that offered improved performance. However, times have changed, and a new generation of buyers recognizes them as an affordable entry point into classic ownership. This 1976 Camaro LT is a perfect example of the breed. It is a clean and tidy vehicle that someone could enjoy immediately. There is scope to improve its presentation without breaking the bank, and those unconcerned about originality could extract considerable performance improvements using off-the-shelf parts. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Rocco B. for spotting this beauty.

Chevrolet was marking time with its Second Generation Camaro range, introducing only minor cosmetic changes for the 1976 model year. The most striking of these was the brushed steel panel between the taillights on the LT version, which contrasts nicely against the Dark Blue paint gracing our feature car’s arrow-straight panels. The seller describes the car as very original, suggesting it may never have received paint or panel repairs or restoration. Its presentation is comfortably acceptable for a vehicle of this vintage, with the paint holding a healthy shine. There is no evidence of rust, and the seller doesn’t mention problems in their listing. I’ve been scratching my head because it looks like this classic has a Black vinyl top. This was a $96 option in 1976, and I would probably ask the seller for photos of the area as it looks like there might be some developing lumps. That could be a sign of nasty hidden problems requiring urgent attention. The trim looks excellent, with the chrome spotless and no sign of physical damage. The tinted glass is crystal clear, and while some may not like the Black wheels against the dark paint, they give this car’s appearance a slightly menacing touch.

Buyers ordering a 1976 Camaro LT automatically received a V8 under the hood, with the 305ci as the entry-level powerplant. They could tick the box on the Order Form beside the legendary 350ci V8. The seller indicates a take-up rate of around 25% amongst LT buyers, which seems consistent with Chevrolet’s production figures. The first owner teamed the small-block with a four-speed manual transmission and power steering, with power brakes standard for the first time on V8-equipped Camaros in 1976. The 350 isn’t a powerhouse, producing 165hp and 260 ft/lbs of torque. That means the LT won’t break the 17-second barrier for the ¼-mile, although that isn’t the end of the earth. A quick trip to the local speed shop will unearth off-the-shelf components to help the small-block breathe better. That will unlock additional power, which most owners will welcome with open arms. However, those preferring originally could leave things untouched because this Camaro is a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

This Camaro’s exterior presentation makes its interior condition unsurprising. It won’t land the new owner show trophies, but nor will it cause shame if they rock up to a Cars & Coffee. The Blue cloth on the driver’s seat exhibits minor wear and wrinkles on the outer edge, but I see no evidence of developing holes or other problems. The dash and pad are clean, and there is no broken plastic. The first owner ordered the LT with air conditioning, which is currently disconnected. The factory radio left the building in favor of a radio/cassette player, but the original unit is there for reinstallation if the buyer prefers authenticity.

This 1976 Camaro LT doesn’t have the cachet of a Z28, but with that badge disappearing in 1975, this is as close as a buyer could get that year. It presents well for its age, and a new owner could enjoy it immediately. There is a question mark hanging over the vinyl top, and it would be worth pursuing that further. The seller’s price of $15,250 is very competitive, and their willingness to answer questions and supply videos suggests they have nothing to hide. The Camaro is listed here on Craigslist in Kittery, Maine. Values have softened recently but are showing signs of climbing again. That could make now the ideal time to strike if a Second Generation Camaro has been on your Wish List.

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Comments

  1. HoA HoAMember

    testing

    Like 0
    • HoA HoAMember

      I get a lot of flak on my automatic transmission views, which I get directly off the internet, so it must be right,,,but a Camaro of this vintage with a 4 speed is not rare. Fact is, every single one that comes down the auction pike today, HAS to have a 4 speed. The automatics were rarely saved, and gearheads beat the snot out of the 4 speeds, so in that regard, I suppose they are rare. While I was always more of a Firebird fan, I’ll be the 1st to say, it sure was great to have choices like this growing up.

      Like 11
      • Adam ClarkeAuthor

        Thank you so much for your feedback, HoA. We always appreciate input from our readers, and I admit I have learned quite a lot this way!

        I get where you’re coming from, and I agree that many people focused on saving manual versions of these classics. The term “rare” is relative. I based this on Chevrolet’s 1976 production figures. The company built 182,959 Camaros that year, but only 11,396 buyers selected the 4-speed. What surprised me was that 11,418 chose the 3-speed manual. I wasn’t expecting that, but it made sense as it was the most affordable path into Camaro ownership.

        I also side with you on the Firebird question. I have never been able to explain why I prefer the Firebird over the Camaro, but that is one of the indefinable factors of the classic car scene. I hope you continue to enjoy our work, and thank you for your comments.

        Like 10
      • HoA HoAMember

        Wow, thanks Adam, I think it’s the 1st time we’ve communicated, and I’ll admit, I am a bit disappointed with some peoples responses here, especially the ones that derail the post, but I do have the utmost regard for “our” authors( members can say that) and never my intent to upstage them, merely to add to the already well written posts. BarnFinds is one of my favorite sites, mostly for the variety and the research it must take. Thanks again.

        Like 8
    • Stan

      Sweet, 4spd 350 combo. Rims, and factory dual exhaust are required. Then drive it 😎

      Like 5
  2. Robert

    I think a 350 4-speed Rally Sport with its paint graphics was closer to a Z28 than this LT would have been.

    Like 6
  3. robjMember

    So, what’s the deal with the exhaust?

    Like 26
    • Mark

      I Agee make the exhaust correct

      Like 9
  4. OIL SLICK

    Those wheels are hideous. I don’t understand the whole black wheel thing. Cheap way out guess, but it looks like they lost the hub caps to me

    Like 18
    • DGMinGA

      The wheels if painted body color with the polished trim rings (which I suspect is how it came originally) probably would look much better.

      I concur re: black wheels. In fact, the whole “murdered out” concept on a classic car seems counterintuitive to me. Classic cars should have chrome – when cars were made of steel, not plastic.

      Like 1
  5. Dan H

    I forgot about wedging something in the AC vent to keep it from going wonky every time you hit a bump.

    Like 2
  6. David PO

    I had one of these that I bought used in Las Vegas, I think in 1980. AFTER I got it home, found out was powered with a 350/350!! My mechanic said “350 horse power, and 350TH tranny. It was the LT, w/half vinyl top, and NO air-dam on the trunk…thank God, because I have always thought they’re ugly as sin, and in a little bit of street-racing, no help. Used to try and find ANY Corvette with CA tags to race…NEVER lost!

    Like 3
  7. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    As a reference point, using data: Mecum lists 17 distinct 1976 Camaros in their database, dating to 2012. Only three were manual transmissions, all four-speeds. The most recent one, an automatic, was at this month’s Indy auction.

    I too prefer manual transmissions for our beloved classics, but my observation is that there are plenty of automatics out there.

    Like 10
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

      Bob, I am with you, it is an exception see Camaros of this generation for sale with a 4 speed for sale.

      I was curious, so I looked up the production numbers for 1976 Camaro tranny types.

      11,396 4 speed manual
      11,418 3 speed manual
      160,145 automatic

      So, Adam’s description of this particular car is spot on.

      Like 0
  8. BigBlocksRock

    Lose the fart can.

    Like 7
  9. Nelson C

    Looks complete with good features. These were all over SE Michigan in the day. The performance hold overs that didn’t spring for a T/A and the insurance premium. Change to the dual turbo mufflers and down turns ahead of the axle and replace the cop wheels. Call it your time machine.

    Like 2
  10. z28th1s

    Looks like rust on the lower rocker panel in front of the left rear wheel in the one picture.

    Like 2
  11. TRUTH

    I’d paint that grill shiney black and add some flare. Maybe pin stripes and a pseudo hood scoop. Then it would look like the one I had in the early 80’s.

    Like 0
  12. thomas

    I bought a Black on Black 1976 LT 350 4-speed for my wife. Nice car 4200 new.

    Like 1

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