375 Horsepower Barn Find: 1968 Camaro SS 396

By Jeff Bennett

Update 10/18/17 – I’ve heard from the seller and they sent over photos to verify that this Camaro is in fact an L78 SS 396! They also clarified what the switch on the shifter is and it is a line lock, so this beast is ready to race if necessary. Thankfully, it hasn’t been chopped up to fit wider tires though and looks to be in good shape overall. Returned to original, it would be worth considerably more and the seller feels like it wouldn’t take much to get it there! I’ve add the photos of the VIN, body tag and engine number below, so be sure to take a look! If you’d like to have a real L78 parked in your barn, be sure to make the seller an offer.

From 10/13/17 – If you love American muscle cars, then first generation Camaros likely have a place on your “want” list. The styling is sensational, engine options ranged from inline sixes to big blocks, and they handled well for a car of that era. Unfortunately, it seems that these Camaros have found their way onto everyone’s shopping list, and they are buying. Prices for good, rust free examples are rocketing skyward, and even clapped out rust buckets are being advertised at more than $10,000. Is this a bubble, or is it the new normal? Let’s take a look at one car for sale here on eBay and see what it has to offer for the price. This 1968 Camaro SS, packing a 396 cubic inch big block L78 engine, is currently being offered for either a buy it now price of $45,900, or you can make an offer.

As you can see from the pictures, the car looks pretty good from about ten feet away. When you get closer, you can see that the paint has some age cracking and chipping, and the finish is dull in places. The seller says it is a late 1970s re-paint of the original color. I assume the color is Rallye Red, but Matador Red is very close, just a bit darker. Reds are hard to determine by just a photograph, especially when the sun and shadows come into play.

Other than the issues with the paint, the seller claims that the car is virtually rust free, and most of the parts are original. Even the floor pans! The panel gaps are good, and the doors open and shut easily. All the trim pieces look to be there, and the glass is good as well. The only noticeable blemish is a dent in the passenger quarter panel, but it is not a major one. Looking at the pictures, you just have to wonder if the designers ever thought their work would still look so good fifty years after the car was introduced.

Up front, we can see that everything looks to be in good shape. The traction bars are more prominent from this view, but we have all seen them on first generation Camaros so much they almost look like they were a factory option. I know they weren’t, but these cars were a weapon of choice for drag racers in the late sixties through to the point that their rising values began to curtail this behavior.

Inside, we have some clues to help us understand this car’s life. The vinyl bucket seats look to be the originals, and the carpet and dash are in very good condition. However, another picture shows a small rip in the portion of the driver’s seat next to the seat hinge. We also see that it is a four speed car, and that a Hurst shifter has been added. If you look closely, there is a red button attached to the shifter. I think I know what that button was for, and I wish there was a picture of the inside of the trunk to confirm my suspicions. I am also curious as to why there are a number of buttons or lights under the dash, a red light under the radio, and a row of gauges in the same place. A tachometer with a red line set to 6500 RPMs is fastened to the steering column along with a vacuum gauge.

Under the hood sits the numbers matching 396 cubic inch big block Chevrolet engine complete with a set of Mickey Thompson valve covers. We can see that this was not an air conditioned car, and that some sort of catch bottle is attached to the passenger side inner fender. The seller says that the transmission is a M-22, commonly known as a “Rock Crusher,” and that the rear end has 3.73 gears with Positraction. The engine is said by the seller to run strong, and is absent any strange noises, smoking, or major leaks.

Above is one of the pictures the seller has placed in the eBay ad. I assume this is what the car looked like when it was found. I am sure you are thinking what I am thinking, and you are likely right. However, the right options were checked off many years ago, and the body is in great condition.

Here’s the engine block number, which shows as being an MQ code 375 horsepower 396. We also see that the block’s numbers match up with the car’s VIN number! The seller says all the other key parts are present, including the car’s original carb (a different one is currently installed). Knowing that this car is a real deal L78 certainly makes things more interesting and we want to thank the seller for sending this over to us!

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Comments

  1. Rock On

    Buttons on shifters aren’t only used for nitrous oxide. This one could just as easily be used to set the line lock. Which is to lock the front brakes so that you can perform a burn out.

    40+
    • Brandon

      Actually I have a button on my Hurst shifter that I use for the line lock. So that could be a possibility.

      9+
    • Loco Mikado

      Line locks were also used a lot on trucks. I had one on my ’67 Dodge Camper Special pickup. Push the brakes and flip the lever up.

      0
  2. ruxvette

    You’re thinking nitrous, I’m thinking line lock.
    Nice car, albeit a little spendy.

    18+
    • JohnT

      Either way, I’m thinking quarter mile Frequent Flier. Probably beat to hell especially with the traction bars so that cuts the price in half but still a nice looking first generation Camaro.

      0
      • Jerry Neely

        Beat to Hell,probably so. But could have been well maintained at same time. i know a guy that bought a 69 COPO for the exclusive purpose of drag racing.He still drag races that same car today every week end. And it has never had a license plate attached to it. Looks exactly like it did the day he bought it new.

        0
  3. Big Ed

    Line lock at least in my case!

    5+
  4. Steve

    I may be the only one, but I prefer the look of the aftermarket wheels. Granted, those wide rear tires will throw up a lot of debris, but without them, there is no hope of getting the power from that L78 to the ground! Slap in your Billy Squier cassette and haul ass!

    16+
    • LAB3

      Billy Squire? In a 68 Camaro? Gotta keep it period correct and there’s no better place than where that car came from. Stooges or MC5 all the way!

      12+
      • Greg NJ2SC

        kick out the janes, mother f**kers

        2+
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      The Billy Squier cassette got a lot of use in my ’81 Camaro, not so sure about a ’68.

      0
  5. dogwater

    It would be nice if they maybe gave the old girl a bath and vacuumed it out,also would check out below the back window…………………

    1+
    • Ron Bunting

      and a inspection cam view of the body’s plenum chamber for rust. .

      0
  6. CWP

    Not a Chevy fan but the older I get, the more these older vehicles have their appeal. I remember the 396/375 and 427/425-435 shakers we’re really fast and sounded really great with their cams and solids rattling. If I had the coins I would go up to about 70000 for this car. Might not be worth it or it could even be worth more to others. I bought a 67 Fairlane several years ago that was a family car and four door but it was in such good original shape with 48000 original miles on it I hated for someone to get it and destroy Its originality. Nice Camaro, no matter whether it has a few non stock items or not, maybe the whole thing is numbers matching, which it didn’t state.

    0
    • Rocco Member

      CWP & Bob,
      The seller said NUMBERS MATCHING eng.

      0
  7. Ward F

    Anyone notice if you click the VIN on the eBay link it’s sez engine is a 350?

    0
  8. Michael Mansfield

    People are looking to just cash in on these older muscle cars! Sure they are worth some but that kind of money! Any one that pays that much for a non restored original camaro needs there head examined!! As long as there are fools to pay that kind of money then people like this will keep trying to rip people off!!

    1+
  9. Bruce

    Doesn’t look like a factory 4 speed car based on the location of the shifter on the tunnel. Should be more centered on the tunnel. At a minimum someone has cut up the tunnel a bit. Also, hard to tell by the driver’s side windshield pillar looks a little funky/rough like there might be a rust issue. Funny how there is no trim tag picture or trunk inside to go with a car at this price. It might have been an original big block car with the numbers matching comment, but I’d be very skeptical of it being an original 375 horse car. Price is way too high with what the car needs even if it was.

    0
    • Joey

      I believe that the Hurst super shifter mounted higher up and more to the left. This was to utilize straight shifter rods. Also heim ends were used instead of bushings and retainer clips. Mr. Gasket also made a similar one. Had both a 69 SS 396 Chevelle and a 71 Nova that the tunnel was clearenced like this. Both of them were drag cars most of their lives.

      0
  10. Bob

    It has the hood of a big block car, but was it originally a 375HP car? If it isn’t numbers matching car, I think it is over priced. I have some big block cars, and they are tire friers.

    1+
  11. Rick

    $35,000+/- depending on #s matching

    1+
  12. gregg Member

    yep, a line lock, puke tank, traction bars, and M50’s? Looks like race day to me.

    7+
  13. Jon crapper

    The rear spoil err s from a 69 and so is the hood

    0
    • mark

      Your right 69 rear spoiler and they moved the chevy emblem up on the trunk,with a spoiler the emblem will be gone,
      the wrong grills in the hood,they should have long chrome slots in them

      0
  14. Kuzspike

    That doesn’t look like the factory stripe to me. I’m guessing it’s been beat to hades and back and as nice as it looks, not worth the price.

    1+
    • Joe

      A repaint was mentioned in the write up. I’d assume the stripe was redone also.

      0
  15. SBooth

    I had this same car except w/ white side stripes. Had a 4.56 rear which was good for burn outs, but not so for the interstate.
    M22 made really good noise ! Kid I sold it to in 1971 wrapped it around a phone pole. I checked p/n’s and figured it was the same engine that Chevy rated at 425 hp in the Vette.

    1+
  16. Benji

    It’s a nice car no doubt about that it’s my favorite year model but seems to be way over priced I’m thinking somewhere around 18 to 25k tops

    1+
  17. Todd Fante

    This guy bumped his head! 45000??? Get real!

    0
  18. Dave Deline

    Forty five grand.ugh.as I get older the prices go up.prefer the 69s but those are out of my life now.should have kept this one or that one .it’s just a car ,I’ve learned,family first.lucky for me wifey found a clean ss elcamino so I have that nowadays.but always will be spotting those camaros on the road reminding me of my youth.

    3+
    • Rocco Member

      @Dave,
      I know what you mean. I’ve had my fun with cars through the years, good memories. Liquidating now.

      I gave you a thumbs up.

      1+
  19. Josh Seaney

    Looks like nitrous the under hood photo shows some after market fuel system or a nitrous system. MAYBE the dash button is for the line lock.

    0
  20. Chedord

    Maybe $28-32,000. That’s all. It’s been raced to much.

    1+
  21. Travis stone

    45k is too steep. Not a Big Block hood. Only models with Special hoods for big blocks are the likes of COPO and YENKO cars. That’s a factory SS hood used on BB and SB super sports or RS/SS cars.

    0
  22. Mark Pennington

    I don’t think this came out of a barn……perhaps a nice garage, heated maybe. Disappointed.

    0
  23. Russell Monnin

    Can we say badass on this site?

    1+
  24. Dave

    Overpriced. But that’s not uncommon, now that we have Barrett Jackson, Mecum and a few others. More people look at these from an investment standpoint as opposed to those of us who love old iron but don’t quite have the baby boomers disposal income to purchase one.

    2+
  25. RadicalMyke

    Nobody read the last line I say 27000.

    1+
  26. al8apex

    “We can see that this was not an air conditioned car”

    One would hope not as no solid lifter car could be bought with factory a/c, the exception being a handful of 72 LT-1 Corvettes.

    2+
    • Jeff

      Because of the vacuum actuator? I remember that “flop” when you hit the air… My first air conditioning car, ’68 Cutlass S in Turkey poop Yellow.

      0
  27. Jeff

    Rio Grande Mud for the tunes. 15K max price. It’s rough.

    1+
  28. jdjonesdr

    I had a 67 convertible with a I6 and a 3 speed floor shifter that a guy gave me for his bar bill.
    Loved that thing to death.
    Had too many cars back then and let it go. Stupid me.

    2+
    • John T

      I can pay the bill, Can I have my car back?

      0
  29. Gary

    I had 1966 chevelle SS 396 with 411 posit traction sold to my buddy in the service for 400 dollars duh I regret that day in 1975

    1+
  30. Robert

    The row of buttons/lights under the glove box may be a reverberator, which were somewhat popular dack then….

    0
  31. Troy S

    Looks like someone had some fun with this car, which was the whole point to these in the first place. If you didn’t drive it hard; street,strip or both, you more or less bought the wrong car. As far as value goes, who knows, they are all overpriced as far as I’m concerned. The commodity factor has ruined the fun factor big time.

    2+
    • Jeffro

      When new, this car was, I’m guessing around $3500. I’m sure someone got their money’s worth out of it. Atleast until you factor in tires, fuel, more tires, speeding tickets, insurance, and of course, more tires. Hell, this car probably owes money!

      1+
      • Rocco

        @Jeffro,
        I like that. Good one.

        0
  32. Art M.

    Does not look like a race car to me, just an old. school hot rod. Worth about 30k maybe more if it’s really numbers matching. Nice looking car at any rate.

    2+
  33. Loco Mikado

    Line locks were also used a lot on trucks. I had one on my ’67 Dodge Camper Special pickup. Push the brakes and flip the lever up.

    0
  34. Tyler

    I still have my Grotto blue 68 SS, but it’s the 325hp version, with the 4 speed. Even so, it would melt the rear tires at will. I’ve owned it since 1990, & is rust free except for where the battery leaked onto the core support & lower fender extension. It will be going for a rotisserie probably within the next year.

    0
  35. Paul

    The hood and hood vents are correct for 68 Camaro big block cars.

    1+

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