A Pair Of Z28’s – Choose One?


There’s not a whole lot of difference between a 1978 and a 1980 Z28, but there sure is a lot of difference in the condition (and price) of these two cars! The rust colored 1978 is located in York, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently at $2,025 with no reserve. The blue 1980 is located a little north in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, is listed for sale here on eBay, and has currently been bid up to $5,100 but has not yet met the reserve.


As you can see, cosmetically the rust-colored one needs some help. The seller, who’s acting for a friend, reports there is some rust in the quarter panels, holes in the floors, and that there is a crack in the grille.


The interior–well, it’s pretty sad. The car does have air conditioning, which is a good thing, but you’re going to need a lot of work to make this interior nicer, assuming you want to.


We don’t know if the engine runs or not, and the car has been sitting for a while. Also, the fact that the belt is off the air conditioner compressor doesn’t bode well for the system’s condition. However, keep in mind, it’s pretty inexpensive, and it is a Z28!


On the other hand, the 1980 blue one is pretty darn good looking. The seller maintains that it still has 100% original paint and no rust at all. The seller is the second owner and has the original bill of sale and build sheet that will come with the car.


If anything, the interior looks better than the outside, with the only flaws being in the center console. And what’s that I see in the center? Yes folks, that is a four speed shifter sticking up. This car is also air conditioned and has power windows. Although I don’t think the two years newer matters at this point, the condition obviously does!


The engine looks pretty good, and look; this air conditioner has a belt! Now, obviously, if they were the same price, all of you would take the blue one, but they won’t be. So what do you think the price difference would have to be before you would take the rust colored one? Or would any difference be enough? Personally, I doubt that the difference once the blue one sells would be enough to restore the 1978 to the 1980’s level, but let’s see how things turn out. Plus, I’d like to see your opinions to see if you agree with me!


  1. Rock On Member

    I’m about half an hour away from the blue car. It is obviously a summer car as we get lots of snow up here. It has the a/c, tilt wheel, functional cold air induction hood and four speed. It is worth at least double the price of the ’78.

    • Jay M

      Yep. Always start with the best body you can afford. A little more $ upfront saves a lot of $ later!

      Like 1
  2. Shane

    Love the blue one.4 speed yeasss the only way to go.Is this one on eBay now?

  3. Mark

    Unless you own a paint and body shop, rare are the times when a fair example of a particular car be restored for the difference in price to buying a nice one. I think it’s human nature to assume projects won’t be as hard, expensive, or time-consuming as they turn out to be.

    Like 1
    • moosie Craig


  4. chris lawrence

    pretty sure the rear bottom fender flare/rock shield is not original on the better car, mine is color coded with the body. Hard to tell from the photos though. FYI alot of Z cars didnt get them.

  5. A.J.

    There is a BIG difference. The 80 & 79 are mechanically identical except that the 80 got the much better looking cowl inductor hood (that actually opens and gives you .5 extra HP when you floor it :) ),

    Plus, the 80 in your example is a 4 gear 350 car. The 4 speed is worth a huge premium with these particular cars.

    Like 1
  6. 68custom

    The four speed car is the pick of this litter even at twice the price or more.

    Like 1
  7. Ck

    Blue 4spd beats rusty Rust colored automatic any day in my book.

    Like 1
  8. Prowler

    3 pedals wins every time

  9. Rustytech Member

    Looks like the brown one hit it’s limit at $2025. I would not be surprised to see the blue one blow passed the $10k mark before it’s done, and even at that it’s a better deal.

    Like 1
  10. Bobsmyuncle

    How can anything but guesses be made on value in an auction?

    If anyone is seriously interested I can probably lay eyes on the blue one for you.

  11. cudaman

    My ’79 60k miles…

    Like 2
  12. Philip

    From a restorer’s point of view the 1980 makes sense. F body’s unmolested with high options and a 4 speed spell an amazing car. Year One among others has everything needed to take it back to 0 miles. I can tell you without hesitation if you can do all your own work except paint, a car like the blue 1980 is easy to make money on if you know how to buy and what your doing. The 1978 brown bomber is a parts car or at best strip it completely and use if for a pro street project. F body’s just are not rare enough in this time period to justify the loosing proposition of a restoration. The caveat on both of the cars is rust. I would buy neither sight unseen unless the price was rediculously low. These cars are notorious for cancer every and anywhere. Along with rotted frames, and collapsed springs, missing floors trunks and inner/outer quarters, with obligatory window frame and door rust with window leaks. I tread lightly around these as it is easy to get burned or overwhelmed . The 1980 looks good provided its all there. I had an 80 I bought in 85 with 40k on it. A high option T-Top car with the 4speed in white with a black deluxe interior. I payed the ridiculous price of 5300$ with an extended warranty. The car served me well and I mistakenly sold it in 1996 and mistakenly bought a brand new 6 speed Z-28. Should have kept the 1980, it’s worth more and though not as fast, still over all it is/was a far better car. Those last generation F body’s were like belly buttons, everyone had them and they were all the same.

    Another car that with the right moves and a stroker hidden under the hood would become a boulevard barnstormer. Put the L48 away and save it.. It was only 190 horsepower, the Corvette got the L82 220 horse motor with the same trans in this year. A ZZ-383 450HP or a more modern LS transplant would give you an unreal show and go ride with far less money and the results are reversible should you decide to restore it to 100% one day.

  13. HeavyHauler

    I took an 1980 Z-28 to prom sort of a burnt orange 4-speed air induction, had a set of western wheels on it….. It sounded great when you opened up the air induction….. but was on of the slowest cars of its time..

    Like 1
  14. Philip

    Indeed. An overweight, bloated, under powered 3500 pound Z-28 even with a 4 speed, laid down an embarrassing 1/4 mile time of about 16 seconds give or take. That 190 HP felt more like a 305 2 barrel. Add that to the weak camshafts that wore the lobes down to zero if you looked at them funny, fouled plugs from failed valve seals, and a heap of emissions crap-ola, you could easily be looking at 18 seconds. The Automatic cars were about that bad stock, drove one, an ’81 brand new, man was it a dog.

    The good news is a set of Vortec heads, a healthy cam and full header exhaust with gears could get you in the high 12’s. Better yet go with any of the stroked Small Blocks available these days, and you have a serious contender for even the mighty ZL-1, provided you help the car loose weight some weight, change the rear axle ratio to something above 3:55’s, and a full free exhaust. The weight part is easy, several hundred pounds isn’t hard to find and eliminate on these. A fiberglass front end and doors will get you most of the way there.

    We played with the Z’s F-body cousin, a 4 speed 79 Formula back in summer ’05, a 305 car from stock. We were very surprised it wasn’t a 301. .With a ZZ-383 and 3.73 12 bolt, it became one nasty car. Even new Trans-Am’s and Firehawks were spanked forth-with, as well quite a few others. Traction bars and frame connectors or a cage was really needed, as the car couldn’t possibly hook up, even on N-50 slicks with pizza-cutters in front. Once it did though, look out. Big block power and torque in a ultra light small block footprint. If you could get it to hook up you ‘d be in ZL-1 territory for a whole lot less money. Give it a 100 shot and dyno tuning tweaking the jetting and timing along the way, it’s likely you’d spank even the fastest muscle cars of the late 60’s era. Never underestimate a small block powered F-body.

    There has been many the Ford pony car and Mopar Muscle Head given a spanking and sent home with a spanking because of the Mighty Mouse. I have a custom built 383 in a C-3 Corvette here with 4 speed and 3.55:1 and side pipes. Truly awesome performance and I am consistently amazed at how fast it is. A 6 speed is going in before it is all said and done. Big Block power and beyond with the handling of a mostly aluminum Small Block.

    The blue car is absolutely crying and begging for a stoked small block. Keep the OEM power train for the next buyer, add a 12 bolt 3.73 and 6 speed. Performance and brute power with decent mileage. With about 450 RW-HP a car like this would likely out gun all but a small portion of today’s american muscle cars. Tweak it further and you would be beating nearly all of them zero to sixty, or in a straight line up to 100+ MPH. On the streets that is all you need, along with the 4 wheel disc brake option that was available on these to slow you back down! I wonder if this was a disc brake- equipped car?

    Like 1
  15. A.J.

    When I graduated HS in 82 everybody had a 1980 or 81. They were everywhere. I succumbed and got my own in 86. You have to accept it for what it was in the era. The 80 with the 350 – 4 speed was a decent car with good handling and brakes but certainly no rocket ship. But, again, what was in 1980?

    Like 2
    • Philip

      You’re absolutely right. There wasn’t much to choose from except Corvette with the L82 4 seed in 1981. In 1981 the L-82 succumbed to the anemic L81 CCC controlled car. 190 HP with 260 pound/feet torque. Not exactly a speed demon. 82 saw the new body style, about the same time Cross Fire Injection became available for the ‘Vette, along with Z-28, and Trans Am. Other than improved and enhanced drivability and the 4 speed automatic the 200 measly HP still took forever to propel the car to 60 and beyond. The ’82 ‘Vette was automatic only, not sure if the fist year Z and Trans-Am offered a four or 5 speed the cars a few years later offered.

      The best thing to happen to the F-body was Tuned Port Injection. Corvette boasted 250 horsepower for the L98, with an automatic and 4+3 Doug Nash manual. The 305 cars weren’t bad TP injected when they became available. The ’88 F-body Iroc Z boasted a 305 with 5 speed of the same horsepower – 5 as the Corvette 350, but they wouldn’t put the 350 TPI/5 speed car together in the F-body. The 305 with 240 HP at he rear wheels thru a 5 speed was a ball to drive, and likely the fastest stock F-body made in over a decade or more at that time. Trans-Am and Formula offered the same 305 TPI motor that year. In ’86 the 305 HO carb cars were rated at 190, but produced more like 230 HP. Better cam and tighter heads helped it quite a bit, making the F and G body cars a lot more fun to drive. A friend had the 86 Iroc brand new with 16 inch wheels, 4 speed auto, performance axle ratio and G80 limited slip option. That car handled very well and could easily melt the Goodyear Gatorbacks that came on it stock WITHOUT having to power brake it.

      The 1980 F-body’s were lucky to turn the tires on a wet road or gravel while power braking.. well almost anyway…lol. If you had a stick you could sidestep the clutch and get them going pretty good, but the motor sounded so weak sucking thru the ultra-cool Cowl Air Induction hood with opening rear facing door. I still like that hood a lot as well as the Trans Am shaker with it’s optional opening rear door.

      It took The General 8 years to get back to where they were 10 years before the 1980 cars.

  16. Tyler

    If the dealer knew which boxes to check, or who to call, you could get the L82 in the 80 model. My 80 Z/28, that I have owned since 1985, was ordered by the general manager of a local dealership for his daughter for a high school graduation present. She drove it back & forth to college, & when she graduated from college, he gave her a new IROC. That’s when I acquired it. It came equipped with the L82 & Borg Warner Super T10 4 speed, but an anemic 3.08 gear. 0-60 was horrible, but I never did find out what the top end was as the front started floating about 130.

    Years ago I came close to selling it on a few occasions, but thankfully never did. It now needs a full restoration, heck, the paint was peeling off when it was 5 years old. But the car is original, complete & absolutely rust free.

    Like 1
  17. Shane


    What colour scheme do you have?Any chance of sharing some pics?

    Thank you

  18. Tyler

    Black with gold interior, gold stripes & gold aluminum wheels. Let’s see if I can get this pic to work. This is from the late 80’s.

    Like 2
  19. A.j

    Nice! Do to have the build sheet?

  20. Tyler

    I did have at one point, but it & all the rest of the original paperwork disappeared at some point during a move in the mid 90’s. I’m hoping I can find it again someday.

  21. A.J.

    How many L82 Z28s were made in 1980 I wonder? A shame about the paperwork, hopefully you can find it. That is a cool car.

    Like 1

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