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Affordable Project: 1986 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

We’ve recently seen a few affordable project candidates at Barn Finds, and this one-owner 1986 Camaro Z28 is priced to sell quickly. It requires a cosmetic refresh but is a solid candidate with an interior that needs nothing. The new owner could enjoy this classic in its current form, treating it to a birthday as time and circumstances allow. The Z28 is listed here on Craigslist in Concord, California. With a price of $5,500, this Camaro is unquestionably affordable, and interested parties might need to act fast if they want to take this beauty home.

Chevrolet embraced an entirely new approach with its Third Generation Camaro range. Tighter emission regulations meant the key to outright performance no longer rested in engines producing stratospheric horsepower. Aerodynamic efficiency was one of the keys, as were strategies designed to reduce overall weight. Therefore, the new Camaro caused a sensation when the company unveiled it in 1981. It looked like nothing ever produced by Chevrolet, but the radical appearance found immediate favor with buyers. This Camaro rolled off the line in 1986, finished in a striking combination of Black and Silver with contrasting Red stripes. It would have turned heads in its prime, but time has taken a toll on its appearance. The clearcoat is peeling away from the exterior, exposing the “raw” color beneath. A competent new owner could address this issue in a home workshop, but stripping away the existing finish would be wise with the level of deterioration. That will be time-consuming, but it would add little to the project cost for those pursuing a DIY approach. The panels are pretty straight, with no mention or evidence of rust. The front spoiler appears to have a crack in the center, but repairs should be straightforward. The glass is in good order, and the wheels should present well, following some work with a polishing cloth.

The seller describes the Camaro’s interior as “near perfect,” which seems a fair assessment. The Red upholstered surfaces are exceptionally clean for their age, and I question whether anyone has ever occupied the back seat. The plastic looks remarkably good for a car from a sunny location, with no signs of cracks or crumbling. The carpet is dirty around the driver’s feet, but I suspect a deep clean would make an enormous difference to its appearance. There are no aftermarket additions, with the original radio/cassette player occupying its rightful place in the console. The seller doesn’t indicate whether the interior features air conditioning, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t, considering the location. However, they confirm the new owner will receive power windows, power locks, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped tilt wheel.

We receive no engine shots in the listing, but this Camaro should be powered by a 305ci V8, producing 155hp and 250 ft/lbs of torque. Shifting duties fall to a four-speed automatic transmission, while power steering and brakes were standard features in 1986. It will cover the ¼-mile in 16.7 seconds on its way to 127mph. The ET may not sound impressive, but it is worth placing it into context. As previously stated, Chevrolet focused on aerodynamics and weight reduction with the Third Generation Camaro. This Z28 tips the scales at 3,230 lbs, which is nearly 290 lbs less than the last of the Second Generation Z28s. Its predecessor took 16.9 seconds to cover the ¼-mile, even though it featured a 350ci V8 under the hood. The sleek lines of the later car also allowed it to comfortably exceed its predecessor’s top speed of 108mph. Therefore, Chevrolet proved that power wasn’t the only defining factor when searching for performance gains. This classic poses a mystery. The seller states that it runs and drives but not how well it achieves either feat. It is unclear whether it is roadworthy, but the suggestions are that achieving that goal may not take much time or money. With 50,000 original miles on the clock, it would be fair to assume that it is a long way from being worn out!

Chevrolet sold 192,128 examples of the Camaro in 1986, with 88,132 buyers selecting the Z28. That means this isn’t a particularly rare car. However, vehicles from this era were once ignored as potential buyers focused on more potent models. However, these cars have come into their own as a new wave of enthusiasts consider their affordability. This Z28 ticks that box and is an ideal candidate for someone considering a first restoration project that won’t break the bank. It has only been on the market a few days, and my instinct tells me it will find a buyer fairly quickly. Do you agree?


  1. ALKY

    Dont think this one will take long to sell. If I lived closer I think I might me banging his door down to grab it. Good Luck seller but you wont need it !

    Like 2
  2. Connecticut mark

    Good price , beef up the 305 to 250-275 hp, put iroc rims on it.

    Like 1
  3. Steve R

    A non-op in California on a car of this age likely means it wouldn’t pass smog. I’d check the owners ID against the paperwork, the ad reads like it’s a flipper, if you run into problems at the DMV you are on your own.

    These cars were popular when new and should have survived in great numbers in California due to the weather, but due to the states emissions laws they are a rare sight. Same goes with nearly every other performance care from the late-70’s onward, most net the same fate, at the business end of a crusher when they wouldn’t pass their biannual smog test.

    Steve R

    Like 0
  4. Dave

    Ditch the 305 entirely for a 383, weld in subframe connectors, win friends and influence people.

    Like 2
  5. Jim Slade

    You might want to check that trap speed. There is NO way that thing is seeing 127mph in the 1/4 mile, hoss.

    Like 0
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member


    Like 0

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