America On Wheels! 1969 Chevrolet Camaro 396

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

This Phoenix, Arizona Camaro will look fabulous in my garage, or yours! As a college freshman, I drooled over a similar car in the student parking lot:  unrestored, 1969 Camaro, SS with the RS package. However this one-ups my college daydream with its 396 big block and four-speed manual gearbox. Listed here on eBay, this potent coupe has attracted bids beyond $25,000 without meeting the reserve.

One year before its complete redesign for 1970, the ’69 Camaro gained more muscular bodywork, making it something of a one-year special. This specimen came from near Salt Lake City, Utah and received a functional once-over and replacement of necessary and damaged parts including  rebuilt carburetor, transmission, and shifter.

 

This blue beauty’s carpet, seat covers, and headliner replaced mold-damaged originals. The seller says everything works except for the clock and the oil pressure gauge. Tin-worm damage is claimed to be minimal with no rust-through.

Nothing in Chevy’s sales brochure topped the 325 HP Turbo-Jet 396 in 1969, and the Super Sport or “SS” package came with a unique hood, power brakes, faster steering, handling suspension, and other upgrades. The Rally Sport or “RS” package added signature hidden headlights, headlight washers, and rear fender louvers. (thanks to myclassicgarage.com for some details). Many of these “lost and found” cars are coaxed into “running” condition, but the seller calls this one “reliable… I would drive it anywhere,” and it comes with a host of paperwork and documentation. In mostly survivor condition and with over 71,000 miles on the odometer, there’s no need to truncate your enjoyment of this rolling American icon. Cross-country road-trip, anyone? Who can share a first-generation Camaro story in the comments below?

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Comments

  1. Alan (Michigan)

    1. Buy cheap tires.
    2. Burn them up.
    Repeat.




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  2. Joe M

    Nice car but the price is kind of high, there may be some better preserved examples at more negotiable prices. As for the road trip, I would take it in a second. But would probably be gone the next morning on the first overnight stop at a motel.




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  3. 68custom

    sweet RS/SS with all the right options it will fetch top dollar!




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  4. Steve R

    If it’s as described, leave it as is, and drive it.

    It would have been nice to see up close pictures of the roof and areas around the rear window, as well as some undercarriage pictures for good measure.

    Steve R




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  5. Steve

    “Nothing in Chevy’s sales brochure topped the 325 HP Turbo-Jet 396 in 1969…”

    The 325 horse L35 was the least powerful 396. Next up was the 350 horse L34. Top of the heap was the 375 horse L78. Were these optional engines not listed in the available choices in 69?

    I have never had a Camaro of any type, but always wanted a first gen. I have been around them all my life. Back in the late 70’s my brother, who graduated in 1980, had a classmate who had an L78 69 Camaro. It was almost identical to this one, but didn’t have the Z22 RS package, but had the ZL2 cowl induction hood and D90 hood and deck stripes in white. Of course it had cragars all around, with N50 15’s out back. It ran like a scalded dog, but being on the Texas coast, was rusty even then. He sold it in the mid 80’s. A lot of cars went through our hands back then that we would have like to have had, like the white with orange stripes 69 SS/RS Z10 (google it!) my cousin had for a while. He also had a blue with white strip 69 that someone before him added Z28 emblems to. There was also a white with orange stripes 68 Z28 with cragars similar to the blue 69 SSL78 that my brother had a chance to buy but our dad wouldn’t let him have due to the fact that it was so loud (due to the fact that the only exhaust system was purple horny header mufflers!) The same brother also had a 69 SS in Tuxedo black with red side hockey stripe and a 300 hp L48 350 and M21 4 spd, deluxe interior, ac, ps and pb. The same brother’s ’69 z11 Pace car was featured on here a little over a year or so ago. My other brother has taken on the restoration of it due to his passing.




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    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi Steve. I knew there were other engine options via COPO, but the brochure I found only had one 396. There may have been some option boxes on the dealer forms. That said I’m always happy to learn from you all. Plus I’ve found sometimes I quote from a brochure that I later realize is from Canada and differs slightly, etc. If someone knows better please share it here. Thanks!




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      • Bob

        I have a friend that owned a Canadian 1969, without the RS trim package, and it had a 350 horse 396. He stated that he could have had the 375 horse engine, but couldn’t afford the extra cost.
        Bob




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  6. John D

    Was going to comment like Steve on the 350 and 375 hp ones. Love these, so much I bought one. Missing vinyl top here but a great place to start . . .




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  7. XMA0891

    As a rule Camaros aren’t my thing. But someone ordered this one “right” in 1969. Nice First Gen! Wouldn’t mind calling hi




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  8. NMCarNut

    Yes, while the 300hp 350 was part of the SS package, four versions of the 396 could be specified along with the SS package (RPO Z27 $311.75) on the factory order sheet. Below is the list with additional price:
    RPO L35 325hp 396 $63.20
    RPO L34 350hp 396 $184.35
    RPO L78 375hp 396 $316.00
    RPO L78/L89 375hp 396 w/aluminum heads $710.95

    While a lot more money back in 1969 don’t those prices want to make you cry?




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  9. Bob Baird

    I had my share of classic and muscle cars back in the day, but I have only Corvettes now. In 1974, traded my 1956 Belair for a Hugger Orange 1969 Z/28 Rally Sport Camaro with black vinyl top, black racing stripes and black and white houndstooth interior. That set me back a whopping $1,495! I enjoyed my Z/28 more than any other car I have owned. I drove it fast only one time on a closed interstate under construction. My brother and my friend wanted me to see what it would do. I got only to 125 when they said that was fast enough. I had lots of pedal still left! I traded it for a ’66 SS 396 Chevelle. What a time when anyone could just go from one car like that to another that you’d have to be rich to do now! I have seen lots of Z/28s since, but not once one the color combination as mine, which seems to be pretty rare. If anyone has seen one like this, there’s a good chance it may have been mine! Let me know!




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    • Ron

      There’s a bunch shown on google images.




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    • Ron

      There are a bunch of them on google images, think that was a popular color combination actually.




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  10. Troy s

    Very well done to whomever bought this originally. Only flaw with the pony cars back then was ground clearance which messed up any hope for a true dual exhaust. Many converted to a real dual muffler set up over the years at the expense of ground clearance but it sure helped out on the stronger engines. I’d love o run this thing thru the gears!




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  11. Richard Ochoa

    I’ll take my ’57 B.A. Hdtp over ANY Camaro, thank you!!!!!!! AND the same for my ’56 B.A. Hdtp!!!!!!!!!




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  12. Loco Mikado

    “Only flaw with the pony cars back then was ground clearance which messed up any hope for a true dual exhaust”

    Do like we used to do and raise them up. I really don’t understand car people today. They go all gaga over SUV’s and PU’s that you need a ladder to get in, but every other thing has to have 1\2″ of ground clearance. And tall skinny tires that went out in the late 30’s-early40’s. I guess I am an old fart.




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    • Troy s

      The stock exhaust on these were a compromise of performance and fit. Even the Z-28 suffered with the stock exhaust. I’m talking factory new off the showroom floor. Hate the huge rim skinny tire thing on these older cars too, just looks all wrong.😎




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  13. jdjonesdr

    Faster steering?




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    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi jdjonesdr: on the steering. I’ll put a link below to a page with more Camaro steering facts than you probably want to know, but here is the summary…
      “1969 used a variable ratio power steering box.
      REGULAR VARIABLE POWER STEERING 1969, N40-N44,1969-16.1:1 on center, 12.4:1 off center, 15.5:1 overall (available all models)
      N44 FAST VARIABLE RATIO POWER STEERING N40-N44, 1969 16.1:1 on center, 12.4:1 off center, 14.3:1 overall (Z/28 & SS only?)”
      http://www.pozziracing.com/camaro_steering.htm#Steering%20box%20and%20ratio%20info




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  14. willte

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember ever seeing a 69 before with only a single stripe down the center.




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    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Hi willte. Good eye! I’d have to agree. This link seems to confirm your suspicion, though the side stripes seem to mimic the originals. http://bit.ly/2Acme90




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  15. Alan (Michigan)

    Did not sell, bid to $41.1K




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