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BYO Motor: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Some enthusiasts will have an engine squirreled away in the back of their workshop, looking for a new home. If you happen to have one of Chevrolet’s legendary 302s lying around, the search for the right project candidate may be over. This 1969 Camaro Z28 is a rolling project that retains its original transmission and rear end. The motor is long gone, but everything is there for a dedicated enthusiast to return it to its rightful place on our roads. The Camaro is listed here on eBay in East Aurora, New York. Bidding currently sits below the reserve at $13,000.

The history of this Camaro is unclear, but it appears to represent a solid foundation for a project build. It wears Gray primer with little evidence of its original Burnished Brown paint. The panels look relatively straight, with only a few minor bumps and bruises. The seller indicates the floors have been replaced, and the underside shots support their belief that the work was performed well. Surface corrosion is developing, making me believe that stripping the car back to a bare shell would be worthwhile in pursuit of a high-end result. It will add to the time and effort of this build, but it should minimize the chances of rust rearing its ugly head in the future. The seller states that the rockers are original and that most of the existing sheetmetal is suitable for reuse. Weak spots like the cowl appear clean, suggesting there won’t be much cutting or welding in this Camaro’s future. The glass seems in good order, but the bumpers might require a trip to the platers if perfection is the goal.

Most manufacturers are developing or building hybrid or zero-emission vehicles, but this Camaro beats them to the punch. It produces no harmful emissions courtesy of the fact that its engine bay is empty. It would have housed the glorious 302ci V8 that Chevrolet developed specifically for the highly competitive Trans Am series. This pocket rocket produced a claimed 290hp and 290 ft/lbs of torque. As was often the case during this era, those figures are believed to be significantly understated. It is worth noting that the ’69 Z28 was not the ideal weapon for those wishing to pursue rapid motoring a ¼-mile at a time. Power and torque were delivered high in the rev range, making an SS far more effective in such circumstances. The Z28 was at home on a flowing circuit where the driver could keep the engine singing to maximize its performance potential. This Camaro’s engine might be gone, but it retains its numbers-matching four-speed M20 manual transmission and 12-bolt rear end. All this car needs is the right engine, and the new owner will slip behind the wheel of one of America’s most desirable classics.

The Camaro’s interior is another area requiring restoration. The Cowl Tag confirms it was ordered trimmed in Ivory vinyl with Black carpet. Someone has swapped the interior, but the bones are there to perform a faithful retrim. The dash and pad look surprisingly good, and a trim kit might be all that is required to return this interior to its former glory. It will cost the winning bidder around $2,000 but represents a wise investment.

The Z28 was one of Chevrolet’s best-kept secrets when introduced in 1967. The result was that only 602 buyers took one home that year. Word soon got out, and sales totals exploded. They climbed to 7,199 in 1968 and skyrocketed to 20,302 in 1969. This is one of those cars, and it looks like a promising project. I hope someone with an appropriate engine is the winning bidder because this classic deserves to return to the road in its original form. Would you consider pursuing this promising project if you were in that position? I wish you luck if you do.


  1. Claudio

    I was the proud owner of a 69 rs for 20 years, my kids knew it as the ice cream car,never really used it much but i had it !
    Sold it to invest in real estate , now that was a GREAT move !
    Also sold my 67 firebird and my 2000 boxster, my roi was good enough to quit my job at 55!
    Had fun with the cars but i don’t regret my choices !

    Like 6
  2. RalleyeRimRay Member

    A very long story short, back in about 1980, I was given a 1969 SS Camaro as payment for a debt that was 3 years overdue, less engine/trans, but otherwise complete including interior. Being a Mopar guy, I saw this as a great opportunity to mess with the local Chevy gearheads, I’ll put in my built 1969 Mopar 440 Magnum motor & 727 manual valve body transmission in it and make the Chevy guys “sqwuak”. I did not do anything that was not irreversable that a Chevy motor could be put back in. No cutting of fender wells, just careful placement of Mopar engine mounts and rear tranny mount. HEY, IT FITS, COOL BEANS ! I had a local exhaust guy fabricate a set of custom headers and off I went !! Imagine the shock and dismay at local cruise in’s & shows when I opened the hood to display Mopar Performance valve covers and a Mopar orange oval Air Grabber air cleaner !!! When asked why I did it, I just said it was my car and I could do ANYTHING I want to it, but the real reason was to go really fast for street car…best time was 11.41 with that 440 with tires spinning on Radial T/A’s !! It was a beautiful car that I had fun with for 4 years, I removed the 440/ & trans and sold it to a Camaro guy who claimed he had the ORIGINAL motor, I dont know if that was BS or the truth, but I did not budge from my firm for sale price. I always liked the style of the ’69 Camaro…thought I’d never get to own one, but I did it my way !! Enjoy your rides everybody, be imagitive and be safe !!! – RRR

    Like 7
    • doug

      I don’t see a clutch peddle.

      Like 3
  3. gerg

    That zero emission is a sales point, now if everyone sends me 8 bucks, I’ll send them back the formula for turning water into gasoline inexpensively. ( you know Chevron knows about this but won’t tell anyone) then you can find a good engine and be set.

    Like 2
  4. Gary MacDonald

    I’ve been storing a real dz 302 since 1974 das crunch . I was working in a shop in Boca Raton Florida. Most rich kids with these cars wanted to drive them and we were replacing the high compression motors with Mexico made target masters . Well , they had no need for the old dirty mtr , my boss didnt want to store them and there was no core charge because the Target mtrs were new . So I offered the boss free labor if I could keep the mtrs . I ended up with 2 dz 302s one MO 302 , 3 LT1s , and 2 CE 350 Lt1s . Still have one DZ and 2 CE 350 LT1s and a corvette 350 350 hp . It would be a nice marriage even if the ser numbers dont match . I wonder …..
    Gary MacDonald

    Like 5
  5. solospeedshop Solospeedshop Member

    X33 on trim tag means Norwood Ohio Z28

    Like 0
    • Lynn Dockey Member

      X77 is one too. Just doesn’t have the chrome gills in front of the rear tires. I guess it was called the appearance package. No rear bumper guards on this either

      Like 1
  6. Lynn Dockey Member

    Some parts more than the DZ are missing

    Like 1
  7. Donn M. Healy

    Hi Gary !
    What are those Z // 28 / 302 engines worth ?

    Like 0
    • Gary

      I sold one complete minus air pump for 10k . It went to a restoration shop in north Florida about 12 yrs ago . All these mtrs had between 18k and 24 k miles on them . The CE mtrs most likely had less but it wasnt recorded when the warranty CE mtrs were installed .

      Like 0
  8. Reid Hall

    They make seem like there’s not alot of project work to do here. Believe me, it may be pretty straightforward, and or maybe they did alot, and or most of the body work 🤔 but who knows,remember they are a restoration dealership, and they want to make money so 🤔 l think 🤔, it’s a little bit to expensive for the money 💰, by the time you buy,and or find a motor,you will have a money 💰 pit,so buy,a running car it just makes more sense for the money 💰.

    Like 1
  9. David Roche

    Anyone notice the “smoothed” firewall?

    Like 2
  10. Greenhorn

    Getting real tired of the ‘green’ nonsense that’s horrible for the environment. Gas engines can be made to run quite cleanly, but those EVs are a mess for the environment.

    Like 1

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