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Desert Rescue: 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

The risks involved with locating a potential project candidate that has been left to fend for itself exposed to the elements are well known. Rust is the first potential problem, and it has a nasty habit of turning classic steel into dust. However, there can be exceptions to that rule, as demonstrated by this 1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. The seller located it languishing in the Arizona desert. It looks tired, but it is, in fact, a rock-solid and numbers-matching survivor. Returning this Z28 to its former glory would be rewarding in more ways than one. Not only would the owner be able to slide behind the wheel of a genuine American legend, but a meticulous restoration would make it an excellent long-term investment. The Camaro is listed here on eBay in Logan, Utah. Bidding currently sits below the reserve at $11,100.

There’s a bit to unpack with this Camaro, but I am disappointed there is no backstory explaining how or why it was abandoned. The Arizona sun has done its best to bake the original Code 67 Classic Copper paint. There are glimpses of it at its best in a few isolated spots, but stripping this classic to bare metal would seem the obvious first step. Penetrating rust appears limited to the door skins and a couple of small patchable areas, with the rest of the steel exhibiting nothing but typical dry surface corrosion. The underside is solid, and there are no visible cowl issues. That brings us to the subject of how the winning bidder might tackle this build. Opting for a rotisserie approach would be the most costly and time-consuming. Still, it allows the chance to effectively address the existing surface corrosion, thus protecting this Z28 as a long-term investment. Most trim pieces should polish or restore nicely, and the same appears true of the tinted glass. This is a diamond in the rough, but taking the time to polish it correctly should be worth the effort.

The heart of any Camaro Z28 rests below the surface, and this car features its original, numbers-matching drivetrain. Its 350ci V8 would have churned out 330hp and 360 ft/lbs of torque in its prime. Those ponies were fed to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, allowing the Camaro to storm the ¼-mile in 14.6 seconds on its way to 127mph. The state of this car’s mechanical components is unclear, with the seller indicating the carburetor is the only item that might not be original. Revival might be straightforward if the motor turns freely, although a car of this caliber deserves nothing less than a thorough inspection and a fluid change before the new owner hits the key. However, budgeting for a rebuild would be wise. After all, it’s better to have the money and not need it than to need it and not have it!

The Arizona sun might be kind to classic steel, but it is less so on vinyl and plastic. Therefore, this Camaro’s baked and ruined interior is unsurprising after years of UV exposure. A total retrim is the only solution, but with high-quality kits readily available, it represents a worthwhile investment. The interior appears complete, and I can’t spot any aftermarket additions.

This 1971 Camaro Z28 appears to be a promising project, and I’m glad the seller rescued it from its desert location. The photos and listing text suggest it should be a straightforward restoration, making the subdued action quite surprising. It has only attracted seven bids, although there is time for the total to climb. If that happens, what will the price be when the hammer falls? It’s over to you for your best and most knowledgeable guess.


  1. Z28 Road Warrior

    The car looks to be a good build. One has to wonder why abandoned in the desert. Does the car have a rebuilt title or does abandoned mean in someones desert weather back yard?

    These cars were run hard in the old days and might have blown up… yes it hand cranks but that does not mean that something internal is messed up. I just hope the block is sound and having a cracked cracked block.

    I definitely would love to build this back to original with color and interior and hopefully able to save the engine with being slightly bored over with forged pistons to get the HP up to 400 ponies.

    Good luck with the sale.

    Like 6
  2. Chris Cornetto

    If you want a solid builder that won’t break the bank. This is likely your best bet. I love untouched originals. This would be a nice original driver.

    Like 11
  3. Maggy

    Solid car for sure .Depending how much of the work you’re doing yourself and the mechanical condition of it it’s going to be an expensive restoration.Being #’s matching it’s worth around what the price is at now imo.Spend a little time and get it running and driving dependably then I could see close to 20k. The engine could be done internally and trans could be scattered for all anyone knows.glwts.

    Like 7
    • John Irwin

      Nice project car for sure! I always loved that color on a Camara. I think it’s Dark Bronze or something like that. I don’t think this would be as expensive of a restoration as many of the other abandoned gems are.

      Like 3
      • John Irwin

        Okay it’s copper poly. I was so excited looking at this car I guess I didnt notice the color being called out in the article. I’d love to have this car if I had the extra money but I must admit that I have a phobia of snakes and coming from years sitting in the desert there’s a great chance of snakes or scorpions hiding somewhere in there

        Like 2
    • steve

      20K won’t get you very far in this restoration. You can pay that for a good paint job. I know this from experience restoring a Camaro that was in much better shape than this one.

      Like 3
  4. Gordon Stroup

    Yes, the 70 Z/28 is, was a quick car in the day. I love this year mainly because it was the last year that they put the 12 bolt rear axle in the Z/28. Seeing that rear cover is an awesome sight, for myself anyway. The engine was the last high horsepower in 70. She was fast, but a good driver is needed to make her perform. Doing burnouts across an intersection was mainly what a lot of the guys did with them. Heck, anyone can do those back in the early 70’s, with just about any car with a 4 speed manual.
    A good friend of mine had a 73 RS Z/28 with a 4 speed, all factory except the Cragar SS wheels and a pair or Skyjacker air shocks, to keep the fender off of the L-60-15’s on the rear. This guy could beat any of those in a 70 Z/28 in a ¼ mile race on the street, any time, any place. It was absolutely the driver’s capability of knowing how to do it and do it right. Stock motor, stock everything. His was a beautiful metallic blue with black stripes.
    The last I heard, he still has the car, and has only had to change the clutch in it 2 times. He tried his best to blow up the 10 bolt rear end in it, so he could put in a 12 bolt rear, but the car is so light in the rear that it never happened, so he finally gave up on that in 1997, ha ha. Great cars, these Z/28 Camaro’s, that’s for sure. The body style is one of, if not the best, between 70 to 73. Oh, the 69 Camaro is the exception to them… the 302 small block, 4 speed transmission, the 12 bolt rear with the cowl induction hood , front and rear spoilers, Mmm Yeah! Ok, enough reminiscing from me.
    Y’all take care, and if possible, keep your old American stell with 4 wheels, cruizin’ up and down the roads. 👍👌✌️

    Like 7
  5. Mike Pesotski Member

    I love it and brings back memories of my first car purchased in 1980. It was “70 Z28 copper, full bumper (non RS), low spoiler, black stripe(not white), painted mirrors on both side just like this one. Can’t believe my late dad let me get this as a first car. Learned to drive stick with this and dad and friends commented that the aftermarket clutch was like a bear claw to operate. I am very good at driving stick shift to this day at 60. Everyone said I was crazy to pay $3K for a 10 year old car at the time.

    Like 6
  6. George Mattar

    Hey Mike P. My best friend in college, Penn State, found an original owner Copper Classic Metallic 70 Z 28 4 speed, totally original, including 9 years of central Pennsylvania rust. The quarters were junk, inner quarters junk, fenders junk. I recall seeing it being driven around town in about 1977, in the snow with snow tires. The owner was a PSU professor. Anyway, my friend got it for $1,800. He had a pretty good job even as a college kid and lived at home, so he was smart, and still is. He went to the body shop where we both worked and had the owner, with his discourt, order all the sheetmetal. Yes, it was still avaiiable in 1979. His car was an RS model. At the 1980 Spring Carlisle event we found NOS GM emblems and he talked the sellers down a few bucks. Not much repo junk was available back then, good thing, only GM original. The original dual snorket air cleaner was missing. We had walked the aisles all day and were beat, but out of the corner of my eye, I spied an original, near perfect specimen. The guy wanted $100. My friend got it for $80. Today, you can’t find a GM original for less than $500. Anyway, we had some help welding on the quarters, but we stripped the original, what was left of the paint off, but before we did, we carefully measured the original factory white stripes. No stencils available yet. I made a tracing of them and put them away for safe keeping. By summer 1980, we had it painted and put back together. The car ran great. He had until 2005, sold it for $32,000 or thereabouts. Boy, I wish I had bought it, but had kids in college at the time. I would love to save this 71.

    Like 1
  7. I_cant_drive_65

    I don’t question this car in the least and it is fantastic and I’d love to see it on the road. Seeing and hearing a car like this pass by always brightens my day. But I wonder if a Camaro smart guy can clarify for me the nose on these? Seems like some have those round turn signals and split bumper and some don’t. Looking for education here! In any case someone buy this car and drive it please!

    Like 0
    • steve

      The split bumper indicates that it’s a Rally Sport, or RS. It was an option on any Camaro.

      Like 4
    • Camaro guy

      The split bumper cars were the RS option on any of the Camaros I had a 71 Z/28 but with the straight front bumper. Always wanted to put the split bumpers on it but they were very rare in junkyards and cost prohibitive from the dealer so never got them

      Like 0
  8. DW

    Another case of “I bought it to flip”. Though it looks like a good starting point. Note this car doesn’t have a 12 bolt rear end but instead has the 8.5 rear end that debuted in 1972.

    Like 1
  9. Glenn Schwass Member

    Like the color and that it’s a stick. Worth restoring and hopefully the 350 turns.

    Like 0
  10. Jason

    So what rear end is in it. Someone said they are in awh cause of the 12 bolt then someone else says it’s not a 12 bolt. Who knows what here. I only looked at it hoping it would be cheaper once I saw the price I said no but I always read the comments because most are funny

    Like 0
    • Camaro guy

      I think it was sometime midyear Chevy switched to the 10 bolt rear after they used up all the 12 bolts with the reduced horsepower these cars had due to lower compression they didn’t need the strength of the 12 bolt

      Like 0
  11. PRA4SNW

    Ended at $13,600, Reserve Not Met.

    Like 0

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