Easy Restoration: 1978 Chevrolet Camaro

The current owner of this 1978 Camaro purchased it off the original owner with a view to undertaking a restoration, but this has never come to pass. Thankfully, the owner has recognized the fact before the car has had a chance to deteriorate significantly, as so many stalled projects can tend to do. That means that this is a chance to grab a car that looks like it could be a straightforward restoration, or could be a great foundation to build the Camaro of your dreams. I have to thank Barn Finder Rocco B for spotting this one for us. Located in Mid-City, California, the Camaro is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $3,700 for this blank canvas Chevy.

Finished in Silver, the Camaro looks to be a very original car. The paint is showing its age, but if it has spent its life in California, then it has survived quite well. Silver Metallic is a color that really takes a hammering from UV rays, but this is actually quite reasonable. It isn’t clear what state the floors are in, but once again, if it has spent its life in California, then it has a better than average chance of being solid. I have noticed one area of rust on the driver’s side quarter panel near the edge of the door, but it really is quite small. The rest of the body looks good, and it doesn’t look like it will take much work to whip it into shape.

The Camaro’s Black vinyl interior has survived the past 41-years quite well. There are a few small pieces of cracked plastic trim, but the worst issue is the broken lid on the console armrest. I think that there might be a small seam separation on the driver’s seat, and the carpet is looking a little bit frayed around the edges. However, address those minor problems, which wouldn’t cost a lot of money, and the interior would look really clean. I noticed that there is a radio/cassette player fitted into the dash, but for me, the big-ticket item is the fact that the Camaro is fitted with factory air conditioning. It isn’t clear whether this works, but if it doesn’t, then fixing it would be a priority before next Summer.

There are no engine photos, but the owner does emphasize the fact that the Camaro is a numbers-matching car. That means that according to the VIN, the engine bay should contain a 305ci V8, producing 145hp. Shifting duties would be performed by a 3-speed automatic transmission. The owner says that the car starts and runs well, but doesn’t indicate how well it drives. He does mention the fact that it has recently received a new battery, but that’s about it. With only 145hp on tap, performance for the Camaro won’t be startling. However, if originality isn’t the name of the game, then there are plenty of options to update the car’s power-plant, and still comply with Californian emissions laws.

On the face of it, it would appear that it wouldn’t take much work to return this Camaro to active duty, but it also wouldn’t be a big job to restore it, either. It might not be a fire-breathing monster like an early Z28, but by putting a modern twist on it, the potential is there to extract some pretty decent performance with readily available components. It would be very tempting to address the rust, hit the car with a fresh coat of paint, update the engine and transmission, but retain the stock external appearance. That way, the next owner would find themselves with a real sleeper.


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  1. doug

    Decent looking car at a reasonable price. I hope someone buys and enjoys it as is instead of all the restomod crap that will be suggested.

    Like 13
    • Tom Bell

      Agree with Doug–does everything have to be a “blank canvas” as stated in the write-up? Honor the design and preserve it as built.

      Like 11
    • 71FXSuperGlide

      They’ll likely have to deal with the 305 camshaft and air flow issues, but it would be worth beefing up anyway.

      Other than that, I’d keep it stock also. You don’t see many examples of this body style around.

      Like 3
  2. Little_Cars

    Those console lids began to deteriorate early in the second-gen Firebird/Camaro’s lives. I think my 77 Firebird began to split in two years. Some shades of vinyl also imploded worse than others. White 77 with deep red interior–arm rest shot quickly. Had a deep red car with tan interior, armrest survived for 20 years without splitting.

    Like 1
  3. Steve R

    I always cringe when I see “easy restoration”. When does that ever happen.

    Like 3
  4. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Great price.
    I would love to see a young kid pick this up as his/her first car.
    Great intro to the car hobby for less money than a later used car.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      Agree!👍 I’m surprised it’s still available at that $, it’s the last of the truly good-looking Camaros and should offer plenty of potential for some gearhead kid

      Like 1
  5. Skorzeny

    I don’t give a rat’s ass if a car has a/c or not, as is so often written up, but does it have a manual transmission? In this case, no…

    Like 2
  6. rebelsound72

    Man, you never see these around Wisconsin anymore but this body style gives me an instant flashback to seeing these being thrown around the local county fairgrounds in the Joie Chitwood stunt show in the summer of ’78.

  7. David Ulrey

    Mark your calendars. This will be the first and probably ONLY time you’ll see me say this. LS swap with a more modern transmission too. I absolutely do not think that everything has to be all about performance but I had a red version of this same car in the early 90s. Great car overall but it really needed more. Even a factory 350 from back then would brought it to life some. A friend had one with a 250 straight 6 and a 3 spd. His car was stock but actually more enjoyable to drive. Like I said, first time I’ve ever said LS swap.

    Like 3
    • CJinSD

      A girl with a red ’79 or ’80 Camaro used to drive me home from my first job when I was 14 years old in 1984. Hers had a three speed manual and I suspected it had a 250 I6. It was basically as new at the time.

      Like 1
  8. blyndgesser

    Keep it looking exactly like this, as a reminder of what most ’78 Camaros really were. But I wouldn’t mind a 383 crate engine dressed as a stock 305….

    Like 1
  9. Stevieg

    A good friend of mine back in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s had a black one like this. No spoiler, 305, automatic, plain-Jane Camaro. Had aluminum slots. She used to let me drive that car whenever she was at work.
    Her boyfriend got arrested driving that car, & the police in the suburban Milwaukee town she lived in (West Allis) knew the car well & pulled me over often, thinking I was him.
    I, being a skinny, long haired moron at the time, used to give them a hard time.
    I wish I could buy this car & fix it up to look like her old car lol. I also wish I still had that hair & was that skinny lol.
    If I had the ability to buy it, I would give it to her after making it look like her old car. We are still in contact & I love her dearly, like a sibling.

    Like 1
  10. Miguel

    This looks like it just needs a paint job. I wouldn’t call that a restoration.

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