Escape From California: 1976 Chevrolet Camaro


This body style Camaro is often looked over for more favorable years and models, but this is a very nice example of a 1976 Camaro. Solid paint and body work and a reasonable interior leave us scratching our heads why this Camaro is so cheap. We will give you a hint, it has to do with the state of California. Priced at $2,500, this Camaro needs little work. Find it here on craigslist out of Ojai, California. Thanks Pat L for the submission!


So what could be so wrong with a Camaro that looks so right? Well if you live in California and you have a V8 classic like this you will see there are some items missing from this engine vital to the state of California. Guessed it yet? This engine lacks smog equipment. That is the “big” problem with this Camaro. The heart of this Camaro is a running 350 V8 that is backed by a Turbo 350 transmission. This Camaro was likely equipped with smog components from new, but now this Camaro’s engine sports many upgrades such as carb, intake manifold, headers, and exhaust. If someone had smog equipment for this Camaro it would be legal in the state of California yet again. But we are thinking, let’s get this thing sold outside of the state of California to someone for a deal.


Even the interior in this Camaro is quite reasonable. The seats obviously need attention, and the shift console is missing as well as the horn button, but overall this interior is nice. Reupholster the seats, find the few missing bits the interior lacks and call the interior finished. The exterior is better than the interior. We rather like the color of this Camaro, and the rockers and quarter panels are solid with only minimal surface visible on the quarters. Someone’s California trouble is someone’s 48 state dream.


A solid wash and wax would make this car look fantastic. We are sold on this Camaro, and we hope someone gets this car exactly as it is outside of the state of California. This is a nice survivor, and we think this is a bargain for a running, modified, and rust free Camaro of this condition. Who is going to go bail this Camaro out of the state of California?


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  1. Cassidy

    I don’t know what the problem is, California smogs cars from ’78 on, so this Camaro should be except.

    • Tom Cotrel

      I think 1975 is the cutoff. I’d stick in s crate CARB-approved SBC and 4spd turbohydromatic and bring the interior up to spec. And then drive it.

      • Andy

        1974 was the last year without smog controls. 1975 is when it became mandatory.

        The reason I can remember is my grandfather had a 74 Pontiac Ventura (6 cylinder), and I had a 75 AMC Matador. The 74 didn’t have, and the 75 did…

  2. don

    It’s going to take more than a few Quid to make it rite, but the bones are there. Might as well make it a tribute car


    It’s nothing special

  4. Drew V

    An hour or two spent swapping on an alky carb and mounting a temporary tank with pump in the trunk, will get you thru Cali emissions. Alky cars are or at least used to be exempt from emissions control. It cost you a few extra bucks but you can always charge friends to set their cars up to pass emissions and recoup your costs…

  5. Chip

    That houndstooth though!!

  6. Rock On Member

    A rust free second generation Camaro in my part of the country is very special. Especially when it is also affordable!

  7. Jeff DeWitt

    That’s always been my favorite vintage Camaro. This is what a mid 70’s Studebaker Hawk might have looked like, I’m sure that the people who designed this car were VERY aware of the Hawk (pre GT).

  8. Rockin' J

    Interesting … there are factory A/C components on the passenger-side firewall, but no A/C compressor, brackets or most importantly, the rectangular upper center dash A/C vent! I had one new with factory A/C and it had the aforementioned vent as described.

  9. Jubjub

    I dig these non stickered up Camaros of this vintage too. Just loose the old style rallies…please!!! They always looked too old for these and just come off as rednecky. Maybe a set of polycasts, turbines, six slot rallies or even the IROC wheels look nice if you care to mix eras.

    • Rando

      Those rallies are way over used. Saw some on a 29 Ford Street Rod over the weekend. Yuck. Keep them on the cars they belong on. I used to like them, but over used now.

  10. Jubjub

    Whoa, scary interior. I dig these non stickered up Camaros of this vintage too. Just loose the old style rallies…please!!! They always looked too old for these and just come off as rednecky. Maybe a set of polycasts, turbines, six slot rallies or even the IROC wheels look nice if you care to mix eras.

    • Loco Mikado

      Wheels look just fine to me. Of course that is just my opinion being an old fart from the 60’s and likes 60’s styles.The car just doesn’t do anything for me.

  11. Doug Towsley

    Most of Oregon does NOT have smog checks but if in range of any of the big citys then YES, 1975 and later have to pass Smog every 2 years. It is a pain. There are LOTs of cars like this where modified and then cant pass. Many are a bargain after they spent a small fortune at Summit, Jegs, PAW, Northern or other perf parts suppliers.

    I used to have a 77 LT I got that needed work for cheap, When done was fast and still pulled decent gas mileage. But its interesting to see these becoming desirable and collectible.

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