Four-On-The-Floor: 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

This Z28 may be a little rough around the edges, but the engine has been rebuilt and there’s a four on the floor! By the time this Camaro was produced, most had slush boxes and in ’80 ’81 they even discontinued the Z28 stick completely, so it’s always nice to find one with four speeds. This one needs some attention, but if bidding doesn’t go up too much more it might end up being a bargain. It’s located in Sun Valley, Nevada and is listed here on eBay with no reserve!

There’s that rebuilt engine previously mentioned. I could do without the flashy valve covers and air cleaner, but that’s just me. The seller has the original block, but as long as this one was done properly, I’d leave it in there and have some fun with it! Looks like someone has already added headers and a new carb, so I’m guessing this 350 puts out significantly more than it did when it left the factory. Power was the main area lacking on the late 2nd gen Z28, so it’s nice to see that someone may have remedied that here.

Here’s what really makes this particular Camaro special though. A manual transmission can make just about any car entertaining. Stick it behind a V8 though and you have a recipe for fun! Revs can be held out to the last second and downshifts can be made at the precise moment needed to keep the engine in it’s powerband. Out of the 84k Z28s produced in ’79 only 18k were ordered with the M21 4-speed option so that makes this configuration relatively rare.

There’s some rust in the rear quarters, but otherwise the body looks pretty good. The paint is claimed to be original and, although worn, has a cool look to it. Everybody seems to want to repaint everything, but I’d attempt to make the rust repairs and only respray the areas that were absolutely necessary. That would keep your costs down and the car mostly original. Everyone has a shiney automatic equipped Camaro in the garage, but I’d rather have this ratty 4-speed any day!

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Alan G Sides

    Wow, I sold one of those in 1990 for $600.

    • ACZ

      $4000 in today’s money.

  2. DrinkinGasoline

    Calling the phone number listed in the ad about the trucks in the background of the pics ! Oh sorry…the car? I do agree about the engine “dress-up kit”….not for me either :)

  3. House of Hotrods

    I’ll have to disagree with the discontinuation of the stick portion of this post. In ’80-’81 I worked at the Chevrolet dealership that I now manage as a lot attendant, and we had many of the Z’s with a 4-speed, 350 and 4 barrel. I believe that California cars were handcuffed with an automatic trans, 305, 2 barrel. The sales people had a couple with sticks as demos and liked how I cleaned them – I liked ‘air drying’ the cars :-)
    The replacement engine is a center bolt head variety, which makes the covers a bit busy, though less leaky.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Staff

      Are you in Canada? From what I’ve read the 4-speed Z28 was discontinued here in the States in ’80 or ’81, but you could still get one up North.

      • Tyler

        House is right, 4 speed was still available through 81, although in 81, it was only available behind the 305, except in Canada. And IIRC from 76 on, it was the Borg Warner Super T10, not the Muncie. I’ve had a 79, 80, & 81, all with 4 speeds, all T10’s. The 80 Z/28, I’ve had since 1985.

      • Jesse Staff

        I should have clarified that you couldn’t get the 350 with a stick in ’81 in the states. I’ve updated the post. Thanks!

      • Ian

        I own a 1981 Z28 Camaro with a 350 and 4 speed manual and yes it was built in Canada

      • Bongo

        Wrong I bought a brand new z28 in 1981 in N.C. 350 4 speed.

    • Vickie

      You are absolutely correct as I was an owner of an 81 z/28 with a factory 4 speed

  4. JW454

    My brother has a ’79 RS version of this car that he got from the original owner’s son. It has the original 350-4V – 4 speed in it. Whoever bought it new got just about every option available including the standard stuff like PDB, PS, and A/C. However, they continued to check off boxes for “T” top, PW, PDL, Rear def., AM/FM-tape, CC, tilt wheel, and Pleasure lift, plus a few more.
    Many times I’ve wondered why they opted out of the Z28 package after loading it up with so many options. I guess we’ll never know.

    • ACZ

      “Brass hat” car.

      • JW454

        ACZ,

        I looked up the “Brass Hat” term… You could be correct. We’re from western Ohio and this car came from a western state. My brother is a long haul trucker and it came home with him on one of his west coast trips. It seems to have been well cared for during it’s life. It also has a positive traction rear axle.

  5. Gunner

    Ok…..I have to ask: What is “Pleasure Lift”? BTW…..18,000 cars produced does not make it rare….IMHO…..

    • ACZ

      Pleasure lift was a fancy name for air shocks. May have also had an on-board compressor either vacuum or electric powered. Thought that was a dealer installed option?

      • JW454

        ACZ,

        This car doesn’t have an on-board compressor. A Schrader valve to fill the system is inside the door for the fuel cap above the rear bumper cover. It would be a nice thing to have though.

    • Jesse Staff

      I said relatively rare Gunner. That was only 20% of production and you don’t see them very often anymore.

    • Jim Anderson

      Wow, only 18k 4speeds made in 79. That’s good to know. I have one. I’ve done a lot of modifications to her such as complete engine configuration, estimate 500 hp out of a 355. To much goodies to list but she is a handful. Did not go over the top on ext. OG. white w/ carmine int. Looks stock minus the cheesy sticker strips. I love my Z.

    • Thomas Hackney

      I think were going to find out gen 2 camaros are rare despite the production numbers. They were the go to to 1/2 mile dirt track car for almost 30 years. My bet is they are rarer than people think.

  6. Michael thomas

    I would be willing to bet that its had a 1/4 panel replaced on the left side. The “original paint” does not match the deck lid. the 1/4 looks to match the door so its maybe had a door or at least repairs to it. That rusty are on the sail panel up high is where they would have welded the 1/4 in and it looks like they blended the paint into the roof area. That could be rust thru. If the 1/4 was not painted on the back side when it leaked (and they all did) the sun would draw the moisture up to the roof area. I have seen a tiny pin hole turn out to be a complete rusted out panel from the back side.

  7. Don

    Had a 79 Trans Am 400 4 speed with hooker headers and cherry bombs gold inside and out ! Way faster than the 350 z28

  8. Don

    Did have a 79 TA with 403 stock automatic slug

  9. Don

    First time I’ve seen a Chevy engine painted blue!

    • ACZ

      Started in 1976 and went into the early 80s. Called “Corporate Blue”. Then all the engines were painted the same color. The legacy divisional colors no longer used. Then in the mid-80s, they went to all being painted black.

      Like 1
  10. S Ryan

    At $4500 now. Might have to make my wife mad tomorrow.
    Right now it’s cheap, but doesn’t take much money on these to change that.
    Wish it were a T-Top.

    • Clinton

      Who in their right mind wishes for a T-top? They are shitty all around. Leak, let in more light, heat, additional crevices to clean. Been there done that. It’s novelty garbage.

      Like 1
  11. irocrob

    I just sold last year my 1979 black 4 speed car I had for almost 30 years. I am from Canada and there was lots of 4 speed 1980 and 1981 Z28s running the roads. They seemed like hot cars at the time and handled good in the curves.

    • Jesse Staff

      If you find a 4- speed running around up there, please send it my way! I’d happily trade my light green ’79 auto for it.

  12. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Jesse, in 1980, you could still get a Camaro with a factory 350 engine and a 4-speed transmission. In 1981, the only way to get a 350 engine and a 4-speed was in Canada. That is a fact although many will dispute it saying they knew someone who had one that was always a USA car. When 1981 rolled around, GM went to the “computer” module under the front of the ’81 Camaro consoles and only offered a 350 engine in automatic transmission equipped Camaros. However, you could still get a 305 engine with a 4-speed transmission in 1981 plus GM stuck a 3:42 rear axle ratio in those cars. The ’81 305 engine equipped Camaros usually lost their engines in favor of a 350.

    • Jesse Staff

      I’ve updated your post to reflect that. Thanks RoughDiamond!

  13. erikj

    High school , john sold his 68 427 vette and bought a new 79 4spd no t-top z-28. Nice car,dark blue,black int. It was so nice to cruise in,but every one beat that nice car on street matches.
    That vette is still talked about to this day-wicked fast 4spd /3 carbs. I used to get to bring it to the school auto shop, mostly to try and get the carbs in cinc. The teacher would let me try to tune it and go around the block to see if it was ok. LOL Those Test drives where always Sideways and Smokey for some reason. /
    Anyways, all that Camaro really needed was pull the motor, build it ,old school ,drop it back in and have a hay-day. To This day, still a doable thing for not a lot of $$$
    Life was so cool then. Wish I could do it again.

    • Don

      A 68 427 vet for a 79 Camaro I bet your buddy is still trying to get that boot out of his butt😬

  14. Rock On Member

    I had a 1981 Z28 in Canada a few years ago. The 350 automatic did not have a computer controlled carburetor. The main difference from a 1980 which I still own now is that the ’81s come with an aluminum master cylinder and the oil dipstick is on the drivers side.

  15. Doug Towsley

    These were so common back in the day I didnt care for them, But when I returned from overseas in 1990 I picked up a 77 LT and did some work to it including serious HP. Brakes and suspension. On the plus side they respond easily to simple upgrades. On the negative side,, as they age the doors sag badly and weight a ton, they creak and groan and a well worn one is a bit of heavy tank. But back in the day with the back ends up, some big meats on the back and nice wheels they were a big statement and cool.
    But certain segments hate them even today. Some guys I served with in the military had strong opinions on them.. Especially east coast big citys. (Think Italians with Gold chains),, Out west,, Mullets & Wife beater T shirts.. Many of my family on wifes side is or were law enforcement and they simply called them “Drug dealer cars” FIL has often said,, Nothing good happens in a Camaro. I noticed I got pulled over by the police a LOT less after I sold mine.
    Its interesting to me how nostalgic people now are about them.

  16. Ck

    Friend of mine in the early 90’s had an 80 with a 350/ 4SPD ,nice car fun to drive. He sold it and bought a 84 Cadillac Eldorado .Little did he know that from that point on he was driving on Friday nite when we went “clubbin”in Providence .I asked him why he didn’t tell us he was selling the Camaro. I told him I would have bought it.He told us he didn’t want to see it around town and have any regrets. To this day he still regrets getting rid of that car.

  17. Gabe

    You are dead on, when this car is equipped with an automatic it’s as much fun to drive as a 4 cylinder pickup from the ’90s. But, you’re out of your mind if you’d take this over my ’12 ss convertible. I could do a u-turn at the end of the quarter and get back to start before this car finished.

    I’m a Chevy guy, but you’ve got to admit, even if you like the styling of 2nd and 3rd generation camaros, the performance was sub par even for cars back then. Even with the rebuild of the original 170hp engine and minimal mods, assuming it’s running well otherwise, what’s this guy pushing? 200hp at the crank? The only “sports car” this was ever competitive with was the even more terrible Mustang of that era. Mid ’70s through early ’90s weren’t kind to Ford or Chevy

  18. AMXSTEVE

    Loads of these everywhere in 80-81. I was a porter at a Chebby dealer and drove the snot out of em. then in the high school parking lot tons of Z’s and TA’s that the disco boys owned.

    They made millions of these cars but now they are getting kinda scarce. Never fast but we had nothing fast except older muscle back then.

  19. jaymes

    you can get everything for the interior except the dash pad

  20. Rock On Member

    Gabe, yeah your ’12 SS is wicked fast, but if you don’t want to see yourself coming and going so often, you can always buy a nice 2nd gen Camaro. Drop an LS engine in it and you have a fast car and money in your pocket.

  21. Jesse Staff

    It just sold for $4,601. The seller mentioned that the auction had “close to 4k views and about 200 watchers”… Hmm, I wonder why?

    • JamestownMike

      I almost threw my hat in on this one but it didn’t have A/C. Someone got a good deal!

  22. Rock On Member

    Somebody got a good deal on this one Jesse!

  23. erikj

    Just test drove a 2013 ss Camaro 6.2/a 6spd. Very fast,but a lot of $. These 2nd gen Camaros are still fun though, just slugs. Hipe that motor and they really wake up. There handling is scary with a fast motor though. Saw a lot of wrecks with these.

  24. Clifford L coen

    How much would a 79 be worth in very good condition? And how many of those were ttops?

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