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Just $1,000! 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Cheap project cars will always attract their share of attention, and this 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is no exception. It shows a lot of promise at first glance, but when you start to dig below the surface, you begin to wonder whether this is a viable restoration or whether its fate rests as a parts car. It is certainly cheap enough to have attracted Barn Finder Pat L’s attention, so thank you so much for referring it to us, Pat. The Camaro is located in Stamford, Connecticut, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The sale price has been set at $1,000 OBO.

Externally, the Black Camaro does show some visible rust problems. This includes all of the usual areas like the lower body extremities and the lower rear quarter panels. However, that is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is also some severe rust in the floors, and these would need to be replaced entirely if the car is to be returned to a structurally sound state. The vehicle does appear to be complete from a positive perspective, and the original owner did order it with some nice optional extras. This included handing over an additional $644 for the T-Top option. The panels for this are intact and appear to be in good condition. It isn’t clear what state the seals are in, but one of the panels isn’t fitted correctly. That makes me wonder if this has been the case in the long-term and whether water has leaked in for an extended period to exacerbate the rust issues. The Camaro is fitted with tinted glass, and this looks like it has survived okay, while many of the exterior fittings and the original alloy wheels are in a restorable state.

The owner has stripped the seats and carpet out of the Camaro, but it appears that all of the parts are included in the sale. I would have to place a question mark over the trim’s state because the remaining interior pieces have accumulated a look that suggests that things have been damp inside the vehicle for a while. Once again, plenty of pieces could be salvaged if the car were to be stripped for parts. It’s also worth noting that the original owner didn’t just stop at the T-Top when he was ticking the boxes on the Order Sheet. He also chose air conditioning, power windows, an AM/FM radio/cassette player, intermittent wipers, a rear defogger, and a clock.

We find the venerable 350ci V8 under the hood, which would have pumped out 175hp in its prime. That power would have found its way to a 3.08 Posi rear end via a 3-speed automatic transmission. The Z28 was not a fast car, with the journey down the ¼ mile taking a full 16.9 seconds. The Camaro is a numbers-matching car, and while the V8 doesn’t run, it does turn freely. Given how rugged these things are, it might not take a lot of work to coax it back to life. Even if the Camaro is to be placed in the “too hard” basket and is destined to be stripped for parts, there are plenty of components here that could potentially find their way to a new home.

It is a fact that virtually no classic car is beyond saving, although the big question revolves around whether such a restoration is financially viable. There is no doubt that this 1981 Camaro Z28 would have been an attractive proposition when it was new, and most of the features that made it that car are still present. The rust in the floors is a significant concern because that raises a question about the car’s overall structural integrity. If someone bought the Camaro and had the skills to tackle the rust problems themselves, this could be a viable project. I believe that if the buyer needs to pay someone to do the work, it probably wouldn’t be worth the cost. Therefore, I think that this Z28 is destined to become a parts car, albeit one that will be a potential gold mine for its next owner. What do you think?


  1. Steve R

    Already gone.

    Steve R

    Like 10
  2. Classic Steel

    Sold …

    Wow a project card without a tree gown through it. Not a junkyard or field find either asking a couple grand.

    It just goes to show entry level collector cars are still available for those who search the Craigslist and other sources.

    Like 10
    • Good To Know

      Amen brother!

      Like 3
  3. Tony Primo

    Somebody got a great deal. This is not a parts car in Ontario, Canada. We fix cars worst than this all of the time.

    Like 19
    • Ike Onick

      Hell yeah! I have seen that car parked at rinks all over Ontario in the 1980’s. They came with the Canadian Tuxedo in the trunk. Those were the days!

      Like 2
  4. Superdessucke

    Nice color scheme that for some reason you didn’t see a whole lot on the ’80-81s. That seemed to be more of a Trans Am. I’d be concerned about the rust but as long as the subframe and rear suspension mounting points are good it should be restorable.

    Like 2
  5. Showbiz

    Awesome deal, looks promising being untouched , wonder how the tail panel and rear frame rails are,if they are to far gone ,you could still triple your money easy in parts. Hopefully rust is just in the floors thanks to the t Tops and new owner will have a nice ride without breaking the bank if he does alot of work himself.

    Like 6
  6. Jack

    They would be asking $25k for a Mopar in this condition

    Like 7
    • bone

      Not a 1980-81 Mopar though , no one wants those !

      Like 4
  7. JoeNYWF64

    The raised sections of the floor going across seem ok. & if the rocker panels are fine, is there really a structural issue? Wouldn’t patches suffice in the sunken sections of the floor where water collected?
    I know someone drivin a 60’s chevy whose floor was worse than this – in 1981 & is STILL driving it today – with just floor patches! lol

  8. Cav427

    Not digging the installed Fred Flintstone braking system. Also what do the shock towers look like in the trunk, alot of these received k-mart air shocks to bollster up the saging rear end from the cheap leaf springs chevy saw fit to install at the factory. The air shocks were often overfilled and if you hit a bump and the shock would go through the top of the shock tower, or break the mount. The reason I mention this is the poor fit on the trunk.

  9. Kenn

    Nice to see a seller anxious to sell his car and putting a realistic price on it to get that accomplished. Yet still some naysayers here..?

    Like 3

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