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Mexican ZL1: 1969 Camaro

I’m not sure if the story the seller gives this Camaro is true or not, but I’m not sure it really matters if it is. What does matter is that this ’69 Camaro has a ZL1 engine sitting in its trunk! The ZL1 is just about the ultimate in Chevrolet performance big block engines. It’s an all aluminum 427 that was rated at 435 horsepower, while weighing in around the same as the 327. The seller calls this the Mexican ZL1, it ran the board and even has bullet holes in the roof! Based on the numbers, it wasn’t equipped with the ZL1 engine from the factory, but gained it somewhere along the way. The Camaro is cool, but I have a feeling most bidders simply want the coveted engine. You can find this desert runner here on eBay in Cave Creek, Arizona with a current bid of $26k!

Since my father grew up in El Paso, Texas, I’ve heard some incredible stories of the cars he would see crossing the board in and out of Mexico, so it wouldn’t surprise me if someone got their hands on a ZL1 engine to make their Camaro go faster. This engine is quite rare and I can’t imagine it was easy for them to get their hands on, even back in the ’70s, but anything is possible with a little money and the right connections. Getting it running again, might be a bit of a challenge, but I’m sure anyone that can afford a project this pricey will have the connections to get the engine put back together. So do any of you recognize this Camaro? And would you put the ZL1 back in it or would you put it in something else?


  1. redwagon

    lots of potential stories here. of interest to me if anyone knows the answers…..

    1. how much would this ’70 ZL-1 likely bring on its own?
    andy the seller says he has received lots of requests for a buy it now price. i’ll bet he has.

    2. is there a way to determine if this engine was originally installed in a vehicle or if it was bought over the counter at a gm dealership or gm location?
    i am wondering if this engine is stolen and if it is possible to check.

    3. can anyone even tell if this engine has been used?
    the block looks extremely clean most used engines i see have grease all over them.

    4. do we think this is a bullet hole or a puncture?
    in my experience if it is a bullet hole there will be an exit hole or dent somewhere. if it actually hit a body there should be blood evidence on the seats, carpet etc.

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    • Drew V

      2. Yes, check the VIN Pad to see if it was ever stamped with a Vin#,you can take the VIN to the Police and they can run the number to see if the car and/or engine was ever reported stolen
      3. 10mins with a steam cleaner would have the block and heads looking fresh,all you would need to do is check the cylinder bores for wear(Assuming the liners have not been replaced and the deck surface fore head gasket impressions…

      I’m guessing this is a fresh block and head castings that someone ordered in the 70’s with the intent to either order the remaining parts or getting another 427 iron block motor and cannibalizing it to build the ZL-1 and like so many of us have had,ended up with an unfinished project,for some reason or another…

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  2. Rock On Member

    There were only 69 factory ZL-1 Camaros made. I believe that they have all been accounted for. The seller even admits that this is a clone car. Originals were real strippers to save weight at the track.

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    • diehard Chevy

      Yes and the first 5 were delivered to Fred Gibb Chevrolet in LaHarpe Illinois on December 31st after midnight in a bad snow storm.This was the start of COPO.

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    • Tim A Householder

      Correct, they started life at Fred Gibb’s Chevrolet in LeHarp, Ill.He started the COPO!

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  3. 67rebelsst

    nice! leave it alone and drive the tires off of it

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  4. Jeffro

    Cave Creek Arizona. Home of Cave Creek Chili beer.

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  5. Mr. Bond

    Looks like the bearing caps are missing. How much of a problem is that?

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    • Clinton

      Main caps are with it according to the seller.

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  6. Jeffro

    Great! Now I want tacos. Thank you Mexican ZL1.

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  7. Rustytech Member

    Buying the engine without the car, or the car without the engine would be like buying the taco with the sauce, or the sauce without the taco.

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    This Camaro has 327 badges… wasn’t 68 the last year for the 327, and 69 had 307’s and 350’s…. At least that is how I remeber it

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  9. 68 custom

    327 was still available in 69 albeit with less HP than the 350s for 69. most likely a parts counter ZL-1 they were available at your local dealer. Happy new year.

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      Thanks 68

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    • Gary Gary Member

      The 68-69 327 also had large main bearing journals, similar to the 307 & 350. 1967 was the final year for small journal, small block Chevy’s.

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  10. Art M.

    Since this is an original small block, run of the Mill, Camaro, you are buying a Camaro and you are also buying a motor. Would make a nice clone, but it will always be a clone. Still I wouldn’t push it out of my garage.

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  11. Barzini

    Does anyone know what the value of the engine alone might be? The bid is up to $28K so it makes more wonder how much extra bidders are adding for for the engine.

    I love this Camaro year and color combination.

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    Worth saving…just barely.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      Someone thought it was worth $28,500 worth of saving, anyway….

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  13. n2oldcars

    I thought that the number stamped on the engine pad and the VIN on the car for chevys were not matching there for you really can`t tell if a chevy is a numbers matching car till after 1972. So if the engine came from a stolen car or over the counter there is no way to tell unless there is some kind of paper trail. So with this engine I doubt anybody will know for sure were it came from. love to have it anyway. Both of them.

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  14. TucsonTed

    Barn find? I don’t think so… It was located @ 1180 W. Glenn St in Tucson AZ
    (Google earth/map it) you’ll see it in the middle, back of the lot in front of the big shed. It has sat outside in the weather for the last 30+ years. It was a part of Frank Townsends estate and car collection, along with two other 69 Camaros and quite a few early GTO’s we saw. There was (NO) ZL-1 in the trunk of this car when we looked at it ? But we did find some rust from a leaky back glass. They were asking $5000 for it, was told the car actually sold for around $9,000 to some investors from Cave Creek. And don’t forget the finders fee! Good chance the engine came out of the shop, there looked to be 50+ BBC’s in there. Cool fake story though.

    Like 1

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