Priced to Move! 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

Everything must go! The owner of this 1979 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 in Levittown, Pennsylvania has decided to sell off some project cars, and claims this one is priced to sell. Chevrolet built the original z/28 for SCCA’s Trans-Am series, and sold a minimum number to buyers willing to sacrifice comfort for performance. The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 pulled hard to 7000 RPM — as close to a road-racer as you could buy, and 602 found homes that first year (thanks to hotrod.com for some details). By 1979 the Z28 had become one of four Camaro option packages offered by Chevrolet, and nearly 85,000 Z28s left the factory during model year 1979. This one can be yours with the right bid here on eBay. WARNING – the listing is in ALL CAPS, which normally signals me to click “next,” but I liked the idea of featuring a Z28 from the malaise era, so I took one for the team.

If you’re willing to sacrifice clearance for snow chains, you could drop this suspension and instantly double this Camaro’s street appeal. What looks like a $99.95 Earl Scheib respray is flaking away, revealing the original Blue (yes, that is the color’s official name) beneath. After converting this pile of parts into a running, driving vehicle, the new owner will no doubt budget for a real paint job.

Powder blue… pretty much the least attractive interior color for anyone with a Y chromosome. However, this constitutes a stellar opportunity for our female gearheads. What do you think, ladies? Other than the split seat cover and obvious lack of carpeting, however, this interior has weathered its 38 years well. The power windows and locks seem fitting for the pastel interior as well. You can judge whether the close-ratio four-speed (standard on the Z28) counteracts the fluffy blue interior or not. Unless your left leg has been injured in some way, an automatic transmission seems more girly than a powder-blue interior all day long. And by “girly,” I mean speed-shifting, butt-kicking girls who carve up corners like Melissa Cookston carves up brisket.

The rebuilt 350 never got a chance to turn the tires on this blue beast before it went into storage 20 years ago but, after a tear-down and freshening, it should provide motivation far beyond the original 350 small block’s 175 horsepower. In addition to the roller rockers seen here, this non-original motor features a four-bolt main, 11.5:1 compression, and larger cam. According to the original sales literature at myclassicgarage.com, the Z28 came with a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio. That and the rebuilt engine should make this normally-lackluster late second generation Camaro a snappy street machine. What do you think of this one-of-85,000 Camaro Z28 from 1979?

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Comments

  1. Uncleape Member

    I think this is just a Camaro or berlinetta done up to look like a z-28 or type 2.

    3+
    • Superdessucke

      I owned a ’78 and ’79 Z28 so I have some knowledge. The stripes are hand painted on. Someone was too cheap to spring for a decal kit I guess. The grill is incorrect. It should be black on a Z28. The fender ducts are incorrect. These are the later 1980-81 style. The 1978-79 had the “shark gills.” The front and rear spoilers are correct for a ’79.

      The right taillight is correct for this model year but looks like it came from a Berlinetta because of the silver panel. The left one is from an ’80-81 model with the black stripe in the middle. Blackout window trim is correct for a Z28. The wheels are correct but should be painted body color.

      The red Z28 interior emblems are 1979-only, though I’ve never seen one with the “Camaro” emblem on the door panel. The Z28-only ribbed steering wheel is dirty but present and accounted for. The dash panel looks weird, and that’s because should have silver trim rings – not solid black like this one. It has the proper 130 MPH speedometer and 5,000 RPM tach though. My guess is someone painted it at some point. The seats appear to be the proper optional custom interior seats for 1979.

      The 4-speed shifter is in the correct console and looks factory. But looking closer, that’s a Hurst shifter. These cars came with an unmarked Inland shifter from the factory. It has an “L” in the fifth digit of the VIN, which designates the LM1 350, the only engine available on these cars.

      Unfortunately, there’s no 100% way to tell if it left the factory as a Z28 or a Berlinetta or Sport Coupe because the LM1 350 was available on all Camaro models in those years. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s likely a real Z28. The Z28 bits are too old and crusty to have been added to a lesser Camaro, unless it was done years ago. Plus, most Berlinettas and Sport Coupes had the 305. The 350 was somewhat rare on these lesser models.

      3+
      • Smackypete

        Oops, comment was removed…. let’s try again.

        I just came here to say that the grille was wrong, but you nailed everything.
        Good job.

        One site I visited said that Berlinettas have a different 2nd digit “S” instead of “Q” to designate Berlinetta. Another more reliable PDF I found says they are all “Q”.

        0
      • Superdessucke

        The most reliable source would be the GM Heritage Center and their data confirms that a Berlinetta would have an “S” as the second digit of the VIN.

        https://gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits/Camaro/1979-Chevrolet-Camaro.pdf

        So this isn’t a Berlinetta. It’s either a rare Sport Coupe (or RS) with the 350 or an original Z28. I’m going with the latter as my guess. A couple more items it has that I didn’t note before are a correct ’78-79 hood scoop and the blackout headlight and turn signal surrounds.

        When these cars are replicated, people often go with a “cowl induction” or other type of aftermarket hood.

        This is either a very old conversion or it’s the real thing.

        0
      • JimZ

        I want to weigh in on one thing you mentioned. In 79-80 I worked at a local Chevy dealer and being the low man in seniority I got all the crap warranty jobs, recalls, squeaks ect that you couldn’t make time on. I did spend countless hours with a heat gun and soft scraper in hand removing and installing those decal kits(if memory serves me the job paid 2.9hrs and took 4 or 5). There seemed to be huge issues with them, especially the cars that were built and delivered in the winter months. I don’t recall seeing any z28s with those lower stripes in paint with the exception of the few customers who had the decals removed and replaced with paint.

        0
      • hank

        Love a person that knows their car. I’m like that with Corvairs. when offered for sale I can pick out everything that’s wrong or not done right.

        I always liked this generation of Camaro just for the looks. Would like to have one someday. Maybe when I finish my 62 Corvair Rampside Truck I’ll sell my 65 Monza and invest in a 79Z. Thanks for such a great description.

        1+
      • JimZ

        Hank, those rampside trucks are cool. When I was a kid there was a small residential painting and plastering company that had three rampside and a corvair van. An old German guy owned the company and he kept them very nice. Somewhere in the early 80’s he passed away and his son ran the company maybe two years and sold off everything. At one of many sales I bought a 6ft stepladder and a benchgrinder from him. Where the trucks went I don’t know, the property was sold off and I lost track of him, he was only a year or so older than me.

        0
  2. 86 Vette Convertible

    Don’t you just love 11.5 CR on todays gas. Car has potential but it depends on what it goes for.

    2+
  3. Andre

    With the fresh motor, manual trans and seemingly solid structure it would make a cool and unique low-buck track car with some suspension, tire and brake upgrades.

    0
    • Andre

      To add – my favorite part of this car is the worn paint where the drivers arm would hang out the window. If I bought this car I’d probably take up smoking just to make sure I carry on this tradition.

      3+
  4. Vin in NJ

    Those are the worst attempt at factory side stripes!

    8+
    • Jeffro

      Looks like it was done with a Crayola crayon. And Ray Charles drew the outline for graphics!….yeah I know, special place in hell for people like me.

      4+
    • Superdessucke

      LOL!!! I love the way they tried to replicate it. The decal kit costs like $200 bucks or something.

      1+
    • JimZ

      That were done late at nite with the assistance of too much alcohol.

      0
  5. Chuck

    These late ’70s Z28s were down on power but handled well and were more likely to have nice options than earlier versions. With a warmed up 350 and a 4-speed this could be a fun car if the structure is solid.

    0
  6. Todd in Ky

    With today’s gas there’s no way that 11.5 compression ratio engine is running on 87 or even 93 octane. It would require 110 octane at the least. Unless of course the new owner went with aluminum heads. Then you might get away with 11.5 to 1.

    0
  7. JohnD

    In this condition, is it really worth the effort, at any price? Me thinks not.

    0
  8. Adam T45

    While we never actually received this model in Australia, it did develop something of a cult following due to the exploits of Kevin Bartlett in his Z28 (pictured).

    The Camaro was homologated in Australia under International Group 2 Regulations, and as such was allowed to compete in domestic touring car racing, including competing in the famous Bathurst 1000 race.

    The Camaro had something of a chequered history in the 1000. It first appeared in 1979, but was short on preparation and scored a DNF. Bartlett was better prepared in 1980. The same car competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship, scoring a number of good results. At Bathurst that year the car scored pole position, but was hampered in the race by severe brake issues (at the time it was forced to run rear drum brakes against cars with 4 wheel discs).

    In 1981 the brake issues were a thing of the past due to finally being allowed to run rear discs, and the same car once again scored pole position. Bartlett was leading the 1000 when he was forced into the fence by a back-marker that he was lapping losing many laps. Then in 1982 the car returned again! This time Bartlett was vying for a potential podium placing when a rear wheel rim split causing a tyre to deflate. The car suffered a slow and lazy roll when it hit a fence as a result. The car was once again repaired, but this was the last time that Bartlett ran the car. It failed to run in 1983, but was leased to another team for the 1984 race. Sadly, it ended its illustrious career when it was involved in a start-line accident.

    The car sat for many years before undergoing a full restoration, and is now part of the Bowden’s Collection. It deserved more success than it ever achieved.

    4+
  9. Randy

    How is this strip? Hand done!

    3+
  10. T Mel

    Interesting opportunity on this Camaro. Todd’s write-up was somewhat immature though.. IMO.

    0

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