Ready To Restore: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car

In 1969, the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible was chosen as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500, marking the second time this honor had been bestowed on the Camaro in 3-years. The Chevrolet Camaro has now had this honor on a total of nine occasions. Manufacturers will tend to reap the benefits of this by building and marketing Pace Car replicas, and the early Camaro versions are among the most popular of these today. This 1969 Camaro Pace Car replica is one such car, and while it is going to require some pretty major restoration work, it does come with a large assortment of parts to help in this process. The Camaro is located in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The auction has been set to open at $18,000, but at the time of writing, there have been no bids made.

The original intention of Chevrolet was to produce around 6,400 Pace Car replicas for 1969, but in the end, only 3,675 cars rolled off the production line. All cars wore Dover White paint, with distinctive Hugger Orange graphics. You can still see remnants of that combination on this car, although I hasten to add that it is now looking pretty tired. The greatest concern with this car is rust, and there is plenty of that to be attended to. This has impacted many of the usual spots in the Camaro’s lower extremities, including the floors and lower quarter panels, the trunk pan, along with the lower windshield frame and dash. Included with the car are a full set of floors, a trunk pan, new full quarter panels, and a tail-light panel. Already fitted are new fenders, doors, front inner skirts, cowl hood, and the header panel. The distinctive RS grille and headlight covers are also new. Thankfully, the rockers, rear frame rails, and the rear shock towers are all good. So yes, there is some rust to be addressed, but at least the next owner will have a bit of a head start on these issues.

If the exterior of a ’69 Pace Car was distinctive, then the interior was even more so. The orange and black interior trim with hounds-tooth upholstery was in no way subtle, but it also wasn’t unattractive. In addition to this trim, any other optional equipment that was available across the Camaro range could be chosen on a Pace Car. The interior of this car is going to require some major restoration work, but there are some components that will be able to be retained with little or no restoration work. The majority of the dash and the floor console look to be quite good, but the rest of the soft trim and plastics will need to be replaced. Thankfully, replica seat covers are now available, making that part of the restoration that little bit easier.

The base engine for a Pace Car was the 350 SS engine, although once again, any of the more powerful engines in the Camaro range were but a tick of the box away. It isn’t clear what engine was under the hood of this particular car when it was new, but the owner admits that it is now a non-original 396ci big-block. The transmission is a Muncie 4-speed, while the car is also fitted with a 12-bolt rear end. This Camaro is a non-running project car, and the owner freely admits that the entire drive-train will require a rebuild. Still, it should be a pretty potent beast once this work has been completed.

There is no doubt that there is plenty of potential waiting to be unlocked in this Camaro Pace Car. However, nothing in life comes for free, so there is also plenty of work required to unlock that potential. The real shame is that this is not a numbers-matching car. Having said that, even a Pace Car with a non-original 396 under the hood can still fetch prices in excess of $50,000 if they have been the subject of a high-quality restoration. I hope that someone is able to do this because it is a car that deserves it.


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  1. rpol35

    Front cross member is toast, that’s a problem.

    Like 5
  2. Steve R

    I’ve never seen a Camaro where the front subframe has rusted through, as shown in picture #20 from the eBay listing. It’s not a good indicator as to the amount of rust that will likely be found on rest of the car.

    It reached a high bid of $15,800 without meeting its reserve last time it was listed on eBay. Maybe that’s the going rate for a Z11 trim plate and clear convertible VIN, along with a supply of parts.

    Steve R

    Like 7
  3. Superdessucke

    I had one. Restored one. Odds are the subframe mounting points are toast too. Eeek!

    Like 7
  4. Jamie

    There were either 34 or 43 big block pace cars produced for 1969 (I’ve always mixed that up). If it is a 396 car, even without the original motor, then it’s still worth a good penny either way. I worked on tons of 69 camaros when I was 14-17 years old with a family friend, and he had 2 number matching big block pace cars, 4 small block pace cars, and a $hit load of SS 396’s, SS 350’s, Z-28’s, a Baldwin Motion, a Yenko, pretty much everything you can think of for desirable 1969 Camaros- he had them. Most were in the restoration stages that he sold, but they were all numbered cars, and were in great shape. Man, if I only knew what I know now I should have saved my money and bought at least one of the cars. Super cool to say that I was able to at least turn a wrench in some very rare cars.

    Like 16
    • Raymond Hurst Member

      Is the big block production someone’s guess or is there factory documentation for that? Not being critical, just curious.

    • Randy Ritter

      Jamie, your closing sentences Ive repeated more than a few times. I was 17-20 years old as well (1980) Super cool to say that I was able to at least turn a wrench in some very rare cars.

    • Ed E

      Didn’t big block cars have 3/8 fuel line no return or is that only Holley equipped from factory l78, crazy it’s a no tach car

  5. gbvette62

    It might be a real 396 Pace Car, at least the heater box looks like a big block box. The seller says the car has a “CE” block, which were usually warranty engines.

    The Camaro Research Group puts the number of big block Pace Cars at around 15%-20% of total Pace Car production, or somewhere around 550-750 396 Pace Cars.

    A 396 4 speed Pace Car is a neat car, but boy does this one have some serious rust issues.

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      The trim plate shows Z11.

      The CE means nothing unless there is paperwork documenting the warranty replacement. A couple of friends have been buying every CE big block or small block they come across since the late-80’s, they sell them to people who are restoring their muscle cars.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  6. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Most of the metal from the doors forward has been replaced and the floors, trunk pan and quarters need replacing, too. Non-original motor, rusty sub-frame and certainly other areas of rust to be addressed. Quite a bit of the interior will need to be replaced as well. Plus the motor needs to be rebuilt or replaced. There will be hardly anything original left to this car. After paying $18k for this car you’re looking at considerably more money to restore this car than what it will be worth when you’re done.

    It would be a lot cheaper to buy a ’69 Pace Car clone. Or restore a better candidate and go the clone route. The only thing this assortment of parts has going for it is a Pace Car VIN.

    Like 2
  7. Paul

    I have seen many of these cars and have never seen a subframe rusted in the way this one has rusted? It actually looks like the car is not rusted enough to have such a rusted subframe…maybe subframe was off car sitting outside (in water) in a different spot then the rest of the car. Or the car had a front end wreck and subframe is off a donor car….maybe the reason for all new front sheet metal.

    Like 1
  8. Roger

    I might haul it away for 18 grand.

    Like 2
  9. Pete in PA

    As an older friend of mine said many years ago “I get tired just looking at that car.” Years later I’m beginning to understand.

    Like 1
  10. TimM

    $18,000 is way to much for a rusted out non numbers matching car that needs total restoration with the subframe gone!! I realize that everyone is trying to hit a home run everytime there up to bat!! However a seller must have some inclination of what it takes (money parts and labor) to bring a car like this back from the dead!! I guess the one good thing is that all the parts are available!!

    Like 4
  11. jerry z

    Question is what does a 396 4 spd pace car go for these days? And is it a documented 396 pace car?

    • Andy

      Since the car is not numbers matching, should it really matter? It isn’t original anyway.

      Like 1
      • Raymond Hurst Member

        Even though it is not numbers matching, it is very relevant whether it came with a big block or a small block. Big block cars are usually always bigger dollar than small block cars, even without the original engine, IF heritage can be proven. Just in my professional, expert, know it all, opinion.

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