Rear Ended! 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

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The second-generation Chevy Camaro ended its 12-year run in 1981, as did its cousin, the Pontiac Firebird. The cars continued to sell well, especially the Firebird Trans Am after the Smokey and the Bandit movies of the late 1970s. This one is a Z28, which comprised one-third of production in 1981. Back in 1986, the car had the misfortune of receiving a very hard hit in the rear, which prompted it to go into storage for the next 37 years. Located in Rochester, Kentucky, this one-proud Camaro is available here on eBay where 13 bidders may be overlooking the damage and have raised the ante to $5,237.

With an all-new Camaro waiting in the wings for 1982, the ‘81 Camaro still sold decently, even though little changed. It would not be the generation’s best or worst sales year. 126,000 Camaro’s left the assembly line and 43,000 of them had the Z28 option. The Z28 was a shell of its prior performance self with a 305 cubic inch V8 under the hood (we understand that the ones that went to Canada had 350s). But to help put a little more zip in the ride, a 4-speed manual was available and that’s the setup in the seller’s car. And these autos had CCC under the hood for the first time (Computer Command Control) for fuel mixture before there was fuel injection.

From the looks of things, someone put this Chevy into reverse and drove backward as fast as they could to hit a telephone pole straight on. But we’re guessing that’s not really how the car got severely damaged from the C-pillar back. It only had 57,000 miles on the odometer at the time and the dial hasn’t moved much since. We’re told it starts, runs, stops, and lot drives, but that’s as adventuresome as you should be before addressing the mechanical health of the rear of the car. The original black paint shows the kind of wear you would expect after a four-decade slumber.

The blue interior is complete and mostly good except for the armrests. So if you chose to use this car as a donor, it could be lifted right out and dropped in elsewhere. If you chose to fix and restore this Z28, the seller has a nice rear clip available for separate purchase (a photo of that would have been nice). But that begs the big question of the day: is a 1981 Camaro Z28 in a wrecked condition worth restoring?

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  1. Fahrvergnugen FahrvergnugenMember

    Rear, ended. Parts only.

    Like 27
    • John Alm

      LoL , More Like Lost Control And Backed It Into Pole

      Like 6
  2. angliagt angliagtMember

    Rear ended by what,a snowplow?
    The under hood shot looks like it’s pretty rough.

    Like 24
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      That looks just like the last high speed spin into a light pole I’ve seen. Guy wanted us to fix it. Went away when he got the estimate.

      Like 48
    • BoatmanMember

      Stored in heavy moisture.

      Like 8
    • Arfeeto

      Looks like a custom swallowtail attempt that went horribly wrong.

      Like 4
    • JMB#7

      Like Bob said. Probably a 180 spin & hit a pole going backwards. Can happen quickly on a patch of gravel, or oily spot. Happens even quicker on old dry rotting tires.

      Like 2
  3. RayT

    THIS Camaro? It’s a parts car, Jim.

    Nothing aft of the doors is salvageable. That means a sizable replacement clip, so excellent welding (would you trust it? Not sure I would) is a “must.” After that, you could go through seals, gaskets, hoses, and all the other consumables that have sat for goodness knows how long.

    If this was your beloved Daddy’s car that some hooligan stole and wrecked, and you had lost of coin, then yeah, go head on (sorry).

    Otherwise, the best course is to grab stuff off it when it gets to a Pick-Your-Part yard.

    Like 20
  4. JCAMember

    In other words, accidentally left in neutral so that it rolled down a hill and into a telephone pole

    Like 14
    • Greg GustafsonMember

      At 80 mph?

      Like 13
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember


      I agree with Greg, at 80 mph?
      When I had borrowed my brothers ’67 Cougar it got stolen by a couple of joyriding kids.
      They took it up a steep country road and ran out of gas. They let the Cougar roll back down the hill where it drifted off the road and square into a tree. The damage was substantial but not THIS substantial.
      Damage went to the middle of the trunk, not all the way up to the rear window.

      Like 2
      • JCAMember

        Was the Cougar a 4spd or an auto? A 4spd car would gain speed pretty quickly rolling down an Appalachian mountainside left in neutral. I don’t see how this damage could happen any other way than a direct rear hit. A high speed spin would contact the quarter panel first as a swipe and that didn’t happen here. It looks like something low and solid was hit fairly directly. A fire hydrant or a concrete post maybe?

        Like 1
  5. Moparman MoparmanMember

    Looking at the wrinkles in the B pillar, I find it amazing that the rear windshield didn’t shatter. I think it’s destined to provide parts for a better body.
    GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 23
    • Mike StephensStaff

      That’s what I was thinking about the rear glass Moparman, the fact that it withstood the impact is surprising. Hope everybody inside was OK back in ’86.

      Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        Guys, I would suggest that as soon as an attempt is made to remove the rear window [or pull the damage back on a frame machine], as it’s made of tempered glass and under constant surface tension, it will shatter.

        The situation is like severely bent pot metal or aluminum castings. They are bent in a fraction of a second, but when we try to straighten them back out slowly, they always break.

        Like 1
  6. Barzini BarziniMember

    I’m curious what the bidders have in mind for this car – parts or repair?

    Like 6
  7. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Not a telephone pole.
    Definitely an amorous snowplow.

    Like 9
  8. KC JohnMember

    I don’t.see $5k here. Just saying

    Like 17
    • Frank Griegorian

      Maybe $500.00 …..Maybe !!!!!!!!!!

      Like 10
  9. angliagt angliagtMember

    Maybe Jeff Spicoli’s Dad could fix it….

    Like 34

    Actually I could fix it, just weld on a donor rear half, and yes it could be trusted. HOWEVER if you have a good back half then you most likely have a good whole car, so build that one and use this one for parts.

    Like 12
  11. CadmanlsMember

    That’s been turned around and found a pole at speed. Had to be a wild ride!

    Like 13
  12. mike

    Love to know the whole truth behind this accident..

    Like 13
  13. George

    Hey bubba! Watch me do a bootlegger’s turn!

    Like 7
  14. Jim A

    Fuel tank must have been empty otherwise a massive fire

    Like 4
    • bone

      Doubtful ; stock demo derby cars run stock tanks , and fires are extremely rare. I’ve seen cars with the whole back stuffed to the rear glass and no problems.

      Like 1
  15. Al camino

    This car looks like it’s been pretty well beat to start with!

    Like 5
  16. Maggy

    Over 5k for this? Really? I guess whatever the market bears and who’s willing to pay the price.I’d say 2k tops for parts . Imo.

    Like 5
  17. Ted-M

    It’s a wonder it didn’t go up in flames!

    Like 2
  18. NHDave


    Like 3
  19. Sam61

    Seller must be a retiree from the Joey Chitwood Thrill Show….takes skill to rear end a phone pole

    Like 5
  20. James Harrington

    It wouldn’t even.make a good dirt track car, That’s how most.those old junky camaros serve out their last.few years, Just.going buy what I see!!!!!

    Like 0
  21. JJP

    It’s amazing the rear window is intact.

    I can’t believe it’s starts it runs as that gas tank should never have gas put in it again.

    And the Z28 in 81 was definitely available with a 350. Still extremely low HP but there’s an original unrestored one in my dad’s garage he purchased new in ’81 with a 350.

    I can imagine someone could justify $5k for this car for parts. Prices of Z28 from this generation have jumped recently and if you need Original parts for a restoration this could be a good option.

    Like 0
  22. Emel

    Cool looking Camaro. It gets better gas mileage this way.

    Like 0
  23. Keith M Howard

    Looks like a 360 that went wrong…
    Good front clip and doors

    Like 1
  24. Dan H

    Special Edition of the last year for the 2nd Gen Camaro. Designed by the grandson of Alan Leamy, who designed the Auburn Boattail Speedster. Inspired by his grandfather, Steamy Leamy created the Veetail Speedster. Not the success it was expected to be and largely shunned by the automotive press.

    Like 2
  25. Bill W

    ……….and it’s still a 305 car. Not me.

    Like 5
  26. Bobdog

    Fix it up as you drive it .

    Like 2
  27. Steve

    Needs a push to start.

    Like 0
  28. Old Beach Guy

    JACKinNWPA is right. Back halfing one of these isn’t bad. We back halfed a 92 Camaro at the local community college body shop. Jig it up, make your cuts, then do the same for the donor. It’s not rocket science. Done right, it will be as good as new. Maybe better.

    Like 2
    • Jim

      Yes, can be clipped and be a good repair but You would never recoup your money or time invested. Not even close.

      Like 1
  29. Frank

    Well, I’ve plowed snow for forty years and I don’t believe that is not a snowplow hit. I have seen a plow truck hit a bollard at 20 mph+ in reverse that pushed the bed and tailgate in a V shape worse that this almost three foot and the bed into the cab, bending the rear wall. That said, this looks like a high speed pole hit to me. I’m really surprised there is no blood inside the car I could see, and that the rear glass isn’t blown out. During my years in body shops we “clipped” many cars that were alot worse than this one and they went for years with no issues. You just have to know what you are doing and cut no corners. The Z28 cult is amazing, as the turds after this one are bringing, imo, stupid money and this one being a four speed, restored right would bring over $25,000.00 I believe. With a good rear clip this car will see the streets again. I watched a GYC episode that had Worman building a 71 Cuda from a inner and outer roof, all other sheet metal was AMD/Chinese crap. What’s safer, OEM or junk aftermarket sheet metal?

    Like 2
    • steve

      Between the cost of the car and fixing it, you would have way over $25,000 invested, and you’d never get it back if you sold it.

      Like 1
  30. MJF

    That looks like a minor repair…

    Like 1
  31. JoeR

    That will buff out. Yes I said it,someone had to.

    Like 12
    • Arfeeto

      I was thinking the same. Yet if buffing isn’t the answer, I suppose a nice set of curtains would do the job. In any case, I don’t have a dog in this fight. You can hardly see damage from my home in Rhode Island!

      Like 2
  32. RL

    This is what happens when watching a Rockford Files marathon while drinking a 12 pack of PBR, sh_t just doesn’t work out like it did on the show.

    Like 4
    • Karl

      Probably let “Angel” drive!!!

      Like 1
  33. Big C

    $5k for the interior and wall art. Wow!

    Like 0
  34. CCFisher

    Seller would probably do a lot better to call it a “reverse boattail.”

    Like 1
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

      😆 👍

      Like 0
  35. Ike Onick

    That is the ultra-rare GM of Italy Z-28 model- the “Innuendo”

    Like 3
  36. BrianT BrianTMember

    I’d put working stop/turn,tail lights on this and drive as is. That would really get attention at the local Cars and Coffee

    Like 5
  37. Kirk M Stankiewicz

    We used to call a hit like that a “Crab Bite”…like another poster said- 80MPH in a spin -hit a pole-perfect 10 point score!

    Like 1
  38. MisterBlue

    Yeah, rear-ended by a utility pole.

    Like 0
  39. Bakes

    What I want to know is how the driver of the utility pole got that sucker up to 80 miles an hour…

    Clippable? Absolutely. But not for that price.

    Like 0
  40. Kirk M Stankiewicz

    Also- consider the enema the drivetrain suffered when the differential shoved the driveshaft up the transmission’s tailshaft- if its a manual trans the shock will be directly applied to the crankshaft via the input shaft of the transmission- its JUNK

    Like 4
  41. Blueovaldude

    Possibly rear ended by a crotch rocket?

    Like 2
  42. K. R. V.

    Now it’s not all that bad! IF you have a nice well cared for same generation 6 cyl car with a standard. That could be easily turned into a very nice Z28!

    Like 0
  43. Biff

    I would have to say, it could be fixed correctly. But what’s the point other than sentimental value. Like others have said use it for parts to make another one better. Way too much money for what’s left and much of what’s left is going to have to be gone through or replaced anyway. I had a ’78 RS that was restored and had a high school girl roll a stop on front of me at 60 mph. Car got wasted from the front to C pillars, and I got to spend two weeks in the hospital. A shame, but way too much work to repair. Insurance paid out $10,500 and I passed on buying it back from them for $1,200. They probably got $600 at auction for the carcass.There is always a butt for every seat, someone will buy it, definitely not me.

    Like 0
  44. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember


    The Cougar was an automatic.

    Like 1
  45. V

    OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MY neck…. thats what they said….the driver has rear view mirrors on his horn rimmed glasses…

    Like 0
  46. JAM

    Anyone who says they’d fix it must not be too good at finance.

    Like 1
  47. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    I’m a court recognized accident investigator, and here’s my take on this vehicle:

    This is certainly a single vehicle accident, this car was traveling at a speed in excess of 75mph on impact. It was moving in a straight line on impact.

    It didn’t hit a wooden phone/power pole, a wooden pole capable of withstanding this degree of impact would be at least twice the size of what the vehicle hit.

    99% of governmnt-installed metal street light poles [or sign posts] are designed to have shear bolts at their base, so the pole snaps off it’s concrete base, absorbing much of the impact. Wooden versions have relief holes drilled so they break off level with the ground.

    This vehicle probably hit a 6″ steel pole, either a solid pole, or a pole filled with concrete, and firmly anchored into the ground. It was likely part of a larger steel or iron structure, perhaps an older steel bridge abutment. There is no evidence that what it hit bent backwards at the top, as the resulting vehicle damage suggests the post remained perpendicular to the ground.

    My guess is this car was traveling at a speed far greater than the weather conditions allowed, perhaps in below freezing temperatures that turned the pavement surfaces into a frozen ice rink. With ground surfaces iced over there was little chance of re-gaining control of the vehicle, and there would be no possibility of braking to slow the speed down.

    This car is stick shift, and human nature indicates in most similar situations the driver will panic and push on the pedals with both feet, basically putting the vehicle in neutral and stopping all tire rotation. At that point there is zero possibility of recovering vehicle control. It’s going to continue in it’s travel, either in an arc, or in this case, in a straight line.

    So in a matter of a couple of seconds, a vehicle traveling at high speed in one direction, on losing 100% traction in icy conditions, can instantly turn around 180 degrees and continue it’s high speed [without the tires even turning] until an intervening object stops the advancement.

    In conclusion, it is my official position that a 100 ton pre-WW2 iron girder bridge slammed into this parked Camaro at about 75mph!

    Like 4
    • Arfeeto

      Thanks, Bill, for an enlightening and well expressed analysis.

      Like 0

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