Thrifty Survivor: 1977 Chevrolet Camaro

This 1977 Chevrolet Camaro is the secretary special six-cylinder model, but it looks like an appealing entry point into classic muscle ownership. While the six-cylinder cars never get the same respect as their V8 siblings (and understandably so), there’s a lot of eyeball appeal with this example, starting with its Z28-style front and rear spoilers. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $8,500 and the option to submit a best offer, and thanks to Barn Finds reader local_sheriff for the find. 

The spoilers work well here, even if the rest of the car looks like standard base model-spec equipment. The steel wheels are at least painted to match, but they do tend to swim in the wheel wells with the spats added in front of the rear rollers. This is an instance where I’d recommend a subtle upgrade to a larger wheel, but nothing obnoxious. I could do without the stripes, but I don’t hate them, either.

What I do hate is the “R-Racing” steering wheel cover. Seriously, why do people do this? And when will the letter R stop being used to denote anything resembling high performance? That gripe aside, the cabin looks quite nice, with an uncracked dash and clean cloth bucket seats. The six-cylinder is paired to an automatic transmission, and the seller notes 130,250 miles on the clock. The AC works, too.

There’s a little too much color matching going on here for my tastes, with the valve cover, air cleaner, hood struts, and springs, and block all painted to match. There’s nothing wrong with a little contrast, and I’d probably revert back to black on most of these. Still, it’s clear someone has loved this otherwise base-model example, and with a healthy engine and cold AC, it’s hard to fault as a fair-weather driver.

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Comments

  1. slickb

    You know, I love LOVE high horse power but to me nothing beats a good old 6 to make you happy.
    I love this car and am tempted to own it

    Like 17
  2. 8banger Dave Mika Member

    Ha! That’s the first thing I said – “hey, that’s a lot of red”…

    Like 4
  3. Classic Steel

    Its different and i like it!

    Todays six sports 250-300 plus ponies in some vehicles 😎

    Like 5
    • JoeNYWF64

      Have you seen the tiny(but incredibly reliable & simple) ONE barrel carburetor used on this motor & the simple but reliable silly cast iron intake & exhaust manifolds? lol
      All very inefficent, but simple.
      You should try to lift & look inside the heavy restrictive muffler that was fitted – u can barely hear the 6 run – stock.
      With cheap header(s) & cam & decent carb & intake you are easily in modern V6 hp territory. & i guarantee you this car & a new camaro & it’s 6 will all be in the grave b4 this strait 6 is – don’t look for a timing chain or belt – there IS none! This will run forever, like the Chrysler slant 6.
      The 60’s pontiac OHC strait 6 with a 4 barrel carb, loosely based on the above motor, is a nice powerful factory piece of work. While the chevy strait 6 made sure grandma & mom were not offended & that they made all their appointments for not a lot money or gas bills.
      On the other hand, IMO this motor should not have been even offered in this too heavy 5 mph bumper camaro generation.
      Fine for the 1st gen & a nova, tho.

      Like 5
  4. Classic Steel

    Its different and i like it!
    It’s RED and VISIBLE!!
    Todays six sports 250-300 plus ponies in some vehicles 😎

    Like 2
  5. 8banger David Mika Member

    Did we mention the fresh air grates? Just sayin.

    Like 2
  6. Jeff C

    Nice ride. I had a 1980 that I beat the hell out of as a teenager and eventually sold for $500.
    That straight 6 puts out about 150 horses if I remember correctly. Won’t win any races but won’t break the bank either.

    Like 5
  7. David Ulrey

    Not a bad looking car overall. In this particular case I’d have to ditch the white walls. They look great on some cars but with the paint scheme on the car, to me at least, they don’t ‘fit’ I personally would either ditch the 6 or the automatic. I had a 79 with the 6 but mine had a 3 spd so it was still fun. I drove one with a 6 and an automatic and it was frustrating. Hence my comment about ditching the 6 or the automatic. Overall I do like the car though.

    Like 1
    • local_sheriff

      David; agree with you that the I-6/auto combo is not ideal. I’ve tried both too and there was MASSIVE difference between the two, and the auto even had steeper gearing!
      I can fully understand most people would go the V8 route for easy and cheap hi perf potential, still what’s unique with that…? Personally I’d try locate a manual tranny for it, heck even a 3spd would do marvels to the driving experience

      Like 4
      • David Ulrey

        local_sheriff you are indeed correct. I was much younger when I owned my 79 with the I6 and 3spd and would have liked for it to have a V8 but even then I couldn’t honestly complain because the 3spd still made it fun to drive. :)

  8. Richard Stanford

    If that’s a truly straight body, its not a bad starting point for a restomod since you’ll be replacing all the V8 specific parts anyway.

    Like 1
    • John Wilburn

      Since most of them are V8, why throw away the six? It’s cooler as is… who needs to build the millionth V8 like everyone else’s.

      Like 12
  9. J_Paul Member

    110 horsepower in a 3,500 pound car…

    Forget about competing with modern V6s by changing a few parts…you might be able to compete with modern lawnmowers if you’re lucky.

    I know there’s a healthy “base engine” fanbase here on Barn Finds (and more power to you!) but if this car were mine a LS swap would be first on the to-do list.

    Like 6
  10. chillywind

    Why does everyone always want an LS swap?
    is that the only engine people use in anything HP today?
    I see a lot of people say it but don’t see a lot of them at car shows.

    Like 7
    • J_Paul Member

      It’s a modern engine that is easy to find, reasonably priced, fairly lightweight, and makes good power even when stock or hooked up to emissions controls (a 1977 car isn’t smog-exempt in California.)

      Like 4
    • David Ulrey

      chillywind I agree with you. I freely admit that an LS is indeed a great engine but yes, it’s everyone’s go to engine. One vehicle I currently own is a 2004 Crown Vic P71 (cop car, Highway Patrol in my case) and it really wrinkles my shorts when I see someone do an LS swap in one!!! If they don’t want to use the original 4.6 and really feel they need to swap it, Ford makes a very nice 5.0 Coyote. Never was a big fan of seeing a 32 Ford with a sbc either. I love Chevys as much as any other car but not into cross-breeding. If a person wants a V8 in this particular Camaro then Chevy has made some mighty fine sbc engines that would drop right in. Sorry about how long this is. Just venting.

      Like 3
  11. Grandpa Lou

    Why put them down by calling them Secretary cars? These were reliable and responsible vehicles. They had all the style without social irresponsibility. Adults bought these cars, or least those who acted like adults.

    Like 10
    • Little_Cars

      My dad bought the Firebird version of this “secretary car” in 1976. Dark red, Straight 6, automatic and air. Otherwise base model with rally wheels. I drove it to prom in 1980. Adding raised white letters was a major improvement on the rolling stock when I finally bought it off of him in 1984.

      Like 2
  12. jerry z

    This car is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Nice and clean but will not scream! Ditch the six and LSX it!

    Like 2
  13. Thomas P Cotrel

    I would install a Magnaflow cat-back and do whatever I could to it while keeping it smog legal in California. Maybe go with even steeper gearing for highway cruising purposes. Then daily drive it.

    Like 4
  14. ACZ

    Nice the way it is. Just ditch the whitewalls.
    The probable reason for the wheel cover is that these steering wheels get gummy when they get old. Anyone know a good cleaning chemical for that?

    Like 3
  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Fast Forward to 1981 and you would have my first new car, ordered the same way as this one, but in a more sinister black color. Spoiler, rally wheels, it was a looker. Yes, the V6 was anemic, but that car never let me down.

    Should have held onto it longer, but the need for speed was calling my name.

    Like 3
  16. Dan D

    Interesting that they still featured an inline (“straight”) 6 in 1977. I would have thought it was all V6 by then. Personally, I would keep the six but look to beef it up a bit.

    Like 2
  17. Clay Bryant

    Interesting that people would want to change this. Want to drop a big block in this? Go start with a V8 one that has been beat all to hell in the last 35 years by wanabee stoplight racers. Nothing was ever proved there accept who picked the lane with the most cars waiting at the next stoplight. When driving down a street do you say, “look at that Camaro with the big block in it or look at that great Camaro?” I feel totally the same way at a car show with all the hoods up Seen one you’ve seen a dozen engines just like it. I like to see a car for it’s lines. You ever see anyone driving around with their hood up? At Mecum and Barrett/Jackson sales I get a kick out of the lady opening the hood at the start. (“Look,it’s got an engine, can you see it back there in the 5th row? Totally ruins the visual perspective of a sold object. Do you ever see a high end auction where they take a vase and show you the open end? What a sight. People out in the bidders saying to each other, “id you see what the inside of that vase looked like. Do you get my drift from this 75 year old that’s never seen an engine?

    Like 3
  18. Comet

    Hopefully, somewhere out there is a secretary named Candy Cane looking for her next car.

    Like 2
  19. ronlord

    BTW, they are not “secretaries” any more. The politically correct title is now “Administrative Assistant”

    Nice car in any case!

  20. Stevieg

    Comet, I actually knew a lady named Candace Kane. She went by “Candy” lol. She loved Camaroes…did I spell that right? Camari? Like Elvi is plural for Elvis lol? Whatever! Gotta get back to work!

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