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V8 Pony Project: 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Finding a 1st Generation Camaro with rust problems is not unusual, and this 1968 model would seem to have plenty of them. However, it might not be as bad as it appears. It looks to be a viable prospect for restoration and should be an attractive classic once work has been completed. Located in Burnsville, Minnesota, you will find the Camaro listed for sale here on craigslist. Cash talks, so if you hand the owner $9,500, this Camaro could be yours.

Speaking technically, that looks pretty icky! The Camaro has plenty of rust issues, and these have impacted many of the lower extremities. The shopping list looks like it will include fenders, rockers, and rear quarter panels. Some rust is visible in the doors, but this looks like it could be addressed with patches. The rest of the exterior seems to be quite sound, with the areas around the rear windows and the drip rails showing no significant problems. When you look around the engine bay, there is corrosion on the firewall. I am worried that there could be rust in the cowl, so this will need to be checked carefully. The Tripoli Turquoise paint has seen better days, but I hope that whoever takes on this Camaro chooses to apply a new coat of this color. Chevrolet offered an interesting color palette for the 1st Generation Camaros, and I think this shade is one of the best. The trim and chrome show no major issues, and I can’t spot any problems with the glass.

If you ever question the possible benefits of undercoating a car, this photo shows them quite graphically. When you try to absorb how much external rust is present on the Camaro, it would be understandable if you expected the floors to resemble Swiss cheese. However, it appears that these are completely sound, with no evidence of penetrating rust. The same is true of the frame rails, the inner rockers, and while the inside of the trunk has a coating of surface corrosion, there are no signs that this has penetrated the steel. Suddenly this is a classic that shows a lot more promise than it did a few minutes ago.

The Camaro is mechanically complete, but I get the impression that it might not have moved under its own power for a while. It also hasn’t stopped for a while because the vehicle currently doesn’t have brakes. The original owner chose to equip this classic with a 327ci V8, a 2-speed Powerglide transmission, power steering, and power front disc brakes. That is not a bad combination, although the Powerglide will blunt performance slightly. In good health, the V8 should be capable of producing 210hp. This would be sufficient to send the Camaro through the ¼ mile in 16.6 seconds. To gauge the impact of this transmission, it is worth noting that if the same car is equipped with a 3-speed manual, the ET drops to a neat 16 seconds. This engine doesn’t currently run, and it isn’t clear whether it turns freely. With the required restoration work, I do not doubt that someone will pull the engine to restore the engine bay. This would be an excellent opportunity to thoroughly check the 327 to see if it requires attention. The car is claimed to have 93,000 miles showing on the odometer, so it could be worth the time and expense to perform a rebuild to ensure that everything is spot-on when the vehicle is reassembled.

The pleasant surprises continue when we look around inside the Camaro. The dash pad is cracked, as is the wheel rim, while the carpet might need to be replaced. The kick panels look dirty, but I think that these could respond to a decent clean. The door trims and what can be seen of the rest of the upholstery is similar. I believe that some hard work with some high-quality cleaning products might reap some positive results.

When we look over into the rear seat, the good news just keeps coming. I can’t see a single problem with the upholstery or trim, but a new parcel tray would not go astray. The original does look pretty sad.

When it was shiny and new, this 1968 Camaro would have attracted its share of attention. These early pony cars all possess a clean and pure form of styling, and it’s easy to see why their popularity has done nothing but increase over the decades since they were released. This appears to be a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. At first glance, it would be easy to place it in the “too hard” basket. It seems that it doesn’t deserve that, and I hope someone steps in soon and saves this classic. It should be worth the effort.


  1. Avatar photo Steve R

    It has some nice options, but isn’t worth the asking price due to the rust. There is a reason smart buyers would have gone after the 68 Camaro from San Ramon that was featured on this site last week.

    Steve R

    Like 6
  2. Avatar photo DON

    These are the Camaros that it seems everyone forgot about . While there are still plenty of basically stock Mustang v8 coupes around, it seems most Camaros like this one have become red with black interior 4speed SS clones. Sad to see such an original higher optioned “secretary” car have so much rust ; I’ll bet it looked really sharp in this color when it was new. If it could be restored to stock , I’d bet you would have the one Camaro at the car show with hubcaps on it !

    Like 7
  3. Avatar photo Pete

    Major League Bondo Box, but that’s how cars were patched up in the seventies and eighties. How are the floors and subframes? What would be left after media blasting? Powerglide on the wheel. You rarely see a stock first generation Camaro that’s stock like this one. I’d leave it stock if it were mine.

    Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Ken

    No way! Not for even half that price. A PARTS car only.

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo DuesenbergDino

    Back in the day I hung a lot of 1/4 panels and wheelhouses due to rust issues. I worked heavy hits during the week in the body shop. On weekends I could remove and replace both sides and was charging $500 cash. Firebird and Camaro were super easy to replace and weld up. I had the owner strip off interior and other stuff so car was basically ready to work on. Those were some very profitable years for me and good memories too.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Little_Cars

    Looks like Toronado seats front and back. I didn’t know these Camaros had any metal badge in the middle of the seatback. We can appreciate the undercoating on this example, but it looks like this car is rusting from the outside in to the undercarriage. Why so many Minnesota cars stay unsold. Love the photo with the air compressor still attached to the rear tire. How hard would it be to take that out of the shot? Sheesh.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo bone

      Cant be Toronado seats – theres no way they could fit in the back of a little car like this

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo bone

      That’s are the optional “Deluxe” upholstery ; those had the chrome badges on them. I have to admit I haven’t seen many like it though. This car has quite a few options that most cars this size back then wouldn’t get, like power disc brakes and a remote mirror . That optional steering wheel is cool too

      Like 5
  7. Avatar photo dogwater

    We have restored a half a dozen Camaros over the years this one looks like a good project the price is right .

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    The interesting question is would today’s overseas(any made domestic?) replacement panels rust just as fast – or even faster? I doubt anyone’s ever tested that scenario, considering the cost of restoration & age of these cars.
    One could see qtr & rocker panel rust worse than this after just 5 yrs use in the snow/salt belt. Tho, at least they didn’t have the brine spray back then, which would have made matters even worse – sometimes applied days BEFORE the snow!!!

    Like 0

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