Have It Your Way: 1973 Chevrolet Camaro

By Jeff Bennett

It is often lamented on these pages that cars became less desirable as the seventies wore on.  Emissions controls and ever evolving safety standards went a long way towards moving Detroit from the Steppenwolf style, fire breathing, horsepower laden beasts of the sixties to the Capitan and Tennille style, slow and heavy rides of the 1970s.  While GM cars such as the Camaro and the Firebird looked cool, the performance just wasn’t up to snuff.   Fortunately, the aftermarket has been hard at work rectifying these horsepower and handling deficiencies, and many of these cars have been modified into what could loosely be described as “pro touring” machines.  In these conversions, which range from mild to wild, often all that is used of the original car is the body and sheet metal.  This 1973 Camaro, or the best 3/4 of it, currently being sold on EBay, is a good example of what pro touring enthusiasts like to start with.  With an untouched starting bid of $3500, and a buy it now price of $9,000, is there a skilled Camaro enthusiast out there that would be willing to pay this for a pristine body to begin the build of their dreams?

If you are going to build a highly modified car, it is a good idea to start with a desirable car in the first place.  Second generation Camaros and Firebirds feature some of the finest styling ever to leave an American factory, and the low, wide body contributes to their excellent handling as well.  However good they may have been from the factory in the looks and handling department, strides can now be made in handling and horsepower that seemed impossible just a decade ago.  Companies like Detroit Speed can provide you with everything you need, from a high performance engine to air conditioning, and complete sub frames with modern suspension parts.  The limit is decided only by your ability to not bounce big checks.

You are going to need to write some checks if you end up buying this Camaro.  It currently lacks the sub frame, the engine, transmission, and the rear end.  Not that you were planning on using them anyway, except for maybe fodder at the next swap meet.  Everything you need to start with is right here, which is essentially a pristine body and various bits of sheet metal.  Everything?  Everything!

A rust free body, especially for a second generation Camaro, is important in a lot of ways.  First off, a solid body is an essential component of the structural rigidity needed to handle the twisting that the body will go through if modified for pro touring.  While additional bracing and support is often added, the body will always be the primary structure.  Second, a lot of money and time can be spent cutting out and welding in sheet metal, frame rails, and other components.  A good body usually saves you money in the long run.  This one looks to be about as good as it gets without renting a time machine to go back and squirrel one away.

Inside, the seller has left you with a nice dash and a seventies interior.  The back seat may end up being pulled out anyway, and I am sure that the front seats will be replaced with seats that are designed and built to hold the driver in place during spirited driving.  Also on the chopping block would be the stock GM corporate steering wheel and the automatic transmission shifter.  Much of the interior, provided it is not repurposed, could also be added to your swap meet parts pile.  This would likely help you offset about 1/1000th of your investment.  Every penny counts when you are trying to save up for parts, and peanut butter is your primary food group!

This car is a good start if you are going to jump off the pro touring cliff.  I have seen these machines in action at a Goodguy’s show autocross, and what you can get out of one of these cars is nothing short of spectacular.  They drive and handle like top shelf modern sports cars, sound like demons escaping Hell, and look like the spawn of Chip Foose and Rob Zombie.  I’d love to have one, but I like having a roof over my head and not having a “Norm from Cheers!” relationship with the local plasma selling outfit.  If one of our deep pocketed readers ends up buying and building up this Camaro, please let me know.  I’d love to drive it.

On second thought, I think I need to stay away from pro touring cars.  The heart wants what it can’t have.

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Comments

  1. jw454

    It looks like it was a very nice survivor car until they started “Improving” it. Now…. not so much.

    7+
  2. Steve R

    More and better pictures and an actual description would go along way towards finding the car a new home. Its hard to see $9,000 for a shell as a value purchase, then again I haven’t been in the market for one of these is a long long time.

    Steve R

    8+
  3. LAB3

    That’s one clean looking body for sure! If you’re OK with a stock interior then it’s tough to beat even at $9k. You’ll be upside down resale value wise but if a second generation Camaro is your dream car you could certainly find a deeper money pit than this one.

    4+
  4. Adam T45

    Regardless of what you built this into, you almost certainly would never get your money back. But sometimes that’s just not the point. The beauty of this is that you could build exactly what your little heart desired without destroying a classic. Sometimes it’s just not about the resale value, and at least there is less chance of coming across any nasty surprises when you start with a slate as clean as this.

    14+
  5. whmracer99

    If all the pieces are there including the aftermarket subframe then it’s a deal in the $4K to $5K range — at $9K I’m not so sure. As mentioned above, compared to starting with a $3K rust bucket you might spend more money, but a lot less time and you’ll have a solid car that’s not patched to death when you’re done. It will be interesting to see how it sells. I would wonder if someone who purchased a rust-bucket or killed true SS would buy the shell for a rebuild?

    4+
  6. john fron ct

    No bids yet. Part of reason may be the location ( Vermont). Have to factoe in $ for transport if you aren’t in the Northeast. Gotta question if everything is pristine, based on how things are stored. You would need a careful inspection.

    That said, lot’s of folks want a resto that looks bone stock. If you could
    do that for $25K on top of this, then it isn’t a bad deal. Just depends how far you want to go. I have seen many folks spend $45K -$50K starting with a rusty base car.

    4+
  7. Dovi65

    I’ve never been into muscle cars, but $9K seems a little high. I can see this easily becoming a hole in the garage which you toss money into. I’d think $4k would be reasonable money for this project.You’d never see a return on your money, but it’s not always about the return. Lord knows I’ve had my share of money pits!

    1+
  8. AMXSTEVE

    Stacey David did a restomod on one. This is a really easy build to get back on the road. Just buy the engine and subframe, bolt em on and your ready to roll. LS motor and you’re all in at 20k which aint to bad for an orange screamin Camaro.

    6+
  9. Ron

    If I weren’t already neck deep in a Cobra replica build, I would find this very tempting at about $5k…

    1+
  10. sluggo

    Its a weird deal, the storage area is also puzzling, and whats that sign? Personal Injury racing team? What is it a lawyer owned car?
    $9k seems overpriced,,, but look at the location. All those east coast guys see dollar signs when its not all rusty and this does NOT look rusty. But out here on the west coast its just a better than average donor car. But at a lower price, things could happen!
    Time to get out the tape measure and start checking but there is a lot of cheap late model corvettes for sale people cannot give away. Hmmm… If you had a title for this, and a donor corvette I see a body swap in its future and the best handling camaro to ever see the streets.

    1+
  11. Chuck Simons

    Truly a ‘crate’ body. All that boxed in wood.

    1+
  12. Mike

    Hey, what’s wrong with the Captain and Tenille????

    0
    • ccrvtt

      They’re not Led Zeppelin…

      3+
  13. Fran

    It’s worth every penny to get a car in that condition buy it now is cheap.

    1+
  14. Len

    Find a doner 2nd gen that has a decent chassis with a running engine and transmission and take the time to prep the bottom half to match the top half and bolt them together. Opening bid price should be the buy it now. Just sayin.

    2+
  15. sluggo

    Pm’ed you Brian, Hope you are not a stalker,

    I ran into this lady the other day at the VA medical center and “Interesting” conversation. She was wickedly smart and knew amazing details of many of the units I was in or worked with… But cuckoo for cocoa puffs. If you start calling or emailing like her I am changing my email. (Just sayin’) or worse, Ill give her your phone and email. (Just sayin’)

    See: http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2010/02/gresham_woman_not_guilty_of_te.html

    ” A Gresham woman thought she had information that could stop a terrorist attack and the start of another war.

    So she called the home of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

    And she called the home of Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

    Her calls weren’t appreciated.

    The Department of Defense and the Department of State told her never to call anyone who worked for them again.

    But Mary Jo Pullen-Hughes, who estimates she has made about 75,000 phone calls to public officials, bureaucrats and journalists over the last two decades, isn’t easily discouraged.

    When she phoned receptionists at both departments, the federal government pushed to have her prosecuted for telephonic harassment.”

    0
  16. Rob S.

    These things are dime a dozen. $500 for a fixer upper, another $10k for suspension mods and wheels, $20k for a good stroker small block and you too could go to the good guys short track for some fun. Always ask high and see what you could get, good ol American business! They are good looking american muscle but the price of admission is is a tad high.

    1+
  17. Tyler

    Sold at the buy it now price, thankfully, because I would have been tempted. And I don’t even need it, but I probably have enough parts laying around to have completed it. You just don’t find many rust free early 2nd gen Camaro’s anymore. It wouldn’t surprise me if this hull found its way under a 70 or 71 Z/28 or RS VIN. It went for a few grand less than a Dynacorn body, & was all GM.

    3+
    • Brian Crowe

      It’s been relisted and is at $6500 with 7 hours left. Reserve not met.

      0
  18. JamestownMike

    WOW! SOLD for the $9,000 buy it now rather quickly! Beautiful body……..but NO sub-frame, motor or trans. $9k seems pretty high to me! Like Tyler said, someone probably needs a nice donor body for a Z28, RS or SS.

    1+
  19. Falconfam

    That was a deal at the buy it now. Anyone saying $500 or dime a dozen has not looked for an early small window second gen Camaro or Firebird. Most you find at minimal rust are going to top $5,000 and need thousands in body work. Modern suspension and modern drivetrain with that clean original paint body and you will have quite the vehicle and still come in good money wise! Clone split bumper…..so many choices.

    1+

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