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Wrecked 1969 Camaro SS396 Project

Wrecked 1969 Camaro SS396

I can’t imagine how painful and sickening it had to have been when the owner of this Camaro SS 396 wrecked it. They had fully restored it and only put 1k miles on before the accident. Thankfully, someone had the sense to save it, rather than let it go to the crusher. It’s been parked for a while, so there is some rust forming where the paint got scrapped off and the interior is dusty. Fixing all that damage is going to be a massive undertaking, but it isn’t impossible to fix. The entire front clip will need to be replaced, but the 396 is there and hopefully undamaged. If you’ve always wanted a 396 powered Camaro project and don’t mind doing a lot of metal and body work, this one could be worth looking at. Find it here on eBay in Linden, Michigan with bidding already to $9,500.

1969 Camaro SS396 Engine

The 396 is a beast of a big block and the seller claims this one was putting out 500 horsepower! That’s an insane amount of power to have in a Camaro and could partially explain how it ended up being wrecked. It originally was a 4 speed car, but when it was restored it received a Tremec TKO 5 speed, which should make highway cruising much more comfortable.

1969 Camaro SS396

I’m not sure I would want to attempt to fix all this damage myself, especially any damage to the subframe, but if you are a skilled welder you might be able to tackle it yourself. It sure would be an amazing transformation to see unfold and hopefully the next owner is able to fix it and avoid wrecking it again! So would you take on restoring this wreck?


  1. Chebby

    Car was “Bullet Proof” but not Tree Proof. Ouch, you can see where the driver’s knee smashed the radio cutout in the dash…..

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  2. PaulG

    There’s a lot of work needed, but in the end you’d have a nice Big Block Camaro. I’ll guess it’ll bring 15K

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  3. RayT Member

    I’m no expert, but I think the damage is even worse than described. Almost looks like you’d need a complete new bodyshell, as there seems to have been a fair amount of twisting happening on impact. At the speed the car was probably traveling when crashed, there’s a fair chance the “bulletproof” engine might have been damaged as well (excessive rpms, catastrophic overheating, etc.).

    “Ouch,” indeed! No matter what, it will take deep pockets to make anything of this. Don’t know if it adds up as an investment, but a genuine early 396 Camaro could be a joy to own.

    We can see that it could also be a bit of a handful….

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  4. Blindmarc

    As long as the firewall and “a” pillars aren’t bent, it’s fixable. Man that thing is bent up!

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    • John K

      passenger A pillar looks bent, and the damage on the right rear quarter panel by the passenger door might be more evidence that the damage was not confined to the front end.

      Lovely car, scary fix.

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  5. Joe Nose

    Oh, for a black box on that final conversation…”Watch this!”

    Considering that restomods don’t even get airbags (except for bags on suspension), this looks like it hurt real bad.

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  6. Howard A Member

    Schmucked ‘er pretty hard. I wonder how the tree made out. These always did go better than they stopped. I agree with Ray, this thing is going to be kinked all over. I remember seeing several Camaro’s and Nova’s dog tracking. A shame, looked like a nice car. Must have happened at 8:45, plenty of time to get a belly full. It’s toast.

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  7. JW

    This car is very repairable, YES if you have the skills and or deep pockets. If it’s so repairable why would this owner not repair it himself then drive it or resell it, most likely he bought it back from the insurance company for a song and looks to make some more profit.

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  8. The Chucker

    That is a wicked shunt. The tub may be savable, but not without considerable work.

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  9. Dolphin Member

    I think Ray T and Howard A are right. There’s more damage than it looks like at first, and it’s not just on the right front.

    Look at the 4th from last photo. That tells you that the damage extends all the way back to the right rear quarter since that panel is badly deformed in 2 places. Door is badly sprung too.

    Given what the car is, it will probably be worthwhile for someone to bring it back. They will have a special Camaro for fairly cheap money if they can do a lot of the work needed. But it will need an expert with a frame machine to say for sure.

    And since the car is now all over the internet it will always carry this history with it. I can see why someone might not be in the mood to R&R the car 1000 miles after doing it the first time. I hope the driver is OK.

    Special car. Needs a few special people to bring it back.

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    • streamliner

      I agree with Dolphin and those who have written here about being realistic. Yes, a “do-able” rebuild — but would YOU want to pay current market value for this wreck as a “recently restored” car and would YOU want to own this as an investment? As I read the Comments, the majority are from the perspective of the car guy-seller-entrepreneur. Read: Re-seller.

      Obviously, the next owner will want current top-dollar value when he re-sells as a restored car. But if you were considering buying this after the next rebuild, then saw these pics of what this car looked like BEFORE the rebuild — would YOU as buyer for your own personal use really want this? I doubt it.

      Reading between the lines, this seller is obviously not the guy who last restored this car. He bought it wrecked, as is. Now he’s selling it. To me this means he’s either; A) An opportunist flipping wrecked cars for profit and will say anything, or B) Bought it to rebuild himself — only to determine it was too far gone. Either way this is not good.

      Better question is — would YOU want to own this car once rebuilt? I sure would not. No thanks.

      Is it fixable? Well, yes, anything is fixable given time, money and expertise. But will it ever truly be right again? No it will not. Once a car has had such a severe, high speed impact such as this car, it is done. There are plenty of other ’69 Camaros to choose from. Eh hem.

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      • Jimmy Member

        If i did the work myself, I would take pride in showing the before and after pictures.

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  10. Chris A.

    Did this series of Camaros have a detachable front subframe back to the firewall? Hope the occupant wasn’t too badly hurt in this pre-airbag car. Think about a PPI visit with the best body/frame person you can find. At least it didn’t catch on fire.

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Chris, pure speculation here, but drunks are usually able to stagger away from these wrecks.

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      • Howard A Member

        What? I’m sorry, clear headed, responsible, SOBER drivers don’t do this to nice cars like this. I come from Wisconsin, that has the HIGHEST amount of drunk driving crashes in the nation. #1 ( and I’m not proud of that fact) As a truck driver, I’ve seen it all too many times. Ok, I can see clipping a mailbox, but someone, quite possibly loaded, had the hammer down, redline in 3rd gear ( at least 100 mph) and lost it, big time. Again, sorry, you can believe what you want. This is what happens.

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  11. Lance c

    Hate to say this, but that’s going to be an expensive parts car.

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  12. 68 custom

    tweaked hard, a re-body for sure. wonder if the motor is original? and why is the restored brake booster rusty?

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  13. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Wouldn’t surprise me if this VIN showed up on a different car.

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  14. Dave Wright

    New body tub……..12,000. Maby 20-25k total in new parts. What is the car worth? I really have no idea……..If it is a 100,000 car it is worth it.

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    Jack up the antenna and put another car under it! Just say’in!

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  16. Blindmarc

    A 425 hp 396 was only available in a 1965 corvette, the vin and engine code need to be confirmed…..

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  17. BradL

    “But this body is definately SOLID!”

    Solid what? I think Id rather have rust than this much damage.

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  18. Tyler

    I’ve seen far worse fixed. An old school body man that knows his way around a frame machine can pull most of that out. The big question is how bad the sub frame ripped the floor, since seller didn’t provide any pics from underneath the car. Still gonna be a lot of money to fix, & it’s over 12k with reserve not yet met. Will the car be worth what the buyer will spend to get it back on the road?

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  19. stillrunners

    Look at those valve covers….think there’s something else under them and it ain’t no 396…..

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  20. stillrunners

    and yes Ray…..look at that brake booster…..there’s going to be some firewall and sure some floor damage….was this at COPART ?

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    • davew833

      There’s no COPART inventory sticker or markings on the windows. They could have been cleaned off, but most people don’t bother.

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  21. gregg

    Thank God it wasn’t a Mustang!

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  22. racer99

    Whole tub is twisted (look at passenger’s window fit in the roof). Is it repairable — yes. Is it worth fixing — yes. Would I buy it after it’s been repaired — uh, no.

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  23. HeadMaster1

    The world has gone nuts……Pull the engine and hope the mounting tabs haven’t been ripped out of the block, maybe the tranny and rear are good, and throw the rest away. You just don’t fix cars like this, it’s junk. Only GREED is what’s this pile of metal fixable

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  24. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    An ass for every car seat! 5 figures for this car and your family will commit you, divorce you, or ask that you leave this turkey in the yard for a planter (sans drivetrain and interior).

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  25. Mark S

    I’d just look for a donor car or reproduction body and frame. The truth is this is to much engine for a car this small and this would have been hard to handle. All you really have here is a parts car. That quarter panel damage is push back from impact energy travelling back through the car. So here’s a thought you straighten it out but now you have metal fatigue and your going to leave that monster engine in there? No way I’d ride in this death trap.

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  26. Waldon Herdman

    Would make an excellent drag car, if shell can’t be pulled back all the way. Yea the subframe is toast but a GOOD frame machine and someone that knows, can go along way. I honestly think it looks worse than it is…

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  27. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Kill yourself on the strip or on the street after trying to work the kinks out of this car’s substructure. Your funeral. Maybe demolition derby?

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  28. Mike

    I remember a 68 coming in Dad’s shop one day that looked almost this bad, it had also had a run in with a tree on a slick back country road in a light rain one night, and yes drinking had been involved. The Father of the cars owner was a friend of the family an the owner had to many wrecks in a short period, they wanted the car fixed and not report it to the insurance company. Dad and I worked on that car for probably 5 weeks, to straighten and re-weld and replace frame sections and cross members, I remember we replaced the fire wall because it was so bent in from the impact that it was easier to replace it them try and straighten it, but we got it done. The bill was so much they could have bought a good used car, but it was his kids car, and whatever that kid wanted he got it seemed. dad charged them so much in hopes they would never bring work back to us, because they kid called about every other day wanting to know when his car would be finished, people like that always pi$$ed Dad off, we always tried to do the best job we could do, but some people always gripped about how long it was taking.
    Sadly a few years later the car was involved in a wreck that killed the 2 of the 4 people inside the car, but not the owner, he went away to prison for 15 years if I remember correctly, because he was drunk at the time of the wreck!!

    This car I would be afraid of because of the damage to the front in extensive, does it look like the firewall is bent in and raised up some, also is it me are does the engine look pushed back into the firewall a little more than it should? Of course with a 396 everything seems pushed in the engine area!!!!

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  29. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I’ve been a court recognized forensic mechanic & vehicle appraiser for many years, and have seen my fair share of these TL cars [Total Loss]. It’s a VERY rare car, assuming it’s a factory 396 [COPO L89]

    Yes, it can be fixed, all it takes is lots of money and highly experienced people to pull it all together again. But it will never be “right”. Lots of crucial sheet metal that will be pulled, pushed, prodded, heated repeatedly, and that metal will deteriorate fast. Best is to carefully jack up the VIN & body tag, then drop another car under them. Cut & weld in the rear frame leg with the hidden VIN on it. These cars are approaching $200k in perfect condition, and you can bet that anyone wanting this car when restored will demand to see the hidden VIN in the back.

    If memory serves me right, only 311 L89 cars were made. It’s a very rare car. But one big question I don’t think is answered here: is it equipped with the JL8 option of 4 wheel disc brakes. Only 206 Camaros of all types were fitted with the JL8.

    [Current NADA book lists Camaro coupe L89, in their “High” condition, as $193,300, plus 25% for 4-wheel discs if it’s got them] And it better have those alloy heads too! If it’s just a 350hp 396 without alloy heads, it’s gonna top out at about $75k.

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  30. That Guy

    I’m a long way from an expert, but even I can see the wrinkled and misaligned bodywork all the way back to the rear wheels. I just can’t see this car being repairable except by cutting and welding huge chunks of another car in, or more likely by cutting the remaining good panels out of this one and welding them into another car. Maybe this car can be straightened out, but it will never be structurally safe, and I wouldn’t want to be the guy who buys it afterward.

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  31. George

    IF it is repairable, which by the looks of the tweaked a pillar I doubt, it would never be structurally sound again. Best to Dynacorn it.

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  32. Pete

    This is the 3rd 1st gen camaro I have seen this torn up after it was restored. Saw a red one, an orange one and now a green or blue one. Very sad. I wonder why people haven’t figured out that you can usually correct one if it goes sideways on ya if ya just take your foot off the gas. How hard is that? I agree with the rest of the pack your gonna need a dyncorn body and frame to fix that thing right. You maybe able to salvage most of the drive train and sure enough the data plates. But if you want to make any real money for that effort your gonna need a couple of CD’s worth of pics to show what ya done to make it perfect.

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  33. Srt8

    But it comes with 2 fenders, problems solved…..

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  34. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Lordy, how many times do I remember tearing up a car like this or a Lemans or GS400 and thinking I could replace the doghouse to “make it all better!”

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  35. Matt

    You guys are very observant

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  36. racer99

    Sold for $14K+.

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  37. Oingo

    Paint scraped off. Dynacorn sells much more than body shells.

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