One of the most collectable of the first generation Camaros is the 1969 Camaro Indy Pace Car, the Z11 RS/SS 396 Convertible. Not only did Chevrolet give it the most outrageous paint job of the era, Dover whte with Hugger orange Z/28 stripes, but it also had an orange Houndstooth interior. Everything about it was eye catching. They gave it a Z/28 hood and a number of these Pace Car dealer editions even came with the big block 396 L89 aluminum head engine. These are very rare today.
We are pretty excited to find a 1969 Camaro Indy Pace Car Z11 in our listings this week. Although we have two or three of these listed every week recently, this one is said to have the L89 396/375 hp aluminum head engine with a Muncie 4-speed. If you have ever driven one of these big block Camaros with that kind of horsepower you know it is an experience every car lover should have. The seller from Upton, Massachusetts tells us this car took first place at the Camaro Grand Nationals. He says the paint is correct, side Pace Cars door emblems are hand painted instead of the decals which deteriorate with time. “It is fast, reliable and smooth driving,” he offers. “Everything works right down to the power top.”
However he notes that the car is somewhat of a tribute in that it was originally an L34 325 hp Z11 Pace Car. “It is an original 396/325 hp car,” he disclaims. But he notes that it currently has the aluminum heads, 12-bolt limited slip rear end, power disc brakes, dual exhaust, cowl induction Z/28 hood, AM/FM factory radio, power top, gauge package, endura bumper, rear window defroster, tilt Rosewood steering wheel, and popular RS hidden headlight doors. “Everything works right down to the power top.”
The Z11 option was announced in the February 4, 1969 Chevrolet Product Bulletin. Chevrolet also stated that “…we plan to build replicas of the Pace Car to be sent to nearly all of the 6400 Chevrolet dealers across the country.” They built 3,675 Z11 Pace Cars, including the Camaros that were provided as courtesy and track vehicles at the race, which they call Festival Cars.
The Z11 option was listed on the window sticker as “Indy 500 Pace Car Accents”. Door decals were included and were shipped in the trunk. The buyer could have them installed by the dealer. No SS stripes were used, but instead were replaced with orange Z/28 hood stripes and deck lid stripes. The Z11 package also added orange D96 fender stripes and had white rocker panels instead of being blacked out. The 396 cars had white sailpanels.
According to the Camaro Research Group* required options with the Z11 package included C05 white convertible top, D80 spoilers, YA1 deluxe seatbelts, ZJ7 Rally wheels, ZL2 special ducted hood, Z22 Rally Sport, Z27 Super Sport, and Z87 custom interior (orange houndstooth, code 720). The Z11 convertibles were the only ones with cloth seats.
The 1969 Camaro Z11 Pace Cars present at the 1969 Indianapolis 500 race that year included an additional 130 pace car replicas, 16 Impala station wagons, 18 pickups, two Suburbans, and one van. Forty-three pace car replicas, all SS350 automatics, were provided to the “500” Festival Committee for use in the Festival Parade and other events. Seven replicas were provided for use by Speedway officials, and five replicas were for USAC officials. The remaining 75 replicas were for the visiting press and VIP’s. It is believed that all the pace cars at the track were built in February, 1969, and all were built at the Norwood plant.
The two cars built to actually pace the race, the pace car and the backup car, were both ordered with the L89 aluminum head 375 hp 396 engines, automatic transmissions, power steering, sport-styled steering wheels, consoles, gauges, and AM radios. After assembly, they were shipped from the Norwood plant to the GM Tech Center. Both cars were then made race ready by Chevrolet Engineering and the Chevrolet Experimental Department. The engines and transmissions were disassembled, thoroughly inspected, and reassembled. The aluminum heads were replaced with L78 cast iron heads, a special 6-bolt COPO torque converter was installed, and service JL8 four-wheel disc brake axles with 3.31 gears were installed.
*Some of the information in this report was provided by the Camaro Research Group. Click here to see their webpage.