COL’s Fresh Camaro Z28 Listings This Week …
You know it must be spring when you start seeing lots of fresh Camaro Z28 listings showing up in the Cars-On-Line.com Camaro Section. The first generation Z/28 Camaro is the most sought after Pony car in the collector car market. Especially prized are the 1969 Camaro Z/28’s with their rounded fender styling and cowl hoods.
Among the 1969’s found in our fresh Camaro Z28 Listings this week is a rare Dover White 1969 Camaro Z/28 with black Z stripes and vinyl roof. It has been listed for sale by a private seller from Darien Center, New York. The seller says it is original with the factory DZ302 rated at 290 horsepower, a 4-speed manual transmission and 3:73 rear gears. It also comes with the Houndstooth white and black interior, Rosewood steering wheel and Rallye wheels. The seller says it was restored about 10 years ago and has 1,200 miles on the restoration. Can you read the cowl tag in the photo? Looks like it says it is an X77 Camaro built at the Norwood plant.
Chevrolet engineer Vince Piggins designed the Camaro Z/28 back in 1966 when he sold the idea of a race ready Camaro not only to Chevrolet General Manager Pete Estes, but also to the SCCA which continued the sedan class Trans Am series based on Chevrolet’s participation as a manufacturer. Piggins is the same engineer who was credited with the success of the Hudson Hornet in NASCAR racing in its early days. He knew how popular Trans Am racing would become and wanted his race ready factory Camaro homologated for the SCCA series. Why? He dearly wanted to beat the Mustangs, the first real Pony cars and Chevrolet’s main nemisis.
Camaro is French for ???
The stories about how Chevrolet chose the name Camaro are great fodder for rumor. Some said it came from a French language derivative. Chevrolet at one point came out with the statement that it was an ancient French word meaning “friend, pal, or comrade.” When it was proven that this was not true, Chevrolet later issued a statement: “A Camaro is a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” Many years after that Chevrolet had to “fess up” to the fact that they just made it up because they thought it sounded “cool.”
Chevrolet’s Performance 302 for Camaro Z/28 …
Piggins had the brainstorm that if he combined Camaro’s 327 engine but built it with the Chevy 283 small block’s 3-inch crank, it would be a 302 with high revving 7,000 rpm performance and could be easily tweaked to 400 horsepower. The Chevy 302 was rated at 290 horsepower for insurance purposes. It produced around 360 hp with a single 4-barrel 800 cfm Holley carburetor and 400 hp with optional dual 4-barrel carbs.
They named the Camaro Z/28 for its RPO (regular production option) code which was Z28. Piggins made sure the 302 had improved weight balance, quick-ratio steering and a race-ready suspension. Power-assisted front disc brakes were a separate option but every Camaro had to have them. Air conditioning and an automatic transmission were never even considered. This was a race car for heavens sake. For the first three years, there was always a slash between the Z and the 28. Thus, it had Z/28 emblems for the first three years, and after that the following generations of the Camaro were just known as just Z28.
Standard on the Z/28 were 15-inch wheels, heavy-duty front coil springs, multi-leaf rear springs and suspension, an 11-inch clutch, and a close-ratio 4-speed with a 2.20:1 first gear ratio.
Although they got a slow start in 1967, by the end of the year the Camaro Z/28 was very competitive in the Trans Am series. Camaros dominated the 1968 Trans-Am, winning 10 out of 13 races and the championship. Camaro claimed the championship again in 1969, winning 8 out of 12 races. In 1969, the Camaro Z/28 took it to the Mustang Boss 302 on the race track, and equally outsold them in the showroom. The 1969 Camaro Z/28 won the Trans Am series again, but also sold 20,302 units to only 1,628 for the Ford Mustang Boss 302.
Even though only 602 Camaro Z/28’s were produced in 1967, the 1969 edition is more valuable. 1969 Camaro Z/28’s are among the most sought after cars in the collector car hobby. For 1969, the Z/28’s new engine code was DZ, thus the DZ302.