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1969 Camaro

jim4444jim4444 Posts: 124
edited March 7 in Chevrolet
I've always liked em and will be in the market for one soon. I know the chances of finding a Z28 or a car in great condition will be slim, or it will cost me an arm and a leg.

I know if I do find one for an acceptable price it will need a frame up restoration and thats ok, I may not buy for a year or so.

I am asking everyone out there to tell me your '69 Camaro stories and give me any advise you have.




  • Jim444: I know of a '69 Z28 in good condition that might be available to purchase sometime in the next year, if you're still interested. It is a red 4 speed with the 302 V8 and just sits covered in the owner's garage. He may be wanting to sell it to help buy a bigger house, which he indicated he wants to do in 2002. Show your interest by posting a message herein and I can give you more information.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    HI Jim,

    A 1969 Camaro need not cost you an arm and a leg. It would depend on options and condition, and except for the rare models, these cars are still very reasonably priced. Also, they made a lot of them, they are not scarce.

    Parts sources are plentiful, so there should be no huge problem with that.

    Mostly, you want to avoid rusted, bondo sleds, or cars that have been pieced together from 2-3 automobiles. Get a sound car with good paperwork and start from there. I wouldn't touch a rusted car no matter how good the price. My advice would be to look for a shabby original car that has not been repainted or banged up too badly.

    As for options, even the base V-8 and automatic would be great...a 6 cylinder car would be worth less, so keep that in mind.

    Some people have already converted 6 cylinder cars to V8, so watch out for that. I have no real problem with it, as long as you know that it was a conversion and you pay accordingly.

    All this "matching number" business can get a bit silly if you are buying a car to drive and enjoy.
    This is a good 'ol made in the USA Chevy, not some foreign French poodle car--it doesn't need thoroughbred papers to be enjoyed.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    These early camaros are wonderful hobby cars to enjoy. Now, throw in a healthy 350 hp 406sb and a manual tranny of your choice, and you'll have a lot of fun...
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    According to VMR, a #3 Z/28 should be about $12K. A basic Camaro with a SB should be about $7K. Surprisingly, a big block (396/375) base Camaro is worth as much as a Z/28. I would not have thought that.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I don't think VMR pricing is good enough to be relied only solely. A comparison to to CPI (Cars of Particular Interest) would be a good idea. Also, you can average out the pricing at using some online software.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Where do you get CPI data? Wouldn't the traderonline data just reflect asking prices? As you have said, asking prices are npot selling prices, especially when dealing with collector cars where a couple of dreamers can really scew the results.
  • egkelly1egkelly1 Posts: 30
    I still think the body style of the 1969 camaro is one of the best. How would these cars be as a dailey driver today? Do they handle OK?, and what about safety-I know the later camaros were built with a subframe that ended at the center pillar-so they frequently broke in half in crashes.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,594
    I knew a guy who bought a '69 Camaro pace car convertible back in 1988 for $5,000. I think it was called an RS/SS. It had hidden headlights, I remember that much. The covers no longer worked, so he had to move them by hand. I remember it had a 350 in it, too, but I doubt if it was stock or original.

    Around that same time, I worked at a veterinary clinic, and I remember the receptionist drove a 1969 Camaro, but it was just a 307. Nice car, though.

    egkelly, all Camaros, regardless of generation, were unitized, meaning they had a subframe that held the engine/transmission/front suspension, and another subframe that held the rear end. Come to think of it, did the Americans ever build a compact car that was full body-on-frame? The smallest body-on-frame car I can think of was the 1978-88 GM intermediates (Monte Carlo, Cutlass, Malibu, etc).

    Which generation was the one known for breaking in half in crashes? I've seen plenty of '70-81 Camaros that are so rusted out that they'd probably break in half, but have never seen the actual act!
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    dgraves---I was thinking that a combination of averaged out asking prices plus a few price guides would give the buyer a general ballpark of value. It is true, though, that asking prices do not determine the market....I call asking prices "exercising your First Amendment rights" (freedom of speech).

    A 1969 Camaro would make a decent daily driver, sure...plenty of power, reasonable size, and with modern tires and shocks probably able to handle itself well enough around corners. The brakes, of course, are pure 1969 so you need to adjust to that.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Well, I have one data point. I drove my '70.5 Z/28 into a tree at 45 mph and it didn't break in half. In fact, I replaced the front clip and subframe and got it back on the road a few months later. Of course, the front half and back half were never the same color again.
  • zr2zr2 Posts: 6
    I ordered it in Oct '68 and got it in Feb '69. Has close ratio 4sp, 410s but little more (was 2 striper in AirForce). My brother just bored it .20 and it fills real strong again. I had run reg leaded until I did hardend seats and the 11 to 1 pistons showed it. She's blue with white strips and white interior. Still fun to drive but cost of gas keeps it in garage a lot.
  • amazonamazon Posts: 293
    Which engine would be the best one for a weekend- fun-first-generation Camaro?
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    (I only check these ng's every month or so...)
    A couple of opinions....

    Make sure you get the following options...

    power disk brakes
    power steering

    Of course, avoid rust like the plague, assume all cars w/out original engines (get someone familiar with this sort of thing to examine the VIN on the block) are fake (Ok, ok, X codes are worth something). I think an SS350 (a '69) is probably the best deal as they are nearly identical (except for the engine) to a Z/28 or SS396 (heater box notwithstanding).

    Personally, I would hunt for a rust-lite, standard transmission 307 car and assume I would replace a large part of the drivetrain with something like a ZZ4 crate engine (about 3k from Chevrolet) and maybe a 6 speed if I was feeling bucks up. Throw in stuff like a gauge package from a COPO (140mph speedo, center fuel gauge, 8k tach, forget the center console, they're a pain to read), aftermarket seats, and some handling stuff and you've got a pretty cool car (albeit slower than a new one).

    As far as handling stuff goes, I'd love to see a reasonably priced approach (ie non pro-touring) to making these cars handle even adequately. My last car (a '69 Z/28 with original headlights and hoseclamps, whooo hoooo!) handled like a pig even with koni's and Comp T/As. I would guess the right answer would be to put on less agressive shocks and a good set of sway bars (Quickor maybe?). Honestly though, decent power steering makes a world of difference in the fun-to-drive angle.
  • jim4444jim4444 Posts: 124
    What is he asking for it and whate part of the country is it in?
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    No power steering for me, thanks. I had a '67 RS with no power steering and it was great. I even had one of those relatively small aftermarket steering wheels. Yeah, it took two hands in a parking lot but the feel on the road was great.

    Come to think of it, I wasn't too fond of power brakes back then either. It seems to me they were overboosted and had absolutely no feel to them. Very easy to lock up in a panic stop.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    Where I think the steering earns its money is when things start happening in a hurry. Lets say you're performing a big ripping parking lot burn-out in a 396/375 convertible with manual steering. The car starts acting a little twitchy, you're hosed with manual steering. Really though, it might just be from driving cars with 255/60 15's, but I think its really hard to move the wheel with enough speed if you're doing anything more than just tracking through the corner. Probably the best answer is a retro-fit with a late '70s Trans-Am power steering box.

    The problem with non-power brakes is that you get...ta da... front drums. (and not the big finned ones you get with an old Alfa or something). I admit that they are a bit touchy.

    In general, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that in order to use these cars as *cars*, the best answer is to update them in a number of ways. Modern tires, sway bars, a Pertronix ignition system, Baer (or whoever) brakes, updated steering (heck, you can buy bolt in rack and pinion I think). I think that the results would not be tremendously expensive, the resale value of the improvements is not *awful* (just bad, 30% maybe?, I'll bet it's better than the ROI of money spent on a 914 or a street racer 510 though) and you end up with a pretty cool car.

    The alternative is something that gets driven only in parades or on weekends to the A&W and back (with a side trip to the gas station). Start driving a 302 Camaro to work everyday on Interstate 80 in the East Bay (like stupid me) and your thoughts will turn to the beauty of hydraulic lifters, power steering, better brakes (and how!!!) and tamer cams.
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Good point on the power brakes. I had forgotten about the front drums. Definitely a big negative.
    255 sounds big for the front but I still don't have a feel for the translation from letter sizes to metric sizes. I think I used to run G60-15s in the front (may have even been F60s, I know it was G60s on the '70 Z/28). I don't know what that translates to for a section width.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    I seem to remember that 255/60 15 is the same as G60/15. What I've noticed is that 15x7 (ie Z/28 wheels ) work fine while 15x8 (ie Corvette wheels) rub in the *back* with the larger tires.

    I'll bet that the clearances also greatly depend on the build quality of the car + the accident history (jeez... these are cheaply made mass-produced goods after all). I had a '70 Chevelle convertible for a while that (with no obvious accident damage) had a really suprising amount of difference in rear tire clearance between the left and right sides.

    While I'm musing about that, I wonder how tweeked all the 4 speed big block cars got after a few years of getting wrung out (especially when they cost $1200 dollars each in the early and mid '70s). I'll bet there was some serious crookedness imparted through the years to 396 Novas and the like. Of course, now that the more desirable cars have transmuted from sheet metal to Ming vases, it probably doesn't matter much.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    I've got to say how much I admire some of the current "Pro-touring" style hotrods that are being built out of 1960's cars. Some of those guys have just killer fabrication skills (Mark Stielow for example) and the results are *very* cool. Personally I would much rather see Camaros go through this kind of treatment (well..., save a few ZL1's and Pace Cars for museums) rather than get into the hands of the guys who study original overspray patterns and heater hose markings.

    Heck, you might even end up with a car that can keep up with a new, $24k, V8 Camaro (that would take considerable time and effort I admit).
This discussion has been closed.