Steves Camaro Parts - 1969 Camaro LM1

1969 Camaro LM1

The “SmallBlock” Sleeper

Now, you may be asking yourself, just what is a “LM1” Camaro? LM1 is an “RPO” or Regular Production Option for customizing your new Chevrolet when you ordered it. Just like the Z28, which you may know by name, is actually a high performance package known as RPO Z28. Certain options, when ordered, either precluded or included others. For instance, with RPO Z28, you could not get RPO C60, air conditioning. Similarly, choosing RPO Z28 required that you get a “hardened” drive-train which included a lighter, high performance Muncie transmission, and a 12 Bolt rear among other things. Same thing with the RPO Z27, or “Super Sport”. With RPO Z27, you had to get RPO J52, Front Disc, Rear Drum brakes.

Who knows for sure why, but it seems that General Motors had a way to get around some of these requirements (COPO cars*), or combinations of options which seemed to trigger a car as “High Performance” and require the hardened drive-train. Starting with the first camaro in 1967, Chevrolet made a sleeper car that triggered these “High Performance” standards, but without any external badging or marketing “hype”. The first, was the 1967 and 1968 Camaro L30/M20. Then, for only a limited time, around October to December of 1969, there was the LM1. Thus, what I call the “SmallBlock Sleepers” were born (my slang term and not any official GM or industry accepted term)

LM1 was an engine RPO, which “only” resulted in a net gain of 5 horsepower. BUT, this RPO triggered a whole host of High Performance features, and allowed you to choose others. More importantly, it allowed you to NOT choose some features which drag racers particularly disliked. Such as the heavier Disc Brakes and heavier “SS” hood (although the Disc Brakes could be ordered, I have seen very few LM1’s with disc, but several with Power Drum). First, the base transmission, just like the SS cars, was the lighter, higher performance aluminum case Muncie instead of the cast iron Saginaw in base Camaro’s. 12 Bolt rear ends, multileaf springs and other performance options made these cars “Smallblock Sleepers”. Most LM1’s look like regular base camaro’s on the outside, dog dish “poverty” caps, no special badging and no special hood. But equipped with the 12 Bolt rear, multileaf springs, and optional Muncie M21 transmission, made this car ready for any drag racer to drop his engine of choice into. Many of the LM1’s that I have seen also have the RPO N10, Dual Exhaust and U17 Gauge package. Together, you could order a LM1 Camaro for an additional 50.00, add Dual Exhaust for 29.00 and the gauge package for 90.00, and for $169.00 over base have a ready to drop in your engine drag car! This is as opposed to the “SS” RPO Z27, which cost $281.00 and in most cases had items that drag racers wanted to remove anyway. As a side note, the 1969 LM1’s also got the “chrome” air cleaner lid that the SS cars got. Who knows why?

In or around January 1, 1969, RPO LM1 was replaced with RPO L65, which did not rate sufficient horsepower to trigger any of the high performance features of the LM1. In many cases LM1’s were later badged to look like SS cars, and could pull it off as these cars for the most part were “Pre X Code” cars. Finally, many of these cars were “raced hard and put away wet”. Due to these factors, it is rare to come upon a LM1 that retains it’s original drive-train.

Years ago I bought my first LM1, and with the help and knowledge of the folks at the camaro research group ( and other hobbyists identified it. At that time, very little was known about the RPO LM1. Since then, I have owned several and have actively searched them out. I like the unusual. I like the sleeper look. Z28’s and SS’s are everywhere. COPO’s are cool, but who can afford $200,000 cars? And if you can, who drives them on the street?

Why did Chevrolet produce several versions of sleeper camaros throughout the years?

The 1967-8 L30/M20, the 1969 LM1, and later the 1985/6 thru 2002 Camaro 1LE cars?
(If you don’t know about the 1LE cars, google the term RPO 1LE) Who knows why Chevy created these cool cars, but I for one am glad they did!