1967 - 1969 Camaro Parts - Buyers Guide: 1967 - 1969 Camaro Part 1 - Steves Camaro Parts San Bruno - 650-873-1890

Anyone who's ever owned a 1967-1969 Camaro will smile when telling you stories about his car--and a look of wistful regret comes over his face when he explains why he had to sell it. For many, the Camaro is the one that got away. Not only was the body style unique, but it came to market with something for everyone: value-minded sixes, mid-level V-8s, and knock-your-socks-off, take-'em-to-the-track small- and big-blocks. This is a big reason why Camaros are now so highly sought and why the legend continues to grow. The first generation was produced through November 1969; the last year of this body style was prolonged because Fisher Body had difficulty perfecting the deep-draw quarter-panel dies of the 1970 model. At the time, this gave GM higher-ups major headaches, but today it means there are more first-gen Camaros than there should've been and more cars for collectors to choose from.

First on sale in September 1966, the Camaro was Chevrolet's response to the Mustang and looked unlike anything else on the road. Some of its platform was shared with the upcoming 1968 Chevy II, and the frame structure was a "semi-unitized" design: A front steel subframe assembly was the basis for engine, transmission, front suspension, and steering components; and from the cabin back, it was a unibody structure. While the unibody portion made the F-car lightweight and less expensive to produce, it caused the cabin to suffer from squeaks and vibrations, and inferior metallurgy and metal-prep made the body prone to rust.  Base models are referred to as the sport coupe or convertible. The next level up, the Super Sport, includes bigger base and optional engines, a different hood, badges, and slight suspension differences. There also is the Rally Sport trim level, which could be combined with the base models or the SS. Rally Sports feature a different grille with swing-away headlight doors (these have had their share of problems) and other exterior styling cues. The Z/28 was built to race. The engine just squeaked in under the Sports Car Club of America's 5.0-liter displacement limit, making it eligible for Trans-Am racing. Along with the 302 and four-speed manual transmission, it received heavy-duty front and rear suspension and a special exhaust--and came only as a hardtop. Pinstripes and bodyside stripes were available on RS and SS models, and the Z/28 received its own striped-paint scheme. But not all Z/28s came with this, as a buyer could order it without stripes.

 Appearance changed little from 1967 to 1968, but there are some visual cues that differentiate these model years. The first-year Camaro's vent windows disappeared for 1968; this is the easiest way to distinguish the first from the second. The second year, side-marker lights were added in the front and rear. The front turn-signal lights, which had been round for 1967, were made rectangular for 1968, but Rally Sports used square lamps in the lower valance. Decklid spoilers first became available in 1968. In addition, the location of the VIN plate, which had been mounted to the forward door pillar on the driver's side in 1967, was moved to the top of the instrument panel in 1968. This made it visible through the windshield. While it's a bit tougher to tell a 1967 from a 1968 model, there were noticeable differences between those first two years and the third. The 1969 model was a lower, wider car, with revisions to most of the body. The grille takes on more of a V shape, taillights are wider, and the wheel openings are more squared off.

Interiors were designed for convenience, and Chevrolet's goal was to provide plenty of equipment in the base layout. Stepping up to the Custom interior trim level added upscale door panels with armrests, upgraded controls, and more stylish seats. The most notable change to the interior for 1969 was a new instrument panel.

Engines are key when it comes to the value (and cost) of a Camaro. At launch, there were two inline-sixes and two V-8s for the sport coupe and convertible. The Z/28 only came with the 302. The three 1967 Super Sport options were a 350, a 325-horse 396, and a second 396-cubic-inch big-block. Despite having the same displacement, though, the latter 396 was nearly identical to the 425-horsepower Mark IV L78 found in the 1965 Corvette--except that GM downrated the power to 375 for the F-car. Model-year 1968 added a 350-horse 396 and the L89 396, with aluminum heads. During the 1969 production year, the base 327 V-8 was replaced by a 307, and there were two unofficial choices--the COPO 427s. One was the 425-horse L72, available under COPO 9561. The other 427 was the famed ZL-1 with its aluminum block and heads. Dubbed COPO 9560, the ZL-1 was designed for use in drag racing and was factory-rated at 430. Only 69 ZL-1s were built; just two were RS-equipped. With the exception of the Z/28, which came only with a four-speed manual, all models had a manual or automatic transmission. Four-wheel drum brakes were standard; front discs, and later four-wheel discs were options. The Z/28 package required the power front-disc/rear-drum option (J50/J52) or the power four-wheel-disc option (JL8), but most Z/28s sold came with discs or drums. When it was brand-new, a big part of the Camaro's appeal was the wide variety of engine and trim levels. The downside now is that a would-be collector must be careful. Watch for unscrupulous types trying to make a quick buck on the musclecar mania by building "clones" of high-priced models out of base cars. It's crucial to be sure that, if a seller claims the car is an "original" or a rare version and is asking big money for it, the tags match. The VIN, trim-data tag, and engine stamping all define when and where the car was assembled. There are "Black Books" that decipher what the tag numbers mean. Get one before you shop.

Whether it's love of the look of the first-generation F-car, a quest to feel the power of the legendary Z/28 or a big-block, or the desire to have something to take to the Burger Biggie on cruise night, the 1967-1969 Camaro is one of the most popular muscle/ponycars out there. Don't let it get away this time.

source: From the March 2006 issue of Motor Trend



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