1967 - 1969 Camaro Parts - ZL-1 Water Pump Mystery - Steves Camaro Parts San Bruno - 650-873-1890

By now it is not big secret that the first two - ZL-1's were pushed through the system by Chevrolet. As per Pete Estes request, these cars were assembled by the factory using what parts they had on hand at that time. Therefore, hand built pilot engines were installed. The 850 cfm double-pumper carburetors were not available from Holley at that time, so 427/425hp 780 cfm carburetors were substituted by Chevrolet. The cars were shipped on December 30, 1968 to Fred Gibb Chevrolet. The reason for pushing the cars through was to give Fred Gibb a chance to debut the ZL-1 Camaro at the A.H.R.A. Winternationals in Phoenix in January 1969.

The bottom of the broadcast sheets on the #1 and # 2 ZL-1's contain the following information.

9560 BA
Ship 12/30 Estes requests red hot
Pilot 427 engine option 9560 BA

As Bill Porterfield was restoring the Gibb/Harrell race car, he made an alarming discovery.  In this attempt to correctly restore the car using photos supplied by Fred Gibb, one part which presented somewhat of a mystery was the water pump. The one in the old photographs appeared to be a regular long-style passenger car pump, but it looked as if it were made of aluminum. The old parts book show an aluminum pump was used only on L-88/ZL-1 Corvettes. But that was a short-style pump. The books show that all big-block Camaros were equipped with the regular production cast iron pump!  Bill found a collector friend who had a long-style aluminum pump that had been removed from an "engineering car" that had been purchased by a GM Tech Center employee. The body of the pump had a 3868811 casting number and was identical in appearance and shape to the cast-iron long-style pump.

A deal was made for the pump, and Bill went on to attempt to confirm the history of that number. He managed to make contact with a fellow who was a program manager during the development of the Mark I, II, III, and IV big block engines.  He remembered an aluminum pump being released to production for the ZL-1, then cancelled a short time later when a problem was discovered. The bearing was loosening up and moving in the body of the pump during the durability test program. Since an original photograph of the #3 Berger ZL-1's engine shows a cast iron, Porterfield concluded that only the first two ZL1 Camaros were built with the aluminum pump.  Porterfield was very satisfied that he was able to obtain a pump that "looked lik the one in the Gibb photo."
After all, the car was then one step closer to a 1969.

source: The 1969 Camaro Reference Book
by John R. Hooper


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