First Generation Camaro Values
First Generation Camaro
Eric Lawrence - May 16, 2013 10:00 AM
The base V-8 for most of the first generation Camaros was the 327 engine. The car offered great styling and proved a suitable adversary in the pony car wars.
The Rally Sport package was an option and not a separate model. There were about 140,000 Camaros suitably equipped.
The Z28 became the Camaro race car and proved to be quite popular. It remains popular with collectors to this day.
It was an honor to be at the head of the field for the Indianapolis 500 and the Camaro found itself there during the Camaro’s first generation. When the fifth generation of Camaro came to be, it followed in the footsteps of the first generation, pacing the field of the Indianapolis 500.
The COPO Camaros have returned, but heads will turn when a first generation 427 model is seen. The Mecum Kissimmee auction earlier this year sold three 1969 models, all in excess of $120,000.
A time span of 892 days is a very long time … almost two and a half years.
That time frame is incomprehensible for those of us who have a hard time waiting a couple of hours for spray paint to dry, but that’s exactly how long Chevrolet executives had to wait before they could respond to the introduction of the Ford Mustang on April 17, 1964.
When the Camaro was finally released on September 26, 1966, Ford had already sold more than a million Mustangs, and was dominating the newly created “pony car” segment. Executives must have worried as they watched Ford dealers sell over a thousand Mustangs a day: “Would their late-to-the-party Camaro even stand a chance against the wildly popular Mustang, or would it simply fade away into automotive obscurity, a victim of poor timing and corporate mistakes?”
It turns out that their fears were unfounded – indeed almost laughable when viewed through the prism of 40 years of hindsight. The Camaro was a smash hit from day one, with sales of the first generation cars coming in right around 700,000 units, and this was during a time when dealers’ showrooms were literally full of exciting choices that would go on to become highly collectible cars in their own right.
Chevrolet had a few years to perfect the launch of the Camaro, and it turns out that they got everything just right. From the beginning, it was offered in a variety of styles to appeal to a wide array of potential customers. The Camaro was available in both of the typical sporty formats of the day, coupe and convertible, and included engine choices ranging from economical six cylinders to tire shredding big block V-8s. There was even a certain high performance small-block thrown in for good measure, which we’ll talk about in more detail later.
First generation Camaros include 1967, 1968 and 1969 models. Although not identical, the cars are very similar, which is why they are often referred to collectively. The 1967 and 1968 models look the most alike, but there is a very easy way to tell them apart: 1967 models have front vent windows and 1968 models do not. The 1969 models were given a moderate restyling, with the most distinctive feature being flattened wheel arches. Even annual production numbers were pretty similar for the three years: 220,906 (195,765 coupes and 25,141 convertibles) in 1967; 235,147 (214,707 coupes and 20,440 convertibles) in 1968; and 243,085 (225,512 coupes and 17,573 convertibles) in 1969.
The base six-cylinder Camaro came standard with a 230 cubic inch engine rated at 140 horsepower, with an optional 250 cubic inch six rated at 155hp. The base V-8 was a 327 rated at 210 horses, with a 327/275 horsepower optional. The 1969 model year started with the base V-8 once again being the 327/210 horsepower with the new 350/255 horsepower optional, but midway through the model year they were replaced by the 307/200 horsepower and the 350/250 horsepower V-8s.
Base six cylinder coupes in good condition are currently trading in the $16,000 to $17,000 range, with well-restored examples bringing $30,000 to $31,500. Convertibles run roughly $1,500 to $2,500 higher. Add about $500 for the 250/155hp, $1,000 to $2,000 for the base V-8, and $2,500 to $3,000 for the higher output versions.
Believe it or not, the Rally Sport was not a separate Camaro model, but was an option package available on any first generation Camaro, ranging from the entry level six cylinders to the Super Sports and Z28s. The Rally Sport package (code Z22) was very popular, accounting for 64,842 in 1967, 40,977 in 1968, and 37,773 in 1969, for a total of more than 140,000. The Rally Sport was essentially an exterior dress-up package, with the most easily identifiable feature being hidden headlights. The Rally Sport option will add about $750 to $1,500 to the prices for coupes and convertibles discussed in the “Base Camaro” paragraph.
The Super Sport was also technically an option, but since it came standard with upgraded high performance engines, unique hoods, and heavy-duty suspension mods, I’ve always treated it as a separate model. The Super Sport package included a 350 cubic inch rated at 295hp (300 in 1969), and there were several versions of the 396 available as well. There were 34,411 Super Sports (29,270 SS350s and 5,141 SS396s) built in 1967; 30,695 (12,496 SS350s and 18,199 SS396s) in 1968; and 36,309 (22,339 SS350s and 13,970 SS396s) in 1969. Nice, driver quality SS350 coupes are currently trading hands for between $21,500 and $23,000, with restored cars up around $35,000 to $37,500. Convertible SS350s run about $2,500 to $3,500 higher than coupes.
When the Camaro was being developed, Chevrolet engineers had access to a variety of high performance 396 cubic inch engines that had been produced for other applications, so it was only natural that they would make sure to leave enough room in the engine compartment for a big block. The most widely installed 396 was rated at 325hp (code L35), and will add $3,500 to $4,000 to the price of the SS350. The 350hp version (code L34), available 1968-’69, adds $4,000 to $5,000 to the SS350, and the 375hp version (code L78) will boost the price by about $10,000. The Rally Sport appearance package could be combined with the Super Sport, and it often was, creating a model called the RS/SS. The Rally Sport package will add $500 to $1,000 to the price of a Super Sport.
The Z28 is perhaps the most popular of the first generation Camaros. The heart of the Z28 is its unique high performance small-block 302 cubic inch engine, built with four-bolt mains and solid lifters, designed to qualify for the popular SCCA Trans Am racing series, which had a displacement limit of 305 cubic inches. As “race cars”, Z28s were only offered as coupes – the only first generation Camaro not available as a convertible. Horsepower was officially rated at a relatively modest 290, but most collectors agree that the true output was most likely quite a bit higher. RPO Z28 also added many of the high performance goodies on the option list, including dual exhaust, track-tuned suspension, heavy-duty radiator, etc. Other high performance parts, including the close ratio four-speed manual transmission and upgraded brakes, were required “options”.
Only 602 Z28s were produced for 1967, so they are by far the rarest. Nice driver quality cars are currently selling for $50,000 to $60,000, and good quality restorations can easily top $100,000. The Z28 proved to be very popular, and sales increased to 7,199 for 1968. Nice drivers sell for $32,500 to $35,000, with restored cars coming in around $62,500 to $65,000. 1969 was the highest volume year for Z28s, with just over 20,000 finding new homes. Due to their bolder styling, 1969 Z28s are very popular with collectors, and run $10,000 to $12,000 more than 1968 models, despite their higher production. The Rally Sport package could be ordered on any year Z28, and will add $500 to $1,000.
The Camaro paced the Indianapolis 500 in both 1967 and 1969. There were only about 100 replicas produced in 1967, and they were used as VIP cars during race week, later being sold by local dealers. Reportedly, they were all white RS/SS convertibles with blue interiors. Nice drivers run about $35,000 to $37,500, with restored cars just north of $60,000. For 1969, Chevrolet made Pace Car replicas available as a Regular Production Option (Z11) and produced 3,675 copies. All were once again white RS/SS convertibles, this time with orange stripes and houndstooth upholstery. Nice drivers with the SS350 cubic inch engine sell for just about what the 1967 pace cars do, and the same premiums discussed above for the various SS396 engines also apply to the pace cars. There were also a few hundred RPO Z10 RS/SS coupes produced as well in 1969. These sell for about $10,000 less than comparable Z11s.
The 427 cubic inch engine was not officially available to the public, but there was a way that dealers who specialized in high performance could order them. COPO stands for “Central Office Production Order”, and it is sort of like being able to order “off menu” specials at your favorite restaurant. COPO could really apply to anything, but when used in conjunction with first generation Camaros, it almost always refers to the practice of special ordering high performance 427 cubic inch engines in Camaros during 1969. COPO 9560 referred to the aluminum block ZL1 engine, of which only 69 were produced, while COPO 9561 denotes the more common iron block 427 … exact production figures are still debated to this day, but right around 1,000 seems to be the generally accepted number. ZL1s are extremely rare, and when they do come up for sale, typically trade in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Iron block 427s are also very expensive, but not quite as high. Expect to pay around $100,000 for a nice car, and up to $200,000 if it has been restored to a high professional standard. Yenko 427s are the best-known examples of COPO 9561, and will command a $25,000 to $50,000 premium.
For Information Only
Please remember to use the prices and production numbers as a guide. I’ve used several reliable sources to cross-check the information, but there are always going to be disagreements and differences of opinion, even among “experts”. Recordkeeping was really not a priority during the late 1960s, and a lot of production figures and the availability of certain options on certain cars that we assume to be correct today were reconstructed decades later. Just because you see it in a book, or on the Internet, does not make it true!
Confusing the issue even more, many cars have been documented to have come from the new car dealer in configurations that were not officially offered by the manufacturer, so who’s to say if the factory got talked into making a special version, or if the dealer made the modifications in his shop?
Some cars will undoubtedly sell for more than the figures listed here, and some will sell for less. I don’t attempt to put values on 100 point show cars or ones with a significant history or past celebrity ownership … sometimes they sell for crazy prices that don’t truly reflect the vast majority of cars out there. I did not include pricing for cars in rough condition. Cars that need a lot of work can easily cost more to repair than they will end up being worth, and the decision to restore them often comes down to how much of the work you can do yourself, and how much you have to pay somebody else to do for you. A few hundred hours spent working on a restoration in your spare time or as a hobby could easily translate into a $30,000 to $40,000 bill at a professional shop.
Eric Lawrence has been the editorof the CPI Collectible Vehicle Value Guide since 1988, and has written monthly columns for various car enthusiast magazines since the early 1990s. He can be reached at ELawrence@BlackBookUSA.com.