Introduced in 1966, the Chevrolet Camaro arrived more than two years late to the pony car market, which gained traction in 1964 with the Ford Mustang and the Plymouth Barracuda. But that didn’t stop it from becoming an iconic muscle car.
Chevrolet didn’t waste any time and launched the Camaro with a trio of performance and appearance packages, as well as a long list of V8 engines. The RS bundle added hidden headlamps and bright trim, while the SS package came with upgrades for better handling and with a 396-cubic-inch (6.5-liter) V8 good for up to 375 horsepower.
The third package wasn’t as hardcore as the SS in terms of horsepower, but it turned the Z/28 into a track-ready muscle car. That’s right, I’m talking about the iconic Z/28.
The brainchild of Vince Piggins, the Camaro Z/28 was created to fill two gaps in the Camaro lineup. First, Chevrolet needed a competitive car for the SSCA Trans-Am series. Second, it also needed a rival for the Shelby GT350 in showrooms.
Introduced in December 1966, the 1967 Z/28 eventually became a homologation special. Power came from a high-output, 302-cubic-inch V8 with an aluminum intake manifold and a four-barrel Holley carburetor. Rated at 290 horsepower, it wasn’t as powerful as the range-topping SS, but the track-bred suspension and the close-ratio four-speed manual turned it into a capable racer and a nimble, hot-looking production model.
Chevrolet put together only 602 units in 1967, but production jumped to 7,199 examples in 1968. In 1969, the Z/28 became even more popular and moved 20,302 units. That’s also the year when it became a competitor for the then-new Ford Mustang Boss 302, also designed with SSCA Trans-Am homologation in mind.
The Z/28 remained a constant presence in the Camaro lineup ever since, although Chevrolet has yet to offer a similar version of the sixth-generation muscle car. But it’s the first-gen Z/28 that remains the most sought-after, especially the super rare 1967 version. While the Z/28 you see here is a more common variant from the 1968 model year, it’s a textbook example of how a valuable classic car should be restored.
Finished in Rallye Green, a somewhat rare color in 1968, this Z/28 looks perfect from every angle. And it’s not just the paint that shines like new. The same goes for the white stripes and the matching vinyl top. And I don’t know about you, but I’m nuts about green Camaros with white tops, regardless of the package they come with. It’s the perfect combination.
This one’s a bit special inside the cabin too. While most first-gen Camaros were fitted with mundane-looking black upholstery, this Z/28 was ordered with Houndstooth seat inserts. Unfortunately, there are no records as to how many were equipped like this from the factory, but I’m guessing not a lot of customers went with this option. Perhaps fewer than 500 of the almost 7,200 cars made in 1969?
Anyway, the 302 V8 under the hood looks just as impressive and I’m pretty sure it sounds downright fantastic as well (but our host doesn’t fire it up). All told, this Camaro Z/28 is a perfect restoration and what all barn finds hope to become when they get saved.