1969 Camaro, Review, Speed, Engine and Looks



1969 Camaro, Review, Speed, Engine and Looks
1969 Camaro
The 1969 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 the 1069 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.

The 1969 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 1969 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 1969 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 muscle car 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 cars out there. Don't let it get away this time


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