Authentic, "no excuses" cars hold their value even in a down market, and this result bore that out, with fierce bidding from the outset


This rare 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS NASCAR Pace Car finished in Dover White with Deluxe Blue Comfort Weave interior features its original matching-numbers 396-ci big-block backed by a Muncie 4-speed. It is nicely loaded with options, including power disc brakes, power steering, factory air conditioning, power windows, console with gauge package, fiber optics, rear vigil light, steel wheels with poverty caps, front and rear spoilers, AM/FM Blue Dot stereo, tilt wheel, rosewood wheel, and more. Additionally, NASCAR installed the roll bar and seat belts when it was delivered new to the Daytona Beach headquarters.

This car represents just one of seven produced for the eight major races NASCAR held in 1969. One of the cars was relettered and used at another race later on in the year. There are said to be only three remaining NASCAR Pace Cars still around, but this is the only example known that has bulletproof documentation. Always trading hands among elite collectors, it has been part of the collections of Dick Bridges, Carl Dwiggins, and Ed Ulyate. The car was professionally restored by Camaro expert Dave Tinnell and has been driven less than ten miles since. It has always been stored in climate- and humidity-controlled buildings.

The history begins with the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin from Chevrolet, made out to the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. Attached to this is the sales tax exemption affidavit, which states that the car was specified for use in the state of North Carolina only and to be used at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, signed for by NASCAR, Inc., with William C. France's signature. The application for title and registration from Chevrolet Motor Division, Norwood, OH, to NASCAR, Inc., Daytona Beach FL, was signed by William C. France, and the first title issued was in the name of NASCAR, Inc.

The car is still titled today in the third owner's name from 1972, when he purchased it from Richard Howard, owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway at the time. Howard bought the car from NASCAR and used it as his own personal car for a couple of years. It had the same owner from 1972 until 1988, when Carl Dwiggins bought it.

Very rarely is a car of this caliber available to the general public; they are usually sold privately between collectors. This car would be the cornerstone of any collection.

The SCM Analysis

This car sold for $258,500, including buyer's premium, at Russo & Steele's auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, on January 16, 2009. (Disclaimer: I worked at this sale for Russo and Steele, which gave me the ability to examine the quality of the restoration of this car, as well as all the documentation.)

The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro debuted in September 1966 for the 1967 model year and was produced through 1969 on a brand new rear-wheel-drive GM F-body platform. With engines ranging from Chevrolet's 235-ci inline-6 through small- and big-block 327-ci, 350-ci, 396-ci, or 427-ci V8s, anyone who wanted a good-looking Camaro could make it the way he wanted.

Because of the Camaro's popularity and performance, it was selected as the Indianapolis Pace Car for 1967 and 1969 and also as a pace car for the NASCAR circuit. NASCAR was at least a 400-pound gorilla in automotive racing at that time, and its cars were representative of the "stock cars" the sanctioning body proclaimed them to be. No wonder a Camaro convertible was chosen by Bill France to pace each race, bedecked by good looking women riding in the car's roll bar-equipped rear seat.

The same profile as the Indy Pace Car

This was a good deal for General Motors, as it placed the Camaro in a high-visibility sector of a target market for the big-block cars. And it wasn't a bad choice for NASCAR, either, as the uniform fleet of white Camaros were the same profile as the Indianapolis Pace Car seen by millions on television at the Brickyard and in Chevrolet dealerships.

Camaros have taken a beating lately with the fall in muscle car prices. Once-mighty Z/28 RSs and true high-horsepower big-block examples have been reduced to the values of more than a few years ago. While not built in nearly the same quantity as the Mustang, there is little shortage of well-restored, numbers-matching Camaros, along with a floodtide of resto-mods and tributes. Many of these cars were built during the run-up in prices, and restorers have been cutting them loose to a new breed of enthusiasts who value over-restored cars more than those that ever rolled out the doors of Norwood or Van Nuys.

Unlike plenty of cars with claimed, and perhaps actual, body-off rotisserie restorations with suspect outcomes, this car appeared to have been restored by somebody very knowledgeable. The interior was correct and well-executed; under the hood was the same. The low mileage since recommissioning was evident, and yet the hand-painted details to either side of the car had a sort of down-home authentic feel to them, as one might expect in a car used to promote a southeastern racing series.

The price this Camaro realized is greatly out of line with Camaro prices in general, but there's a pivotal reason. This is more than a Camaro with a big-block and a top that goes down: It has an extensively documented history, including an unbroken chain of ownership. The sales price accurately reflects the quality of the restoration and also the quality of the complete provenance that accompanies the vehicle.

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