In April 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang and started the pony car era. It set sales records that have yet to be broken and caught the powers-that-be at General Motors completely off guard, as they had nothing in their line-up that could compete.
A contingent within Chevrolet wanted to counter with a modified Chevy II but saner heads prevailed and the Panther Project, later named the Camaro, was initiated. Introduced a little over two years after the Mustang launch, the Camaro, and its stablemate, the Pontiac Firebird, had Coke-bottle styling with a cleaner look than its rivals. The standard engine was an OHV six-cylinder, but most buyers picked one of the 14 V8 options.
The buyer of an early Camaro was faced with a long list of choices. Following the lead of the Mustang, the Camaro buyer could select "one from column A and two from column B" and by the time he was done, the price could soar far beyond the base MSRP.
The SS and RS designations were options and not separate models. The SS L48 option (SS), at a cost of $210.60, gave the buyer the Turbo-Fire 350-cubic-inch engine, heavy-duty suspension, a custom hood, blacked-out rear panel and SS striping. SS badges were everywhere, including the gas filler cap and the center of the blacked-out grille.
The Rally Sport (RS) package was only $105.35 and provided appearance options that included side moldings, electrically operated headlights, a special grille and black-painted taillight bezels. The RS emblems were on the grille, gas cap, and front quarter panels. If you ordered both packages, the RS badges were not added.
The 327 convertible had a base price of $2,809 but by the time the SS/RS options, a radio, whitewalls, power windows and a few more goodies were added, the price was close to $4,000. Less than 20% of the Camaro production was ordered with the SS option but, with clones now abundant, finding one so badged in decent condition is not difficult.
What is difficult is finding a good "real one." The SS/RS designations were options so the VIN won't help and, even if it has a 350-ci engine, that is no guarantee it started life as an SS. Short of having the original build sheet, one test is to check for monoleaf rear springs and a traction bar on the right rear, equipment only offered with the SS option.
There's no real downside to buying a "clone" or "badger," i.e., a car built into RS/SS specs-so long as you don't pay a premium for the fake. If you can't get every bit of documentation required, treat the car as a clone and make your offer accordingly. Remember, you're going to want to sell this car someday and, if you don't have all the right paperwork, buyers will ask the same questions of you.
RS/SS Camaro convertibles continue to be strong at auction and we expect good examples, especially ones with documentation, to hit $25,000 by this summer, with clones about $10,000 behind.

Comments are closed.