1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Beautiful rotisserie restoration on an original and very rare split-bumper Z/28. This is a matching-numbers example. Equipped with solid-lifter 350/330-hp LT1 V8 with heavy-duty close-ratio 4-speed transmission and Positraction rear end with 3.73 gears.

Options include power disc brakes, heavy-duty suspension and D80 spoiler package. Beautiful Mulsanne Blue Metallic finish surrounds a deluxe herringbone interior with woodgrain trim, full console and complete gauge package. Beautifully refurbished original mag wheels ride on Goodyear F60x15 Polyglas GT tires.

This split-bumper Z/28 is highly documented with the original bill of sale, dealer finance papers and factory Protect-O-Plate.


SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1971 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe
Years Produced:1970–73
Number Produced:8,733 (1970), 4,862 (1971), 2,575 (1972)
Original List Price:$3,635
SCM Valuation:$21,400–$34,500
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:N
Chassis Number Location:VIN plate under windshield on driver’s side
Engine Number Location:Pad on passenger’s side of engine forward of cylinder head
Club Info:American Camaro Association
Alternatives:1970 Buick GSX 455, 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 convertible, 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 428 Q-code
Investment Grade:N

This car, Lot 628.1, sold for $48,400, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach, FL, auction on April 5–7, 2012.

Anyone continuing to doubt the claim that early second-generation Camaros have grown into valuable commodities may need to take a long, hard look at the Mulsanne Blue Metallic Z/28 on these pages, and then consider the $48,400 it recently earned in Palm Beach.

For several years now, early second-gen Camaros have been rumored to be on the very precipice of establishing themselves as legitimate collectibles. However, Camaro and muscle-car enthusiasts have occupied the majority stake in the rumor mill, and few outside a very loyal legion of admirers have been willing to write a check for one.

The poor man’s Corvette

The Camaro has long been burdened with the label of “the poor man’s Corvette,” which is a claim strengthened by the characterization of Camaro and muscle-car enthusiasts as the “good ol’ boys” of the collector world. Although we do tend to prefer beer to champagne and cheese dip to caviar, the second-gen enthusiasts have, for the most part, represented their own chapter of the club, even among those of us with Bow-Tie tattoos and Z/28 checkbooks. Partner that somewhat unflattering brand with the fact that the 1970–73 cars tend to be categorized as second-tier Camaros, and you wind up with a rather Rodney Dangerfield-esque pony car.

In an effort to prove to myself that this sale, and several others like it, were simply outlying errors in judgment, I set about organizing my argument against them, despite my personal affection for these cars. I focused my research specifically on the 1970–73 round-taillight cars, and have done so because I believe most of us can agree that 1974 was the official dawn of the Dark Age in the history of the Camaro. However, as is often the case when I set out to prove a point, I managed to paint myself into a corner.

Zs on the upswing

After referencing the extensive American Car Collector database, as well as several auction house records and tallies from recent events, I discovered that the whispers and rumors of the eventual early second-gen push in value are simply lies. It has already happened. Going straight to the numbers reveals some surprising, but not so ridiculous, truths.

According to two decades of ACC records, the sale prices for 1970–73 Camaros, on average, have more than doubled in the past 10 years, from just shy of $16k in 2002 to over $36k in 2012. Although consistently trailing their older siblings in average value by roughly 30%, such a substantial jump in value is certainly worth noting.

It’s unrealistic to expect that second-gen cars will ever surpass the 1967–69 cars in value, but it is reasonable to assume that their values may share similar trajectories over the years.

Despite being a better car than its predecessor in almost every way, the 1970 Camaro is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same conversations as the horsepower heroes of the muscle and pony car wars. For example, the 1969 Z/28, with its underrated, notorious 290-hp DZ-code 302-ci screamer, is the kind of car that influences fathers to ponder, if only momentarily, the trade-in value of firstborns. On the other hand, the 1970 Z/28, with its lower, longer, and wider body, substantially improved engineering, and its clean-sheet, solid-lifter 360-hp LT1, is routinely overlooked as one of the best all-around performers of its era.

Harder to find

Although “rare” is a term that is, well, rarely used to describe the Camaro, the early second-gen cars may not be as readily available as you might think. Total Camaro production for 1970 barely reached half the output of the previous year, falling just short of 125,000 cars. Fewer than 9,000 Z/28s were produced in 1970, which was a dramatic drop from the 20,000 or so units produced in ’69. Numbers continued to fall in ’71 and ’72 due to worker strikes and production stoppages. Fewer than 60,000 cars were produced in ’72, and slightly more than 2,500 of those were adorned with Z/28 badges. Those numbers add up to the production of more Z/28s in 1969 than in ’70, ’71, and ’72 combined.

This car and its alternatives

So how does this particular car stack up? And where did the spike in value over the ACC Pocket Price Guide’s $34,500 high estimate come from?

Considering that this Z is one of fewer than 5,000 cars produced, was beautifully restored in a great color, has a matching-numbers drivetrain with a 4-speed and a 3.73 gear, and is highly documented, I think it is reasonable to assume that this may be one of the nicest examples anywhere. And buyers pay for quality. In addition, I think it may also be valuable to take a look at what the new owner passed on in order to acquire this car.

For roughly the same money at this same sale, the options included a 1969 RS Z/28 Camaro ($45,100), a 1969 GTX 440/4-sp ($45,100), a 1967 GTO 400/4-sp convertible ($50,600), a 1971 Challenger 383/auto convertible ($45,100), and a 1967 Corvette 327/350 4-sp convertible ($53,900). Each one of the comparable sales is a heavy hitter and a certified big-leaguer, and to insinuate that this Camaro doesn’t belong seems like an exercise in futility.

Although I consider this car to be slightly well sold, I would have a hard time arguing that it isn’t worth every penny. If you still disagree, it might be worth your time to take a close look at the 1970 Z/28 that sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale in January for $74,800. It may just be time to put that “poor man’s Corvette” slander to bed

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