Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stayin Alive: 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28

1977 was an interesting year.  Star Wars hit the big screens and was an instant success, the Commodore PET (first at home all-in-one PC) was shown at CES in Chicago, Apple Computer incorporated, Elvis passed on to the great studio in the sky, TCP/IP was successful in connecting 3 ARPANET nodes in what is essentially the conception of the internet...and the list goes on, but you will find little/nothing noteworthy from the automotive industry, particularly domestic OEMs.  That is because it was in the depths of the Malaise era, a time when giant bumpers and low compression engines sucked the fun/beauty from the industry -- but, if you look carefully, you might just find something worth your attention.  Like this 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 here on eBay bidding for $8,849 with 1 day to go, located in Warwick, NY.


The Chevrolet Camaro was in the middle of its 2nd generation at the height of the fuel crisis, and they dropped the Z-28 option in 1975.  It was resurrected in 1977 (1/2) as a response to higher than expected sales of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, and featured a tuned V8 engine, close ratio 4-speed manual, tightened suspension, and some sweet 70s graphics -- full details here on nastyz28.com.


The '77 Z-28 reintroduced some power into the Camaro chassis with a 185 horsepower (175 in California spec) 350 V8 that breathed through dual exhaust and was mated to a 4-speed.  It was actually a fast car for the day, capable of 1/4 mile times that would rival many of the bloated gas hogging muscle cars from the 1960s, and critically it helped Camaro beat Mustang yearly sales for the first time in history (interesting side note: The 2016 Camaro that can be found at your local Chevy dealer starts with a turbocharged 2.0 liter inline-4 that makes 275 hp - up to 57% more power from a mill that has only 35% of the displacement of this 5.7L V8).


The thing that is hard to imagine today is that the Z-28 Camaro was a smash hit when it was introduced and buyers picked up 14,000 examples -- making them a seldom seen, but not unicorn rare car.


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5 comments:

  1. I'd long thought the '70+ Camaro the most ridiculous thing ever built, with its sitting-in-a-pit driving position and its Utah-through-I80 hood.

    Until crap like the current Camaro with its M113-periscope glass area hit the market. I'm nominally pretty libertarian, but When I'm President (yeah, right) I'll sic NHTSA on these little-window stupid-cars like the Camaro and the Merc CLA like that bear that rogered DiCaprio.

    These things are still structurally floppy as hell and you need a fair bit of, particularly, front suspension work to get a little bit of jounce travel, and the pre-'74 (small bumper) or '78-up (rubber bumper) are prettier, but...

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  2. What is it, a dollar a rattle?
    $9,600 could buy me a very nice ( insert make) car

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  3. Oh man, I have a completely irrational desire for these late 70's Z/28s. I had a Matchbox just like it and even though I was young at the time it was just another "used car", I still knew it was a trashy vehicle. It wasn't the pretty Tri-Five Chevys, Chevelles, or British roadsters...it had grit, like the car itself knew that it got a raw deal and there wasn't anything it could do about it. They were owned by dudes with names like Stan, Frank, or in the case of this seller, Wayne.

    I'll likely never buy one because I enjoy things that don't rattle, turn rapidly, and get a modicum of fuel economy but I will spend the rest of my day imagining myself driving around the city in a tatty black Z/28, smoking Reds, and scowling at the world for making me work the swing shift at the foundry.

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  4. Definitely a swing shift at the foundry car.

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  5. Pretty, and takes me back to high school, but that build quality, jesus. Most every American car of this era was shit, of course. Oh well, let's listen to some Boston and smoke a doob.

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