(first posted 8/12/2012. I still see this Camaro in daily use) So what is this thing with me and white six-cylinder Powerglide gen1 Camaros? The last one inspired a ridiculous flight of fantasy, so maybe this one is baiting me, to trip me up and write something stupid again. Or is it their way of extracting revenge for my going way overboard with its 1970 successor? No, I know what it is: it’s the fact that I refuse to take shots of all the pristine, restored and modded ’69 Camaros that come out of their hiding places on sunny summer Sundays. Well, I’m not going to fall for that….crash!*&#!!
Back off, Great White Camaro Spirit; I actually did shoot this on a sunny summer Sunday, after waiting two years to catch it out of its garage. Seriously. Well, more like a carport; one without a roof, actually. But I could never get decent shots of it, sandwiched between a couple other mundane cars. How often we detoured down the alley, to see if its neighboring car might be gone.
Then one day early this summer, in one of our last seasonal rains, I spotted it in traffic, heading to its lair. Aha! I zipped in behind it, parked two cars over, and stood in the dumping rain for the driver to get out. Now, for some reason, I always assumed it would be a guy, despite it obviously being a six. No, it was a woman, fifty-ish, which made me feel like even more of a stalker than I already did, trying to confront her in an absolute gushing downpour. But in addition to wet, she was cool, and said she’d leave it on the street on Sunday.
Unfortunately, that Sunday turned out to be blazingly sunny. Where’s the ever-present marine layer, when you really need one? Most cars are tough to shoot in the sun, much more so if they’re partly in the shade. And it’s all that much more unpleasant with a white car; a study in contrasts. The Great White Camaro Spirit was out for revenge.
The other unfortunate thing about this whole affair is that I really wanted to know a bit about this Camaro and its owner. Was it her first and only car? Hard to imagine; how many miles would it have by now? A hand-me down from…an aunt? Mom? Dad?!? How many guys would have bought a six cylinder Powerglide ’69 Camaro? This is the ultimate all-American hot-blooded pony car; and I guess I’m going to have to use the word “icon”, even if I promised myself I wouldn’t.
Let’s let a few facts get in edgewise here: this really is a six cylinder ’69 Camaro. I actually got down on the ground to look at the engine’s undersides enough to absolutely confirm that. The lack of a 327 badge on the front fender should have been enough, but you never know. And it really does have a column-mounted shifter for the Powerglide. Uh oh; better run to my second- favorite site and do some quick fact checking………oops; the Turbo-Hydramatic was also available, as well as the Powerglide, in 1969, even on the sixes; which were either the standard 140 (gross) 230 incher, or the 155 hp Turbo-Thrift 250.
And there’s more: it could have the legendary Chevy Torque-Drive, a Powerglide with a lobotomy, so dumb it doesn’t even know when to make its one shift between Hi and 1st. Just leave it in Hi, and listen to the six whine and wheeze. Car Counter: here’s what you’ve been looking for.
It cost some $100 less than the smart version; in 1969, some Americans really were still watching their pennies. Quaint. So am I going to have to hop on my bike and ride a dozen blocks to go check which one it is? Here’s the deal: I’ll look at it next time I’m there, and if it is a THM or T-D, I’ll do a follow-up. Good enough?
We do know it’s not the three-speed or four-speed manual. Wow! Five different transmissions available on a six cylinder Camaro. And not one of them with an overdrive ratio. Yup, O/D was not available on the three speed. Gas was getting cheaper (inflation adjusted) all through the sixties. So what was the last year for overdrive? Now that would make a good subject for a post: the death of overdrive, before it re-emerges in its new form.
And just how many of the ’69s were sold as sixes? My trusty Encyclopedia says….exactly 25%. A bit more than I would have guessed. And how many didn’t get their sixes ripped out in favor of a V8, big or small?
We all know the basic Camaro genesis story, so we’re not going to repeat it here. But let’s just say that the ’67 and ’68 had a very modest face; as in cheap, or hurried, or something that caused it to look like it was a bit low in the IQ department.
The biggest change for the 1969 was a significantly more dynamic front end. It looks so much more awake and on the ball than the dull and sleepy ’68. Downright eager, even. Just don’t even mention the current Camaro; thank you.
The odd thing about that is that the ’69 front end is almost a dead ringer for the one on this 1964 XP-836 clay concept for the ’67 Camaro. Was it four bucks too expensive, like the 1960 Corvair’s anti-sway bar? The legendary GM bean counters hedging their bets, not yet aware that the pony wars were going to go thermonuclear? GM hated playing follow-the-leader, and the very safe 1967 Camaro shows that.
But by 1969, it was starting to feel just a bit more self-confident. New lower-but-wider hips and squared-off wheel openings gave the Camaro a more sculptured look along its sides, that really worked rather effectively.
And the previous rear end which also seems to have been bean-countered into a generic facsimile of a rear end,
developed a bit more character for ’69. I dunno; looking at these two, maybe I’m just blowing smoke out of my exhaust. Let’s just say that the ’69’s new perkier face was the best thing it got that year of the various cosmetic changes.
That’s better, moving to the less shadowy curb side of the Camaro. We haven’t talked about its wheels and tires: No Rally Wheels!! From this vantage point, those tires seem to fill out their wheel houses reasonably well, sitting on stock-looking steelies and certainly stock dog dishes.
Let’s take a look, just to appreciate a ’69 Camaro without giant bulging tires stuffed in its fenders. 215/70R14. That’s a bit bigger than stock, which would equate to a 195/75R14, on 5″ wide wheels. These are almost certainly 6″ wide wheels. Well, so much for my headline.
So what exactly has made the ’69 Camaro so über-popular? Memories of a distant youthful longing that was never fulfilled at the time? Or re-living (in perfected form) that heap of a battered ’69 Camaro that finally had to be shot dragged to the dump in 1977? But I suspect this owner doesn’t fit into either of those categories quite so easily, which of course may explain why she’s driving a grungy survivor six cylinder as her sole daily driver. Or maybe she knows something we don’t: that the value of her last unmolested ’69 Camaro six now vastly exceeds that of every resto-modded 502-powered Z/28 clone. Doubly so if it has Torque-Drive.
Nice to see a stocker all the local examples are rodded.
I know a guy who has (had?) a ’67 Camaro convertible with a six-cylinder. He said he could pop the hood and hear people gag, which is part of the reason he loved it so much.
A family friend bought one of the first Camaros I had ever seen in person, after she got paid off from a lawsuit. It was a light blue metallic with white interior, a convertible, and it had a powerglide. It was slow, and it’s structural integrity was a joke. We wondered at the time why she bought such a cheap and slow car, since she got well over $20K from the lawsuit. We didn’t know it at the time, but she was/is insanely cheap, to the point she was the butt of many jokes by her own kids and husband, none of whom were around back then. The Camaro stuck around until at least the later 80’s when her and her husband moved about 50 miles away after he retired. It looked very bad last time I saw it. She’s a widow now, and drives a low end 2000ish Silverado 4.8 V8 standard cab pickup that’s beginning to suffer a bad case of rot (She bought it used after her husband died in 2006). She’s very wealthy at this point, about 75 years old, and is still working as a nurse part time. Her kids and grandkids give her no end of crap about that truck and her “frugality”.
Were this common back in the day? Just like other sporty two doors like the Celica, where for all we remember about the hot GT-S and Alltrac version, most of them were the puny “Secretary Transport” (ST) models with Corolla engines, and automatic transmissions. Same thing with the DSM coupes.
Yes they were common.
Many had 307s and you saw a lot of non-SS 350s, but 6-cylinder models were common too. Lot of Rally Sports…not many SS396s.
These cars had a list of options with which you could personalize it to your individual tastes. You could order a secretary special – like the one above – or a Z/28…if you even knew about that option.
Chevrolet marketed the RS and SS models like crazy but the Z/28 didn’t get a lot of advertising ink until the 1970 redesign. In fact ’69 was the first time Z/28 got so much as a picture in the sales brochure.
Seeing an SS back then was a treat because most Camaros weren’t. And Z/28s were RARE until Chevy marketed them more aggressively in the ’70s. I think the SCCA Trans-Am homologation rules changed…or maybe the series’ engine spec changed, I don’t remember, but the ’70 version with that 370-horse 350 LT-1 was more streetable than the high-strung 302 used from ’67-’69.
Mine had a gutless 327 2bbl. A 250 Six would have been better.
Dont be so sure. My ’71 C10 pickup had the 250 and it was a dog. Maybe the lowered compression for unleaded gas had something to do with it. I transplanted a 283 2V from a ’64 C20 and it made a huge difference in usable power,
I liked the 250 C/10, though the stripped fleet one I drove was a couple yrs. older than yours. To be sure, it was the only Chevy among many ’60s Dodge D-series with /6s, so it might’ve been the novelty factor. It certainly handled better than those beam-axle Dodges, for I did get a bit sporty with ’em.
I seem to remember a road test of a ’68 Z28 in Road & Track.
Actually, the 327 2 barrel (210 hp) was the base V8 in Camaros. A curious choice, actually, but I guess they wanted to outdo the Mustang with at least something.
All of some 600 Z28s were made in 1967; probably significantly more in ’68, but yes, in 1969 the Z/28 went mainstream. And it the right hands, it would outrun the SS396 Camaro.
The 1970 gen2 Z/28 went to 350 cubes, in part because the Trans Am Series was petering out, or at least Chevy petered out on it. Penske went to racing Javelins. But the TA limit was still 5 liters.
The 302 engine was very high strung, and not so hot for regular street use. The 350 LT-1 solved that problem perfectly.
Midway through the model year, the 327 was replaced by the 307. I’ve seen more 307 cars than 327 cars actually (but that’s just me).
In 1970, the SCCA allowed manufactuers to destroke larger displacements to meet the 5 liter (305 cubic inch) requirement. One of the reasosn they did this was to induce Chrysler to join the party- Unlike Ford and Chevy, Mopar didn’t have an off the shelf bore and stroke combination near the magic 5 liter displacement.
This change benefited the customers, since more streetable engines could be sold, leaving the high strung small displacement motors for the racetrack.
Yes; that’s it. Thanks for refreshing my memory, which is what was petering out.
In the late ’60s, most Chevy models featured an engine lineup with the 283 2bbl as the base V8 — expanded to 307 cubic inches in 1968 — and any of several 4bbl variations of the 327 as the next step above it. For some reason, the 1967-69 Camaro did not come with the 283/307, but offered a detuned 2bbl version of the 327 in its place. It also offered 327 4bbls similar to those available in other models. The ’67 Camaro had an unusual engine lineup all around. Besides the 327 2bbl, there was also the unique 302 in the Z28, as well as the 350 (a new stroked version of the 327), which was unique to the Camaro SS that year.
For 1968, the 350 expanded to the Nova SS and Camaro, and for ’69 it replaced the 327 for all other 4bbl applications, including in the Camaro. The ’69 Camaro continued to offer the 327 2bbl as its base V8, however. The ’69 full-size cars also adopted a lineup with a 327 2bbl as their base engine, although I believe the horepower rating isn’t the same as the Camaro’s 327 2bbl; I don’t know what the difference is. Like everything else, the ’69 full-sizes used the 350 for 4bbl applications.
For 1970, the Camaro finally fell in line, offering a typical 307/350 lineup, with even the Z28 now using a version of the 350. The 327 was dropped completely for 1970, as the full-size cars no longer used the 327 2bbl either (they didn’t go back to the 307, but now had the 350 as the smallest available V8).
Earlier junqueboi indicated the the 307 actually replaced the 327 as a running change with a model year in progress. I assume he’s talking about ’69; I wasn’t aware of that.
My brother had a ’69 Camaro, L78, 375hp 396. Automatic, Power steering, but no AC. It was just another used car in 1974. And he had issues with it. I suspect it was..ahem… well used when he got it. In 1969, you did not pony up for a premium powertrain just to go to the store for your next pack of unfiltered Camel smokes. Beautiful car. Had a probably at the the time a 5K custom flame paint job on it. I have a picture of it in our driveway. I should figure out how to post it.
Man, I want this car! Come to papa!
It reminds me of the old joke, “What do you call the guy who graduated last in his class in medical school? The answer: Doctor.” What do you call a 1969 Chevrolet F-body with a straight six and a torque-drive? A Camaro! It’s a good-looking car, my favorite year for the Camaro. I’m glad it belongs to someone who appreciates it for what it is.
Finally, an F body that even I can love. 🙂 I have been looking lately at a Gen1 Camaro convertible sitting out in someone’s driveway with a for sale sign in the windshield. It looks somewhat the worse for wear, but does not appear to be driven. It is a red convertible, so the fact that it has been there so long would indicate a fairly stiff idea of the car’s worth. The only thing that would make this Camaro more attractive in my eyes would be a three on the tree transmission and a factory paint job in either that light yellow or baby blue that looked so awful on stripper cars.
This one reminds me of several years ago when I would see a Hemi-Orange Dodge Challenger convertible driving around, in pretty much this same condition (only with some Indiana rust holes added). The convertible top was dingy and worn, as was the entire rest of the car. But it was still an orange Challenger convertible. It is probably in some guy’s garage now with mirrors under it, and it’s slant 6 (I’m fantasizing here) has long been replaced by a Hemi or a 440.
Count me in as an enthusiast of this car. Back in the early ’80s while in college, I came down with a severe case of ‘car heat’ for a ’67 Firebird with the Sprint Six and manual transmission. Already nearly 15 years old by that time, it was pretty careworn, but being a S.C. car, huad no rust issues. It certainly would have been a case of trading one set of problems (my ’71 Vega) for another, but boy, wouldn’t I love to have it sitting in the driveway today!
Definitely wakes me up a lot more than the ones that just had a lot of $$ thrown at them…
Yes, a Sprint six.I used to MM over those, when they came out, and for a long time afterwards.
I was never a big fan of the 1969. It looks more bloated than the 1967-68 and has some tacky detailing, e.g., the fender sweeps look like something a 13 year old would come up with. I’d agree that the first-generation model was rather plain but the 1969 overshot.
Now, the third-generation Camaro was another story — that was one of the high points of the decade.
3rd generation? Interesting… I haven’t heard of a lot of love for those lately. Has there been a CC on the 3rd gen Camaro or Firebird? If not, it’s time. I think the early 3rd gens (’82-’85 or so) were very clean looking.
Boy, not me – second generation’s where it’s at. The way the front wheels are tucked back next to the door ruins the third generation cars for me.
Well, I gave it a Deadly Sin over at the other place, but softened my tone a fair bit for this one in the CC archive: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1982-camaro-z28-rally-wheels-absolve-all-sins/
Well, I can see why you would make it a Deadly Sin, but as a Gen Xer teen when they came out, I thought it had a super-cool design in a “Tron”, car-of-future sort of way. I love the 2nd-gen cars too, but they were badly in need of an update by 1981, and these were part of the same design school as the ’84 Corvette, which I also love from a design standpoint.
The 3rd Gens still have the “Tony I-Roc” and “HS Douche Guy” image from the 80’s, that Gen-Xer’s have hard wired into minds. Though oldest ones are now 30 years old, the design lasted 11 model years. So some say they’re ‘too new’ for nostolgia. But, they are getting scarce, and hardly any still daily driven in Snow Belt.
Last car show I was at, a clean red 84 Z/28 pulled in with t-tops, it got its fair share of attention, more than 3rd gens usually bring, so there is some increasing interest, there was a time when the 2nd gens were like that too, everyone that drove one was either a Burt Reynolds/Paul Snyder type or a 7-11 heist man, and now everyone crowds around them at car shows.
The third-gen Camaro got roasted here, sad to say. The second generation is probably my favorite but the third gen is right behind it. I happen to have a rough gold ’82 base Camaro, ’84 Z28 $100 auction special, & ’89 RS which took me through college. I love these things.
And contrary to most opinions, my ’89 has been one reliable car & would be “my” COTL. Other than a bunch of alternators & three water pumps, it has taken me from 35K miles to 186K with no trouble.
Oh yeah, I forgot I just bought an ’87 red Camaro body to use for my previously-wrecked ’87 red 305 5-speed Camaro. I’ll be hopefully starting on that project later this month.
I like the 1967-68 models better than the ’69 as well. I guess I think of their styling more as “clean” than “plain”. I wouldn’t say I dislike the ’69, but words like “bloated”, “tacky” and “overshot” are defintely more apt for the ’69 than the ’67-’68.
The same goes for the 1965-70 Mustangs. While I wouldn’t say I dislike any of them, I definitely like the first few years the best and the last few years the least.
Actually, the same is true for the entire history of the 1967-2002 Camaro: between any two years, I’ll probably like whichever one is older better. I was never a big fan of the third-generation Camaros when they were new (I was ages 11 to 21 during the period they were made) but I’ve come around on them a bit as time goes by.
Those Dog dishes aren’t original. Those are 67 Camaro only and quite valuable (Repops are about $100 each). the 66-67 Chevelle and Deuce could have had them too but the centers were painted black and the Bowtie was silver.
One of the few cars I’d leave stone stock. It’s nice to see a survivor like this.
The sister of a neighborhood friend bought a new 69 Rally Sport Camaro, white in color. And I do seem to recall these exact dog dish hubcaps with steel wheels on her RS. It is simply amazing to me that this car has survived all these years, basically intact. No doubt, the PNW is the place to be for original survivors! The owner must be constantly barraged to sell, sell. The first thing most would think at first glance is “Z/28 ” clone……
With those tires, this car looks similar to a COPO big-block Camaro. Of course, it doesn’t have a hood scoop and dual exhausts, but it could fool you at first glance. I bet she gets really, really tired of people asking “what’s under the hood?” and, “how much ya want fer it?”
I had a similar thought when I first saw it….but no!
Most ‘Pony Cars’ were commuters or go-getter 2nd cars for families. The ‘muscle car’ image only applied to the Hi-Po versions. Younger car fans assume all 69 Camaros were tire smoking versions. But back in the 60’s, people didn’t drive trucks all the time. Many drivers wanted a nice looking coupe and a low hp motor was commonly fitted.
Yeah, very true. And how many cars back in the 50s had a Continental Kit, two-tone paint, and fender skirts? I love seeing these cars that are more typical of the way things actually were.
Examples; my parents got a used 1965 I-6, manual 3 on the floor, Mustang in ’68. Was go-getter and fun to get around the city. Also, my older bro’s first car was a ’67 Mustang 6, and many his peers had similar 6 bangers in the mid 70’s.
I definitely agree with not being at all interested in overdone Camaro’s of this generation. On a similar note I was fascinated by this fairly original Firebird that appears to be doing daily driver duty street parked.
Love it! I prefer the first-gen Birds to their Camaro cousins. Where is this, with such pretty brick streets?
Charleston, SC. It’s a beautiful city.
How ironic that I drove to Keokuk, Iowa many years ago to look at a ’67 Delta 88 Custom (amazing car) on E-bay. Right down the street was parked a Royal Plum ’67 Firebird 400 convertible, loaded down with tools & etc…a true daily driver. I could not believe it.
I used to own a ’68 Firebird 400, Verdero Green, Turbo 400. Beautiful machine on the outside but the behind-the-wheel aesthetics of the ’69 Camaro put the smackdown on the ‘bird. The Firebird’s nostril hood didn’t look right behind the wheel & the gauge layout was poor. The ’69 Camaro cowl hood though is 10X more awesome from behind the wheel.
I’m actually restoring my grandma’s ’68. Although I absolutely refuse to put a small-block V8 in it, the 250 straight six and powerglide is underwhelming at best. Although there is a certain nostalgia in it, it’s just not enough power, and the cost of getting any real-world horsepower out of a 250 is prohibitive.
I plan to swap in a 4200 Vortec straight-six and 4L60E from a Trailblazer, when I find a decent one locally. Same displacement, so I can keep the nice “250” badges on the fenders, and I’ll also keep the stock column shift, since you NEVER see that anymore. A later-model LL8 will deliver roughly 300hp (more horsepower than any stock ’68 V-8 except the 396), and should deliver significantly better fuel economy. Plus, it’s still a six.
HOWEVER, if I were to find a serviceable 250 Sprint, I would swap that in a heartbeat. The Sprint was the base engine in the Firebird, and it’s a darn shame it wasn’t in the Camaro. Plenty of power, and technically ‘period-correct’.
I know it’s hard to love any Camaro. But IMO, they have always been good-handling, fun cars to drive. And they still turn heads, like it or not.
Congratulations; excellent solution! I hear Sprint sixes are getting pretty scarce indeed.
Using the OHC 6 in the Firebird made the base Pontiac a little more interesting over the standard 250 Chevy 6. They make ok power, but the standard OHC 6 in the Firebird was a 1barrel, the Sprint option consisted of a 4bbl carb and a hotter cam and exhaust. It was available on the Firebird and A-body.
Hope your mods don’t involve cutting & hacking… I don’t really understand the notion of “hard to love any Camaro”…unless you are referring to this 5th-generation monstrosity.
There is nothing wrong the 5th generation, if you can find a better looking 323hp RWD 6 speed manual sport coupe that gets 30mpg hwy for $23K, buy it
Personally, I would give up 18hp to buy the infinitely better looking (and easier to see out of) Mustang. $1000 less too.
Putting an Atlas six in a Camaro isn’t a half-bad idea. I’ve pondered putting one into an older Chevy pickup truck. It should provide plenty of torque and get good gas mileage. You will be able to embarrass owners of V8 cars and ricers with “just a six”. If it were me, I’d have a custom bellhousing made and fit it to a 3 speed column shifted manual transmission and add an electric overdrive to it to give it a real retro feel to it.
As an aside, the four spped used behind the six was a Saginaw not a Muncie. And since there was a Corvair reference in the article, it was essentially the same used in the ’66 to ’69 Corvairs; different case, internal linkage, clutch gear and mainshaft for rear engine application, but otherwise same gears, syncros, bearings etc.
I’ve always wondered what the breakdown was on 6-cyl versus V8, sixties’ Camaros. Seems like if someone wanted a low-performance, grocery-getter ponycar, most gravitated to the Mustang (I think I read once that the six/V8 split for Ford’s ponycar was around 50/50).
After Bunkie’s aircraft carrier sized 1971 Mustang arrived, it seems like more people could stomach a six in the better looking Camaro and that’s when the f-body’s sales seemed to take-off.
Although, Mary Tyler Moore stuck with the Mustang even after it ballooned in size.
I also understood that the Mustang 6 was a better performer than the Camaro 6 because Ford consciously reduced the weight of the 6 in a lot of places in the car compared with the V8s. You can always tell a Mustang 6 because of the 4 lug wheels. I also understand that most of the drivetrain was lighter weight.
Actually F body sales were at low point in 71 and 72. But, for 73 the sales picked up, and contrary to the 74-75 recession, sales kept going up, leading to the ‘Bandit’ Trans Am craze.
The M-II helped F body sales, 😉
Without having any sales/production figures in front of me, my impression is that the general trend in ponycar sales was down across the board from the last few years of the ’60s on. To do better in that environment was just to grab a bigger piece of a shrinking pie. IINM, the Mustang manged to outsell the Camaro every year that the two were in direct competition (i.e., through 1973), though the gap may very well have closed towards the end.
IIRC, F-body production for the ’72 model year was very low due to a lengthy UAW strike at GM’s Norwood, OH plant. Any decrease in ’72 sales or increase in ’73 sales may therefore be at least partly artificial.
I think the decent sales performance of the F-body in the teeth of the 1974-75 recession was due to two reasons: 1) Everybody else was dropping their ponycars, meaning that what was left of the market gravitated towards the F-bodies; and 2) By American standards of the day, a six-cylinder Camaro practically qualified as an economy car — compacts like the Nova did very well in the wake of the ’73 energy crisis, and a Camaro was of similar size and drivetrain.
This was generally true. The F-bodies had enough of an upswing in sales to keep them alive, but it was also a matter of the segment consolidating after years of diminishing sales.
Why? I think it was a combination of each new generation becoming less practical — a ’71-’73 Mustang certainly made less sense as an all-around car for economy-minded shoppers than the original did — and insurance rates. By the ’70s, it seems like finding a pony car powertrain/options combo that wouldn’t incur a surcharge was getting harder and harder.
I suppose the increase in seventies’ F-body sales was mainly just a combination of timing and luck, regardless of the installed drivetrain. The Cougar was moving upmarket, out of the ponycar class and into personal luxury, T-bird land, while the intermediate-sized Javelin and Chrysler E-bodies were all but gone. Then, the Pinto-based Mustang II arrived in ’74.
So, if someone were interested in obtaining a ‘real’ ponycar by that time, the F-body was the only choice, simply by default. A strange set of circumstances which really benefited GM’s ponycar, being able to maintain sales with minimal year-to-year changes until the all-new, next generation arrived in 1982, and that was primarily a response to the Fox-bodied Mustang’s arrival in 1979 (which got Ford’s ponycar back into some direct competition with the F-body).
You have to wonder if Ford had followed through with their plan to base the 1979 Mustang on what became the Probe, if GM would have just kept on making the second generation F-body.
Pretty much. I think you could probably compare it to the Rambler in the mid-to-late ’50s — AMC had ended up the last compact standing, which gave them a much more sustainable volume and left them in a good position to cash in when (fortuitously) the economy turned sour.
Chrysler had done some work on next-generation pony cars (and I imagine AMC had as well), so if it had really looked like the market was taking off again, they probably could have jumped back into it. It’s hard to say for sure because Chrysler and AMC were in rough financial shape, but the fact that neither returned to that segment is probably revealing. (Chrysler sort of did later, but not in quite the same way.)
It wasn’t the ’79 Mustang that was going to be Mazda-based; Ford didn’t even buy into Toyo Kogyo until the ’79s were already on sale. (There was a Capella/626 two-door hardtop at that point, but it had no relationship to the later FWD edition.) The Probe/Mustang would have been the successor to the Fox-body car, probably for 1988–89, since that’s when the Probe (and that generation Capella/MX-6 coupe) arrived.
The comparison of the mid-to-late seventies’ F-body scavenging the remaining ponycar market with the mid-to-late fifties Rambler being the only player in the compact market, is a good one, and lends some credence to those who say that AMC made a mistake when they broadened their product line in the mid-to-late sixties to compete, product-to-product, with the Big 3.
The only problem was that, unlike the fifties, the Big 3 had learned their lesson and had not completely abandoned the slim-profit-margin compact market when the economy started slowing in the late sixties. Had AMC stuck with the Rambler mantra of a compacts-only line-up, they’d have quickly gotten eaten by the Big 3. Any compact successes by AMC would have been confronted, head-on, by the big players, so it was really a no-win situation for them.
OTOH, they did have something of a minor success (if not an outright hit) with the 1971 Sportabout when no one else brought out a competitor. It was the rare case of having a product that the Big 3 really couldn’t match without killing their own subcompact or intermediate station wagon sales. They had, years before, abandoned the compact station wagon market in lieu of the more profitable intermediate station wagons, and it was felt when the Sportabout came out, AMC had that entire niche (a sporty compact wagon) to themselves. Imagine if AMC had lept much sooner and gotten the Hornet (with the Sportabout variant) produced in 1967-68 (which was when the Big 3 had all left the compact station wagon market) instead of concentrating on the Javelin.
That’s the really big AMC ‘what if’. The Javelin was a competent ponycar (at least by late sixties’ standards) but it never sold all that well, as was the case with all of AMC’s larger, non-compact products. A 1968 Hornet Sportabout might have done much better.
In fact, maybe we can get Paul to repost the CC on the 1969 Rambler 440 station wagon (subtitled, “The Last Rambler”) from a few years back, with some additional photos/comparison/commentary of the new-for-1971 Hornet Sportabout.
I always wondered what would have happened if Ford had given the Mustang II different styling cues and a different name and built a bigger Mustang on the Torino platform (or even the Maverick platform) and sold both lines of cars. The larger Mustang would be capable of accepting big block V8s. A 460 1974 Mustang would have been a monster with some minor engine modifications to eliminate some of the detrimental effects of the smog control equipment.
The 1971-73 Mustangs looked bigger than they really were. Their biggest flaw was (on the fastbacks) that they were hard to see out of with the huge C pillar and nearly horizontal back window.
The column shifter is also a trip, when do you ever see and F-body with a column shifter? It was even still available on the 2nd gen F-bodies for a few years too, though I think it was gone by the mid 70’s. Nicer trimmed 1st gens Camaros and Firebirds with the column shift had a mini “strato-type” bucket/bench seat with the wide center armrest like upline larger cars had.
As others pointed out, the wide variety of options available on these cars meant that you could have made anything you want out of them, from the steno-pool special, to the drag strip/ road course terror, to a mini-personal luxury coupe with a bench seat, vinyl top, power windows and air.
The column shifter was standard for the three-speed manual and the automatics. One could specify a floor shifter for the three-speed manual, and the automatics got floor shifters only if the console was ordered.
I know you know 🙂
It was more for the benefit of the other readers.
And we consider ourselves benefitted.
This has been a public service message.
FYI, column shift was standard fare for automatic Camaros all the way up to ’77. If you don’t order the D55 console, you get column shift. There’s few things more repulsive to me than a bucket seat, column shift car.
A previous step-sibling was given a hugger orange ’69 Camaro ordered with:
350 4bbl, Powerglide,A/C, U69 AM/FM radio, rear defog, wire wheelcovers, & probably some moldings or something.
It was a hideous combination of options. That nasty hugger orange with standard black bucket seats and column-shift. Your right arm had nowhere to go! I still loved that car though… Someone had added the cowl hood, spoilers, & Z28 stripes, making it look weird with the wire caps.
Yeah it never made sense in a 2nd gen, where the only seat choice was a bucket, in the 1st gens at least you could get a bench and column shift combo.
Thanks for confirming the availability of bench seats in these. A friend’s dad had a ’67 Firebird with Powerglide, that I drove a few times, and I was sure it had a column shift and bench-type seat. It was a V8 though, would that have been a 326 or just 301?
What can I say? The ’69 Camaro it’s in absolute one of my favourite cars of all time, if i’ll have some luck someday i’ll definitely get one ! Happy Camaro-Day !
A 4-Speed was available with the six? I don’t believe they existed, at least I certainly
never heard of it. It seemed like all the sales brochures I read listed the only transmissions for the six as the 3-spd, powerglide, turbo-hydramatic and the torque drive.
I’m surprised to see that as well. I’m also surprised to see that THM was available with the six. At least in the early ’70s, I thought that the automatic sixes were all Powerglides, the 307s came with both, and the 350 and up automatics were THM only.
Back in high school (79-80) I drove a big block 69 Catalina. Most of my friends were driving built Camaros, Firebirds and Mustangs. There was a couple mopar guys one with a Barracuda and another with a Hemi Challenger. There was one guy with a 67 Camaro ragtop with a 6 and a powerglide. Come friday night when everybody wanted to go to the races 60 miles away, guess who the most popular guy was in our crowd.
I always wondered what would possess someone to pay for a convertable and then only put the base drivetrain in it. Now days I wonder just how rare that care was.
I really like the color combination…white with red interior. I never recall seeing many of these cars with red interior: most of the ones I’ve seen were black, gold, or light blue inside.
It’s so nice to see an unbastardized example for a change.
I’ve periodically seen an orange ’69 Camaro in similar condition around here, although I don’t know what engine it has.
If only a (very) high torque diesel was coupled to the Torque Drive, with an optional overdrive for the highways, ah, automatic nirvana. Diesel sixes have very satisfactory grunt in the low to mid range, unlike gassers which either need to be revved very high or built obscenely large to get any decent low-end torque, and even then they get criticised by the buzz-bomb lovers’ association.
Fakk it: Just read about the Cummins-powered Camaro. But that is a *four*, not a low-vibration car-like six.
There’s an old Episcopal rector around here who drives a ’69 Camaro. It’s pretty worn, with a sagging suspension and an older, poor maroon with white roof re-paint. I know it’s a six cylinder because the engine was being rebuilt a few years ago, at my mechanic’s shop. Haven’t seen it lately, however. Used to see it regularly.
Nice Camaro. How about this for rare, I have owned for 35 years a 69 Camaro Convertible. Its a 250 ci 6 cyl. , turbo 350 trans floor shift, and get this, factory air cond. car. I’ve keep it original all these years dispite the temptation to V-8 the car. Its always ran strong and has never had the 250 rebuilt. Gets 22-24 MPG and has only 92K original miles. I’m going to give it to my son so he and his young family can enjoy it like we did.
Hello could anyone tell me where I could buy those exact dog dish wheels? Those fit perfectly!
Funny When I was a kid in High school in 1981 all of the classic cars now were just our used cars then. I had a 69 Firebird with the Straight 6 OHC engine with the Sprint option (4bbl Carb) Much quicker then chevys 6. My buds had the 69 Camaro and 68 Mustang. Man those were the days. I also had a 1972 AMC Ambassador coupe with the 360 and whitewall tires! I killed Mid and late 70s 80s Camaro’s and Firebirds with that thing. Wish I had them now.
When I was in tech school, just out of high school I was driving my mom’s ’70 Dodge Dart sedan with a 225 six. My buddy was driving his mom’s ’74 Matador 4-dooor sedan with a 258 six. We lived in the same direction from school so would some times race home after class ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ style. The route started on a mountainous two-lane with numerous blind hills and curves followed by a stretch on the highway. I could out drive him in the turns but if he could stay close enough behind me he could take me on the highway. My then fiancé later spun out on that two-lane and totaled her dad’s new Aspen (uninjured thank God). Thinking back on that scares me a lot more now than it seemed to back then!
I’ve had a 1969 250 inline 6, 3 speed THM Camaro for 20 years. Got it for my first car. Looks a lot like the one in this post, only blue on blue. Lost the original wheels to the owner before me, who got it from his grandmother, the original owner. Daily driver and definitely not restored. I’m super glad to see that there are some people out there who like the 6 cylinder. I’ve been told by everyone to put an 8 in it, but never did. Super happy I didn’t, not many around. And thats enough for me.. Here she is (i call her ‘the hoopti’)
Paul, Where are you located? Both white Camaros have Oregon license plates. I live in Salem, OR and have my Great Grandmothers 6 cylinder 69 Camaro in Butternut yellow. It looks almost identical to the white 69 in your blog. Tired old used car that needs everything but still drives down the road great. It is a family heirloom and will always stay stock. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you, Brian
In Eugene. And this ’69 can still be found in daily use, often parked on W 12th Ave near Lincoln. I saw it just the other day.
Thank you for the reply. I have included a picture of my Grandma’s car.
I added the “rally” wheels. I plan on putting disc brakes on in the front for safety, but everything else is going to stay stock. I get people all the time telling me to put a V8 in it, but I like it original. I like the memories of when I was a little kid watching my Grandma drive it.
My Great-Grandmother bought it brand new. She traded in her 1963 Nova and cash to buy it. When she passed in 1977, she gave it to my Grandmother who then drove it as a daily driver until 1996 when she passed. Before she passed she gave it to my mother. It is deemed as the “Mother in-law car”.
It was parked from 1996 until 2013. I installed new points, plugs, rotor, cap, wires, fuel pump, belts, changed the oil, flushed the fuel tank, changed the tires and installed a new master cylinder and brought it back to daily driving caliber. It is not a show stopper. It is old, used and has driven many many miles. The paint is faded. It has parking lot war wounds all over. The engine is very greasy, but runs smooth. I plan to slowly work on it as needed, but mainly just keep driving it.
Nice looking car and glad to see another family heirloom.
Pleased to hear the Eugene Camaros are doing well.
I prefer the 1969 too. The face looks better. Thank you for the story. Did you talk to the owner yet?
Amazing the number of transmission choices with the six. Makes you wonder if they ever thought of some carb choices for the six to tailor the performance economy balance.
This is so much better looking than the 2016 Camaro. Those things are just fuglyness personified. I’d rather spend what they want for one giving this car a correct restoration and making it a DD.
+1. I always thought the new Camaro’s were an angry caricature of the ’69. Putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa never did work.
Of course I’d rather keep my ’66 Corvair Corsa coupe.
Twenty years ago, I worked with a retired Marine Corps officer who had an identical white 1st generation Camaro with six cylinder engine, Powerglide and steel wheels with hubcaps. He had flown helicopters in Vietnam and later was the pilot of Marine One, the Presidential helicopter, for Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He drove it to work on a regular basis during the mid-90s when it was a quarter century old, and I remember him mentioning that it was getting annoying having so many people walk up to him and ask to buy it. Now I wonder what happened to him and the car, 20 years later. He and the car both would be somewhat elderly now.
Interesting find Paul. I agree that the sheet metal and grill are more interesting on these than the originals, which to my eye were just too plain.
The THM with the 6 makes a lot more sense. I don’t think I could handle the PG/6. That extra gear would make a huge difference on a light car such as this. I would prefer a 3 speed manual over a PG/6, but 1st choice would be 250 6/THM. Did I say I prefer the automatic? Must be getting old! I would take the 4 speed Saginaw over the auto with the 6, though. This car is still a great find. The red interior is a nice touch. I wonder if the employee at Griffith Park Observatory is still running his white ’68 Camaro three on tree 6 cyl stripper. I read a story a while back, been driving it for years and well over 200k miles.
In 1970 I was on convalescent leave from Great Lakes Naval Hospital. One of my fellow patients had a 68 model with 230/6 and three speed (on the floor) manual transmission. For about a month we took long weekends and drove round trips from Chicago to Wichita in his car. Comfortable ride and decent economy. Helped me make the decision to buy my 68 Nova with the six and speed manual. Not disappointments.
Chevy did them right.
Wonderful car. No frigging console, love that “feature”.
Congratulations to owners of similar cars who posted. Resisting temptation to go with the crowd must be difficult and for that you should be applauded. Plenty of resto-mods and clones around. Appreciating what you have as it stands is remarkable and retains the unique quality of the cars and their purpose in time.
I look at the 69 models in a different light after Mr. N’s photographic comparisons between the 67-68 and the featured car. Either is nice: the 68, simpler, the 69. more aggressive. One can appreciate both. At the time they came out, I felt the changes were unnecessary and cluttered up a clean, 65 Corvair type timelessness. They look better now.
I’m really not a big fan of 1-gen Camaros, but to my own surprise I genuinely liked this one. Now, thanks to Paul’s writing, I know the front end is mostly to blame – the ’69 is really such an improvement. Oh, and the wheel arches – for some reason accented semi-circular ones just don’t sit well with me, but the ’69’s are just fine.
Glad to see fans of the ’69 restyle coming out of the woodwork. It’s definitely got more staying power than the first years.
There’s still something I just dislike about the 69s, I mean I was born well after any first gen Camaros were to be seen in high school parking lots but somehow the 69 Camaro just looked like a car an asshole jock in a letterman jacket would drive, the face of the 69 just has a cocky look about it.
I still maintain the 67-68 RS nose has it all over the 69 nose in either form, the 69 RS is just plain tacky.
My 6th grade teacher (’69-’70 school year), had a ’69 Camaro convertible, it had a 6, was Royal Blue with a white top and interior. I never checked her transmission. If memory serves me correctly it was her first year in school and I think the car was new. Even when I was 9 years old, I knew it was a nice car. She later married my math teacher. Enough years have passed and they are probably now both retired.
I read somewhere in the comments about the 307 as the base engine for the 1969 Camaro. To clarify, the early production 1969 Camaro (until Dec 1968) used the LF7 210 hp 327-2bbl. In Jan 1969, the base engine became the L14 307-2bbl.
It’s neat to see an old base six Camaro around and still doing daily service, and I know that they get a lot of love on this site. That said, there is a reason that not many survive today, or had V8’s swapped in them. Not many people want them and they weren’t really much good for anything more than basic transportation. Regardless of all the love they get on sites like this, unless there is an actual demand for the cars, no one is going to bother saving them or keeping them original. I think it’s neat when I go to an old car show and see a straight six car from this era, but would I ever want to own one? No thanks. I have owned a 250 six with a PG in my old Chevelle, and quite frankly it wasn’t that enjoyable. If the car wasn’t so rotted, I had planned to swap a small block V8 into it so that it would have had a bit of power and still be economical to drive. My dad also owned a lot of straight six power cars, and I can’t say he enjoyed any of them, but it was the best he could afford at the time. People are recreating Z/28’s and SS Camaros now, because back in the day they never got the chance to buy them.
Love to see this in daily use! Plenty of character but still in solid shape. It also teaches me something–while my favorite ’69 pony car (and one of my favorites overall) would still be the Mustang Mach 1 428CJ, if you’re comparing base model to base model, I prefer the Camaro. Who knew?
My buddy has a ’69 Ragtop Camaro 6 cylinder bench seat car-yes, bench seat! Apparently it is 1 of maybe 2 in Canada. Originally built at Norwood painted Dover White w/ Forest Green interior-yuk!. It’s been repainted red, put a ’65 396 in, swapped the 10 bolt for a 12 bolt w/ 3 :42 gears. The car is a little rough as the old repair work on the 1/4’s is showing as well as the repair on the “SS” hood. Runs good but could use a going through. I’ve talked him into selling it and we are taking reasonable offers. The original 6 and 10 bolt go with the car as well as a new top. The interior is good but could use a new carpet. Would make a good bench 4 speed car……. Car is located in Calgary Alberta.
Our neighbor has a nice 1968 Camaro, butternut yellow straight 6 auto that his Dad bought new. Over 100K miles with 1 repaint, but has never been apart. The first time I rode in it, it reminded me of my 6 cyl 1976 Nova I had in high school. Quiet and comfortable, though it rides a little rough. Something to be said for a car that is old school, looks awesome, gets good gas mileage, and is almost as dependable as a new car. It certainly made me rethink what I want in a “muscle car”. He said when built it had a 327 emblem on one fender and the 250 emblem on the other. It’s still that way.
I have 69 rag top 6 cylinder. Just wondering how many were still out there
69 6 cylinder convertable
My aunt had a 69 Camaro. In a pretty sahde of blue. Not sure which, but it was like Windward or Bright blue (69 paint names). Seems like it may have had a hockey stripe? That was a long time ago. It wasn’t a new car, but I was a youngun so memroy is a bit fuzzy. Had full wheel covers. She had it painted a horrendous green solid. Black interior with console and the upside down staple shifter. Don’t know how long she drove it, but then my uncle got it. He painted it “Burple”. A nice metallic that was either dark blue or purple depending on the light. Beautiful. He had a set of Keystone Klassics that he put on every car he owned. And so he did with this. big & littles. Totally badass to me. he nailed the stance of the mid 70s? Without being too jacked up. I was totally enamored with this car. Never thought about the engine; everything he had owned til then was a V8. A couple years ago, we were talking about it and he told me it was a 6 with a Powerglide. He eventually traded it for 74? 77? Silver with a V8 and the 6 hole rallyes. Til he put the Keystones on it.
Wonder where either of those ended up? Would love to have it today just as it was in my memory. Maybe a header and nice intake on the 6. Would be priceless to me.
For all you guys that would like to own one of these L-6 230 with 2 speed auto, here you go! I found it interesting ours is just like the one featured in this post. We have owned it for over 15 years and showing 77,000 miles. Yes, it also belongs to a girl, (Wife) I am building another 69 and it won’t have a 6 cly in it. lol If it wasn’t for the Wife, this one would of had a V-8 put in years ago. I could never win that argument so like I mentioned I’m building my own now and this one is for sale. 23,000 and located in N.E. Oklahoma. P.S. Also has the Red Int.
Another pic, also has the same red pin striping on the side.
And one more. If interested have more pictures. It’s a solid unmolested Camaro. I was just under it today checking for any rust issues that may of started. NONE I could see and all original floor pans. That console just lifts in and out, kinda handy to have with this car. 🙂 Colum shift also!
lol i see this car all the time in eugene im surprised a tweaker hasing stolen it
I am original owner IL 6 69 Camaro
244,000 or 344,000 truthfully I can’t remember how many roll overs
Original engine and transmission
The rarest ’69 camaro may not be the ZL1(69 made), but rather the RS with either 230 or 250 6 cyl! I have never seen 1 on the road, tho i heard there was a convertible RS at Hershey or Carlistle a few years back. The RS’s in ’68 at least got a 3:07 rear & even with the powerglide & a turbo muffler replacing the ridiculous big restrictive sideways muffler & a taller air filter from an ’82 camaro v6, the strait 6 car had adequate power, espec with few options & removal of heavy back seat & shorter tires.
I think the ’67-68 RALLY SPORT nose is the best looking nose of the 1st gens.
See the end of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RQnj_CegWg
If you put ’67 or ’68 black headlight covers(& better yet grill) onto a ’69 RS the front end will look very similar to the ’67-68s, looking head on at the cars, since they all share the same hood, windshield & roof.
I am not crazy at all about the ’69 camaro dash with that big clock up front & center, or a blank area if you dont get the clock. I think the ’69 camaro should have used the much better looking also redesigned ’69 firebird dash.
The ’69 is also a PITA to refuel with the filler being so low behind the lic plate & if you fill up, gas may poor out of the filler when u drive away from the station, if the car has a vented non calif fuel cap. I saw it happen after i pumped gas & filled up late 60’s Novas, etc. & i warned motorists, but they would not listen to me. lol