For many Camaro enthusiasts the pinnacle of their favorite car’s 45 year legacy is its original mission to dominate SCCA’s fabled Trans Am series. Never have the worlds of automotive production and automotive motorsports been so closely linked; and the idea that an eager gearhead could walk into their local Chevy dealership, check the options sheet for a Z/28 Camaro, and build it into a race winning super car via factory supplied parts is better than fantasy! Unfortunately, Chevrolet’s official SCCA program was short lived, the purity of the original Camaro Z/28 was even shorter lived and, thanks to the high attrition rate of track cars, today’s enthusiasts usually take solace in aging photos and well-done replicas. But every once in a while the planets align and fortune smiles as an unassuming member of their fraternity stumbles upon a jewel like this fully documented Watkins Glen record holder. One of the first 25 pre-production Z-28s built specifically for tearing up America’s road courses, this old school Trans Am winner is a one-of-a-kind show car that was driven to fame by SCCA legend Gary Morgan. Today with an extensive race record, a storied history and major car show awards under its belt, this Camaro is the perfect investment for any collector who likes to win big and make history!
In March of 1964, Ford took young buyers by storm with the introduction of America’s first pony car. It wasn’t long before rival Chevrolet realized the breadth of Dearborn’s newest star and planned a suitable competitor codenamed ‘Panther’. Even with a rush to market, the leadership at GM knew the Panther project would take at least two years to fully develop; and subsequently, Ford would have a major head start defining what was quickly becoming the country’s hottest segment. So, Chevrolet brass decided the only way to truly establish the Panther as a better alternative to the Mustang would mean proving its superior performance ability. SCCA’s new-for-1966 Trans Am series seemed a logical test bed, and F-body engineers started lobbying the agency to continue its faltering sedan class to showcase the newly christened Camaro’s prowess. However, SCCA refused to commit to another season until GM assured full factory support, and Chevrolet’s Project Cheetah racing program was officially kicked into gear. By mid-1966, a simplified version of the Cheetah package was in the hands of both GM executives and car enthusiast publications. In early 1967 the first 25 RPO Z-28 Camaros, all bound for SCCA competition, were delivered to Chevrolet''s top dealers and a few well-known drivers. And in 1968 and 1969 Chevrolet won back to back Trans Am championships officially establishing the Camaro as a serious competitor to the once untouchable Mustang.
Ordered by Heinrich Chevy-Land in Rochester, New York, and driven by Watkins Glen Walk of Fame inductee Gary Morgan, this 1967 Camaro is the 17th pre-production Z-28 built to kick off Chevrolet’s official SCCA Trans Am racing program. During its three years with Morgan at the wheel, the car set both 1967 and 1968 Watkins Glen speed records, collected 11 victories and two second place finishes, claimed an SCCA Area 11 A-Sedan championship, and was bestowed with 4th place honors in the Finger Lakes Region SCCA Northeast Division. As is often the case with successful motorsports campaigns, major publicity lead to major sponsorship and this historic F1 eventually headlined a trio of TV commercials which aired during both the 1968 presidential debate and the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. Today, authenticated by both Gary Morgan and well-known Camaro authority Jerry MacNeish, it’s a 100% correct restoration of a racing icon that is believed to be the only complete, pre-production SCCA Z-28 ever publicly displayed.
After racing under various drivers and getting lost in the sands of time for almost 20 years, this one-of-a-kind Camaro was found wearing 95% of its original paint and one repaired quarter panel. The car’s new owner, initially looking for a clean Z/28 to restore as a semi-daily driver, recognized its “4P” branded cowl tag as something special; and eventually executed a frame-off restoration that, even though the car showed up to two 1967 events, accurately recreated its 1968-spec appearance. A smooth coat of correct GM code R Bolero Red lies between slightly flared fenders, Ermine White rally stripes and a full outfit of era-correct logos and decals. At the front of the car, a bright “Chevrolet Camaro” header emblem shines above a standard Camaro grille, aluminum headlight and parking light fillers, mesh valence inserts, and a 1968-spec D80 front spoiler. At the top of the car, a flat F1 Camaro hood rides below tight pins and like-new glass which is framed by spotless stainless trim, cleared by satin finish wipers and secured by small aluminum tabs. Form comes courtesy of painted drip rails and chrome “Camaro” fender emblems which have been strategically incorporated into large Gulf logos. Function is provided by bright trimmed vent windows, correct chrome mirrors and obligatory factory door handles. And at the back of the car, stainless trimmed back glass props full-length braces above a polished fuel filler, tight decklid pins, a 1968-spec trunk spoiler, pristine Camaro tail lights and an aluminum block off plate for the car’s factory fuel cap.
When GM planned the Camaro line they decided Chevrolet’s reliable small block 350 would be the perfect base engine. Unfortunately, SCCA’s Trans Am class imposed a 305 cubic inch displacement cap and Chevy’s engineers had to quickly create a suitable powerplant to coincide with the car’s launch. Their solution was to build a track-ready option package around a tweaked version of the brand’s tried and true Turbo-Fire 327. And the result is this 302 cubic inch mill which, in addition to being original to the car, is thought to be the last prototype 302 in existence and the only prototype 302 ever displayed to the public. Naturally, this legendary flag chaser is equipped with some of the best performance equipment GM ever developed; and throughout its three years of factory racing, ran the gamut of horsepower numbers from 290 for street use and insurance semantics to 400 at its inaugural race and somewhere north of 465 when equipped as it sits today. At the top of the block an exceptionally rare cowl plenum induction system forces wind through two correct Holley list 4295 4-barrel carburetors and an early, 1968-spec Winter cross ram intake. At the sides of the block, correct double hump heads hang bright, stamped Chevrolet valve covers above an authentic set of Stahl headers. At the back of the block, a familiar points distributor sends power through fresh AC Delco Premium plug wires. And at the front of the block, new V-belts center a massive pulley fan between a deep shroud, a correct radiator, reproduction GM hoses and authentic tower clamps. Aesthetically, this F1 trophy winner’s fully restored bay is top notch in every way from its Gary Morgan autograph and correct Delco Moraine brake booster to its dual remote oil filters and track-ready coolant catch tank. And the engine’s vivid Chevy Orange paint contrasts beautifully against straight, satin black fenders and a super clean firewall.
In addition to a cowl plenum fed small block V8 and ill-fated Z-22 Rally Sport appearance enhancements, the initial proposal for RPO Z-28 included Chevrolet’s optional F41 suspension, familiar J52 front disc brakes, heavy duty J65 metallic rear drum linings, a close ratio Muncie 4-speed with an 11 inch clutch from the division’s 396 cars, and 15 inch Corvette wheels with wider 7.75 tires. And while the bottom of this racer has been modified to better fulfill its team’s mission of dominating the Glen, it still closely resembles an F1 Camaro with factory fresh underpinnings. The hot small block’s power flows through a tough M22 Muncie 4-speed transmission to a correct 12 bolt Posi-traction rear end. Turns come courtesy of a track tuned double A-arm front and rear leaf suspension which combines large diameter power disc brakes with a thick front sway bar, upfitted traction bars, an upfitted panhard bar and tight manual steering to provide stellar driving dynamics. And a thrill inducing soundtrack roars through mandrel bent side pipes that are bolted directly to the car’s authentic Stahl headers. All this expertly restored muscle rolls on an era correct set of 15 inch Torq Thrust D magnesium wheels which are fitted with 6.00-15 front and 7.00-15 rear 1968-spec Goodyear tires. And since no wholesale replacement of the floors was needed, they were appropriately restored, finished in a smooth coat of GM satin black paint and accented with both stainless hardware and braided hoses.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly looked at the pictures of this Z-28’s sparse and well-used interior and put to rest any creeping thoughts that it isn’t a pure-bred race car. A complete roll cage wraps around a tight fitting race bucket which is equipped with both a four point RJS racing harness and a rare bowtie headrest. To the right of that bucket, you’ll notice a small fire extinguisher, an oil accumulator for the wet sump oil system and a tough and durable Hurst T-handle shifter. At the front of the car, a correct heater and radio delete dash hangs a second Gary Morgan autograph between simple aluminum filler panels. At the sides of the car, restoration-fresh door panels and window hardware serve as the only blatant aesthetic modification from the Watkins Glen glory days. In front of the driver, a Kirkey-padded steering wheel spins around a simple instrument panel which centers an Auto Meter tachometer between a full set of Stewart Warner accessory gauges, a full set of chrome accessory switches and an Auto Meter Pro-Lite. And behind the cockpit, the car’s would-be trunk houses a fresh stainless fuel cell, a high performance Holley electronic fuel pump and a new battery.
Naturally this killer Camaro, which is sold on a bill of sale held here at RK Motors Charlotte, comes with a stack documentation that includes: a binder full of historic clippings, vintage photos and official judging sheets, letters of authentication from both Gary Morgan and Jerry MacNeish, modern photos of Gary Morgan signing the car’s dash and air cleaner, a copy of Gary Morgan’s official race record, a list of previous owners, copies of both the car’s feature in Super Chevy and Chevy High Performance, and three DVDs of vintage race footage.
As a rare and significant piece of automotive history, this storied SCCA racer has racked up many awards including:
* The Illinois Camaro Club 1992 Best of Show
* The U.S. Camaro Club Gold Award of Excellence (979 out of 1000 points)
From its iconic body to its exceptionally rare engine, this 1967 Camaro Z-28 is a highly accurate piece of Americana that’s ready to hit the show field and continue its winning streak. With a storied past, a prominent SCCA record and a high quality restoration, it combines immeasurable historical significance with unbeatable value. If you’re a diehard Chevrolet enthusiast who’s been waiting for the ultimate show piece, here’s the opportunity of a lifetime!