The 1969 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on October 5, 1969 at the Watkins Glen Racing Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was a race of attrition, beating up cars and drivers, and ultimately, only 6 of the starting 18 cars finished the race. That also meant that the pace car for that race, this 1969 Camaro L78 convertible, would get quite a workout.
This is the actual car that paced that race back in October of 1969, and retains its original engine, transmission, rear end, and all ancillary parts. It recently received an extremely high quality restoration to correct pace car specifications, and is one of the most important 1969 Camaros ever built. They built a lot of Indy pace car replicas, but this is the genuine article and not a replica built for the general public.
Refinished in the original Dover White with black SS stripes on the front fenders, along with an accurate decal kit, this car is in exactly the same configuration it was on October 6, 1968 during that amazing race. On race day, a crowd of 93,000 began to show for an expected strong American showing. Jochen Rindt survived an early duel with newly-crowned Champion and close friend Jackie Stewart and claimed his first Grand Prix victory, the first ever by an Austrian. Piers Courage finished second, driving a Frank Williams-prepared Brabham and out-racing Sir Jack Brabham himself and Jacky Ickx in the works Brabhams. John Surtees took third place at The Glen for the second straight year, this time in a BRM. Once again, the American race offered a record purse, and the total of $206,000 included $50,000 for the winner.
Befitting a car with such a pedigree, the restoration is immaculate in every way. The body has been refinished well beyond factory specification and fits together superbly. Panel gaps and alignment are spot-on, including the hood and deck lid with the optional SS spoiler. The paint is two-stage urethane in place of the original single-stage enamel, but it is right and glossy in a way that the original paint could never quite manage. The simple black-and-white graphics package on the car during the race is a pleasing contrast to the brightly colored pace cars we have today, perhaps inspired by the serious business of F1 racing in the late ‘60s. The code X22 blacked-out tail panel is a nice finishing touch.
Of course, all the chrome and trim on this car has been restored to show condition, including the bumpers and gill trim on the rear quarters. The stainless windshield surround has been professionally polished, and all the emblems and bezels are of a uniformly high quality. The black convertible top has been expertly installed and fits tightly without any wrinkles and sags, along with a crystal clear rear window.
If you’re going to pace a Formula One race, you need some serious blasting powder under the hood, and in this Camaro’s case, it comes in the form of a fire-breathing L78 big block. With a forged rotating assembly, solid lifter cam, 11:1 compression, and rectangular port heads, it made a grossly underrated 375 horsepower in the 1969 Camaro. Whatever the number, it was enough engine to effortlessly yank the relatively lightweight Camaro to race-pacing speeds and hold them without strain. Fully rebuilt to stock specifications, the matching-numbers block in this car is now dressed in a proper coat of Chevy Orange paint, along with its bright chrome valve covers and air cleaner atop the big Holley carburetor. Exceptionally original, even things like the alternator are the original pieces, with correct date codes and markings throughout the engine bay. Due to the high-winding nature of the solid-lifter engine, A/C and power steering were not available with the L78, and you won’t find them under the hood today. However, you will find power brakes, correct hoses and clamps, and production line shift stampings on the firewall. A reproduction Delco battery lives in the tray, and the exhaust manifolds are so pristine, I have to believe this engine has almost no run time on it since it was restored.
For pace car duties, an automatic transmission is a smart choice, and the TH400 behind the 396 is the original piece. In back, the original 12-bolt remains in place, spinning 3.55 gears on a Posi. Like the engine bay and body, the chassis has been restored to concours condition, with correct finishes, markings, and materials used throughout. That means satin black floors, brightly plated fasteners, and a correct exhaust system complete with transverse muffler. Everything has been rebuilt, from the brakes to the fuel system, which features a new reproduction gas tank. Wheels are correct Rallys wearing Goodyear Polyglas bias-ply tires.
This pace car is also nicely dressed with the code 712 custom black interior, a nice upgrade over the standard buckets. It also includes a lot of reasonably realistic looking wood grain details on the console and dashboard, and you’ve undoubtedly noticed that this car also includes a rare RPO N34 rosewood steering wheel. Like the rest of the car, the interior has been restored to an extremely high standard, with virtually every part being new or expertly restored. The gauges have been restored, but the 44,277 miles shown are believed to be accurate. Additional options that were probably quite useful in a pace car include the auxiliary gauges on the console and seat belts. A matching black vinyl boot covers the top when it’s stowed, and the trunk is equipped with a correct mat, spare tire, and jack assembly.
Documentation includes an owner history as well as a certified letter proving that this is the USGP pace car.
There’s a lot of history packed into this white SS. For Camaro fans, it’s another feather in the Camaro’s cap with the privilege of pacing an F1 race. For F1 fans, it’s a piece of racing history from an era when heroes were made on the track and competition was intense. Beautifully restored to original condition with all matching numbers, it is also quite simply a very rare, correct, concours-quality L78 Camaro convertible. This is a rare opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind collector’s piece. Call now!