Chevy Camaros are among the most coveted Chevrolet models. They have an avid following, and for good reason. Enticing looks promise excitement, performance, and fun all at a reasonable entry cost. It is little wonder Camaros have been sought after since their introduction with the 1967 model year. But there are a handful of these potent pony cars that stand apart from their brethren. They have higher performance, are more exclusive, or are imbued with traits few others have. These are the most collectible of Camaros, and usually carry a commensurate price tag. In no particular order:
1969 Chevy Camaro ZL-1
The 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL-1 had a one-year-only production of just 69 units. The ZL-1 package was ordered through the Central Office Production Order (COPO) system, and was not listed as part of the regular options list. COPO #9560 included an all-aluminum 427 cubic-inch Big Block engine rated at 425 horsepower (many will argue the number was quite a bit higher because it was), stronger axles, disc brakes, cowl induction hood, and your choice of either a Muncie M-22 four-speed “Rockcrusher” (only twelve were ordered with the Muncie) or three-speed Turbo Hydramatic automatic transmission.
The first fifty ZL-1s ordered all went to Fred Gibb Chevrolet in La Harpe, IL, to satisfy homologation requirements for NHRA Super Stock racing. The remaining 19 ZL-1s were distributed amongst other dealers. According to the current Hagerty Price Guide, a 1969 ZL-1 in #1 condition is valued at $712,000.
1970 Chevy Camaro Z/28 LT-1
Troubles with the transition to the new-generation 1970 Chevy Camaro delayed their launch until February of 1970, prompting some to refer to the model year as the 1970 1/2 Camaro. The new Camaro had a much more European appearance, with very little in the way of exterior adornment, frenched headlights, and round turn signals. RPO Z/28 came equipped with the potent 360-horsepower 350 Small Block LT-1 in its final year of full power before being choked by emissions equipment.
The Z/28 package also included bright accents on the engine, a heavy-duty radiator, power brakes, Positraction rear end, black painted grille, Z/28 emblems on the grille, front fenders, and rear deck, dual exhaust, special suspension, heavy-duty springs, 15×7 wheels, raised white letter tires, rear spoiler, stripes, special instrumentation, and a four-speed or Turbo Hydramatic three-speed transmission. The 1970 Chevy Camaro Z/28 LT-1 is often overlooked, but deserves consideration if for no other reason than its performance: Car and Driver recorded an impressive 5.8 second zero-to-60 time, and a quarter-mile time of 14.2 seconds. Hagerty Price Guide value for a 1970 Chevy Camaro Z/28 LT-1 in #1 condition at $65,000.
1969 Chevy Camaro COPO/Yenko
In 1969, Don Yenko, the owner of Yenko Chevrolet in Canonsburg, PA, took advantage of the Central Office Production Order #9561, to have iron-block 425-horsepower L72 427s installed at the factory. This served as the basis for the Yenko Camaro. Yenko added badging, stripes, and other performance equipment like an 800-CFM Holley carb, high-rise intake, 4.10-geared 12-bolt rear end with Positraction, heavy-duty suspension components, and power disc brakes. Around 200 1969 Yenko Camaros were produced. Hagerty Price Guide Value for #1 condition is $335,000.
1988 Chevy Camaro IROC-Z 1LE
In 1988, the Chevy Camaro IROC-Z could be had with either a Tuned Port Injection 305 cubic-inch V8 rated at 195 horsepower when paired with the four-speed automatic, or 220 ponies with the five-speed manual, or a Tuned Port Injection 230-horsepower 350 cube mill that could only be backed by the four-speed auto. But, much like the COPO cars of the 1960s, if you knew the secret handshake, password, and had the super-duper decoder ring, you could score yourself the illusive 1LE package.
Chevrolet feared the 1LE’s performance capabilities would be excessive for the street, so you had to be able to prove the car was going to be used for either IMSA or SCCA competition. You had to order the IROC-Z package with either the LB9 305 cubic-inch engine or the B2L 350. You had to specify RPO G92, the Performance Rear Axle with 3.42 gears for the manual transmission or the 3.23 gears for the slushbox. RPO G80 Positraction rear differential had to be specified. Then the secret wink, it had to be ordered without A/C to trigger the 1LE build. The 1LE included stiffer springs and struts, heavy-duty disc brakes, heavy-duty spindles and wheel bearings, an aluminum drive shaft, thicker anti-sway bars, and a gas tank that had baffles and dual pick-ups so it wouldn’t fuel starve under hard cornering or braking. Only four were built in 1988, although subsequent years saw much larger production. As so few were built in ’88, and they were used exclusively for competition, there were no pricing guidelines available at the time of writing.
1982 Chevy Camaro Z/28 Indy Pace Car
In 1982, the Chevy Camaro debuted a completely new body style. Nearly all dimensions were reduced for the third-generation Camaro. It was nearly 500 pounds lighter, and had a seven inch shorter wheelbase, and for the third time in Chevy Camaro history, it was invited to pace the Indianapolis 500. The Pace Car Edition Z/28s were silver and blue with an Indy 500 decal and accent package, sport mirrors, and aluminum wheels with raised white letter Goodyear Eagle GT tires. They were well equipped with a minimum options list that included a blue cloth and silver vinyl interior with a contoured driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, special instrumentation, an AM/FM stereo, and luggage compartment trim.
Replicas could have either of the 305 cubic-inch V8 engines available, although the actual pace cars were built with high-performance 350s. 6,360 Z/28 Pace Cars left the Van Nuys, CA, assembly plant. As third-generation Chevy Camaros have begun to find their stride, it stands to reason that special editions are going to rise in value. Granted, over 6,300 of these were built, but when was the last time you saw one? Unless you are an owner, it has probably been a while. A quick internet check found a few of these in better than decent condition under $25,000.