Chevrolet quit making convertibles for a time beginning in the mid-1970s, ahead of proposed federal rollover regulations that never materialized. For the Chevy Camaro, the last of the factory convertibles had rolled off the assembly line years before with the 1969 model year. There were no factory second-generation Camaro ragtops, although T-tops could be had starting with the 1978 model year. If you wanted top down, wind-in-your-hair Camaro excitement, you had to have it custom built.
Our feature 1981 Chevy Camaro Z28 convertible was the final year of the second-generation Camaros. It is one of about 400 converted by National Coach Engineering of Michigan from 1979 to 1981, and is reputed to be one of around 100 still in existence. Finished in its original white-over-red vinyl interior, it has a full-framed white vinyl convertible top, numbers-matching 350 cubic-inch Small Block V8, Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission, power windows, AM/FM stereo, and factory air conditioning. It has only been driven 75,723 miles from new.
The Chevy Camaro’s white factory finish retains good shine, and the Z/28 decals show only a hint of fading, strongly suggesting the car has had lifelong care and indoor storage. With the top down, the car is a sharp looking conversion, however when the top is raised, it is quite wrinkled, another strong indicator of indoor storage, likely with the top down. Convertible tops tend to shrink when not stretched, but the top may be able to be stretched out again if left up outside on a hot sunny day. It would likely take a bit of time before the top could be properly latched in the up position, but this is an easy fix.
The body panel gaps are consistent with factory standards. The Z/28 spoilers and fender flares all appear to be in good nick, with no cracks or excessive fading present. Glass is clear, with no chips or tracks noted.
The bright red vinyl interior of the Chevy Camaro convertible is a handsome complement to the white exterior. It appears as if the driver-side bucket seat has incurred some frame damage toward the top of the inboard bolster near the headrest, as it slopes backward somewhat more than the rest of the seat. The remainder of the cabin is bright, colorfast, and free from the cracking that was so often a hallmark of this generation. The carpet is not faded nor does it show any appreciable wear.
The engine bay of the Chevy Camaro convertible is the standard-issue melee of hoses and wires typical of this era. The rubber gasket that seals the air intake to the cowl induction hood is still in good shape, appearing to be soft and pliable as it would need to be. The engine could benefit from a bit of cleaning, but is far from unpresentable.
This rare 1981 Chevy Camaro Z/28 convertible is being offered by Garage Kept Motors for $39,900.