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The Very First Camaro

The First Camaro after restoration.

If you received a phone call or an email asking if you wanted to buy the very first Camaro what would you say? Is this a scam? Is this some joker in Nigeria trying to steal my identity? Or, would you think you won the lottery?

 Well, that is just what happened to me several years ago. I was offered an opportunity to purchase the very first Camaro, 0001. I must admit it was a combination of disbelief, what luck, YES, YES followed by realistic questions. My first questions were what condition is it in, how is it equipped, is it all original or restored and how much?
Six Cylinder Automatic First Camaro.

What followed were a series of emails and photos with some more answers but no price. The seller was looking for an offer. My offer was not high enough but more about that later.

While attending the Muscle Car And Corvette Nationals in Chicago this year I spotted the first Camaro on the show floor. It occupied a large space equal to its pedigree in the car world. The first Camaro should be a large V-8, 4-speed car with lots of options and stand out color right? No, it is a gold six cylinder automatic but it is the first Camaro. It is a pretty car and well restored but how much of it is the first Camaro? Like so many rare restored cars there is little left of what the assembly line workers assembled back in 1966.

First Camaro.

The car that was presented to me approximately 3 years ago as the first Camaro was a far cry from what I saw in Chicago. The car had a difficult life. I am not sure how long the original drive train remained in place but it and almost every other part had been removed to make it a better race car The original firewall had been modified but was still there with the all important Data Plate and VIN plate.

The following photos were what I saw back in 2010.

Very First Camaro as Drag Raced

I am sure this made someone a great drag car. If you owned this Camaro, even back in the early 70s and you saw the VIN said 0001 would you chop it up to make a dragster?

The original VIN was intact for the race car/First Camaro.

I am surprised that the VIN was still present. When it was offered to me I most likely made as bad a decision not to purchase it as the owner who chopped it up to go drag racing. However, to me the car was too far gone to be restored. I wanted it just to say I owned the first Camaro but that wasn’t worth much in the way of cash and my $2,500 offer was not good enough. As it turns out it was not even close. Rumor has the selling price at close to 20 times that amount.

Front and rear suspensions were obviously modified for drag racing and note the tilt front end. I believe I was told the front clip and doors and trunk were fiberglass.

I don’t have any notes from those conversations but if memory serves me correctly the tilt front end, doors and trunk were all fiberglass.

Very little,if any, of the original interior was left during its drag racing life.

The basic shell of the car seems sound but there was some rust. While inspecting the car on the show floor the restorer showed me how he replaced rusted areas in the trunk with patch panels. He left the welds clearly visible so that anyone could look at the body and see what panels had replaced former rusty areas.

Data Plate

 

I am curious as to what you would have done if you were offered the First Camaro when I was. How much would you have offered? Would you have taken it back to it original condition as it left the factory or restored it to its “day 3” as raced condition? Would you have done something else?

Leave your comments below.

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Richard

I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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