Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 1st Generation on Bring a Trailer

Reggie Jackson was selling this one below on Bring a Trailer (BaT) on October 12, 2021. GM only made 602 in 1967 to homologate them for the TransAm race series. Only about 230 of those are known to survive. For 1968, GM officially introduced the Z/28 option as a “model.” That’s why those badges are missing on Reggie’s. To me, it’s more proof that the collector market is not rational. Prices paid for some of the 20 thousand examples built for 1969 are close to this final bid. Obviously, the last bidders were out of their league, gasping to offer just $112k to buy it. Reggie wants it a lot more than that!

Yellow Camaro
1967 Camaro with the Z/28 “package option.”

Anyway, two days before, I couldn’t resist adding my memories about driving one of these. On BaT, I’m “Peterdeutsch.” Below is what I wrote:

Fantastic American car! Got my personal best speeding ticket in Iowa with a similar one in 1968, was arraigned by a JP on a farm at 2 am, in a kitchen being cleaned up from a wedding shower. We left Ann Arbor at 6 pm Friday and still saw Denver on the horizon mid-morning Saturday. Posted bail using my AAA card, paid $55 for doing 130 mph in another county east. At 125, our 1968 green Z/28 Camaro started to float. I think it was turning 6500 rpm, and it still sounded happy. There was no traffic and a full moon for light on I80 back then at that hour. 75 mph speed signs flipped to 65 at night. Two red flashers blocked an underpass. We coasted to a stop, asked what had happened? The cop said we heard about you.”

The rest of my story. In September 1968, Lynn’s father gave her a green Z/28 exactly like this one below, including the vinyl top, to take to Ann Arbor, 140 miles north. She was my girlfriend Linda’s roommate, from Wapakoneta, OH, had an uncle in town and was on the varsity swim team. I asked her how on earth she got this Z/28? The part of her answer I recall exactly was: “Neil Armstrong didn’t want it.” Her father owned or managed the town’s Chevy dealership, and they knew Neil Armstrong. In those days, driving a “new model” was a very big privilege. She had the service department mount a class two hitch to bring her Honda 160 back from Denver. She taught swimming classes there for the summer.

1968 Camaro
1968 Z/28 Camaro.

Linda knew I was a good driver (TR3, a little SCCA school, then a VW), so she suggested I help Lynn because she had only a few weekends to get her Honda. The school was close to semester midterms. We took turns driving fast. I did most of the night shifts. The back seat was awful for sleeping. My feet had to be on the passenger seat. There was little padding in the cushion on the hump for my pelvic bone. Lynn slept more because she had padding on her hips, plus it was dark. And I remember snacks at gas stations were a lot more miserable than now.

Corvettes real cheap. Years later, I read that GM gave each astronaut a one-year $1.00 lease on a new Corvette. The launch of the C3 for 1967 was a well-known disaster. I’m sure that would get an astronaut’s attention. Neil probably preferred to get another C2. I’ve seen mention that his 427 was found in a barn.

We couldn’t race back to Ann Arbor. Cops didn’t mind us towing a Honda in a trailer. It had to have been late Sunday that we rolled into Ann Arbor because I vaguely recall some glitch with another day’s rent returning that trailer on Monday by myself. But I got to drive her Camaro some more. No other American car I had ever driven felt that lively, and I worked as a parts gopher and parker (now it’s a valet) at a Pontiac dealer during high school in 1965.

Postscript: German Efficiency

My most trivial speeding ticket came in the mail. I was visiting my mother in the land of the Autobahn, where I had once kept my right foot planted in the left lane between Düsseldorf and Köln to legally see 240 kph on a digital speedometer. Back in Ann Arbor, this time I received an official looking German envelope in the mail. Oh, oh, what happened to my mother, I thought. No, it was about me, caught doing 60 kph in a 50 kph zone, and a €10 fine! I actually remembered a flash of light in my eyes after rounding a downhill curve into a tiny village with a Wirtschaft in a converted mill and a few farm houses. I am still astounded by the quality of that photo of my face through the windshield.

Nabbed again in Germany. And just now my wife reminds me this was not my only experience getting fined for speeding in Germany. But I was in the passenger seat that time. I told her that she was driving too slow. Germany again demonstrated its penchant for efficiency, on a Sunday morning at that. A junior officer, in training on the side of the road, flagged us down near the yellow sign that read Hückeswagen with a red diagonal line through it. It is where the speed changes from 60 to 100 kph. Speed limits are generally 30 or 60 kph in a city, unless posted otherwise. He informed her that his radar detected her speeding. She tried to act innocent and foreign, and I held my tongue. After the usual exchange of an ID and rental contract, a quick scan of her AmEx card settled the matter. Now, whenever I even think that she could go a little faster, she reminds me of that more expensive speeding ticket.

You might wonder why I wasn’t driving, fair question. We used to visit at least annually, with the proviso that we’d visit a city that interests us to adjust our clock for a few days before visiting relatives. Eventually she would sign up as alternative driver at the car rental agency. Soon she realized that driving there is a lot more fun than driving at home. The roads are well marked,  no pickup trucks or huge SUVs, no potholes to dodge, and the drivers behave much better than Americans (no sipping coffee, eating hamburgers, or texting while driving!). So we usually take turns driving, although the Autobahn is my domain.