Despite what you may be reading and seeing on TV, not all first-generation Camaros are priced through the stratosphere, and they're not all super-rare pieces of exotica that can't be driven. In fact, they're still some of the best cars to own, drive, and modify, with an incredible network of suppliers to help you build just about any car you can imagine. Done correctly, they make excellent drivers and everyone who knows about cars knows an early Camaro when they see one, making you an instant celebrity wherever you go in one. They're still extremely fun cars, just like they were when they were new.
This 1968 SS396 tribute car is such a piece. Built to be driven and enjoyed with a big block and a 4-speed, it has been refurbished to a very high standard that will make you proud whenever you take it out. With Chevy's wonky serial numbers, VIN plates and cowl tags in 1968, it's awfully hard to figure out exactly what you've got here, but we can say for sure this was originally a V8 Camaro coupe when it came off the assembly line. Whether it was a real SS396, there's really no way to say for sure, but that doesn't mean it isn't an awesome SS396 as it sits today and does it really matter?
The cowl tag says this car was originally Butternut Yellow, but I can't be the only one who is glad to see it's now an incredible electric blue that is somewhere between Fathom Blue and Lemans Blue with the white SS stripes on the nose. Someone else sprayed the 2-stage urethane over some straight body panels, but our experts recently wet-sanded and polished it to perfection, and it absolutely glows. The stripes are embedded under the clear for a seamless look, and it is obvious that the car was completely disassembled for the process. Just because it isn't a super-rare piece doesn't mean you shouldn't do it right.
The trim is excellent, and someone definitely took their time polishing all the stainless. The chrome is very nice, with a lot of quality reproduction pieces including the simulated vents on the hood which look great. The wheelwell trim is straight and blemish-free, as are the drip rails along the steel roof (which was formerly black vinyl). Panel fit is above average, and all the emblems, trim, and lenses are in excellent condition with a Camaro, there's just no excuse not to get it right the first time. The glass is in great condition, and the entire car just looks right.
The builder obviously cared a great deal about making this car right from the start, and the engine compartment is highly detailed and surprisingly authentic. Dressed like a real L78 SS396, the engine even features authentic smog gear in functional condition. The radiator hoses are correct with the proper tower hose clamps, and there are decals and stampings throughout that suggest someone did their homework when putting this car together. There's a Holley 4-barrel nestled under the open element air cleaner, which sports reproduction decals. Heck, they even included the big block torque strap attached to the driver's side exhaust manifold bolts, designed to keep this torque monster from moving around too much when you stand on it.
And while it's dressed like an L78, this engine is far less temperamental and fussy, with a hydraulic camshaft in place of the original solid lifters. Since this car was designed to be driven, the owner wisely chose a stout big block but didn't stress it to the limits, so it's friendly on the streets swilling pump gas. It fires up effortlessly, idles nicely, and pulls like a well-tuned big block should. It is not nearly as peaky as the original motor, and much friendlier in day-to-day operation. This is a car you could easily drive every single day if you wanted to, and it isn't going to foul plugs and need constant nursing on hot days. Just get in, turn the key and enjoy.
The engine is backed by a tough 4-speed manual topped by a Hurst shifter for positive action. Personally, I really like how these old 4-speeds feel and sound you just don't get that from a modern transmission and I think that's a shame. Run this car through the gears and you can hear the machinery doing its thing, which is what high performance is all about. Out back, we just got done installing a stout 12-bolt stuffed with brand new 3.55 gears and a fresh Eaton limited slip for easy highway cruising and superior traction when you put your foot on the floor.
Mechanically, everything is new or rebuilt underneath, from the brakes to the suspension and everything in between. Being a street car, the chassis wasn't detailed to the 9s, but the undercoating is tidy and everything was clearly installed after it was done so it's clean. The exhaust system is an all-new system, and all the lines and cables are fresh as well. The tires are new Firestone F70-14 redlines on reproduction Rallye wheels for a true vintage '60s look.
Climb inside and you have one of the nicest driving environments ever created. I really like the cockpit design of the Camaros, and especially like the no-console cars because of their no-nonsense look (maybe this is just the racer in me coming out again). This black vinyl bucket seat interior has been completely restored from headliner to carpet and everything is new. The seats are full of fresh foam with new covers, there are new seatbelts, and the steering wheel is a correct SS piece. The dash is full of cool-looking rebuilt gauges with brushed stainless faces, and there's a trio of matching Stewart-Warner auxiliary gauges mounted ahead of the shifter, along with a clock and a cool column-mounted Stewart Warner tach.
So don't get all swept up in the hype that says collector cars have to be garage queens and are just too nice to drive. The real hobby is all about driving these cars, and Camaros are some of the best running cars around no matter what's living under the hood. This one pushes all the right buttons: big block power, a shift-it-yourself transmission, and killer looks. The workmanship was first rate, but they wisely chose not to over-restore the car so you'd be afraid to enjoy it. If this were my car, I'd put it on the road every chance I got, and new rear tires would be something I'd be buying every few weeks. Come in and try this Camaro on for size, you won't be disappointed.
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What Customers Are Saying
First I would like to say that the staff at RK Motors were very professional and courteous. I was very impressed with the write-up and the details that were presented on this car. The photo shoot was amazing and the video was outstanding. Tony Klein, the consignment manager was amazing to work with. Tony always answered all of my questions within a timely manner. I was impressed with the time frame in which my vehicle was sold. I would and have recommended RK Motors to all of my car enthusiasts. Thank You RK Motors for a great job!