Camaro Z/28 RS
Frame Up Restored Camaro Z/28 RS 350 V8 4 Speed
- Original sheet metal
- Original build sheet / invoice
- Code 75 Cranberry Red
- Code 775 Standard Black interior
- Original LT1 350ci V8 (255hp)
- Original Muncie M21 4-speed
- 10-bolt Posi rear / 3.73 gears
- Power steering / power brakes
By 1972, America was well into the Apollo program and taking steps towards the launch of Skylab. It was an exciting time for space flight where possibilities seemed nearly limitless. A NASA engineer named Barry Gaggini worked on both programs alongside coworker and friend Dale Rowe. Despite what was, presumably, a pretty intimidating workload, Gaggini found time to stop by Joe Clayton Chevrolet in Arab, Alabama and special order a bright red 1972 Z28 RS with LT1 power and a Muncie 4-speed. By October of 1979, he'd sold the car to Rowe who rowed the 4-speed daily for the next 15 years. By 2012, the car remained under Rowe's ownership but had undergone a restoration that returned it to its former glory. Today, that Camaro remains a documented numbers-matching two-owner car, complete with its original build sheet and a detailed history. If you're ready to paddle into the F2 market before the wave gets too big, they don't get much better.
In terms of F-body history, 1972 was a tumultuous year. A strike at the Norwood assembly facility dropped Camaro production numbers to roughly 68,651 – the lowest on record. While the numbers didn't look good, the cars certainly did. The long-nose/short overhang look was in its prime and few cars carried it better than the F-body line. This Z28 was scheduled for a March 29th build date but rolled off the line during the first week in April, narrowly avoiding being lost to the strike that began on April 7th. The car appeared then almost exactly as it does today - dressed in Code 75 Cranberry Red paint with the black YF8 stripe package. The paintwork presents well and. underneath the top coat, the sheet metal remains largely original and straight from every angle.
Beyond the bright paintwork, there is plenty to admire. The Z28 package added a revised grille to the nose, rounded out by an angled chin spoiler. At either side of the grille, RS split bumpers add one of the most desirable second generation Camaro looks. Behind the nose, a flat hood looks great and serves as a reminder that these cars didn't actually come from the factory with 4-inch fiberglass cowl induction hoods. Further back, the greenhouse offers clean mar-free glass finished by tidy stainless trim. That stainless is mirrored by the rocker trim which, aside from corner markers, door handles, and Z28 fender badges remains the only brightwork found on the sides of the car. Painted dual sport mirrors are also in place for some added safety. Follow the slope of the C-pillar to a D80 deck lid spoiler which caps off the Kamm-style flat rear panel. A pair of round taillights from the license plate recess while a narrow full-width bumper finishes of the rear view.
While the 302 from the previous generation of Z28s is a highly regarded engine, street driving with one can be a bit hairy with anything less than 4.10s out back. GM amended this by introducing the torque-happy LT1 in 1970. A quick look at the engine ID reveals it was bolted together in Flint, Michigan (V) on March 6th (0306) while the CKS suffix code verifies it was built for a 4-speed Z28. A matching partial VIN is the final argument for the engine's authenticity. The details are equally original. Under the chrome-lidded dual snorkel air cleaner assembly, a correct 780 CFM Holley (3999263-GA) carburetor sends atomized fuel down to a stock Winters intake manifold. At the sides, factory cast iron heads are topped by finned aluminum valve covers with cross flag emblems. The front of the engine turns a correct 37 amp alternator alongside the fan and factory power steering pump. Take a look at the passenger side to find the complete air injection system as it was installed by the factory. A lot of these systems were lost to time so, power drain or not, it's great to see such an authentic presentation. Correct cast iron exhaust manifolds channel spent gases out while smaller pieces like the voltage regulator, windshield washer bottle, and decals further the OEM look.
Put this F-body on a lift to find a rock solid undercarriage full of correct and original hardware. In the center, the LT1 is mated with its original Muncie M21 four-speed manual transmission which sports a 2935661 main case, P2C22B Muncie stamp, and a matching VIN derivative. Power flows back to a GM 10-bolt rear end equipped with Posi and 3.73 gears which were standard with the Z28 package. At either side of the drivetrain, a stainless dual exhaust system works towards a transverse muffler which sits directly in front of a new stainless fuel tank. Handling was part of what Z28 package promised and a factory suspension supports that idea. The standard double A-arm configuration props the front end up, aided in the corners by a one-inch sway bar. A pair of leaf springs keep the back end off the ground, assisted by spiral shocks and a rear sway bar. Power steering with a 16:1 box keeps turning effort minimal while power brakes make use of 11-inch vented discs up front and 9.5-inch drums to the rear. At the corners, styled 15x7 steel wheels are painted dull gray, topped with bright lug nuts, trim rings, and center caps with blue bowties. A set of 245/50R15 BF Goodrich Radial T/As completes the package with style.
Open the Camaro's long doors and to find a correct GM code 775 standard black vinyl interior which is both stylish and simple. That interior is built around well-maintained Strato Bucket seats which mix firm padding with straight and solid frames to provide a comfortable and supportive ride. At the top of those seats a pliable black headliner, which is stretched tightly from the car's windshield to its fade-free package tray, anchors an original round dome light. At the bottom of those seats, great looking original black carpet is protected by factory optioned rubber floor mats. There is no console in this Z28 – just a shifter topped by a white shift knob. The car's vitals are monitored by a surprisingly straight original dash which hangs a 130 MPH speedometer and a Z28 specific 8,000 RPM tachometer behind a chrome trimmed instrument panel and an original pushbutton Delco AM radio. The '72 model year also marked the introduction of the “Fasten Seat Belts” indicator light. The driver stays connected to the road via a great looking original steering wheel that's complete with an “RS” branded horn button. Cargo is carried in a solid, pristine trunk which hangs original decklid decals over a correct jack, a like-new mat and a full-size spare tire.
As mentioned earlier, there is plenty of paperwork to support the car. Rowe put together a nice presentation of the car's history, complete with a picture of himself and Gaggini inside of a NASA office. On top of that, you'll find the original (and surprisingly intact) build sheet along with the original invoice and restoration. Rowe's history provides a timeline with mileage as well as full coverage of the restoration performed by B-Mac's Restoration in Raleigh, NC. A stack of receipts backs up the work, showing exactly what went into the rebuild.
With its awesome NASA history, two owners, and nearly endless list of correct and original parts, it's hard to think of a cooler second generation Camaro to own than this 1972 Z28 RS. It's been driven, cared for, and restored exactly how most of would want to see and it remains a great collector piece that you can enjoy for years to come as the value curve continues to climb. Don't miss this one!
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