Although they frequently are identified as “pace car coupes,” the 1969 Camaro Z10s are not merely hardtop versions of the popular Indy pace car replicas. The truth is, they're even more rare (between 400 and 500 were built), and were built for a very limited region in the southwest US (although one was sold new in Tennessee). They did, of course, receive the same Dover White paint job featuring Hugger Orange stripes, and even the SS396 cars like this one we're featuring here, used a matching white tail panel in place of the big block's usual blacked-out piece. With a high quality restoration and a cowl tag that has never been removed, this is a real-deal Z10 car, and as rare as these Camaros are, you're not likely to see another one any time soon.
All Z10 coupes were painted code 50 Dover White with Hugger Orange stripes with matching white rocker panels. They also all came standard with the D80 spoilers, ZJ7 rally wheels, ZL2 cowl induction hood, Z22 Rally Sport package, and Z27 Super Sport package. They were all built in Norwood, and all of them received the Z10 stamp on their cowl tags, making them some of the easiest Camaros to document.
This has always been a solid, clean car, and it was discovered wearing a coat of Marina Blue paint several years ago. It had been converted to a drag racer, but remained largely intact with the critical cowl tag still fastened with the original rivets. Disassembled to the smallest components, each piece was restored to better-than-new condition before it was reinstalled, and we have photos of the extensive block sanding process that gave us the spectacular results we see today. The Hugger Orange stripes have been painted on in the correct pattern, and the tape lines are crisp with no bleeds or other suggestions that it's anything other than exactly the way the factory intended.
The Z10s received all the usual Camaro trim, including chrome bumpers and Camaro script on the nose, fenders, and deck lid, as well as engine-identification badges on the front fenders. All Z10s were also RS/SS cars, so this one carries a correct SS grille with hidden RS headlights, the special white rocker panels, and even the Hugger Orange pin stripes that delineate both front and fender lines, a detail that many restorations leave out. And while there seems to be some vague connection between the Z10 cars and the Indy pace car replicas, the Z10s never carried the pace car door decals. The stainless on this car has been straightened and polished, and it carries the optional gill inserts ahead of the rear wheels. Tail lights are correct for the Z10 big block SS cars, and as I mentioned, even this 396-powered coupe carries a white tail panel.
A vast majority of the Z10s were small block cars, fewer were equipped with the L35 325 horsepower L34 396, but only a handful carried the fire-breathing L78 375 horsepower big block. It seems likely that this car originally carried an L35, seeing as it is equipped with power steering, but during the restoration the engine was internally upgraded to L78 specifications and proudly wears a '375 horsepower Turbo Jet' decal on the cowl induction air cleaner. This car includes dyno sheets from the engine built showing a nice, symmetrical 438 horsepower and 438 pounds of torque, which is probably a good 100 horsepower more than they were making when they were new. As a result, this thundering big block moves the lightweight Camaro with authority and this is one Z10 that will simply stomp the lights out of just about anything else on the street. It's also beautifully detailed, with correct chrome valve covers, a proper air cleaner, and a crisp aluminum intake manifold with a big Holley up top. Chevy Orange paint could probably pass for Hugger Orange, and the symmetry of colors on this car works extremely well, especially with the satin black engine bay. New hoses and correct tower clamps were used throughout and RK Motors Charlotte just installed a bunch of new items such as the fresh reproduction plug wires and a Delco reproduction battery.
While the standard transmission was a 3-speed manual, any option you could get on a regular Camaro was available on the Z10s, and as a result this one sports a correct 4-speed manual driving a heavy duty 12-bolt rear end. The chassis is nicely finished, with fresh satin black floors and rebuilt stock suspensions fore and aft, including spiral shocks out back. The engine dumps into a set of stock exhaust manifolds whose note is tempered by a set of Flowmaster mufflers and an H-pipe. The sub frames were removed from the car for the restoration, and there's no sign of structural rust or previous damage that would suggest this car had issues, and the restoration photos show a very clean tub to begin with. Z10s received standard suspensions, and this one wears original coils up front and leaf springs out back, and rides on a set of Rally wheels wearing 235/60/15 BFGoodrich T/A radials.
Where the pace cars received those outrageous orange houndstooth interiors, there's no record of any Z10 being ordered with that setup. Like this car, most received the standard code 727 Ivory buckets, which look fantastic with the Dover White paint job and black carpets. It's not too bright, not too dark, just a perfect combination that will always look right. Based on the condition of the car when it was discovered wearing some kind of goofy discount-store seat covers, it's safe to assume that just about everything inside is new, and you'll note it carries optional headrests. There are photos of the fresh carpets being installed, and the dazzling white of the seat covers and door panels is proof enough that they're almost right out of the package. The gauges' markings are so crisp that I have to believe they're newly rebuilt, and the center console and dashboard woodgraining is vivid and bright. The only non-stock addition is a cue ball atop a Hurst shifter, but who can argue with the way it chomps through the gears? In back, the trunk has been refinished using spatter finish paint, a new trunk mat, and a full-sized spare.
Documentation includes the restoration photos I've mentioned, which not only document the restoration, but include photos of casting numbers and internal components that are no longer visible now that the car is fully assembled—there are some pretty rare parts in this piece. We also have a pile of receipts for many of the components that went into the build, as well as manuals for many of the new pieces.
For years, nobody believed that the Z10s even existed. They'd show up now and again, but most people—even experts—simply assumed someone had built it themselves after seeing a pace car and being inspired. With a little digging, evidence started to emerge and now these cars are reliably documented. The Z10 Registry shows about 70 cars, so there's no question that they're uncommon, and clones are fairly common. This one is unquestionably a real Z10, and it has been beautifully restored to highly accurate condition, and any modifications that were made along the way are invisible. That means huge horsepower in a very factory-appearing package that is an absolute blast to drive. And nothing is more fun that showing up at a show with a car that most guys think shouldn't exist. With this one, you can simply point to the cowl tag and let them figure it out for themselves. Call today!
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