Story and Photography By Pete Jamieson
A four-wheel disc brake 1969 Camaro RS Z28 makes for one rare ride.
Interestingly, Guy Amato didn’t start out a Camaro person. He actually owned a 1969 Dart in his high school days back in the ’70s. It was one of his friends who he used to cruise the streets with that sparked his fascination with the Camaro. Yes, that friend drove a ’69 Z/28. “There was something about the lines on the Camaro that spoke to me,” Guy remembers. “That Z/28 ran so strong given its small displacement – it was really something to see and hear. It was a cool car and I knew I would own one someday.” Little did he realize that he would end up owning two, with this very rare four-wheel disc brake optioned Z/28 featured here being one of them.
1969 Camaro RS Z28
Guy’s attraction to the Camaro was understandable because in 1969, two years after being introduced, it had reached the pinnacle of its first generation design. The lower and meaner restyling in combination with a wide range of high performance options available made it a force to be reckoned with on the street and strip. One of these was the Regular Production Option (RPO) Z/28 that was conceived to compete in the SCCA Trans Am racing series in the late ’60s. To meet the 305 cubic-inch engine displacement limit to race, the folks at GM realized all they had to do was put a 283 cid crankshaft in the 327 cid small-block V8 that was kicking around in the Corvette. The result? The high-revving, now legendary 302. It was fitted with an aluminum high-rise intake, 780 cfm Holley carburetor, large valve heads with solid lifters and a hot cam. This great little package pumped out 290 horsepower at 5,800 rpm. GM didn’t stop there though.
The Z/28 was set up to handle with specially matched front and rear springs, front sway bar, front disc brakes and 15 x 7 inch Rally wheels. To top it all off, you got a sturdy 12 bolt rear differential with a Muncie 4-speed – the only transmission available. Now keep in mind this was all standard for the Z/28, however if you wanted to take the road handling performance to the next level, you could pony up $500.30 and tick the Corvette-inspired JL8 four-wheel disc brake option. Since this cost was essentially more than the Z/28 option itself, there were only 206 takers – making it an uber rare and desirable option today.
1969 Camaro RS Z28/wp-content/rickscamaros/uploads/
After high school, Guy was on a mission to find his first Z/28. In the early ’90s, he did. It was Cortez Silver and in great original condition needing very little. Shortly after picking it up he had it at a local car show. An acquaintance struck up a conversation with him about his newly acquired Z. The gentleman went on to say that he knew of a “Rally Sport” Z/28 – a factory optioned “JL8” car that was for sale nearby. Unfortunately, the car cover caught on fire at some point and the hood and fenders had been cooked. Guy wasn’t sure he wanted to take on such a project, but realized that a documented JL8 car doesn’t come up for sale often. So after looking it over, confirming it had all of its original driveline and the all-important four-wheel disc brake components, he pulled the trigger. When Guy went to pick up the car, he was surprised to get a stack of paperwork that included dealer invoices, receipts and the Protect-O-Plate. As you could imagine, this made it easy track down the car’s history. It turns out the Z was sold new at Ray G. Sheeler Chevrolet of Downingtown, PA and was registered in July of 1969. It was only 2 years later when the car was traded in to the same dealer and subsequently sold to its second owner. Over the years it traded hands just a couple more times until the ’90s, when Guy purchased it.
[envira-gallery id="2438"]Once he got it home, Guy did his research on the car and began sourcing the needed parts that were burned in the fire. Surprisingly, the car was in really good shape given its circumstance and didn’t need much. It still had its original interior and even had four original tires as well as the spare! Through his research he found that not only did this car have the special four-wheel disc brake option, it was also optioned with a rare QW code 3.55 rear gear ratio. Typically, Z/28s came standard with 3.73 or lower, so this was very unusual. His car also came with the very sought after Multiplex blue light AM/FM stereo with four speakers, all of which were still with the car.
Another special thing about Guy’s car was that its exterior color was “Dusk Blue”. According to the Camaro Research Group, only 4% of Camaros came this way. Furthermore, it had the “Dark Blue” standard interior where most were black. Needless to say, this car was turning out to be very special– in more ways than one. Finally, when it was time to start the actual restoration, Guy was well prepared to do much of the work himself. The only thing he did not do was the paint. This was left up to the folks at Jerry’s Hot Rods in Hampstead, MD. They paint many of the top scoring Camaros at the Camaro Nationals in Frederick, MD. From tear down to build up, the car took a little over two years to complete. The result is a stunning, thorough and beautiful restoration that took Gold, scoring a 974 out of 1,000 points in its first ever appearance at the Camaro Nats. And the recognition didn’t stop there; every other show Guy has taken it to after the Nationals it’s won its class as well. What’s next for Guy and his rare Z? Well, he’s planning to finally sit back, relax and enjoy all the hard work he has put into the car. Maybe take it through the show circuit for next couple of years. Can you blame him?
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Story and Photography By Pete Jamieson