Chevy enthusiasts have it great: parts are easy to come by, engine upgrades are affordable, and both small- and big-blocks respond well to modifications. To the Brand Xers, Chevrolet is often criticized as being a belly button brand whose vehicles lack rarity.
But dig a little bit and you’ll see that Chevrolets have as much rarity as other cars. (When was the last time you’ve seen an L89 Chevelle SS396 convertible?). And Chevy was early to market with bright, psychedelic colors in the ’60s (Rallye Green came out in ’68). And while some other brands are known for being striped and spoilered, Chevrolet was in it deep by 1967 (again, early by most standards).
The latter is of particular interest in the 1968 sales brochure that shows a potential customer how to custom-build a Camaro. Want to give your Camaro a “Mod” look? Order one with the Rally Sport package, which included a clean grille with headlights concealed behind. Pick a bold color, including several borrowed from the Corvette. Spec out N96 mag-style wheel covers to add to the custom look. Affix a rear spoiler like Mark Donohue’s. Add visual appeal via the D91 “bumblebee” stripe or the D90 “sport stripe” that straddles the nose and leaps down both flanks.
But there also was another stripe option that is surrounded by an enigma – the D88 multi-color stripe. Chances are you haven’t ever seen the latter, although it is included in mid-year revisions of the Camaro brochure. “Five bands at front in varying shades of a similar color. Shades available with red, blue, green, and bronze exterior colors,” it says with a picture of a red RS with a gradient of three different reds, orange, and yellow. Clearly, Chevrolet had its fingers on the pulse of American youth culture.
As a kid, Scott Ehrke fell in love with cars after he caught a glimpse of Hot Rod Show World magazine with the ISCA hot rods and bikini girls. At 14, he managed to score a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk from a neighbor, but it gave way to ’39 Ford street rod he finished in his senior year. However, he started to warm up to Camaros because his girlfriend’s sister had a Marina Blue ’67 SS/RS.
Scott eventually started collecting Camaros in adulthood, buying two 1967-’68 SS/RSs and adding a red ’68 in 1995. Advertised in Hemmings as a red/white big-block SS/RS convertible loaded to the gills, this St. Paul, Minnesota-based F-body immediately caught his eye. He didn’t really notice the multi-colored stripe on the nose as being anything unusual, remarking, “Oh wow, that's cool. I don't know what it is but it's cool.”
Paint was thin and seemed mostly original, and the odometer showed 8,000 miles, with no telling whether it had gone around once already. Shortly after buying it, Scott found out his wife was pregnant and he was convinced his hobby was done, so he bought a minivan and sold all three Camaros. The red ragtop went to a gentleman in Los Angeles during the summer of 1996.
And then regret set in. It wasn’t until later, after the proliferation of the Internet that Scott managed to view the Camaro brochure and realize that D88 multi-colored stripe was a factory offering—and a rare one at that.
Years went by and Scott and his wife added two more kids to the stable. It became obvious that family was not the death knell to being an enthusiast, so he began to rebuild his collection, mostly with hot rods. That red Camaro, however, never left his memory. A few years ago, he saw a photo of it in the collector market magazine Sports Car Market, but it failed to meet reserve at the auction, so Scott knew it was still around and available. He then created a search on eBay so that every red 1968 Camaro convertible would end up in his in-box.
Sure enough, in 2009, he had found his long-lost Camaro. The selling dealer had embellished the history a bit, claiming it had 12,000 miles with all numbers matching, but Scott had known the transmission was not original to the car and got the seller to admit that “it appears the tranny’s numbers may not be correct." Scott pulled the “Buy It Now” trigger and the Camaro was his once again.
This time he was older and wiser, aware of the unusual stripe that may have been a part of a “Hugger Month” promotion. He now was aware how loaded this Camaro was—aside from the 396, stripe, and houndstooth interior, it also was equipped with the TH400 with console, AC, PW, AM/FM Multiplex with 8-track, light monitoring system (complete with rare rear indicator specific to convertibles), tilt wheel, cruise control, power trunk release, head restraints, rear spoiler, and Rally wheels.
However, there are a number of mysteries regarding this Camaro:
- Note the AC is on the driver’s side, which is correct for 1969 but not for 1968. Did someone add it after the fact?
- Another 1969 item: the head restraints. The differences are subtle, but it’s possible this car was equipped with them when new and eventually received replacements.
- Super Sport badging always superseded Rally Sport badging, but the front fenders of this Camaro has both. It wouldn’t be the first one like this, but it is not considered correct. Scott says he’s seen a few like this and, “Not saying its factory but all these Rally Sport SS cars seem to be loaded cars—seems to be a coincidence. Where are they from? What’s the story? Or maybe there’s nothing; maybe there’s a few people who wanted people to know they had both an RS and an SS.”
- And then there’s the stripe package – yes, they appeared in a brochure, but that doesn’t mean they were ever applied to a production car. But of course it was, as it is right here in front of you. Even the factory assembly instruction manual features the stripe, which was introduced on December 27, 1967, redrawn February 1, 1968 . . . then cancelled on February 28. The data plate from this Camaro dates the build on the first week of April 1968. “In the mid-’90s when I first owned it basically it was the same unrestored car as it is today, with the same paint and upholstery as it has right now. The paint on the nose has to be older than the 1980s based on the fact that it’s cracked up like the rest of the car. Why would someone do that? That’s the big mystery.”
So what do we have here? An undocumented Camaro with a host of uncommon options, some strange inconsistencies, and a stripe that may or may not have been produced. According to Camaro expert Jerry MacNeish (z28camaro.com), who documents Chevy muscle cars for a living, he’s never seen a legit rainbow striped Camaro. The build date of this car makes him think this isn’t one either.
Says Scott, “The most interesting part of this story is that we don’t know if it’s a myth or reality. There’s some story behind the car, but I don’t know what it is.”