I love your articles.
I have a '69 Rally Sport Camaro with hide-away headlights and the X11 package. It has a little rust, but nothing bad. Should I restore it, modify it, or is it OK to do both?
I originally thought it was a Z/28 but found out the Zs only came equipped with manual transmissions. My '69 had an automatic and still has a horseshoe shifter. How can I tell if it's possibly a COPO? When I bought the car, it came with manual four-piston disc brakes and a 12-bolt Posi rearend. I've included a picture of the trim tag. Maybe you can help decode it.
Thanks for the response,
A. Hi Dave,
In the pictures you sent of your '69, you included a picture of a trim tag, but you possibly included a different tag from another car you own. The picture is really blurry, but it looks like the "ST" (Style) line has 66-11837 and the "BODY" line has WRN-5117. The 66 is the model year of the car and WRN is Willow Run, Michigan. So the tag must have come off of a '66 Nova. The only first-gen Camaro plants were LOS or VN (Van Nuys, California) and NOR (Norwood, Ohio).
Unfortunately all the parts you have described could have been swapped onto your Camaro from a highly optioned Camaro with common hand tools.
An easy way to find out if a '69 Camaro is an SS, Z/28, or COPO 9560 or 9561 is if it's equipped with the dual-exhaust hanger plate welded to the side of the driver-side rear framerail. All of these performance Camaros came equipped with dual exhaust and would have the hanger plate. It's visible from looking in the rear wheelwell with the car on the ground.
If you have a real case for thinking your Camaro is a COPO 9560 ZL1 (with the aluminum 427) or COPO 9561 (iron block 427), there are some sources available on the Internet that can check your VIN against a list of known COPO Camaros. With a quick Internet search, you can do your own check on the 9560 ZL1 Camaros. The database for the 9561 Camaro VINs seems to be the list being guarded and locked in a vault.
I am restoring two F-bodies. One is a '67 Camaro and the other is a '68 Firebird. The Camaro has flared fenders all the way around to fit a set of 14-inch Ansen Sprint wheels. The Firebird is still on the road, but it's pretty bad. The wheel arch is damaged and there's an extremely large rust hole in the quarter behind the rear wheel. I want to replace the whole quarter-panel so that I don't have a long seam along the top of the body line.
After fixing the Firebird, I will dig into the Camaro. I want to blast it down and check the condition of the quarters. The flare job appears to include a lot of body filler. I can see it cracking away from the sheetmetal. At minimum, I have to replace one of the front fenders because the headlight assembly mounts rotted away long before I bought the car and was repaired using a bunch of filler.
On the quarter-panel, if I need a new one, how do I find out which manufacturer offers the best one on the market? I've read some things on the Internet indicating that some are not a good fit and lead to problems. I have some fabrication skills and tools, but I would like to save the time and effort by getting the best possible part from the start. I'm willing to pay more for the better part.
There's really no substitute for original sheetmetal, especially when it comes to quarter-panels. There are still a handful of salvage yards in the U.S. that specialize in classic cars. One place I've dealt with a lot is GM Sports (gmsports.com) in San Jose, California. They regularly get new inventory and have a full warehouse of parts and panels they've removed over the years.
Certain areas of reproduction quarter-panels can be more of a problem than others. From the Internet forums I've read, the most common areas that need additional work are where the tailpanel meets the quarter next to the taillight and also at the curved gap where the quarter matches up with the trunk lid in the hinge area.
There are good and not-so-good stampings of reproduction quarter-panels from different manufacturers for each vehicle year. For instance, company "A" may stamp a great quarter-panel for a '67 Camaro, but may not have a good stamping of a '69 quarter-panel. The role may be reversed for companies "B" and "C," so your best bet is to go check on some message boards or call a few shops for additional feedback. But remember, just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's fact, so take that into consideration.
A lot of people want to jump the gun and cut out a quarter-panel when a patch panel can sometimes do the trick. If installed correctly, they are a good solution if the damage isn't all the way up into the sailpanel and/or where the tailpanel meets the quarter. If the damage is isolated to the lower sections of the quarter-panel, consider all your options before making your first cut.
Hopefully the body filler on the '67 is only thick in the areas around the flares and the modified rear spoiler. Maybe the original wheel arches and the quarter-panels are still good under all that filler. You can use a flashlight to look at the backside of the quarters via the trunk. At least with your front fenders, you can unbolt them and replace them if necessary. If they are as bad as you described, it's possible they aren't worth the time to fix. Maybe sell them locally for a few bucks "as is" to recoup some cash for the project.
Got a burning tech question? Email Tony Huntimer at firstname.lastname@example.org