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Random Car Review: Have You Ever Heard The Story Of The 19 Factory-Scrapped 1977 Camaro Z28s?


Random Car Review: Have You Ever Heard The Story Of The 19 Factory-Scrapped 1977 Camaro Z28s?

When it comes to the Chevrolet Camaro, there is a ton of legend and folklore that surrounds the first generation and the first “era” of the second gen, a.k.a the Split-bumper cars. A lot of that is muscle car lore…this engine wasn’t available with that body, this was a back-door deal that is a one-of-none kind of thing. And then there was the story of the 1972 Z28s that were “scrapped” by the factory due to the Norwalk strike. In that case, unfinished cars were dealt with (either actually scrapped or dismantled and sent down a new line for 1973 standards, depending on what you hear). But then there is the case of the 1977 1/2 Z28 Camaro, and the nineteen cars that were scrapped by GM because production had exceeded a production limit.

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The Z28 option was deleted off of the Camaro ordering list for 1975, with Type LT V8 becoming the top option and the Rally Sport providing the visual appeal. Catalytic converters were now on board, and power ratings were right around the “miserable” mark. The marketing didn’t help either, with any form of Camaro’s raucous and racy past buried under the veneer of personal luxury pretensions. But if you looked over at Camaro’s twin, the Pontiac Firebird, they were easily having the most fun, emissions controls be damned. The Trans Am might have finally lost the SD455 mill, but the 6.6L engine was still rocking and things were getting better and better. That alone might have prompted Chevrolet into re-releasing the Z28 two years later. This one-year-only body style (second “era”, with the bare bumpers but with the big rear window) came out swinging…for the dark years of the Malaise Era. The LM1 350 came out walking with 185 horsepower and 280 ft/lbs of torque, numbers that were impressive for the day. The real impression came in when you looked at one in person, with the stripe kit, slight bodykit, body-color five-spoke wheels, and once you started it, the heavy cam and the muffler-less exhaust…unless you were in California, then sorry.

But about the 19 cars…it seems that GM had drawn a line in the sand for just how many Z28 Camaros were going to be built for 1977, and were standing firm on that figure…at least in the Van Nuys, California plant. There, they cut production of Z28s off after the first week in July and scrapped 19 built and sold cars because they exceeded production limits, something that unquestionably pissed off a lot of prospective owners, who ended up being offered excellent deals on the new 1978 cars. Only 14,349 1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28s were built, which seems like a random number for a limited production…why not 10,000? Why bother restricting production at all?

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(Thanks to Charles Wickam for the tip! You can read more about one individual’s case, where his special-order Z28 was crushed HERE.)


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3 thoughts on “Random Car Review: Have You Ever Heard The Story Of The 19 Factory-Scrapped 1977 Camaro Z28s?

  1. RK - no relation

    I had a 1976 plain jane Firethorn Red Camaro back in 1982. 305, automatic, cloth interior. It was enough for me at the time, I didn’t know how gutless it was. It didn’t even have AC, but was a nice car for a no-trim-level unit. The cloth seats made it feel luxurious. My current chevy minivan with 3.9 v6 has more hp by the sounds of it but I remember the Camaro being much more fun

    Reply
  2. C.M. Bendig

    Here’s the problem with such ‘reports’ it is all subjective to the source. Unless you find GM Documents stating why, when and how something happened, well it might not have. 1977-1978 was the year(s) of Torque Converter fails that cost GM Millions in dealer labor, transmission parts and Torque Converters. At the Time My father was a GM Engineer. He found the issue at the Frederiksberg VA Plant. it was as simple as the guy running the Test machine only being allowed 1 bin for all units. Good & Bad. Of course that wasn’t found out till all of T/C manufacturing process had been fine toothed combed. 1975 to 1984 were Bad years for GM production wise. From people that didn’t care to do the job right, to drug usage at work, to machines and tooling that was just wrong.

    Another thing to look at is where these cars really sold to customers? or were they built by GM for GM Vehicle Test, crash testing and emissions certifications for the 78 model year? GM could have had thousands of reasons why 19 cars were not sold. When we had the S-10 plant (truck & buss, later called moraine assembly): vehicles that failed quality control inspections for some items were sent to a holding yard. GM would have a crusher come and ‘destroy’ the complete, 100% intact units.

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  3. John Anderson

    Not to get in anybody’s grill but the last good looking Camaro was made in ’73. Although I’ve seen plenty of well executed ones since, it’s really what you grew up with..

    Reply

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