Just mention the Z/28 Camaro and images of Trans-Am racing and corner-carving fun instantly comes to mind. By the time this 1970 Z/28 Camaro RS rolled off the assembly line, Chevy’s little pony car had established itself as the one to watch, both on the street and the racetrack. Ironically, as GM’s Bill Mitchell was preparing the way for one of the highest-performing second-gen Camaros, thoughts of EPA regulations and tougher fuel standards were already on everyone’s mind. But that didn’t seem to matter much when these Camaros were rolling off the assembly lines.
This 1970 Z/28 Camaro could be considered the ‘perfect storm’ for second-generation styling and performance. Once the dust of a recent union strike settled early in 1970, the all-new Camaro Z/28 leaped onto the scene, showcasing GM’s LT-1 engine with 360 horsepower in the Camaro and 370 horsepower in the Corvette. And, being the first year of the second-generation body style, it encompasses many of those styling cues carried over from the muscle car era. On the exterior, chrome still commanded your attention, and even inside, grabbin’ gears were still on everyone’s mind, as evidenced by the floor-shifted Muncie four-speed transmission.
Setting The Style Of The Second-Generation
When the second-generation Camaro came on the scene early in 1970, few knew that the body style would become such a hit that it would propel Chevrolet’s sporty little two-door through the entire decade with only simple upgrades. A third-generation body style didn’t wind up in dealers’ showrooms until late into 1981, as a 1982 production. Until then, the all-new second-gen design required updating only enough to appease all but the most persnickety buyer.
Underneath that fastback roofline, there was now a rear stabilizer to better help keep the horizon in alignment. The competitors’ view out back featured four round taillights which, much like the car’s engine, was similar to what was used on Chevy’s halo car, the Corvette. One of the defining features of these beloved cars is the presence, yet unembellished use of chrome. Before there were ‘enduro’ bumpers enshrouded in plastic, chrome was still used to great effect – and in limited amounts. For the Z/28, that meant limiting those shiny bits to only the outer dimples of the front grille. Now, much like a certain “split-window” sibling, what’s become known as the ‘split-bumper’ Camaros are now highly desirable among collectors and enthusiasts alike.
High-Winding LT-1 Small-Block
In 1970, the automotive world hadn’t started seriously winding down from the crescendo of the horsepower wars that occurred just a few years prior. While systems such as Air Injection Reactor (A.I.R.) pumps and vacuum-actuated solenoids tried to appease those who congregated in white-domed buildings, truth be told, all those attempts were just bolted onto some pretty serious-performing engines.
A case in point is this high-winding 350, known as the LT-1. Making the jump from a Trans-Am-approved 302 cubic-inches, the high-performance small-block Chevy engine finally grew in size to the displacement we’ve all come to love. With 11:1 compression and a special, high-performance camshaft tickling a set of solid lifters, this engine was designed with one thing in mind – going fast! It was happily allowed to do so thanks to special 2.5-inch exhaust manifolds (even with the requisite tubes) and a Holley four-barrel perched atop an aluminum high-rise intake manifold.
While not matching the horsepower rating when installed in Chevy’s sibling Corvette, the LT-1-wielding Z/28 Camaro was no slouch on either the boulevard or the racetrack. Even when not duking it out in angst against competitors, the 1970 Camaro Z/28 was a spritely street runner with better manners and more overall torque than the smaller-cubed, radically-cammed 302 engines just a year before. MotorTrend said it well in their 1970 review of the new car, calling it, “…more tolerant to driving techniques now, more mature in its behavior.”
Ironically, this new, high-compression engine would last for only one year before performance took a hit in a variety of ways. The very next year, compression would drop significantly and take over 30 horsepower with it. By 1972, amid declining compression ratios and new ways of plotting power, the Z/28’s LT1 engine was breathing heavily to barely crest 250 horsepower.
You Can Win It!
Thankfully, this Cranberry Red with Saddle interior example made it out of GM’s assembly plant before plastic became commonplace and horsepower dropped faster than a lead balloon. This particular car has traveled approximately 81,000 miles since it left the factory but you’d be hard-pressed to prove it. It has been faithfully restored to its former glory and is now the Grand Prize offering from Dream Giveaways. Only 8,733 Camaros were produced as Z/28s and it is estimated that only one in five received the split-bumper, Rally Sport package.
Undergoing a complete nut-and-bolt restoration, this fine example of the first year of the second-gen Camaro has all the go-fast goodies any enthusiast would love. Behind that iconic mouse motor resides a Muncie M-21 four-speed transmission, feeding engine revs to a 12-bolt rear end that enshrouds a 4:10 gearset.
The underside of this car is a sight to behold, restored to exacting standards and rivaling anything that rolled off the assembly line years ago. Likewise, the interior features several “Z/28 only” parts, such as the 150-mph speedometer and 8,000 RPM tachometer found in the dash. That Hurst four-speed shifter beckons you to take this wonderful second-gen for a spin. And, if you’re the winner of this year’s Camaro Dream Giveaway, you can do just that.
But you need to enter to win and to help your odds of winning, we’ve teamed up with Dream Giveaways to get you some extra tickets for your effort! Just CLICK HERE and use promo code CHEVYHARDCORE in your order and you’ll receive DOUBLE the number of tickets for any order over $20.00! Be sure to get your tickets today, and possibly, we’ll get a chance to meet as the folks from Dream Giveaway hand you the keys to your 1970 Camaro Z/28 Rally Sport!