Photos by Jerry Heasley
Recent financial upheavals have proven that there is no such thing as a “can’t miss” investment, so it’s probably a little presumptuous to call the following collectible Camaros “sure bets.” Any successful investment depends largely on how low the buy-in price was, what the carrying/improvement costs were, and how smart/lucky you were when you decided to sell.
The best way to avoid the angst of a bad collector car investment is to only buy a car you love. The primary focus should be personal interest, not financial gain. A car that makes you happy every time you see it and giddy when you drive it won’t give you ulcers during market fluctuations. A car bought strictly as an investment will only make you happy when its price rises.
There are collector cars that have enjoyed huge appreciations, but those are the high profile exceptions. When you figure the true costs of owning a collector car (lost earning power of the initial investment, loan costs, insurance, storage, upkeep, etc.) the difference between purchase and selling prices isn’t the true profit.
If you think of a collectible car as a hobby activity, it looks much better. You have an asset instead of a collection of score sheets from golfing or bowling. A good way to justify a collectible car is that it probably won’t lose as much money as many other pursuits.
There are lots of first generation (1967-1969) Camaros that have become collector car superstars. Cars such as COPO Camaros, ZL1 Camaros, Yenkos, and 1967 Z/28s have already exceeded the value of most enthusiasts’ homes. Those cars could very well continue to be good investments, but the six-figure price gains have already been realized.
The following seven Camaros are ones that we feel still have ample upside (again, depending on condition and buy-in price), but can be purchased without selling the family farm. Some of the choices are downright affordable, while others are already pretty pricey.
No one is giving away L78 375hp SS 396 Camaros, but compared to the prices of Yenko or COPO Camaros, these cars are high performance bargains. The much more rare aluminum head L79 big-blocks are nice to own, but the L78 versions (both rated at 375 hp) get you as close to that awesome performance as possible while still maintaining a modicum of financial sanity.
A general rule of collector car desirability (and prices) is that, as the top tier cars get snatched up and priced beyond average budgets, collectors go after the next car in the hierarchy. In terms of big-block Camaros, the L78 is a couple rungs down, but it’s still a fantastic car. That’s why we chose it for our list.
Another tip for spotting future collectibles is to pay attention to the cars that new groups of buyers lusted after when they were young. Collector cars have strong connections to people’s pasts. Emotional connections forged in our teens and twenties are very powerful. Those ties are often reflected in the music, hobbies, friends, and collectible cars we favor.
People can and do buy collector cars at all ages, but there seem to be surges as people approach middle age. They tend to have more disposable income. They’re interested in cars that made the most impact on them during their formative years. Cars that were new when they were either sans wheels or driving something uncool made strong impressions. Now that they can afford those cars, they seek out premium examples.
For this reason, we’ve included Camaros from the late seventies to the early nineties. It doesn’t matter that plenty of earlier and later Camaros were quicker and more powerful than late seventies/early eighties Z28s – those cars were flashy when new. They were the best new Camaros a teenager could dream of owning. Now they want to fulfill those dreams.
We doubt that any of the following seven Camaros will surpass 1969 ZL1 values, but they’re all distinctive Camaros that are sure to be fun. If you’re a smart shopper, they could even be a good investment.
Seven Sure Bets
Collectible Camaros that Don’t Require Selling the Farm.
1969 Camaro Pace Car Convertible
Leading the Pack
1969 Camaro SS 396 Coupe
375hp of L78 Big-Block Muscle
1970 Camaro Z28
Beauty, Brawn and Balance
1979 Camaro Z28
Resurrecting the Z28
1990 Camaro IROC-Z
Top Down Rockin’ in an IROC Convertible
1993 Camaro Pace Car
The Fourth Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car
2002 Camaro Convertible
After 35 Years, the Camaro Exits In Grand Style