What is a 1969 Z/28?

The answer to what is a 1969 Z/28 can best be answered by someone in 1969.  Below is a is a section from a January 1969 Hot Rod Magazine.  It was written by Steve Kelly.  It is only being posted for education purposes with the sections describing what a 1969 Z/28 Camaro actually is, what it compared to in 1969, and what it costs in 1969.  The cover reads “TEST: ’69 Z/28 302-INCH CAMARO”.

 The article is titled “WIDE AWAKE SLEEPER”   “Does the “Z” stand for Zora?  If so, Duntov has done it again, if not, it should.  His mark is indelible.

  A Z/28 is a 302 cubic inch-powered Camaro sports couple carrying a price tag – in absolute clean condition – of $3443.80 prior to destination, tax and license charges.  Base price for the coupe is $2727.  Add to this the 5Z28BA Special Performance Equipment option (the Z/28 package) at $458.15; then the two mandatory options (in other words, they have to be ordered), a four-speed transmission at $195.40 and front power-assisted disc brakes at $64.25.  It totals out to $3443.80.  A proper amount of foot-shuffling on a dealer’s floor might get the tab lowered.  So for a round figure of 34 hundred dollars, you wind up with a Trans-Am machine like the one Mark Donohue drove at the manufacturer’s Championship in ’68.  Well, almost, save for a bit of engine preparation and the talent of Rogers Penske.

 The Z/28 Special Performance Equipment consists of: 302 cubic inch engine, dual exhausts (single traverse muffler, if so equipped), special front and rear suspension, heavy-duty radiator and temperature-controlled fan, quick-ratio steering, 15 x 6-inch wheels, E70x15 tires, 3.73 rear axle, and special hood and deck paint stripes.  Our Z/28 came with the “kitchen sink” too, but minus a few pieces we really wanted; namely, the dual-four staggered carb intake manifold (just a second; I’m still looking for the parts number on the order sheet.  Here ’tis: No. 3940077, “manifold and carburetor unit”), the fresh-air induction hood (Hmm, can’t seem to find that number.  Oh, it’s dealer-installed? Okay), and four-wheel disc brakes (Got this one: option JL8) offered for all ’69 Camaros.  We’d have traded the AM/FM radio – maybe- for the above parts, but they never did arrive, so the radio was safe.  They’re due though, and when they get to us, we’ll be back to show you how they go on and what they do for the car.

  Chevy’s Z/28 runs a tight race, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, with Plymouth’s ‘Cuda 340 for first place in performance machinery.  By performance, we’re talking about low 13’s with open headers and sticky rear tires.  Or high 13’s with street tires and closed headers.  This includes some pretty conventional tuning methods too, not “untouched” show-room stock.  Both cars run this way.  And performance means handling, right?  The Z/28 can shame some rather expensive machinery without any cassis alteration. There’re no suspension options for it; they are all standard.  You can get other super cars for less, and plenty that will cut lower e.t.’s but it’ll cost more to get one that goes as quick in a straight or curved line as the Z/28…or the ‘Cuda.

  The 290-horsepower-rated 302 is derived from fitting a forged steel 283 V8 crankshaft to a four-bolt main cap 327 block.  A Holley (R4055A) four-barel with 1.686 primary and secondary openings fits an aluminum intake manifold.  A solid lifter cam raises intakes and exhaust .485-inch and lasts 346 degrees from start to finish, overlapping each 118 degrees.  That’s the standard cam.  An optional one (parts No. 3927140) has greater lift, less duration, and is available through dealers.  In its basic production line condition, the 302 sounds and acts just like every one that every hot rodder in the country has ever heard idling or storming; neath the hood of a well-done street rod.  That’s about what you can term the Z/28.  Only there’s more to it than that.  Such as real speed equipment production options that don’t alter warranty standings, and dealer parts-counter available components which affect warranties in some cases but can turn the coupe into a Trans-Am or straight-line competitor real inexpensively.  And who needs a warranty on a race- course?  If you do, you’ll not likely get one.

  Our Hugger orange Z/28 came with a 3.73:1 Positraction rear axle, the standard gearing, through Positraction is optional at $42.15.  This is a Spicer-type rear end using multi-leaf rear springs and staggered shocks.  It also has U-bolts over the housing, a must for any kind of performance work.  Other – and earlier – rear housings have cap screws only, securing upper and lower spring perch plates, and are definitely not the way to go for hard running.

 The previous section of the article that deals with the car specifics.  The next section dealt with prepping the car to get better quarter mile times.  This is summarized:

 They reset the distributor (which was in otherwise perfect shape) to come in with a full 24-degree advance at 2200 rpm instead of the stock 4000 setting and disconnected the vacuum advance.  Plugs were changed to Holley 25-25, comparable to AC43’s that were in.  Primary jetting on the Holley carb was fattened approximately .008, going from a #68 meter to a #72.  In most cases, only the primary side needs richening, since they’re rather lean in compliance with emission control settings and the secondaries, which open at the point smog controls cut out, are already healthy.

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