This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28 is a project car that was bought by Paul Walker and his longtime friend Roger Rodas, in fact it may have been the final car the two men bought together before they were killed in an accident in Walker’s Porsche Carrera GT in 2013.

Walker and Rodas met at a California race club, bonding over the fact that Rodas was racing a Porsche that had previously belonged to Walker. They ended up racing together, partnering to compete in ProAm endurance races.

Fast Facts – The Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28

  • This 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28 was a project car purchased by Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas. It may have been the final car the duo bought together before their fatal accident in 2013. The two met at a California race club and bonded over racing, ultimately partnering in ProAm endurance races. Their untimely deaths occurred while Rodas was driving Walker’s Porsche Carrera GT.
  • The Z/28 option package for the Camaro was introduced for the 1967 model year as a secret order code, resulting in the most performance-oriented Camaro available. The primary goal was to homologate the car for SCCA Trans-Am competition and to challenge its key rivals, including the Ford Mustang. The package included various performance upgrades, most notably a unique 302 cubic inch V8 engine combining a 327 V8 block and a 283 V8 crankshaft.
  • The Z/28’s 302 V8 engine was a high-revving powerhouse, featuring a 4-inch bore and 3-inch stroke, factory headers, an aluminum intake manifold, and a 780 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. Although officially rated at 290 bhp (for insurance purposes), the engine’s true output was well over 300 bhp, with some estimates reaching up to 360 bhp. The package also included a close-ratio Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, heavy-duty suspension, and power front disc brakes.
  • The Camaro RS Z/28 shown here retains its original drivetrain, Positraction rear end, and M21 4-speed manual transmission, with the Rally Sport (RS) option and code 71 Le Mans Blue exterior. It has only 22,639 miles on the odometer. Following Walker and Rodas’ deaths, it was sold to Merle Dupre, and later to Solo Speed Shop. The car, preserved in its original condition, is scheduled to be auctioned by Mecum in Monterey in mid-August.

The Importance Of The Z/28 Camaro

The Z/28 option package became available on the Camaro in late 1966 for the 1967 model year, though interestingly, the package was never mentioned in any sales literature or brochures. It was essentially a secret order code that, if selected, would result in delivery of the fastest road-legal factory Camaro money could buy.

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Vintage Ad

The Z/28 package included a raft of performance improvements with one goal in mind – homologating the car to enter the then-new SCCA Trans-Am class, beating its rivals, and establishing the Camaro as a true Mustang killer.

The largest issue that Chevrolet faced with the Trans-Am series was that they simply didn’t have a suitable engine for it. The maximum displacement allowed was 5.0 liters (305 cubic inches) and the closest Chevrolet V8 engines of the time measured in at 327 and 350 cubic inches. Below this displacement they had some inline-sixes and a smaller V8, but it was felt that these would never be competitive.

The solution to this dilemma came from the mind of Vince Piggins, Head of Performance at Chevrolet. Piggins developed a 302 cubic inch V8 by taking the 327 V8 block and fitting it with the crankshaft from the smaller 283 V8. This resulted in a 3 inch stroke and a 4 inch bore, an ideal engine for higher-RPM operation when compared to long-stroke, narrow-bore alternatives.

Piggins was a man with motorsport in his blood, he had been an engineer at Packard in their engine department before moving to Hudson, where he is credited with being the man responsible for the Hornet NASCAR championship wins in the early 1950s.

He would move to Chevrolet after this and work extensively on their new small block V8 designs, an engine that would become one of the most important American V8s of the 20th century. By the late 1960s he was working on the Z/28 Camaro and also working with Bruce McLaren to develop a version of the aluminum 428 V8 for use in the McLaren Can-Am cars that would go on to dominate the series.

Despite this long list of achievements, Piggins is best remembered today as the father of the Z/28, the performance package that put the Camaro on the map, and made it an unstoppable force in Trans-Am competition.

Chevrolet Camaro RS Z28

Image DescriptionThe distinctive styling of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro has resulting in it being lauded for decades as one of the best-looking American pony cars of the time.

Along with the 327 block and the 283 crankshaft, the Z/28 engine would be fitted with factory headers, a 3 inch exhaust, an aluminum intake manifold and a 780 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. These engines were essentially built to be road legal racing engines, they were listed as producing 290 bhp in order to keep them under 1 bhp per cubic inch for better insurance classification. In reality the engines were turning out well in excess of 300 bhp, some say as much as 360 bhp.

The Z/28 wasn’t just about the engine, the model also received heavy duty suspension, power front disc brakes, a 4-speed Muncie close-ratio manual gearbox, and an optional Positraction (limited-slip differential) rear end.

The vehicle was offered from December 1966 as a 1967 model, the Z/28 Camaro would win the SCCA Trans-Am championship in 1967 in no uncertain terms, then follow up with another championship win the next year just to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28 Shown Here

The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28 you see here is a project car, it still has the matching numbers drivetrain, as well as the optional Positraction rear end, M21 4-speed manual transmission, and it also came with the Rally Sport (RS) option from the factory.

It still wears its original, though now weathered, code 71 Le Mans Blue exterior and the black bucket seat interior is showing surprisingly well, perhaps due to the fact that the car has just 22,639 miles on the odometer.

The car was bought by Paul Walker and Roger Rodas as a project car in much the same condition as you see here, tragically both men would be killed in a crash while Rodas was driving Walker’s Porsche Carrera GT in 2013.

Chevrolet Camaro RS Z28 12

Image DescriptionThis is the 302 cubic inch V8 developed by Vince Piggins, Head of Performance at Chevrolet. He used a 327 block and a 283 crankshaft to create a high-revving V8 ideal for SCCA Trans-Am competition.

The two men never had the chance to finish the car, and it was sold as part of Walker’s estate to noted Chevrolet collector Merle Dupre – the same man Walker and Rodas had bought it off originally. The car was later sold to the Solo Speed Shop, and it remains carefully preserved in original condition.

This Z/28 Camaro is now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum at their Monterey auction in mid-August. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Mecum

Published by Ben Branch -