This page is going to make you be able to identify any 2nd generation Camaro like an expert.
To verify real (or faked - aka "cloned") Z28's and SS's: 1970 & 1971
To spotting real (or faked - aka "cloned") Z28's and SS's: 1972+ click here.
For everything you wanted to know about the Rally Sport or "split bumper" car, click here.
The 2nd generation Camaro underwent 3 major revisions during its 11 year production run. You need to use a combination of external appearance, interior, engine, options and other subtle changes to narrow down what you're looking at.
Some cars are easy to peg even from a distance, like the 74 Camaro. Some cars, you can't tell unless you get up close and look for specific give aways (including maybe the VIN). These spotter tips also assume that the car is "correct". Some cars are difficult to peg accurately because they've been changed, or modified. For example, a 1970 Camaro is the only second generation Camaro with low back seats. Another fun trick is putting 1979 front end sheetmetal onto a 1973 body.
NOTE: Every picture in here so far is a Z28 or SS, or some other fancy model. This means that some of the badges, stripes, wheels and other things (dual exhaust pipes, rear swaybars) may not apply to a standard/base/plain jane Camaro. The intent of these pictures is to give you the general, overall feel for the visual appearance of the cars of a particular year. (Tail lights, bumpers, glass, etc...)
1st Revision - 1970 - 1973
Above left: 1971 Camaro Rally Sport (notice bumperettes).
Above Right: The rear of a 1973 Camaro. All 70 -73 Camaros look like this.
Above left: This is a 1973 Camaro (Z28). Notice the bumper has the additional bracing.
Above Right: This is a 1970 Camaro (SS). Notice the tight mesh grill, you can't see the tops of the front seats, and the "banana" style parking lamps, which are standard.
1970 Spotters Guide & New Features
The Z28 and the Super Sport (SS) cars were performance oriented cars. There are not many of them left, and not many were built in the 1st place. For $25 you can buy new Z28 emblems and bolt them onto your fenders. This happens more often than you'd think. Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn't turn your car into a Z28. Most of the desirability, monetary value, or collectibility of these cars is hidden. What makes a Z28 is a special engine, suspension and some other things. A 1971 Camaro with a 307 or even a 350 and Z28 emblems on the fender isn't a Z28.
The easiest way to check the authenticity of these cars is to ask for and carefully check over the original paperwork if available. This includes the build sheet & POP. After checking over the paperwork, verify it on the car. If this car is original, the next thing you'd do is check the engine codes, transmission codes, rear axle code, etc.. Finally, you can scrutinize the casting dates on the components to verify they were cast BEFORE the car was made. Keep in mind, anything can be faked, including paperwork and trim tags. Whether accidentally (cloned) or intentionally (fraud). So you need to be very skeptical and check EVERYTHING.
A lot of the code information can be found on the decoding page. The rest of this information will assume you know how to check codes, or already looked at the decoding page and familiarized yourself with what to look at, what it's called and where it is.
Verifying a pre-1972 Z28
Hopefully what you're looking at is "all original". If it is, you can verify engine codes and codes on the transmission and rear end. All the stuff should match the car it's in, and it should be coded as Z28 equipment. If it matches, you're in business. If it doesn't match, you got problems. Make sure the stampings are legit. Any idiot with a hammer and punch set can throw a wrench into this deal.
If the car was built in LA....
The Z28 WILL NOT HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. None. Verify that there are no traces of A/C (ducting, kick panels, big hole in the firewall for
evaporator). Presence of Air Conditioning will disqualify the car immediately.
Verifying a pre-1972 SS
1971 Spotters Guide & New Features
1972 Spotters Guide & New Features
Starting in 1972 the specific engines are coded into the VIN making picking out Z28's and SS models quick. The engine code for a Z28 is "L". Period. Only Z28's got an engine code of "L". What this means is a 1972 Z28 will have an L in the 5th position of the vin. If it's there - the car is a Z28. If it's not there, the car is NOT a Z28. Case closed.
The SS came with either the 350, which has a VIN code of "K" or the 396 which has a VIN code of "U". If the car DOESN'T have a K or a U in the VIN - it's not a SS. For example, if you look at a 1972 camaro with a VIN of 1Q87F2N10001 - ta-da, F= a 307. This car is not, nor ever will be a "SS", even if you bolt SS emblems on it. We know this because the 307 was not installed in SS's - or Z28's for that matter.
1973 Spotters Guide & New Features
This year you could combine the Z28 option and the Rally Sport option onto the Type LT, making a "1973 Type LT/RS/Z28".
2nd Revision: 1974 - 1977
Above left: a 1974 Camaro (Z28). Notice the new heavy aluminum bumpers.
Above Right: The back end of a 1977 Camaro (Z28). All 1975 - 1977 Camaros look this way (rear window, tail light design and bumper).
| 1974 Spotters Guide & New Features
1975 Spotters Guide & New Features
1976 Spotters Guide & New Features
1977 Spotters Guide & New Features
3rd Revision: 1978 - 1981
Above left: a 1978 Camaro. Notice the urethane nose cover.
Above Right: The back end of a 1980 Camaro. Notice the bumper cover and 3 color tail light lenses. All 1978 - 1981 Camaros looked like this.
| 1978 Spotters Guide & New Features
1st year of the 3rd Revision. The 1978 Camaro will be the only camaro that looks like this, and has a wrap around dash board. Rally Sport offered as a Camaro Model, not RPO. Only available as 6-cylinder. WRONG.
1979 Spotters Guide & New Features
1980 Spotters Guide & New Features
1981 Spotters Guide & New Features
I'm now going to describe how to quickly identify late model (78-81) Z28's.
The 1979 Z28 has the flat dash, a unique to 1979 graphic scheme, the same fender vent & hood scoop as the 1978 Z28, however, the 1979 Z28 will have a front spoiler.
The 1980 Z28 got a new graphic scheme, new fender vent, new hood scoop, and grill. The 1980 shares the same front spoiler as the 1979. There is now a black stripe through the rear tail lights too.
The 1981 Z28 is visually the same to the 1980 Z28. The engine selection gets goofy, and the 1981 will have 17 characters in the VIN. If you count 17 characters, BANG - it's an 81.
Author: MadMike Maciolek
North Georgia Classic Camaro
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