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Old 04-23-2017, 09:23 PM   #1
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Drives: 2015 Z/28 AGM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: United States
Posts: 381
4th Gen Project - No experience, just diving in!

Hello I'm a total rookie when it comes to restoring a car. However, I've decided I want to just dive in and do it. I'm looking at purchasing a 1997 Camaro 30th anniversary edition car from my father in law (totally driveable but needs a LOT of work). I haven't actually bought the car from him yet. I thought I might throw it out there to you forum members, especially those that have restored cars to give me an idea of what lessons learned/known issues there are with the 97's? Just a couple of things to throw out there......first off "project" might not be the most accurate statement. I would like to get the car to as close to original condition as I can. Not interested in pumping up the motor. For the most part I'll be paying people to do the work on the car, especially the engine. He's a smoker so I already know I'll be putting in new upholstery front and back. Probably new floor mats/carpet too. The engine runs, but takes about 30 seconds to start and he hasn't done a great job keeping up with the maintenance. I think it has about 127k miles on it or so. My first big question is having the engine "restored" vs just buying a new motor and having it put in? I was planning to take the car to my local Chevy dealer and having them do a full used car inspection that they do to their own vehicles before putting it on the lot. The body is in good shape.....I was going to have it repainted and have new wheels put on it. While $ isn't necessarily an issue, I don't want to go crazy. My son is 13 so this was kind of going to be a car we'd work on together so he could drive it when he's 16. So my next question is what things I'd be able to do myself having no experience?Anyhow, that's just some initial random thoughts. Again, I'm new at this, so any words of advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:43 PM   #2
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Drives: 1997 Chevrolet Camaro ss
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Chicopee, Ma
Posts: 101
great year, i have a 97 30 anv interior but in bright red with the ss package, i have 125k miles on it and it runs like a top, i would certainly go with a tune, wires plugs serpentine ect. i suggest classic industries fr parts good selection of oem. do not if you have t-tops do NOT buy the replacement headliner online, the fitment is horrible, it cost me less to have the original redone at a local intterior shop along with the visor, i got the replacement camaro ss slp performance mats from classic industries., hopefully the seats are in good condition because they will be much harder to restore. i was lucky in my case the carpet and seat were mint, i would go with adding on an electric fans for the radiator as the lt1's love to get hot, then blow. i look at parts online all the time just well i like to so if you need anything let me know, good luck!
1997 CAMARO SS SLP 5.7 LT1 MN6 build #2263
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:22 AM   #3
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Drives: 2012 VR Camaro ZL1
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Garland, Texas
Posts: 460
I love my 97 Z28 but they are a pain to work on, changing spark plugs is a big challenge if the car still has the stock manifolds. I've had mine for 19 years and would not think about ever selling it, you don't see that many around anymore. I really think you and your son would enjoy the car, just be prepared for the occasional break down since the cars are 20 years old. Good Luck
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:44 PM   #4
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Drives: 1999 Camaro SS
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Nashville
Posts: 144
1997's have the same interior as the 1998-2002 model year. So if you are looking for interior parts, you can look there aswell. If I can remember correctly, the 1996-1997 model year had a different factory exhaust for the LT1 cars. The biggest issue for me is the sail panel is bubbling due to a chemical reaction from the factory. You have to remove it with piano string and strip the glue to make the car right.
Camaro SS #0785 - 1 of 280 SS's that were pewter, auto, and T-Top - SLP Headers, LM1,Y-pipe, high flow cats, SLP Lid
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:47 AM   #5
Cheap Guy
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Drives: 1999 Camaro Z28
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Southeast Michigan
Posts: 91
Ok, this is an old thread but I figured I'd comment.

About 12 years ago, I decided to get a 1997 Camaro Z28. I was advised that I should avoid the 97 and go ahead and get a 1999 with the LS1 engine. I was hard-headed and because I liked the front end of the 97 better, I bought a 97 with the LT1 engine. Without a doubt it was the WORSE experience I've ever had as a car guy. The LT1 has a crazy thing called an optispark which is basically a distributor, which is mounted on the front of the engine, under the water pump. Almost ANY water or fluid on the damn thing would ruin it. Heavy rain - stranded. Car wash - stranded. I was constantly working on the car just to keep it running. I finally got rid of it and got a 99 LS1 and it has been absolutely NO problem, plus it's a heck of a lot easier to fix and upgrade. The only other benefit of the LT1 was that it kind of sounded better than my 99 but I fixed that with a Magnaflow muffler.

This is only my experience but when I had it I was on several Camaro forums and it was a common experience. Some people had no problems, but many of us did.
My Little Mid-Life Crisis Cure!

First - 1997 Camaro 3800 Y87, M5, Green - Long Gone | Second - 1997 LT1 Z28, M6, Silver - Sold | Current - 1999 LS1 Z28, M6, Pewter, Almost Stock! Kenwood HU, Bilsteins, Magnaflow w/Corsa tips, Brakemotive brakes, other dumb stuff! New - 2011 Camaro SS, M6, black, stock "My Car is My Man Cave!"
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