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Old 02-14-2017, 08:47 PM   #1
Drives: 1968 Camaro
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Chico, Ca
Posts: 2
My 68 Camara - Need Suggestions Please!

Hi All,

I'm new to the forum, so thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.

I bought this 68 camaro about 4 years ago for $19K - probably paid too much because I was young and excited... but now I'm trying to determine what to do w/ her. This is not a numbers matching car. It's been sitting for almost 2 years now, and it's time to s*** or get off the pot, so to speak...

I have about $15K I can put into her, so my questions are twofold:

1. Is it worth investing the money in this car or should I sell and start over?

2. Is $15K reasonable to do the following:

BODY WORK: Car needs paint, as you can see in some of the pics there are some problem areas. Does it make sense to try to patch these spots or paint the whole car?

MOTOR: Has a 396 in there right now, however, it's a bit of a dog. probably has about 15K miles on the motor: Holly 750, Hooker Comp longtube headers (hate them because they scrape everywhere), mild cam, don't know much more about the the innards than that... Haven't had the car dyno'd, but can't possibly be putting out more than 350hp. Would like to get the car to as close to 500hp as possible, open to suggestions for a rebuild or sell the block and drop something else in...

TRANSMISSION: Has a Borg Warner T10 that's just about done... needs to be rebuilt no matter what, but would rather drop a 5-speed (Tremec?) if i'm going to do all this.

REAREND: Currently has a 10-bolt rear and is peg-legged... no bueno for putting down the power.

BRAKES: has disc all around, but they need to be looked at, as the car doesn't stop all that fantastic.

The car is currently located in Northern California, near Chico/Sacramento.

Would love to hear shop suggestions if anyone has reputable places in mind for any of this work.

In summary, I love this car and am happy to invest in her, but if I'm ever in a position I need to sell in a few years, I don't want to be upside down on her either.

Thank you for your time and input


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Old 02-15-2017, 10:10 AM   #2
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Guess it depends on the planned usage. A show quality paint job can run anywhere from $20k to upwards of $80k. So it's kind of like asking, "how much is a dress?".

Even if you make a realistic plan/budget, there will always be stuff that happens and the pressure will always be upward on the cost.

Best thing to do is define what you want to change, and to start seeking local contacts for guestimates. Good place for recommendations is from owners of cars at local shows.

Good luck,
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:29 AM   #3
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Drives: 2012 RS/2SS, 69 ProStreet Camaro
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I agree with the above comments. I'm not trying to discourage you, but in my opinion with what you have, and what you want done, with the budget you've set it's going to be tough to do everything you are looking to do. Things start to add up fast once you start. It's very hard to come up with a budget that will get a car done since there are so many unknowns once you start pulling the car apart. As far a being upside down, that is always reality you may have when the car is completed. No one knows where the market will be if and or when you decide to sell and first gens always seem to get good money, but it may not be what you put in to it. That is usually the case with any build like this, even if you do the work yourself. A lot of the time it's cheaper in the long run to buy a done car than to build one. I've built a few cars and always have gone into it realizing I will most likely be upside down when it's done. It hasn't always ended up that way, but more times than not it does. I've always done most of the work myself except for body and paint. The good news is with that budget and careful planning you could defiantly make your car more reliable and great Camaro to cruise around in. You just might just have to prioritize and or adjust your "want" list.

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Old 02-17-2017, 02:55 AM   #4
Drives: 1968 Camaro
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Chico, Ca
Posts: 2
Very much appreciate the responses pcguy2u and PROZ11. From what I've gathered so far, I think my expectations may be a bit unrealistic for my current budget... and your feedback is in line with that.

I could probably live with the paint on the car as-is, if it weren't for those larger "blemishes". A show quality paint job is probably the lowest of my priorities at this point. It just seems these are well beyond a little patch work from the couple conversations I've had with shops so far. My concern is these spots getting worse or beginning to rust.

My main priority is having the car run right. I'm not interested in taking it to the track, just an around town car that I can also drive to work occasionally, which is 30+ miles each way on the highway.

The guy before me had the motor rebuilt, shortly thereafter he shaved a lobe off the cam while bogging the motor backing the car out of his ridiculously steep driveway. He then put in a more mild cam, but the thing just lacks enthusiasm. It seems they just slapped on a Holley 750 w/o proper jetting and some Hooker headers and called it a day.

The transmission is shot, as it whines... has trouble finding and staying in 3rd... and I also hate that I'm burning at ~3k rpms at freeway speeds.

Which brings me to the rear... which is a peg-legged 10-bolt. I figure if I'm going to likely redo the gearing and put in Posi, i may as well swap it out for a 12-bolt. Am I out of line here?

Also, am I jumping the gun by wanting to put in the 5-speed? Can a 4-speed ever really deliver the fun down low in 1st through 3rd, yet drive comfortably at freeway speeds without being smack dab in the power-band?

If I address the motor first to get more power, i would assume i'll likely see a significant improvement regardless of gearing, but is it worth rebuilding the 4-speed I have if it's going to set me back at least $1k regardless?

Maybe some of these questions would be better directed to the respective drive-train shops. I'm just curious what some of the community might have to say.

Again, thank you all for your time.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:43 AM   #5
69 SS 350 5 Speed
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Since you are not planning on a show quality paint job, you should be able to get it done for $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 unless there is some hidden rot that requires sheet metal replacement which will increase the cost by a few thousand. As for the engine, sell the big block and spend about $4,000.00 to $5,000.00 on a complete Chevrolet small block crate engine. The lack of stopping power should be a concern. Each caliper needs to be removed from the rotor so you can check the condition of the seals and for possible leaks and condition of the pads. If there are no leaks in the braking system, check the vacuum on the booster to see if it is holding vacuum. If not it needs to be replaced and that will help. If you can't bleed the system, take it to someone that can. As for the trans, a TKO 500 is a good choice. and a full conversion kit can be purchased for around $3,000.00. Ditch the rear and purchase a Moser 12 bolt for around $2,800.00. The prices I gave you are for the parts and of course if you can't do the labor, you can add 50% to the total. I am not saying you should not do this but you just need to save some more cash to do it all at once or a little at a time. Your first priority should be the brakes or you won't have a car to restore.
There is a fine line between hobby and obsession and I think I crossed it!!
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Old 02-17-2017, 09:17 AM   #6
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Drives: 2012 RS/2SS, 69 ProStreet Camaro
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: North NJ
Posts: 391
If you have not already checked it out or joined I suggest you join It's a first gen site. The guys over there have a ton of knowledge that will help you out on any aspect of your build.

As I stated, I'm not a body guy, but from the pictures you posted I would say you could expect bondo and rust hidden under the paint. Maybe a lot, maybe a little. I'd be prepared for a lot. The quarters and rear window area look like they could be trouble. I'd suggest having a body guy take a look at it and get their opinion on best and worst case scenarios. Then you can decide if you want to go ahead with project and or re think it. That would be my first step. If body and paint eat up most, or all of your budget the other things are a moot point.

If you can live with body and paint for now I'd address any and all safety issues first. Brakes, suspension, steering etc. Then address the other areas.

If you are not going to race the car or put sticky tires on it then you can get away with rebuilding the 10 bolt with a posi unit. There is no cheap way to put a 12 bolt in a first gen. Hundreds to rebuild what you have or thousands to convert to 12 bolt. Of course the 12 bolt is obviously the way to go if the budget permits. It sounds to me like you just want a good cruiser with good power and don't plan to beat the crap out of it so the 10 bolt should work for you. I had a 79 Z/28 with the stock 10 bolt that I swapped a 70 454 LS6 into. It was a 4 speed and I hammered on the car all the time with no issues since traction was less then ideal.. LOL. It even went down the track a few times. If plan on long distance cruising then the right gear choice is crucial. The gear will of course depend on the trans choice. The 5 speed is a great choice if you can fit in in your budget it's a no brainer. I put a T56 6 speed in my 69 and it was one of the best things I did. Make the car much more "drive-able". I'm running a 5:13 rear gear and can cruise at 80 mph at about 2200 rpm. The T56 has both 5th and 6th overdriven. A good overdrive trans is something you won't regret.

The engine is also another area where it may be cheaper and easier to work with what you have. Hey, it's a big block. LOL. Nothing like the torque of a big block. Although not knowing what the internals are it might not be. If the internals are nothing special then like 69 SS 350 5 Speed suggested it might be cheaper in the long run to swap it with a crate engine. If it has a decent lower end you could go with a set up like the Edelbrock Total Power Kits. For about $3000.00 their kit 2094 for BBC scould make over 500 hp. Again, if you have to pay someone to do it the engine swap may still be a better and possibly less expensive choice. But then again if you have to pay to have that done it will be more expensive than the Total Power Kit.

Last edited by PROZ11; 02-17-2017 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:53 PM   #7
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Drives: 1969 RS Z28
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I would spend 5K for a decent paint job. Good from far, far from good so to speak and concentrate my funds on the drive train. The car can look great but if it don't go, its just a pretty garage ornament. A good "everything made in the USA" small block can run around ten grand. I know because I am currently having a 383 built for mine because like you, I want horsepower and the stock 302 in my car (also not the original motor)don't have it with todays crappy fuel and such. Be careful with crate engines. There are two cars in the shop where I am having my engine built that had failed summit crate engines in them. According to my mechanic, they used a lot of chinese parts in them. As old as these cars are, like someone said earlier, surprises like rot can and will pop up once you start stripping paint so that could throw a monkey wrench into your paint budget. If your car is a real SS396 I would put a big block back into it even though you don't have the original motor. If its not then I would build a stout small block for it. I am not nearly as knowledgeable as the other guys posting here. Im just relaying what I've learned through my recent experiences with my car. Ive spent a ton of money on my car but I love it and don't plan on selling it ever. So being "upside down" doesn't really concern me. Thats our hobby. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. You have a sweet car there!
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