1970 Camaro 6 Cylinder with a 3 Speed Manual

Discussion in '1970 - 1973 Specific' started by 70 Six Banger, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger New Member

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    Hello All...I am new on here, but hardly a Camaro "newbie". I'm 61, retired from the USN, have a 6 yr-old son, live in the Columbus, OH metro area, and have owned many classic cars in the last 45 years...GTOs, Mustangs, Firebirds, several 1st Gen Camaros, an SS 396 Impala, several Tri-Five Chevys, and even a Datsun 240Z. I currently own the aforementioned '70 Camaro, a '74 Nova 9C1 police car (the earliest one known to exist and the 2nd one ever built), a '77 Firebird Esprit, a '79 big block Suburban, and a '78 Nova "little-old-lady" 4-door with a 6-cylinder engine and a "3-on-the-tree" manual shifter.

    I am into preservation, not modification, and I'm now into survivors that other guys have often overlooked. Most of my searching is done on Craigslist, and most of my cars were either owned by older men or women who preserved their vehicles. I am looking to share information with others and receive help when I need it. I looked at several other Camaro forums and decided to join this one as it seems like the best one for information on original Second Gen Camaros.

    Now to my Camaro. I found it on Craigslist on the Left Coast in May and purchased it immediately due to its rarity. It is an original 6-cylinder with a 3-speed manual transmission. It is the only third '70 with this drivetrain I have seen in the last 10 years (other 2 in junkyards and probably long gone), and I wonder if it is the only one like it left. Chevy built 125,000 Camaros in the abbreviated 1970 sales year, and 12,518 were 6-cylinders. V8 and 6-cylinder Camaros built with manual transmissions numbered 34,549 (27.7%...there is no exact breakdown of how many of each engine type were built with manuals). Using those figures, one can extrapolate that approximately 27.7% of the 6-cylinders were probably built with manual transmissions, or 3,463 cars (2.7%). So my Camaro was rather rare in 1970. Since I am an official "old guy" who was a young punk in the mid '70s, I can attest that most "6 banger" Camaros (and Chevelles, Novas, Firebirds, Mustangs, and Mopars) were quickly swapped to more-desirable V8 power as rapidly as young punks could spend their newspaper route and lawn mowing money. Additionally, few '70 Camaros were built with 6-cylinders because for just a little more than a hundred bucks a buyer could get a 307 2-barrel, and for another hundred or so he could get a Powerglide. I believe my car was a dealer "loss leader"...ordered with only 2 options (sport mirrors and tinted glass) and then advertised in a newspaper in an ad that would have said "New '70 Camaros as low as $2,395!". I got the Protect-o-plate for the car and the area that would show the car's options is completely blank. The car was built in Van Nuys in "05D" and has a partial build sheet that was on top of the gas tank.

    When I found the car I immediately called the seller and had him send me a video of the car being started and the engine running. He was honest that the car had rust at the bottoms of the front fenders and in and around the quarters, but no rust underneath. It had been sitting outside for several years in the Pacific NW which was how it developed the rust. I bought it from the 3rd owner and he had only had it for a year. He put me in touch with the 2nd owner who was the nephew of the original owner, a woman who was now in her late 80s and in a nursing home due to dementia. She had purchased the Camaro at Connell Chevrolet in Costa Mesa, CA (LA suburb). She kept the car until 2001 (last year it was registered in CA was 1998) and the nephew basically let it sit and rust. When I found it the original 14x6 plain steel wheels had been replaced by 2nd Gen Z28 wheels (the originals had been put out for the garbage man...ouch!). BTW, the wheels now on it are 14x7s from an original survivor '72 that was for sale on CL-LA...the original wheels had been replaced by 2nd Gen Z28 wheels (why can't guys leave original survivors alone...crickets). In case you haven't guessed, I'm looking for a set of original '70-72 plain 14x6 steel wheels...hard to find!

    I learned from the 2nd owner's wife that the first owner called the car "Froggy", so that's its name (I haven't yet decided if the car is a boy or a girl, hence the current "it" reference, but in this day I have learned that gender doesn't really matter).

    This is a partial list of the original items on the car...3-speed Saginaw trans, 3.08 open rear end, seats (fronts are torn up and will be recovered this winter), carpet (with a partial carpet tag found), seatbelts, sunvisors (headliner is mostly gone...to be replaced soon), dash pad (curled on the edges), steering wheel (hey, no cracks!) and column, shifter and boot, one Powerbeam headlight, Delco "202" ignition coil, Harrison radiator with its metal ident tag, AC radiator cap (still holds good pressure but looks like hell...who cares?), air cleaner and valve cover, all of its wiring, trunk mat (in pretty nice shape), jack (in pretty nice shape as well), both sport mirrors (dated "2-70"), most of the exhaust with original hangers, backshift anti-theft device, rear spiral shocks (since replaced), and rear brake drums. The engine was replaced with a Jasper crate motor sometime around 2005 or 2006 because it was smoking (it probably only needed valve seals), and the casting date is from 1984 (I purchased a complete, running 250 from a beautiful original '70 Nova survivor for $275 from a retired GM guy who worked at the Tonawanda engine plant in Buffalo...the Nova is getting a 6.0 LS swap).

    What are my plans for "Froggy"...mini tubs, a supercharged 6.0 LS swap, and a 6-speed Tremec tranny are definitely in the works. I'll follow that up with a digital Dakota dash, a fiberglass cowl induction hood, Hugger Orange metallic paint with purple ghost flames, 2 inch lowering, and some massive custom 20 inch wheels. Or maybe I'll leave it the hell alone and enjoy telling guys at gas stations that it's not for sale...
     

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  2. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger New Member

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  3. Gary S

    Gary S Administrator Lifetime Gold Member

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    You are right. A Camaro with that combo of options was a low production car. I guess it is up to you. Do you preserve it as is, or do you modify it? Modified Camaros are the majority today. An original like yours is the minority.
     
  4. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger New Member

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    Gary...it's a great driver with the 6 and stick-shift...keeps up with traffic, merges onto the freeway with no problems, gets decent gas mileage, is drop-dead reliable, relatively quiet, and is a joy to drive...even with the manual steering and brakes. The original owner, Dolores ("Dodi") Baker drove it in LA traffic for 28 years with no power anything, no A/C, and no radio...and she probably learned to drive in a Chevy with the same basic drivetrain. Froggy literally drives people nuts at car shows because of its rarity, and I will preserve it because it is possibly the last one left. If I modified it, it would be just another Camaro at shows that few would give a second glance, and I would be out probably $25-30K. I can drive it to the grocery store once in awhile and not worry if it gets door dinged (hey, the dings only add to its quirky charm!).
    Best regards, Alex
     

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  5. shanghai Kid

    shanghai Kid Veteran Member

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    Or----Tell them guys at the gas station-Yep it's for sale--How much money you got??? Or--A six cyl w/a 3 spd ain't gonna get ya outta the hole very quick so your gonna have to bump it up a bit..............
     
  6. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger New Member

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    Shanghai...good suggestions! I took it to the huge Goodguys show here in Columbus in August and parked it outside the pavilion that was full of over a hundred iconic '69 Camaros in honor of the '69's 50th anniversary. It got a ton of interest from the Camaro guys and most said to leave it alone. The only mods that have been done are a decent stereo and rear speakers were installed by the previous owner, as well as a Brand X rear sway bar (to be removed).

    I will post all of its part numbers, plus diagrams of how its components are installed so that guys can build exact replicas of it...LOL!
     
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  7. Twisted_Metal

    Twisted_Metal Administrator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Cool car, cool story and I love Froggy's green skin!

    The biggest problem I see with driving that car to the grocery store is your ice cream will melt due to people delaying your trip home by asking questions about it. ;)

    It's definitely a rarity but that, unfortunately, doesn't make it all that valuable.

    A great example of how some of them came from the factory.
    I know most people wouldn't think twice about turning it into a big $$ project but you will never see a full return on the kind of money that costs.

    Since it's a reliable driver... Drive it and let Froggy live its life as it was built. Dog dish hubcaps and all.
    (And it will get plenty of attention from the curious folks at car shows without ever breaking the bank.)
     
  8. QUAKE_WARS

    QUAKE_WARS Veteran Member

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    Great to see another one in almost perfect shape.
     
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  9. checkmate201

    checkmate201 1970 SS 350 4sp 06 C

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    Replace all the mechanical things it needs to be a driver and detail in and out even underneath with fluid film and leave it looking stock let Froggie live on as it is. Not valuable but rarer than most and stands out in a crowd
     
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  10. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger New Member

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    Thanks for the kind replies. I have been fixing just what needed to be fixed...rear brakes and shocks, wiring issues with the wiper motor, new Uniroyal Tiger Paw tires, and ongoing problems with the rear turn signals and brake lights that I traced to the rear wiring connector. The horn relay clicks, but neither horn works when hooked directly to 12 volts...who rebuilds original horns? All of the wiring is original and untouched, which is both good and bad...good because it hasn't been messed with, but bad because it's 49 years old. I am having a skilled senior citizen body man repair the rust on the rear with the smallest patches possible, then I'll patina paint those areas to the same level of grungy crapiness as the rest of the exterior, and probably shoot the exterior with matte clear.

    One nice thing that came with the car was a plastic pouch that held Froggy's owner's manual, the Consumer Info booklet, an instruction card for starting the car and setting the automatic choke, and the Protect-o-plate. Dolores Baker bought the car on Oct. 17, 1970, and the dealership took over 4 months to unload it...probably due to its dearth of options. Dodi kept detailed records of the car's maintenance until 1981, at which time it had 60k miles, and she wrote the car's purchase price ($2,139.15). I'm guessing that Connell Chevrolet lost several hundred dollars on Froggy, since the out-the-door price would have included tax and licensing fees...at best, they might have broken even. Like most women, she didn't load it up with miles. Dodi's nephew's wife gave me a photo of Dodi when she was 31 years-old, and I made a larger copy of it and display it with Froggy at car shows.

    Twisted Metal and Checkmate...thanks for the advice...much appreciated!
     

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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
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