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 Member

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    The first car is a '69 TA I bought in Tijuana, Mex for $500 in Mar 1980 when I was a young 22 year-old punk in the US Navy. I'll tell you all about that adventure when I'm not tired and fumbling around on the keyboard. I looked for pictures of the '70 Boss 302, but can't find them right now and the "Old Battleaxe" is asleep upstairs and I don't want to open the gates of hell by making noise looking for them just now (I'll post them in a day or two). The '69 Camaro was a base coupe barn find that I bought 3 years ago here in Ohio from the original owner. It was a rare 6-cylinder with a 3-on-the-tree shifter, but rusted all to hell and not financially feasible. I sold it to a hillbilly who had welding skills and planned to make it into yet another uninteresting big block phony SS...yawn. It was full of snake skins as the local rat snakes liked to use it as a house and bathroom (it had a wonderfully pungent smell that kept my long-suffering wife out of the garage, so that alone made it worth the money that I wasted on it). I actually toyed with the idea of having the floors and rockers in the '69 replaced and keeping the super-patina-ed (is that a word?) look intact, then driving it to shows and watching the reactions...I sort-of regret not following through with that sick plan (keeping Froggy "crusty" is paying semi-homage to that lost '69). The last photo is the '68 RS I bought from a Craigslist ad in Hartford, CT. It was another very rusty 6-cylinder with a 3-on-the-tree (are we starting to see signs of true mental illness here...I would certainly hope so), and next to it is a rust-free '68 Firebird body that I bought from a CL-Phoenix ad and paid dearly to have shipped to Columbus, then sold 2 years later at a loss when I discovered how much it was going to cost to resurrect it as a rebodied '68 Camaro (that was right before I bought the rust-bucket '69...duh!). Lesson learned...buy relatively solid cars from the West, you big dummy!

    PS...the super-handsome little boy in the photos is my son Little Alex...the absolute greatest joy I will ever have on this earth...thanks God!
     

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    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  2. 70RamAirIII

    70RamAirIII Pontiac-aholic

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    That's a cool sounding car!!

    If the Camaro was like the Firebird, then the 14x7" CL wheels were actually available on lower model cars - if the right tires were opted;
    (Now please correct me if there were differences in standard or optional tires on the Camaro)
    For the base and Esprit Firebird (and I'd presume the same might be said about base and LT Camaros) the standard tire was a E78/14; this came with a 6" wide wheel.
    For the Formula Firebird (and I understand the same goes for the Camaro SS) the standard tire was a F70/14; this came with a 7" wide wheel.
    The base and Esprit Firebirds would have come eqquipped with a 7" wide wheel if either the F78/14 or F70/14 tires were opted - I would assume the same would apply to the base and LT Camaros.

    What ever you decide to do, I am sure you should be able to recoupe your cost for otherwise undesirable 14x6" wheels by selling your CL wheels
    (what is their date of manufacture, and whom were they manufactured by?)

    WOW!!

    That's like having a first year Z28 (roughly the same production; 602 1967 Z28 vs 697 1969 TA)

    that's a good looking kid :)
    I have a four year old boy, and two year old girl... which is why my Firebird is getting done at a near glacial rate right now. ;)

    About the first gen inline-six cars;
    Am I wrong, or wasn't 67-69 Camaro inline-six production vastly higher than 1970+ ?
    That has always been my impression;
    It seems like a whole lot more first gen Camaro's were sold with the inline-six, or 327-2bbl.
    I might be more of a Firebird guy, but I'm not one of those snobby brand loyalists, I like a little bit of everything;
    The first "car" book I bought was that red padded hardcover 'Consumers guide' Camaro book, followed shortly by the silver Firebird book.
    I have always preferred second gen f-bodies over all else.
    Because I have paid a little more attention to Firebirds, I cannot recall ever having seen an early second gen Camaro with the inline six, but I have seen several 307 cars;
    I have only seen three early Firebirds with the inline six, two 1970's, and a 1974.
     
  3. flht99b

    flht99b Veteran Member

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    Outstanding car and an equally outstanding story about it's history. Drive it, maintain as needed and preserve it's past and document it's future.
     
  4. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger Member

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    Thanks to all...and now to answer Ram Air's questions and tell the tale of the $500 '69 TA...

    Back in the spring of 1980, I was a sailor stationed onboard the destroyer USS Ingersoll...a lifetime ago, but I can instantly see myself back on its pitching decks in heavy seas in the Pacific, and smell the exotic smells of Magsaysay Boulevard in Olangapo City, PI...looking for my next San Miguel beer or my next pretty girl...that city was chock full of both...

    But I digress...

    While in our homeport, 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego, my shipmates and I would frequently get on the Tijuana Trolley (red interurban train cars) and venture down to the border, walk across, go about 10 city blocks and be in the middle of Sin City...the "Zona Nostra" (North Zone...no one goes there now...a zone of death)...brothels, bars (our favorite was the "Molino Rojo"...Red Windmill), pretty young street hookers (and old ones as well), plenty of cheap beer and tequila ("ta-kill-ya"), and loads of beat-up American muscle cars. Among the interesting ones I saw on the streets...a yellow '70 Road Runner convertible with a 383 and a pistol grip 4-speed, a white '69 Dart with a 440, a black '68 SS396 Camaro with a 4-speed, a clapped-out orange '69 Z28 with a white houndstooth interior and flat hood, many, many 1st Gen Camaros and Firebirds, and many many early Novas. Most of those cars had either been stolen in the US and driven across the border, or ended up down there after the OPEC Oil Crisis in late '73 (when gas skyrocketed to 50 cents a gallon...oh, the humanity!).

    I have been a muscle car NUT since I was a young punk kid of 8 (I remember when the '64 Goats were ruling the streets...and there were no other muscle cars), so I knew all of the muscle cars, even obscure stuff like AMC "Machines" and 440 Darts. So one evening as me and my shipmates were taking a leak off the old stone bridge that crossed the Tijuana River, I looked down and saw a '69 Trans Am in all of its striped and spoilered glory sitting beneath a street light in the TJ Bus Depot's parking lot. I remarked to my shipmates that that was a rare '69 Trans Am and was met with, "they didn't make a TA in '69"...yeah right...I knew better. When my bad hangover wore off the next morning I got back on the trolley and rode down to the border. Next to the bus depot was an upholstery shop (need a "roll and tuck" interior for your beater...that was your place) where the owner spoke English. I paid him $20 to go into the bus depot to find out who owned the TA. It turned out to be a guy in his 20s named Faustino Mendoza. He said he wanted "Ocho hundred", I responded with "Quatro", and we settled on "Cinco". I had a buddy snap a couple of photos of me jotting down the VIN and then we headed back to the base. I asked a border guard what was necessary to bring a car into the US and he said I would need to run the VIN with California DMV to verify it hadn't been stolen in the US (otherwise it would be seized...not good), and I would need a notarized Mexican title. I ran the number at DMV and discovered it had last been registered in CA in 1974 to a guy from Newport Beach.

    I headed back to the border at 1600 hours (military lingo added for effect) on Tuesday with $600 in 20s to buy the TA (the money was burning a hole in my pocket!). Faustino was waiting at the depot and took me to the neighborhood notary. He wanted $50 to notarize the title and I reluctantly paid it (he was a Mexican bandito). Faustino started the car with a screwdriver and the RA3 coughed to a smoking, choppy fast idle. The car had a 4-speed, rare tach and gauges, blue standard interior, console, and a Formula steering wheel. It also had extremely faded red "Ram Air" decals on the hood (something I have never seen on another '69 TA). The clutch was almost non-existent, and the car barely ran...it turned out it was basically a V6...2 dead spark plugs. By the time I got to the border, it was overheating. The guards helped me push it to a bay where it could be searched and I could wait for a tow truck from San Ysidro to tow it back to the gravel parking lot outside the base. Inside the car I found a Chevron gas receipt from 1973 and a Zippo lighter that had been presented by the Commandant of the US Marine Corps (I still have it buried in a box somewhere).

    So what happened to it? My ship was getting ready to deploy to the Persian Gulf (called a "Westpac"), and we would be gone from the US for 10 months...which would include 3 months of sitting on "Gonzo Station" (our term of affection for the stinking hot, lonely, boring Persian Gulf). I put the TA into a storage place called "AAAA Storage"...a 1930s cold storage building at the edge of San Diego's Gaslamp District...the oldest part of downtown. One of the guys who worked there commented on what a rare muscle car I had. When I returned, the hood (and its attached Ram Air baffle), air cleaner, Formula steering wheel, and trunk spoiler were all gone...an inside job, no doubt. I called the SD police, but they said I couldn't prove the car had had those items when I stored it there...I was "SOL" (sh*t out of luck). Ironically, I sold the car to a Pontiac collector from Newport Beach, CA for $3k...a tidy profit. I used the money to buy a Marina Blue '67 RS Camaro with a factory 327 4-barrel, 4-speed, blue standard interior, an AM radio, and tinted glass for $1,200. At that time I could never have foreseen that all of those missing parts would someday be repopped, and that that TA would be worth six figures. The buyer showed me that the TA could be verified by its cowl tag...Cameo White with the "D80" spoiler option. I have no idea where the car is now.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  5. 70RamAirIII

    70RamAirIII Pontiac-aholic

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    /\ very cool!
    Thanks for sharing yet another great story!
     
  6. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger Member

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    Ram Air...the current wheels on Froggy are "CL" coded from 1972, and I may just keep them now...they give the car a kind-of badas* look (even though it is a wimpy little 6). Thanks for the tip that those wheels were available...much appreciated. The last thing I want to do is show up at a big Camaro show and have the guys tell me that Froggy has the wrong heels (insert sarcasm here).

    I plan on keeping the car dead original and stock, although the idea of jacking it up with some Gabrial Hi-Jackers (air shocks from back-in-the-day) and putting some 10 inch-wide Ansen Sprints (5-slot mag wheels from back-in-the-day) on the back with some Mickey Thompson tires really appeals to the long-dormant high school boy still buried somewhere inside me. Then crank the Foghat 8-track and smoke a joint and tell the world to go to hell while cruising around looking for hot chicks...
     
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  7. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger Member

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    And you are correct about 1st Gen Camaros and F-birds having more sixes built as a percentage of total production. As I recall, about 20% of the 1st Gens had sixes, and most of the 2nd Gen years had 10% or less built. Six banger 1st Gens are still rare, but 2nd Gen sixes are rarer...and sixes with stick-shifts are extremely rare. As I have said previously, I believe Froggy may be the only '70 6-cylinder with a 3-speed manual in existence.
     
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  8. 70 Six Banger

    70 Six Banger Member

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    I know I haven't posted on here for awhile...figured I'd wait until I had some more news to report. The biggest news on my '70 ("Froggy") is that she received a dash to replace her incredibly warped and beat-up original dash which survived 31 years of LA sun. My intention is to never restore the car, but just enjoy it for its original funkiness. I looked for quite awhile to find a decent original black dash pad and finally located one on CL-Columbus for $200 from a very rusty '73 that is being restored and will get a repop dash. The swap job took 5 hours and my buddy Scott helped (he owns an untouched blue '70 Z28 with its original LT1, Turbo 400, and 4.10 rear...I will post photos of it on here). The original dash had never been out of the car and I found the original radio delete plate screws sitting on a small metal reinforcement bar right below the radio opening, as well as discovering that it had the original radio delete cardboard speaker hole covering. The 1st photo shows how warped the original dash was...the 2nd is the "new" dash.

    I have done a few other things to the car to improve its drivability. The best upgrade was to install Gabriel Ultra gas shocks, which really firmed it up on hard cornering and greatly improved its ride. For those of you who have never driven a 2nd Gen with a 6-cylinder and a 3-speed manual, its handling is fantastic on twisty roads when it has new tires and shocks. My car was built with manual steering and brakes, and was a radio delete, so according to the factory weight chart it weighs only 3,058 pounds (the lightest '70 Camaro available). According to the factory assembly manual it uses the same manual steering box (GM #7807761) as the Z28, and it has excellent feel on the road.

    Another thing that needed addressing was the carburetor, which had never been rebuilt (the car has 147k original miles) and still had its original GM brass float. It was very hard starting and the original vacuum advance was very rusty and barely moved. My buddy Scott rebuilt the Monojet carb on his kitchen table in an hour and the float was replaced with a Napa urethane part. The carb rebuild has really woken up the engine and it now pulls strongly up to 35 mph during hard acceleration in 1st gear, then 55 mph in 2nd...it now accelerates like a small V8. The 6-cylinder with 3-speed combo drives wonderfully and makes the car almost feel like a junior musclecar on a twisty road. There is plenty of acceleration when its needed as long as you're willing to keep the engine in its main power band (approx. 1,500-4,000 rpm). The fact that absolutely nothing was ever changed on this car makes it really easy to work on...the engine still has its original TCS and anti-dieseling solenoids, and every clip, grommet, wire, and screw is still in place.

    Froggy was entered in a big car show east of Columbus yesterday and won a trophy for "Best Survivor"...there were about 12-15 survivors to compete against.
     

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  9. checkmate201

    checkmate201 1970 SS 350 4sp 06 C

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    That's awesome glad you are keeping as original as can be. congrats on the win
     
  10. 70RamAirIII

    70RamAirIII Pontiac-aholic

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    I would love to see this stuff!
    I never knew that a cardboard plate was used under the speaker perforation on the dash!!
     

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