There were so many times that 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Sport Coupe owner Norm Graves wanted to paint it black. Or red, blue, or anything other than its Palomino Ivory color. The same goes for the “Strato-Back” front bench seat. He wanted to make it a clean black-on-black-on-black Camaro with bucket seats and a console. But the more he looked at his car and compared it with other 1968 Camaros, he saw strange things about it.
Was this a special order 1968 Camaro?
This started out as his mother Margaret’s car. But even how she purchased it was odd. The first owner bought it off of the Chevy dealer’s lot in Covina, California. It wasn’t special ordered like this. It just showed up with a bunch of other new Camaros in 1967. But the new owner started piling up speeding tickets, which resulted in him losing his driver’s license.
Unable to get it reinstated after months of trying, he casually mentioned to Norm’s brother Ron he needed to sell it. It had 1,500 miles on the ticker. Ron showed his mom the car and wanting a new car, she bought it. The only change was to swap out the Cragar mag wheels for steel wheels and hubcaps.
How was this Camaro optioned?
Margaret put over 80,000 miles on her shiny Sport Coupe over the years. Once she turned in her driver’s license many decades later, she turned it over to her youngest, Norm. He always liked the car, but he had his own ideas for making it his Camaro.
He began going to classic car shows to check out all of the 1967 to 1968 Camaros. He saw that many of the options his car has weren’t on any others, like the “ComforTilt” tilt steering wheel. Only a little over 5,000 were built this way in 1968.
And then there was that StratoBack seat. Less than 5,000 customers wanted it. As for the unique Palomino Ivory paint, only 1.5 percent of 1968 Camaros got painted this color. But there’s more.
Is the bumblebee stripe stock?
Margaret’s Camaro, or Norm’s, has that bumblebee “front accent band” stripe. You don’t see that on lower-optioned Camaros. Conversely, it has an L30 327 four-bbl Turbo Fire V8, with 275 hp. Over 21,000 Camaros got this in 1968. Except for the Z28 models, the Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, which this car has, was the only automatic transmission available. So powertrain-wise, Norm’s Camaro is a typical 1968 car.
And that vinyl top? Over 77,000 1968 models had it. Though its options are few, it was built with the “Exterior Style Trim Group.” This included wheel-opening moldings, drip moldings, and belt moldings. You virtually never see these on restorations today. But the Sport Coupe isn’t a stripper. It also has power steering and power brakes.
What does the Camaro’s VIN number tell?
After Margaret’s passing, Norm chipped away at fixing some of the things the car needed after 80,000 miles. But he always replaced parts that were stock, not modified aftermarket components. As he progressed, he got curious about the Camaro and dug into its serial numbers.
He discovered that based on Chevrolet Van Nuys Assembly Plant records, his Camaro was built on the first day of 1968 production. This CamaroWorld list of 1968 Camaro monthly producion breaks it down. This doesn’t confirm, but it does support the idea that this was used to try out certain assembly operations for certain options. That would explain why it has some higher-end options and lower-end ones, too.
Why was it built like this?
Remember, it wasn’t ordered like this. And few buyers opted for any of these options to warrant Chevy just banging out a few here and there with them. But it needed to have the assembly line procedure worked out should someone want them.
So that’s the story, and theory, of Margaret and Norm’s oddball 1968 Camaro. Today, Norm is glad he didn’t change anything. It is a great conversation piece for all of those common SS and L34 big block Camaros he sees today.