Barn finds are something we all dream about discovering, but few of us actually do. Today the term “barn find” refers to any really cool classic car that’s found stuffed away in some dusty corner, old field, or the like, so it doesn’t actually have to be a barn (although that is a pretty cool bonus).
This time around, the find in question is a pretty iconic ride, namely a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS big-block 396 (325 hp). This one was built at the Van Nuys, California, plant and originally sold by Bob Coyle Chevrolet in San Jose, California. The great news is this classic Camaro came with a ton of original documents, including the original Protect-o-Plate (a small metal or plastic plaque GM started including with cars in the ’60s to help track warranty repairs, but which now can help verify the originality of classic vehicles). The original sales invoice was lost to time, however some of the surviving paperwork shows the second owners bought the Camaro as a used car from a Volkswagen dealership in 1972. It also reveals they got a whopping $100.04 for a 1960 Buick they traded in.
In 1972, the Camaro was just another slightly used car. Soon after the new owners bought the 396 big-block Camaro, they stripped off the vinyl top and repainted the car from its original Dover White to a charcoal gray. They also installed an aftermarket cruise-control unit and some very fashionable Cragar wheels that you can see in the surviving period photo in the gallery. We must say that it was a pretty nice-looking ride at this point.
What’s even cooler is that the RS/SS 396 Camaro was the wife’s daily driver, and it made annual ski trips to Mammoth Mountain with five people shoehorned inside. For whatever reason, the big-block Camaro was parked in 1983. When the car was recently located in the garage it called home, it still had both of its original black California plates, the original 14-inch rally wheels, and a few other goodies including an new old stock steering wheel that was purchased from the dealer more than 30 years ago.
The RS/SS 396 Camaro has been off the road for nearly 40 years, the last 13 of which it had been gathering dust alongside two late ’30s Chevys. Over the years the Camaro’s tires had rotted out and gone flat, so it was moved from its parking spot using dollies so the new owner could install tires capable of holding air.
That’s right, the Camaro was sold. (Those other old Chevys are available, too.) The new owner, Tom, spent a lot of energy talking the owners into selling him their forgotten gem, but his persistence paid off, and now the Camaro is his and will once again be back on the highway. A restoration back to Dover White? A pro-touring rework? I’m sure we all have our own ideas on what we would do with such a find, but whatever happens, we’re happy knowing it will be back cruising in the sunshine.
What’s crazy is we keep seeing these barn finds and think, “Man, all the hidden cars must have been found by now!” Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case, and as these cars are reintroduced to the automotive population, the classic-car hobby and automotive world is all the better for it.