Harmon Anderson 1969 Z28

Zero’d in on Perfection – Harmon Anderson’s Restored 1969 Z28 Camaro

Every car guy knows, or should know, Car Guy Rule Number One: Don’t buy your wife or girlfriend an old car and call it her birthday present. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that’s a losing proposition.

Harmon Anderson 1969 Camaro Z28

Harmon Anderson of Johnstown, Colorado, is the poster guy for the one percent of the time when this strategy works. He and his wife had always wanted a 1969 Z28 and when the right car came along several years ago, it happened to be in his wife’s birthday month.

“I bought it in April and called it her birthday present,” he says. “Got kind of a chuckle from her.”

Harmon Anderson 1969 Camaro Z28

Harmon, his wife and the meticulously restored car are still together, so sometimes the one-percent chance works.

When Harmon found the Camaro, he says it was a solid but tired used car. All the major components were there, and it had very little body damage or rust. The crew at Severance Autobody in Severance, Colorado, handled the necessary sheet metal repairs and applied the LeMans Blue paint and white rally stripes. Historic note for Camaro junkies: Chevy offered 18 color options for the 1969 models; LeMans Blue was the most popular at just over 12 percent of the production total.

Harmon Anderson 1969 Camaro Z28

The 1969 Z28 wasn’t built by Chevrolet for mileage. In addition to the Z’s strong horsepower and torque, Harmon’s numbers-matching car has the M-22 “rock crusher” four-speed manual transmission (no automatics were available in the ’69 Z28s) and the optional 12-bolt Positraction rearend with 4.10 gears.

The 302c.i. small blocks were advertised at 290 horsepower at the time, but contemporary dyno tests showed consistent 400-horsepower output. An 800cfm Holley four-barrel carb, mechanical lifters, and an 11:1 compression ratio required premium fuel, which resulted in mileage in the 10-11 mpg range.

Harmon Anderson 1969 Camaro Z28

Front disc brakes (four-wheel discs were offered as an option, but few were ordered because of the $500 added cost) and rear drums handle the stopping chores on Harmon’s car. Fifteen-inch factory Rallye wheels are wrapped in period-correct Firestone rubber.

Harmon handled most of the interior restoration, installing the black vinyl upholstery from Legendary Auto Interiors. Handles and pedals are GM NOS pieces. The headliner and console are original pieces. The console-mounted gauge package (a $94 option at the time) keeps track of the engine performance.

Harmon Anderson 1969 Camaro Z28

The 1969 model was the highest-selling of the first-generation Camaros and fourth-highest overall. Of the nearly 250,000 Camaros produced that year, slightly more than 20,000 1969 Z28s were manufactured, which means standout examples like Harmon’s will always be desired by collectors and enthusiasts.

Photos by Todd Ryden

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.