Super Stock NHRA racing is likely one of the most badass motorsports on the planet, or at least it was back in the 1960s. It was once about as close to stock vehicles as you could possibly get, yet they still screamed down the track.
One of the dominant and most memorable cars of the 1960s was Dave Stickler’s Camaro Z/28 dubbed “Old Reliable.” After it claimed the Stock Car World Championship in the 1968 season, “Old Reliable” was retired and sold.
In 1993, a buyer used VIN data saved by the Sticklers to track down this beast, after it had been repainted and raced in various events across the nation. Few actually knew what the Camaro once was, but this buyer knew what it was and wanted it, badly. According to some sources, when this buyer went to buy “Old Reliable,” it was actually scheduled to be chopped up for scrap metal.
One question that comes to mind is how good of condition can a car that was about to be scraped be in? From what we can see, this thing is in excellent shape and is certainly set to pick up a premium price, now that it has been listed for sale on Ebay by RK Motors Charlotte.
Click past the jump to read the full review.
The exterior of this once scrap car has been completely restored to the point that it looks like it just rolled off of the assembly line. Extensive work went into making sure each and every decal that was on “Old Reliable” in the 1968 season was affixed or painted properly. This 1968 Camaro Z/28 also boasts the original 2-coat urethane Corvette Bronze paint it did in the ’68 Super Stock season.
This Super Stock car features the factory hidden headlight system that all Camaros of that year did, adding to the streamlined appearance of it. It also has a big nasty set of 9-inch slicks on the back end to help launch it from the starting line.
The only thing on this exterior that varies from the original is the fact that the black racing stripes are embedded into the clear coat. On the original “Old Reliable,” the racing stripes were stick-on decals. The embedding of the racing stripes adds to their longevity and eliminates dirt buildup in the seams.
An item that required close attention were the rear quarter panels. One of the previous owners hacked them up to fit larger slicks under the rear of the car. Instead of replacing these with duplicate parts, they somehow repaired the original quarter panels to like-new condition. That’s quite a feat.
Despite this being a drag car, it is also a street-able rod. The interior is completely original from top to bottom. Because this was a dragster, it saw very limited use and from what RK Motors is telling us, the interior required no restoration, probably just a good cleaning.
The interior is full black from top to bottom and is in impeccable shape. “Old Reliable” was also a true RS Z/28, so it also comes with the real RS steering wheel, something that many drivers would have removed. It also includes the original instrumentation of the RS Z/28, with the exception of a Stahl tachometer mounted on its steering column – again, true to the original “Old Reliable.”
When “Old Reliable” was originally purchased, it came with the radio delete option, which eliminates the radio and installs a block-off plate where the radio was. Well, this plate is still present in this model, which shows just how original this interior really is.
No matter how good of a restoration job someone does, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a classic interior in its factory condition.
Engine and Drivetrain
Now onto the really fun stuff, the engine and drivetrain. Under the hood is the 302 cubic-inch engine that came standard with the 1968 Camaro RS Z/28, but with the modifications that Stickler used in the 1968 Super Stock season.
Just like all 1968 Camaro Z/28s, this model uses Chevy’s rather impressively tuned 30-30 camshaft. The cylinder heads are bone stock with absolutely no porting, per NHRA Super Stock regulations. The intake manifold is stock, or so we assume, for the 1968 Camaro and as is the Holley 780 CFM four-barrel carb. Even with all of these stock components, this 302 cubic-inch hunk of Detroit muscle pumps out nearly 400 horsepower as it hits its peak power at an astounding 8,200 rpm, which means though the bolt-on components on this engine are stock, its internals have to at least be balanced and blueprinted to handle those engine speeds.
The exhaust system is a straight race system. It has a pair of hooker headers that come off of the engine and dump right under the front seats. There are no mufflers, catalytic converters, or exhaust pipes. Don’t let the exhaust backpressure myths fool you, there is no such thing in the automotive realm as too little backpressure.
The only issue we can come across is the extremely high 11-to-1 compression ratio. This car was manufactured about six years before lead began being phased out of gasoline and cars with that high of compression require the higher octane rating of leaded gas to prevent knocking. Given this Camaro is unmodified, it is likely that an expensive lead substitute will be needed to prevent engine knocking.
Throwing the power back to the 9-inch slicks on the rear is a Muncie M22 four-speed trans with a Hurst shifter. This transmission is appropriately nicknamed “Rock Crusher,” thanks to its ungodly crunching sound between shifts. These transmissions are totally bullet proof and indestructible, hence their wide use in GM muscle cars in the 1960s and 70s. Linking the transmission and engine is a three-finger clutch, which has three thick fingers on its pressure plate, as opposed to a dozen, or so, on standard pressure plates. This helps evenly distribute the force on the clutch plate under extremely high torque.
In the back end sits a standard GM 12-bolt rear end, but it is only standard on the outside. On the inside are a set of extremely tall 5.57 gears. This allows the Camaro to launch from the line and accelerate at an extremely fast rate. On the negative side, a gear ratio this tall severely limits its top speed. We would bet that this 400-horsepower beauty only has a 125 to 130 mph top speed. These gears are one of the few items that are not authentic to the original “Old Reliable,” as the original version had a set of 5.38-to-1 gears.
All of this adds up to quarter mile times consistently in the 10.80 to 11.20-second range at 119+ mph. What’s even sweeter is that living its life only a quarter mile at a time – thanks to Vin Diesel for that quote – means this 1968 Camaro is likely the lowest mileage one in the world, as it only bears a little over 5 miles. Yes, F-I-V-E miles.
Suspension and Braking
Since this is a dragster, heavy suspension modification is not needed. This means it essentially has the stock front A-arm suspension with shocks and rear leaf springs. The only difference on the rear suspension is the addition of traction bars to keep wheel hop under control.
The brakes are bone stock too. Up front are a set of hydraulic disc brakes and the rear has hydraulic drum brakes.
Now this is the part where dreams are realized or destroyed. The “Old Reliable” RS Z/28 has a “Buy it Now” price on Ebay of $499,900. That’s honestly not too bad for a vehicle that can pull in plenty of price money in various stock class drag racing circuits. but it’s still quite a lump of cash for a car that was once about to be chopped up for a few hundred bucks in scrap metal.
There’s absolutely no competition that’s even near this car. It is a one-of-a-kind find.
There’s not much else to say about this machine… It is a bad ass buy for anyone with an extra half-million lying around and for anyone wanting to win some prize money in style. Not only is this a beautiful restoration of this classic dragster, but a beautifully restored Camaro, period. This car could pull in plenty of money just taking it to various shows, if its new owner decides against hurling down a quarter-mile track.
The 1968 Camaro Z/28 "Old Reliable" is plain and simply the perfect car for anybody, be it a collector or racer. It is simply amazing.
- Beautifully restored classic muscle car
- Super-high 8,200 rpm shift point
- Ready to run the quarter-mile today
- It may be too nice to race
- Almost 8x the actual value of a `68 RS Z/28 Camaro
- The gear ratio is not authentic to the original