Pat Masterson's 1969 Camaro

I got my first new car during the Spring of 1968. I was 21 and still in college, so I didnt have a lot of money to spend. I had 2 part time jobs, and I could afford a car. The local Chevy dealer had a leftover 68 Camaro on the lot, and the price was right, so I bought it. The car hadn't sold because it was a small 6 cylinder 3 speed stick shift with no power steering or power brakes.

That car ran lousey because of the newly installed anti-pollution devices. I kept taking it back to the dealer, and they never seemed to get it right. But, I loved the lines of the Camaro, and decided to upgrade. I ordered a 69 in mid-summer of 1968. With the trade-in allowance, and what money I had left, I was able to order a small V8, 3 speed stick, with power steering. I had a tad over $3000 to spend. I couldn't afford any other options, but my 2:73 rear was a freebee. And I was expecting a 307 engine.

The 69 arrived in mid December, and after my last class of the semester, December 18th, I came home. Dad and I picked up the car and I was pleased to see that it had a 327 in it. On the way home from the dealer, Dad said "How about driving to florida for a week?" We picked my younger brother, packed up some clothes, and headed down I95 after dinner. We had to stop at a service station in Delaware to do the 500 mile oil change. The people we met all the way to florida had not yet seen a new camaro, and they paid it a lot of attention.

I took pretty good care of that car over the years, and there were two things I did that made it last as long as it has. The first was frequent oil changes. I was changing oil before 3000 miles, and using Quaker State every time. The second thing was keeping the RPMs low at all times. All my friends were street racing, but I never did that. The engine, to this day, has never been revved over 3500 RPMs.

There was one standard engine rebuild at about 200K miles, and nothing serious since then. This was my main car until the early 2000s, and it has about 350K miles on it now. It still runs great. Almost everything under the hood is still original. I take care to keep it looking just like it came from the factory. The alternator, starter, master cylinder, and power steering equipment are all original. They get rebuilt as necessary.

Due to the saltiness of NY weather, there always has been a rust problem, so some of the sheet metal has been replaced. The original color was Cortez Silver, but it kept fading into a dull gray. I went to the 2003 Corvette Electric Pearl Blue a few years ago, and it's a great color. The car had its 54th birthday in December 2022.

This picture is from January 1968. Taken on the Hudson River a few weeks after I got the car.

And this is what it looks like today

In 1975 the 3 speed Saginaw was getting worn out. It had a 100K miles, and the syncros were going bad. I found a used 4 speed Muncie locally for $150. A tremendous bargain. I bought a Hurst shifter, and did the new tranny and clutch all by myself. It was a great improvement.

By early 2023, with over 200K miles on it, the Muncie needed a "facelift". While researching tranny rebuilders, I saw many, many good references to Tremec transmissions. I ordered the 5 speed TKX and had it installed at a shop in Tampa. Highway speeds are much greater now than they were in 1968. The TKX over drive is very useful in keeping RPMs low on the open road. The lower first gear is also very nice for driving around town with that 2:73 rear end.