Purchased new in store from Coles Books Stores (Canada). Significantly updated in 1994. Out of print.
In the mid-1980s I was starting to shop around for my first car. Being a teenaged car guy, I considered an old Camaro as a very cool option. I’d been reading Car Craft and Hot Rod for years, but I wanted information about what the car was like new, and what I might find as a typical used car. I wanted to know as much as I could about Camaros. Michael Antonick’s Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide fit the bill.
Antonick has written quite a number of Camaro and Corvette books. He is regarded as an expert on Chevrolet’s top performance cars. The books he has authored have been written to be the go-to reference books when it comes to Camaros and Corvettes.
The Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide is filled with good information. The introduction, which reads a lengthy 11 pages, covers how the Camaro was developed, where the market for the Camaro as a ‘collector car’ was at the time, and offers advice on finding a good, used Camaro.
Most important was the car, and the 1967 Camaro was an instant hit.
Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide
Like other recently reviewed books, Antonick follows a very simple, logical format with chapters broken out to cover specific model years. Each of the early years (1967-73) gets its own chapter, while later models are grouped as 1974-77, 1978-81 and 1982-85. Production numbers are quoted, and a simple ‘investment rating’ indicates what would be seen as the best bets in terms of collectibility and value.
Each chapter is filled with information that motorheads live for. Things like how the SS-only nose stripe proved so popular that by March 1967 Chevrolet turned it into a regular option available on any Camaro. Or that functional cowl induction and heat extractor scoops were added to the 1980 Z/28. And the codes… those fabulous General Motors RPOs. Antonick provides tables for each year with the factory paint colour codes and the regular production order (RPO) numbers (including the pricing). The best known code of course is Z28 – Special Performance Package, but everything, down to a $3.20 visor mirror (code D34, 1970) had an order code. For someone restoring or buying a car, these codes are a fantastic resource.
Now, much of this information is readily available on the internet. But Antonick’s book puts everything together nicely. Further, while there’s lots of factory GM photography used, the author has included a large number of his own photos to show detail. Granted, the photos are all black and white, and that will disappoint some readers. However, the photos are crisp and provide a great complement to the text.
At the time of this review, Antonick’s first edition of the Illustrated Camaro Buyer’s Guide is 30 years old. It holds up very well, although it’s easy to see it is outdated. The valuations given reflect 1985 pricing, and the collector car hobby was very different. There was no 4-day television coverage of auctions like Barrett-Jackson and most people still felt the performance cars worth any respect were last built before 1973, and that anything coming after was just a used car, and not a very good one. Obviously, there’s no information on post-1985 Camaros, which are now also becoming collectibles.
As a snapshot of the car-collector hobby in the mid-1980s, this book does provide an interesting perspective. The oldest Camaro hadn’t turned 20 yet, and only the rarest, big-cube/high-rev cars seemed to be regarded as ‘investment-grade’. It’s a different landscape today, as even the sub-200hp, early 1980’s Z28s are regarded as “cool toys for Hollywood stars“.
For the average enthusiast, one could take a pass on this book. Even for the hardcore Camaro fan, the out-of-date pricing information and limited model year coverage means this edition has been surpassed by later books, including some by the author himself. Still, if you find it for a couple bucks at a garage sale, it’s worth picking up.
Pros: Detailed information, sound car-buying advice that holds up today
Cons: Dated pricing info, no colour photos
Where to find it: Amazon, used book stores, estate sales
Note – the third edition of this book was published in 1994, and as such would contain information on a larger number of Camaros.
You might also enjoy…
Sixty Years of Chevrolet