Reader Question: ’78 Z28 is Worth How Much?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mark asks: I have a ’78 Z28 that I bought new on April 7, 1978. I have the original wheels, tires, window sticker, 64,000 miles, 4 speed, 8-track, gold on black. Would you be able to give me an idea of its value? I live about 50 miles north and west of Philadelphia, if that has any bearing on the value. Thanks for your time!

My reply: The value of late second-generation F-cars (Camaros and Firebirds built from roughly 1975 – the first year for catalytic converters and much lower performance – through the end of the second generation in 1981) has been upticking significantly over the past ten years.

Probably because enough time has elapsed that these used-to-be-common cars – which were built in massive quantities relative to ’70-’74 cars – no longer are.  And because they are still relatively affordable in comparison with the ’70-’74 cars, some of which are drawing six figures at auctions.

But the ’75-81 cars are catching up. A ’77 Trans-Am (a nothing special ’77 Trans-Am with the standard 400/automatic) recently went for  . . . six figures on the Barret Jackson auction block because it was a black and gold SE car and because (apparently) Burt Reynolds had laid hands upon it. It wasn’t an actual “Bandit” movie car; just one of probably 100,000 black and gold SE TAs that Pontiac made back in ’77-’78.

Your car is at the apex of value for late second-gen Z28s because of its provenance (one owner) the exceptionally low miles/originality (“stock” condition) and because it has the most desirable combination of equipment available that year – especially the manual transmission and eight track.

Also, many consider the ’78 Z28 to be the most attractive of the ’77-81 Z28s (for non-Camaro-philes, there was no Z28 in 1975 or 1976).

The next thing to consider is the car’s mechanical condition – and appearance. Here is a general ranking system that is used to quantify both:

#6: Parts Car. weathered, wrecked or striped. Useful mainly for parts.
#5: Restorable. Needs complete restoration of body, chassis and interior, may not run, but won’t be wrecked or striped.
#4: Good. drivable, needing minor work to be functional, may need restoration but mostly usable.
#3: Very Good. Completely functional, older restoration showing wear, presentable and serviceable inside & out.
#2: Fine. Well Restored or extremely well maintained showing minimal wear.
#1: Excellent. Restored professionally to maximum standards, or in perfect original condition.

You didn’t indicate the condition of your car, so it’s hard to nail this down but, if your car is in #1 or #2 condition, it’s probably worth in the neighborhood of $30k or so. Here is an article you may be interested in published by Hagertys – the classic car insurer.

PS: I once owned your car! Well, I owned a car similar to your car… another ’78 Z28, with Hurst T-tops. Mine had the automatic but it was still one of the most fun cars I’ve ever owned, perhaps because I owned it when I was young and the world was new and still largely sane. I also once had an ’80 – with the “air induction” hood; great fun, too!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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