Rare Find! This 1967 Chevy Camaro RS/SS 396 Hasn’t Been Driven in Decades

The muscle car has lived in a storage container for almost 53 years. Now the owner doesn’t know what to do with it.

What do you do with a car you’ve owned for 53 years, but have lost the passion for? “Jim from Dallas” prefers to remain anonymous as he wrestles with the pressure to part with the 1967 Camaro RS/SS he bought on Friday, April 4, 1969, when he was 18 years old. “My 50-year-old daughter doesn’t know anything about it. My grandson is 15. He just got his permit but has never been a car guy like I was.” Then why doesn’t he sell it? “See this right arm? I’ve had it a little longer than my Camaro.”

A New Camaro 396 for $1,950

Jim first learned to work on cars through his buddies, who were a couple years older, when didn’t even have a driver’s license. “I started buying cars when I was 15 and got in a big, giant fight with my dad. By the time I was 16 I had three cars, and he said no more.” Jim ended up moving out when he was 17. In hindsight, he admits that he was “cocky and overconfident” and “knew everything.”

In April, 1969, Jim was driving in Minneapolis and spotted a Bolero Red Camaro RS/SS 396 for sale at Lyndale Automotive, a Rambler new-car dealer. “Holy smokes—I made a U-turn because I had been seeing them in magazines. I was one of those 18-year-old kids that was a speed freak.” The price was $1,950. With around $400 down, payments were $59 a month for 30 months, a total $1,769.10 with tax and interest.


Swapping in a 454—or Maybe Not

I knew exactly what I was going to do with that car before I even bought it,” Jim said. “That 396 had to come out because they had the 454 available, aluminum heads and all that stuff, and all I was interested in was getting to the racetrack.” He drove the Camaro only that summer and into the fall; he didn’t want to expose the body to salt. Winter was a good time to pull the 396 and start gathering parts for his epic LS7-inspired 454 build. “I thought I was going to have the fastest Camaro in the country!” In the early 1970s, “nobody worried about matching numbers” in Jim’s car crowd, so the engine swap back then seemed like no big deal. Then life intervened. He got married, bought a house, and eventually sold the parts and engine. He also sold the original 396 to a friend for his Corvette. This sale was “the biggest mistake I made with the car.

How To Ruin a Camaro in a Few Easy Steps

If selling the original big-block was the first mistake, Jim said that removing the gas tank filler neck that poked through the rear panel between the taillights to a round SS cap to give a cleaner look to the rear end was his second.

He’d also pulled the SS emblem from the grille for a cleaner look up front, but he kept that emblem in his toolbox, so it could easily be reattached. His next mistake was to fix several small dents in the driver-side door. “I worked at this truck dealership, and they had a paint booth. I was a perfectionist and didn’t want a door with dings. So, I figured I’m just going to paint that door.” The paint matched, but later it peeled. Today, the bubbles are huge and the lacquer is flaking like mad.

The Camaro Goes Into Storage—for Decades

About 1975, Jim installed a 396 from a wrecking yard off Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, then drove his Camaro to Texas to his new home. He laughed when explaining that one of the reasons he built a “mini-warehouse” was because he couldn’t get his Camaro into his home garage. That storage unit kept his old Camaro out of the weather and safe, right up to the present day.

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The body still wears its original Bolero Red lacquer. Even the factory white pinstripes that run down each side of the body are unscarred by time. “I never did anything to the interior,” other than adding “a tape player under the dash.” The dusty seats, dash, and carpet would probably clean up to look mint. The shifter and “Rock Crusher” four-speed transmission remain factory-stock. To the left of the in-dash factory tach is maybe the most stunning sight: a factory odometer reading 23,374.

The Big Dilemma: To Sell or Not To Sell

“I’ve had it in storage basically its whole life. I got it running again in 1989. A couple of my car buddies came down from Minnesota in 1993. We had to redo the brakes, but we got it running again, and inspected and licensed.” Jim admitted his passion has changed from “speed cars” like his Camaro to street rods. “I got a ’35 Chevy that I’d rather drive around than the Camaro. Besides that, I’ve got a bad left leg—can’t drive a car with a clutch anyway.”

The biggest obstacle to fixing up the Camaro has been time. Jim runs an industrial park and the mini-warehouse where his car is stored. He’s also a real estate broker, and he collects sports memorabilia, jukeboxes, and pinball machines. His daughter Heather told us, “Dad built this place to store all his stuff.”

Keeping the SS leaves him the option of getting it running again, hunting for a date-code correct 396, blending in new paint to the driver door and rear taillight panel, and installing the stock gas cap—and also letting his daughter drive it. Maybe then she’ll want to keep it in the family.

“OK, the show’s over,” he said, as he closed the sliding overhead door to the storage unit. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never sell it. Everybody knows me for my ’67 Camaro. If my ’67 Camaro is gone tomorrow, I lose my identity. I’m not Jim anymore.”