The 1960s and early 1970s were the golden era of muscle cars in American automotive history. Before fuel prices shot up and left them scrambling for fuel-efficiency, the major automotive companies were all focused on putting out the most beefed-up pony cars that’ll leave rivals in the dust. The head of the pack in popularity was always the first muscle car to come along, the Ford Mustang, but Ford’s rivals did not let it have that title easily. And General Motors’ main competitor against the Mustang was the Chevrolet Camaro.
The first generation ran from 1967 to 1969, while the second generation ran from 1970 to 1981. It was then succeeded by the third generation that ran from 1982 to 1992, and then the fourth generation from 1993 to 2002.
Finally, there was the fifth generation from 2003 to 2015 and the sixth and current generation that has run from 2016 to today. And while the Camaro never overtook the Mustang in the way that General Motors executives hoped, it became a cultural icon in its own right. It has a long history of appearing in film, notably in the form of the character Bumblebee in the Transformers franchise, and is considered one of the great examples of the classic era of muscle cars.
The Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 gained fame as a racing-oriented performance package on the original Chevrolet Camaro, and its second-generation incarnation is just as peppy.
The 1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z28: The Z28’s History
When Chevrolet put the Camaro on sale, they offered it in a variety of trim levels, just like you would find on most cars today. The SS (Super Sport) and RS (Rally Sport) were both popular appearance and performance packages, but there was another that few people even knew about. This performance package was not advertised and was hidden away in the catalogue; only real enthusiasts knew what to ask for. To that end, it didn’t even have a fancy name. The Z/28 moniker just originates from Chevrolet’s internal code for the performance package, RPO Z28.
The Z/28 was an even more powerful trim level than the standard Camaro, because it was a Camaro set up specifically for track racing. Despite Chevrolet not advertising it, the legend of the Z/28 spread among performance enthusiasts via word of mouth. It was such a success that Chevrolet continued offering the Z/28 in the second generation and onward, selling the performance package from the Camaro’s introduction until 1974, before bringing it back in 1977.
1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z28’s Specifications
The 1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is equipped with a naturally-aspirated 5.7 liter version of General Motors’ famed Chevrolet small-block V8. This gives it a claimed 245 horsepower at 5,200 revolutions per minute and 280 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 revolutions per minute. In practice, however, Chevrolet underreported the Camaro’s horsepower, and the 1973 Z/28 can clock as high as 360 horsepower. Thanks to that power, it does zero to sixty miles per hour in 6.5 seconds and has a top speed of 125 miles per hour.
Despite the underreported horsepower that is, sadly, a decrease in performance compared to the original Z/28, as by 1973 the muscle car era was waning in the face of increased fuel prices. The Camaro was not the only muscle car to suffer from this, as the second-generation Mustang was infamously bashed as being a decrease in quality from the original. But do not let that make you think that the Z/28 is not a serious performance car, it is still great fun around the track or on the road. As an added bonus, the 1973 edition was the first model of the Camaro Z/28 to offer air conditioning.
The Cost Of The 1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The original MSRP of a new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 in 1973 was $3,713, which works out to a quite reasonable $23,726 in today’s money. You may expect a classic muscle car to sell for a lot more than that now, but there is good news if you are in the market for one. The first generation Z/28’s are the most desirable, while the second generation is somewhat overlooked, and the price decreases with each successive year.
According to Hagerty, the average cost of a 1973 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is just $29,500. What you end up paying naturally will vary depending on the condition of the particular Camaro you are looking at, and you can easily end up paying a good deal more or less than that. Of course, the downside to the 1973 model is that you are getting a model with less performance than the first generation, but that doesn’t make the 1973 model any less of a classic muscle car.