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Barn Find 1974 Camaro Z28 Found After Being Locked Away Nearly 40 Years Ago

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 4/23/2021 Steven Rupp,Chad Ehrlich
001-1974-Z28-Barn-Find-Garage-NOS-build-sheet-paperwork-VIN-tag-found-cover © Chad Ehrlich 001-1974-Z28-Barn-Find-Garage-NOS-build-sheet-paperwork-VIN-tag-found-cover

This 1974 Camaro Z/28 was just pulled out of a building where it was parked in 1984!

Research

The best part of barn finds, garage finds, field finds, and all the rest are the stories of how these cars and trucks came to be put aside and forgotten. Chad Ehrlich, of Nobody Else's Auto in Great Bend Kansas, searches the country for these forgotten automotive treasures and more than a few stories to share. This time it's a 1974 Z/28 Camaro that was set aside nearly 40 years ago. As Ehrlich told us, "Back in 1976, Jan Shank was looking for a new set of wheels. College was coming up and he needed good, reliable, transportation. Since his dad was a Chevy Dealer, a bow tie was the most obvious choice and being a young man heading off to school, he wanted something cool and sporty. A local guy had a fairly new Z/28 that came up for sale and that checked all the boxes, so that was what he picked up to drive! The car was originally sold new in Wichita, KS on August 26, 1974 at Thorobred Chevrolet. The original owner apparently only had the car a short time since it ended up in central Kansas with a different owner only 2 years later."

The 1974 Chevy Camaro Z/28 is a very unique, but somewhat unloved version of the Z/28. It was the last year that the Z/28 was available until it was brought back in 1977. It was the last year for the small back window and the first year for the new, and not attractive, bumpers and tail lights. Since the 1974 Camaro Z/28 was a one year only car, you don't see them very often. In 1974, they did build about 151,000 cars, however only 13,802 were Z/28's. Since the '74 has the same back glass as the earlier, more desirable, second-gens it's common for people to change the front and rear to accommodate the earlier bumpers.

a car parked in a parking lot © Chad Ehrlich

Ehrlich continued, "The Camaro served well as basic transportation for 8 years and made many trips back and forth to college. Jan even dated his future wife in the car. There were a lot of good times in college with friends and many memories. One night out on the town there was an accident involving a sign post that broke the header panel and smacked the hood! The header panel was replaced and an off shade of gold was used to repaint the damaged areas. The car continued its daily service until 1984 when it was parked inside one of the extra buildings at the dealership, covered up, and forgotten about. Over the years, other cars came and went but the '74 just sat. A restoration was planned for 'someday.' Some of the pieces he knew the car would need were ordered through the family Chevrolet dealership while they were still available. New trims rings for the factory wheels, badges, and some of interior plastic that was damaged over the years, were all ordered and stored with the car. As the NOS parts came into the parts department, they were placed inside the car as it continued its long slumber in dry storage. There was always a plan to do something with the car and it was never for sale. It was safe and dry and someday, something would get done with it. Priorities change over time, and that time came in February of this year."

a car engine © Chad Ehrlich

Chad Ehrlich of Nobody Else's Auto had known about the car for about 20 years and for 20 years, he had been given the same answer, "not for sale." Chad ran into Jan in February and asked if he still had the old Camaro. Jan said he did, the same question was asked, but this time, the reply was different. This time the reply was that "he probably wasn't going to do anything with the car." That opened a new area for conversation! They went and looked the car over together and tossed a few numbers around. The conversation ended that day with Chad telling Jan to think it over. The last thing Chad wanted Jan to do was to make a decision that he would regret. Jan had owned the car for over 40 years and had a long history with it, selling wasn't an easy topic for him to think about.

Late the next afternoon, Chad's phone rang. It was Jan, and a decision had been made, it was time. After a little more discussion, a price was agreed upon over the phone and arrangements were made to meet the next morning at the building where the car was stored. The next morning, Chad grabbed his truck and trailer, picked up his dad Steve and headed west. When they arrived, Jan had the file folder of paperwork out on the car. The file included the original owners manual, consumer information brochure, maintenance schedule brochure, emissions info pamphlet, original warranty brochure from the selling dealer, factory car label with option list and the intact, and the original build sheet! Jan had the tires aired up and the car was rolled back out into the sunlight for the first time in 37 years!

engineering drawing © Chad Ehrlich

We asked Ehrlich about the car's condition and he relayed, "Once the car was out in the daylight with the tires aired up, a little closer inspection was possible. There was a little rust in the rear quarter skins and lower front fenders, but that was it for rust! The bottom sides of the floor pans still have original gold paint on them! The car is complete intact and original except for the steering wheel. Everything under the hood is exactly as it was the day the car left the factory. It still has the original air cleaner, carb, valve covers, etc. Since the car was only 8 years old when it was parked, it was never modified or hot rodded, so it never lost its originality."

This particular 1974 Z/28 was built at the Norwood, Ohio plant and delivered to Thorobred Chevrolet in Wichita, KS. The car was painted Light Gold Metallic with a Light Neutral interior. Besides the Z/28 package, it was also equipped with a 3.42 posi rear end, A/C, spoilers, automatic, P/S, P/B, heavy duty radiator, gauges, clock, AM radio, and white letter tires! When the key was shut off in 1984, the car had covered 93,793 miles in its 8 years on the road.

a car parked in a parking lot © Chad Ehrlich

What is going to happen to the car now? Even though Chad moves a lot of old cars, trucks, and parts, this one has landed in the "keeper" category. What makes this car fall into that category, especially considering the amount of cars and trucks Chad goes through? There are a couple of reasons, one is that the car is an August of 1974 car and Chad is an October of 1974 model! But the main reason is one of those stories that stick with you from when you were a kid, a certain time, a certain car, a certain experience, that sticks with you for the rest of your life. When Ehrlich was about 6-years-old in the summer of 1981, his dad Steve had bought all of the NOS parts inventory out of The Waconda Motor Co., an old Chevy Dealership in Cawker City, Kansas. One Saturday, when he ran up to get a load of the parts, there was a 1974 Z/28 sitting at the dealership. They had just taken the car in on trade and it was available. It was a Lime Yellow four-speed car with the large, 1974 only call outs on the hood and trunk. Steve bought the car and brought it home. Even though he only owned the car for about two weeks before he flipped it, Ehrlich got a ride in it. As Ehrlich states, "I still remember to this day when my dad took me for a ride in that car, we took it out and he banged it through the gears. It was a bright color, had huge Z/28 stripes, it was loud, and that four-speed was awesome. I can still remember to this day exactly where we went and what road we were on!" Even though this car isn't a four-speed, and it's a different color, Ehrlich says it still fits the bill for him in-regards-to that memory with his dad. "The car is so original and un-molested and I do like the Light Gold paint on this car, but there is a good chance that when the car is restored, I will add the call outs on the hood and the trunk!" remarked Ehrlich. The car is currently in dry storage, waiting its turn, but it does have a bright future and will be back on the road in the near future!

If you want to keep an eye on what new stuff is showing up to Ehrlich's salvage yard, you can follow them on Facebook (Nobody Else's Auto) or eBay (nobodyselsesauto) and He even has a YouTube channel called Nobody's Show! In fact, there are several videos up on this 1974 "barn find" Camaro. Here's where it was found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYb2VlNpttQ and here's another one with the owner of the Z/28: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXR8OOywr34 and lastly here she is cleaned up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WebasASQRo .

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