The most expensive Camaros to sell at auction, by generation
With the Camaro nameplate retiring soon, we’re honoring the beloved two-door with a series of love letters, fun lists, and memories that you can follow here. Many performance cars, especially nowadays, aim for an anodyne version of perfection that only a few can afford. The Camaro is for the rest of us—and it’s always ready to party.
Part of the Camaro’s appeal has always been its accessibility. Chevy made a boatload of them over the decades, and each generation guaranteed a model for everybody who wanted one, from bare-bones six-cylinder coupes to fire-breathing stoplight kings. Inexpensive examples are everywhere; it’s the top dogs that you often have to wait—or fight—for. As the Camaro waves goodbye, and as we close out our deep dive into the beloved pony car, here’s a look at the most expensive Camaros from each of the first five generations. (Some caveats: For this exercise, we’re looking solely at auction sales, we’ve excluded modified Camaros, as well as those sold for charity, and we also ignored the sixth-gen cars—they simply haven’t hit the auction scene yet).
Just 69 COPO Camaros were produced in model-year 1969, and this original, matching-numbers Hugger Orange car is #59. It’s powered by an all-aluminum 427-cubic-inch V-8 mated to an M22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual, stopped by disc brakes. It was the only ZL1 ordered with a chambered exhaust. Rare and desirable cars always bring the money with respect to their “lesser” counterparts. This one had great performance options and also included plenty of documentation, with a complete ownership history. It had sold in 2018 for $770K, but when it sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in January 2020, it went over a million, which was more than $300,000 over our guide price for a #1 (Concours) example at the time. The key to its price jump between sales? The owner had managed to track down the car’s original engine block.
2nd Gen: 1970 Camaro RS Z/28 Coupe, $137,500
In the realm of second-generation Camaros, the 1970–73 “split-bumper” cars tend to bring more than their later counterparts. The elegance of that front end is hard to argue. This car sold at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction in January 2022. The listing says it had been treated to a mild restoration with one repaint in the original Hugger Orange. The matching-numbers 360-hp 350-cubic-inch V-8 was paired with a four-speed manual, with front disc brakes and a 12-bolt Posi rear end. A Hurst shifter and perfect houndstooth upholstery competed the look. At the time of the sale, we valued a #1 condition Z/28 with the RS package at around $86,000. There was a lot to like about this car, and at least two bidders needed to have it, which accounts for the big result.
Three V-8 engines powered the IROC-Z in 1990: a 305 making 210 hp; a 305 making 230 hp, and a 350 making 245 hp. Ordinarily, the biggest engine attracts the biggest bucks. This particular Camaro only featured the high-output 305 with its 230 hp and an automatic transmission, so why the standout price? Mileage. This one had just 557 original miles and was as clean as they come. Fewer than 1300 ragtop IROCs were built in 1990, and it’d be easy to make the case that this is the best of them. Finished in Bright Red over a gray cloth interior, the car showed a clean black top and was nicely appointed with power options, cruise control, and A/C. When it sold at Barrett-Jackson in January of this year, we valued the best in the world at $56,700, so this price certainly raised some eyebrows. It’s a good reminder, however, what low mileage can add to a car’s value.
This guy had everything going for it. Anniversary edition, check. Big engine, check. Low miles, check. Original plastic on the seats, check. Double-digit mileage always attracts collectors, and this car’s 76 original miles certainly brought bidders to the table. It was also just 1 of 100 anniversary Camaros fitted with the 330-hp LT4 engine, the most powerful lump offered in a Camaro that year. Finished in white with Hugger Orange stripes over houndstooth upholstery, this car felt as “throwback” as it gets. It sold at Mecum’s Indy sale in May 2021, and at the time we valued pristine examples at a shade over $39,000. It’s hard to imagine the car was purchased to drive, so the next time we see it at auction, it may very well be in the exact same condition. And it will be priced accordingly.
Camaros have paced the Indy 500 on 9 occasions, including a three-in-a-row stint from 2009 to 2011. This fifth-generation Camaro Pace car was the first of 50 built for the purpose and was driven for the parade lap of the 2011 race, which coincided with both the centennial anniversary of both the 500 and of Chevrolet. Its Summit White exterior with orange stripes and interior accents is a nod to the ’69 Camaro Pace Car, and the inside of the trunk was signed by the ’69 winner, Mario Andretti. When it sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2012 Scottsdale sale, the 400-hp convertible showed just over 100 miles on the odometer. Regular year-old Camaros were little more than used cars at the time, and the best 2011 Pace Car in the world is still only worth about $46,000 today, but, this particular example, with it’s on-track pedigree and low mileage clearly set it apart.