“I’d been after this car for 20 years,” Michael Lightbourn said. He first spotted this Camaro in a rural neighborhood in El Paso, Texas, in 1990. Initially he simply knocked on the door of the house and asked the lady who answered if the ’69 Camaro in her backyard was for sale. The answer was no. Her son was going to “fix it up.”
Yet the car didn’t move. It sat there year after year. Michael didn’t give up. He kept checking on the Camaro with the RS/SS badges.
Then one day the Camaro disappeared. The house was vacant. Apparently the family had moved. He didn’t know where or if they had sold the Camaro. Oh well, he had tried his best.
A few months later, while driving down Interstate 10 in El Paso, Michael spotted what appeared to be the hideaway headlights of a first-generation Camaro. Could this car be the same ’69 he had tried to buy for so long? He exited the freeway, made his way down an alley, and spotted the ’69 Camaro he had seen from the I-10. The car was Daytona Yellow with black Houndstooth interior and RS/SS badges. So yes, this was the same car. This house was “just a few blocks” away from where this ’69 Camaro sat for several decades.
The 350ci small-block V-8 engine was gone, leaving the exhaust manifolds in place.
Rather than continue to bug the lady, Michael left notes on the windshield with his name and phone number stating he was still interested in buying the old Camaro.
Bingo! In 2013 Michael got a call. The lady was ready to sell. She needed money. Michael drove to her house and bought the classic ’69 model. He was ecstatic.
Michael Lightbourn chased this ’69 Camaro for more than 20 years and was finally able to buy it in 2013. It’s a real RS/SS car. Daytona Yellow with black Houndstooth interior is a very popular and attractive color combination.
“That is pretty rare,” Michael said. “Everything you find anymore these days is all hacked up or repainted or all full of filler. It’s very rare that you see anything with original paint.”
Except for minimal oxidation in the rear quarters, the body is rust free and the car is totally unrestored. Apparently the son did begin a restoration. He had removed the original 350 engine. The story Michael got was the son took the 350 to an engine shop. But he did not pick up the engine for a long time. Finally the shop went out of business and the 350 “got lost.”
The original Houndstooth seats had never been reupholstered. The black vinyl was peeling, but the Houndstooth center portion was not ripped.
The RS/SS still has the original automatic transmission, 12-bolt rearend, exhaust manifolds, three of the original Rally wheels, complete power steering, power disc brakes, and all the air conditioning except the stock compressor. It is an original RS/SS 350 with original Daytona Yellow paint. Inside, Michael was happy to see the original Houndstooth seats, never reupholstered.
Michael doesn’t figure the 350 will be difficult to replace. The car’s biggest asset is its originality—a straight body still wearing factory paint. After replacing the engine, Michael believes he can save the paint and basically clean up the car to drive. After all, originality is so rare, especially in a hot first-generation Camaro.
Article by: Jerry Heasley/Hot Rod | Original Article