AJ's Car of the Day 1969 Chevrolet ZL-1 Camaro

Car: Chevrolet ZL-1 Camaro

Year: 1969

What makes it special: Amongst faithful Camaro fans, the 1969 ZL-1 is THE most desirable of the first generation Camaros. Just 69 were ever built as a Central Office Production Order by High Performance power broker Fred Gibb Chevrolet in Kansas City. Gibb and Chevrolet's Vince Piggins got together to exploit the COPO loophole in GM's ordering system to build the ultimate Super Stock drag racing weapon, and Gibb ordered 50 of the cars to make sure homologation under sanctioning body rules wouldn't be an issue.

What made it famous:  ZL-1's featured a cast-iron sleeved aluminum 427 block with a solid-lifter camshaft, 12:1 compression and aluminum open-chamber cylinder heads. The lightweight big-block engine was developed for Can Am racing, but the version used in these COPO Camaros had provisions for a mechanical fuel pump and wet-sump oiling. What makes the ZL-1 equipped cars special is that they look anything but. These Camaros were sans of any badging or ornamentation clues that there was a $4,160 engine bolted between the front frame stubs.

Why I would want one: This is Camaro's ultimate sleeper. It looks like any ordinary stock Camaro, but underneath it couldn't be any more the opposite. Truth be told, these cars were bound for collectible greatness from the start with their tire-destroying performance, ultra-low production numbers, and an interesting story behind their creation.

Fun fact: In 1969, a base V8 equipped Camaro would cost you around $2,800. Ordering the 400-500hp ZL-1, along with dual exhaust and disc brakes, would raise the price of the car to a staggering $7,000, which was more than $300 more than the price of a new Cadillac Eldorado.

( 1969 Chevrolet ZL-1 Camaro photo from hemmings.com )