Images and information courtesy: eBay Motors
Got a cool half-million burning a hole in your pocket? Yeah, neither do we. But in a hypothetical world, for a few bucks shy of that amount, you could get your grubby paws on a piece of true drag racing history, as Dave Strickler’s ’68 Camaro Z/28 “Old Reliable” currently sits on the eBay auction block.
This first-gen, which won the 1968 Super Stock World Championship, has been meticulously restored to an as-raced condition, and is thoroughly documented and incredibly accurate, making it worthy of calling the ultimate Z/28 and a significant addition to any automobile collection.
Strickler dominated the Super Stock category in 1968 with this Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins-prepared Z/28, equipped with a stock intake manifold and carburetor, stock hood, Stahl headers, 5.38 gears, and none-inch slicks. The “Old Reliable” ran in the 11.70′s at 116 MPH, making it a very competitive foe against the big-block Camaros. And two of the biggest wins of Strickler’s career came in this car that season: the NHRA Super Stock All-Star Meet at Englishtown on Sunday, October 6, 1968, and two weeks later, the Super Stock World Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then the NHRA’s most prestigious Super Stock event. Thanks to its success, the “Old Reliable” graced the pages of more than 30 automotive publications during the ’68 and ’69 season, making it perhaps the most famous Z/28 in racing history.
Following that championship ’68 season, the “Old Reliable” was sold, as were most cars belonging to the top racers at the time, as new cars would be supplied each season. For more than 20 years, the car lived an obscure existence as it traded hands twice and was campaigned in anonymity at tracks all over the country. The factory Corvette Bronze paint had been covered up, making it indistinguishable to anyone who saw it.
In March of 1993, Jerry MacNeish tracked down and purchased the “Old Reliable” through the assistance of Strickler’s son, Michael, using original documentation and VIN numbers to identify the exact car. According to reports, the car was just days shy of being cut up for scrap when it was discovered, and the discovery that the car still had its original ball joint spacers proved beyond a doubt that this was Strickler’s World Championship-winning machine.
A detailed restoration ensued during the summer of 1993 to being the car back to the exact condition in which it was raced in 1968, utilizing research, historical documents, photographs, articles, and many other sources. Just a year later, the “Old Reliable” made its debut at the Super Chevy Show at Maple Grove Raceway in the summer of 1994, still equipped with an original balanced and blue printed 302 engine.
MacNeish raced the car in 1995, finishing the season 11th in the NHRA Division 1 Stock Eliminator standings. In 1998, “Old Reliable” ran consistently in the 11.20′s at over 119 MPH. In 2002, MacNeish won the Delmar, Del. NHRA points meet and concluded the season in the top 10, placing 8th in the divisional standings and an impressive 24th nationally. By then, it was running 10.80′s at almost 123 MPH.
In January of 2008, MacNeish’s company, Camaro Hi-Performance, tore the car down with plans to perform the needed restoration work to well and truly return it to 1968 condition, and today, every detail is complete with incredible accuracy, including the unobtainable original Stahl front tires, Stahl tachometer, and rare cowl plenum air cleaner.
As a race car, this Camaro was never registered and is certainly among the lowest-mileage 1968 Camaros in existence. Every detail, down to the last decal, paint stripe, every letter from the original paint has been recreated exactly as it was in 1968, and despite being raced for the better part of a decade, no trace of it can be seen in the details on the car. Everything, including the interior, is 100% original.
To read more on the background and current state of this piece of iconic drag racing history, vist the eBay Motors auction page.