By on October 11, 2009

Decisions, decisions... (

The 1969 Camaro is an automotive icon. Because of this juggernaut tag there are tens of thousands of these late 60s pony cars restored or under restoration. The late Reverend Jimmy “drink the Kool-Aid” Jones would have been humbled by this kind of blind loyalty-the sole reason the 09 Camaro exists was GM’s critical need for a home run.

But which car is going to be more valuable in 2019? Even after 10 years of service as a daily driver?

To make this fair you have to start with an equivalent value-in this case the 09 is an entry level Camaro 2LT (retails at $26,580) and a 1969 Camaro (base model, 350 V8, NADA guide high retail price-$26,335).

To make this even fairer the 69 Camaro has to encompass, within reason, the same daily driving experience as its much younger 2009 cousin. The cost of this retrofit should offset the obvious-a 69 Camaro makes money while parked in your garage whereas the 09 Camaro’s value gets ambushed before you pull out of the dealer’s lot.

(courtesy:mystarcollector)Now you have to outline the 21st Century upgrades that make the new Camaro much more realistic as a reliable, functional chariot with modern handling and braking.

Things like a fuel injected 304 horsepower V-6 with 29 mph highway mpg and 19 city mpg with a 0-60 time of 6 seconds, ABS, 4 wheel discs, traction control, hi-intensity headlights, AC, PW, PS, PLKS, PB, PW, power sunroof, airbags front and side, 6 speed automatic or standard transmission, heated leather seats and mirrors, FM, MP3, satellite radio, 245-50 R19 wheels and tires.

These are all part of the 2LT package-that’s a big list to overcome for the 40 year old Camaro so the fairest strategy is to distill the competition down to basic comfort and function. Assume the 69 came with PS, PB and possibly PW and AC.

Forget about air bags, ABS and power sunroof-just make this old Chevy start, stop and handle every day in the real world like the new one with a ball park participation in the 0-60, 60-0 and MPG sweepstakes.

Fuel injection is the first thing that has to happen.
There is nothing that makes more sense in the hell called daily driving than fuel injection-it makes engines start better, run better and last longer. A RamJet fuelie 350 (350 hp) for the 69 is going to cost you $5400.Add in a Tremec 6 speed automatic conversion for the Turbo 400 and you’re down another 2500 bucks.

You’re going to want to stop this monster so 4 wheel disc brakes are mandatory. You’ll find that they come with the Heidts front end conversion kit ($3727) and Heidts rear end conversion kit ($959). These kits will get that old Camaro up to, and possibly past the new upstart 2LT on any track. Wheels and tires to get the 69 up to the 19” size are going to cost $4000. The seats ($1000) and stereo ($500) are relatively cheap.(courtesy:mystarcollector)

Overall this 1969 Camaro should run every day-any day with that bulletproof 350, handle like a new car, stop like a new car and pull down 25 mpg on the highway if you don’t bag on the 6 speed.

But these upgrades are going to add $23,000 (allowing for $6000 in labor costs) to that initial purchase price. That should even up the depreciation rate built into that new upstart Camaro.

So… where are you really going to be in 2019 dollars with these 2 cars?

Start by depreciating the 2009 Camaro.

According to the depreciation calculator this car will be worth $2545 in 2019 so you’ve lost $ 23,790 bucks on your new Camaro.

The 69 that cost you 27K (pre mods) has jumped to $50,335 after cost of the retrofit.

The retro-fit costs put you 23K behind the new Camaro in 2009.But the 69 had shown an average annual appreciation rate of $575 per year based on a new price of $3200 in 69 and the extra 23 K gained in equity since 1969. At that rate your 69 Camaro should appraise at $31,580 in 2019 for a gain of $5245.

That’s offset by the 23K you’ve dumped into the upgrades so the loss is $17,755 on the 69 Camaro versus the nearly 24K you’ll lose on Chevy’s latest attempt to cash in on past glory.

Simple math-you’ll be $5935 ahead with the 69 Camaro plus you’ll still own a piece of automotive history.

How cool is that? Even your accountant would approve.

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43 Comments on “Editorial: Camaro Versus Camaro...”

  • avatar

    history couldn’t care less about upgrades that make the new Camaro much more realistic as a reliable, functional chariot with modern handling and braking.

  • avatar

    I disagree with you about fuel injection being a must. Be that as it may, the engine can be put together for far less than $6k (after tax).

  • avatar

    I think the old Camaro looks better. The new one looks like it’s trying too hard to be aggressive.

    I think I’d rather have the old one, especially after the upgrades were added. Once the new Mustang V-6 comes out though, I think I’d have to go with it, since it’s cheaper and I think it looks better in person, IRS be damned.

  • avatar

    The upgraded 69 is not 50K car that appreciates in value. You still have a 26K car that appreciates in value, with another 24K worth of mods that will depreciate (if not reduce the value of the vehicle, or at least slow the appreciation). The mods, while making the car more pleasant to drive, will hurt the value of the camaro.

    After 10 years of normal use, the new one will be worth less, plainly. However, the 69 will no longer be in the same condition that makes it worth 26K now. Add the fact that if you are in salt county, the 69 will suffer from winter driving. Holes in quarter panels are bad for value. Corroded trim, cracked steering wheel and dash pad, and normal dents and dings will hurt the 69 a lot.

    I predict that the two (both with normal use) will both be worth about the same – maybe 12K in current dollars.

  • avatar

    The Camaro is too small and too impractical, both then and now.

    For the price of a new Camaro, I’d buy numerous other cars that would give more back.

  • avatar

    Not to diverge but…the 3.6 in the ‘base’ Camaro is a pretty amazing piece of hardware. 300 plus hp, propelling a not terribly light car to 60 in 6 seconds? I’d love the V8 version, but that six with a manual would serve me very well.

    BTW the red 69 is gorgeous.

  • avatar

    40 full years later, the 69 camaro looks FAR better than the new one in exterior styling. Its lines are clear and powerful, and its Grille is far better than the new one’s nose.

    It is a measure of GM’s utter incompetence that they are not even able to even slightly improve on a 40 year old design THEY themselves did!!!

  • avatar

    I don’t see the old Camaro keeping up with new one even wih the upgrades. More importantly its probably not any where near as comfortable. The new is more quite, comfy, balanced, and luxurious. Worth an extra $550 bucks a year for sure.

    That being said, No Camaro is not near the top of my list.

  • avatar

    This is what I call mental masturbation, but that’s ok, we all do this sort of thing from
    time to time. Let’s just recognize it for what
    it is.

    And why put a 350 in that old Camaro? How about
    a built 302?

  • avatar

    Jim, I’m not quite sure that is a valid comparison. What do you think will depreciate more over the next 10 years: a 1954 Mercedes SL300 Gullwing will or a new 2010 SLS Gullwing? The whole point of collectible cars is that they are increasing in value while new cars depreciate in their first 10 years of ownership (with very few exceptions). Your comparison in no way reflects badly on the new Camaro as this is the same for every reborn classic. Let’s just all be happy for GM that its selling well and we can all hope that the government will not give them any more of our money.

  • avatar

    The simple answer is which one would someone want to own in 10 years. And that would be the 69. They were popular as hell 20 years ago, 10 years ago, and will be just as desirable if not more so in 10 years.

    There will also be naturally fewer of them around, further increasing the value. No one who owns an original 69 would even consider the radical mods to make it functionally equal to an 09. Most of what you point out is mandated by either regulations or the current marketplace. Fuel injection is not just for drive-ability but emissions. ABS is an insurance nod as well as safety feature that nearly all cars have today. As far as stereos go, check ebay for prices of original Delco radios for Camaros and you’ll be shocked what an 8 track costs.

    And who says you have to drive either? Park them both and watch the new Camaro have fuel system and brake problems, fading and cracking interiors, etc. Now which one can you expect to get any restoration part for? Year One is not going to be making 09 parts for some time.

  • avatar

    instead of dropping $50,000 upgrading the ’69, buy both for about $50,000, and leave them both stock. Drive the new one as your daily driver, leave the old one in the garage, take it to car shows, enjoy it on sunny days and then find someone to pay you $50,000 for the all original ’69 when it is 50 years old (shouldn’t be hard after 10 years of inflation). The new 2009 Camaro would have then been “Free”.

  • avatar

    That’s nice. Wonder what that $26k would do in an SP500 index fund over the same 10 years.

    Huh. At an annualized rate of return of 9.4%,* that $26k would be worth $63,848 after 10 years.

    Cars are not investments. They are appliances, toys, expressions of your idealized self or whatever else. But not investments.

    * I pulled the 10-year annualized average return from You can probably find sites with different rates of return, but I’m pretty sure the answer is always going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of “car are not investments.”

  • avatar

    The mental masturbation in this article is largely a product of self-love from my twin brother Jerry. He wrote it.

  • avatar

    Neither car will be worth much in 10 years.

    The new one will obviously be worn and used and not yet classic.

    The last living soul who actually wants a ’69 Camaro will, 10 years from now, need his money for the nursing home.

    Plan on taking a loss on both.

    Also, even with umpteen thousand in upgrades, the old Camaro is not really safe to drive by modern standards. That’s worth thinking about.

  • avatar

    When speaking of, buying, or admiring classic cars, the era in which they are created matters. In 1969, GM was arrogant, but at least had some tangible numbers behind the swagger. In 2009 GM is arrogant, and they look like a bunch of fumbling, overpaid clowns. And then there’s the state of the U.S. and it’s influence and standing in the world. Which era would you rather buy?

  • avatar

    carguy: I agree with you that as a general rule, new cars depreciate and old cars appreciate. If you or I were to buy both a 69 and an 09 Camaro and put them in a garage and treat them both the way most people treat a good collecter car, then this will be absolutely true.

    However, the question as I understood it was to consider the value after 10 years of normal use. On collector cars, condition is everything. I am old enough to remember what 10 years of normal use did to most of the 69 Camaros. I submit that 10 years worth of road salt, sunlight, carpools and WalMart parking lots will take a really nice 69 Camaro and turn it into a really tired one that needs a LOT of money put into it to bring it back. We’ve all seen the difference between the car bought by the retired schoolteacher that lived in a garage and rarely saw bad weather. We have also seen the one that went through 15 years of living outdorrs and probably a teenage owner or two. The first is an expensive and sought-after gem, the other, even after what often passes as a “restoration” is still a 20 footer.

    So, while I believe that the 69 should continue to appreciate, the appreciation will be more than offset by the deterioration in condition brought on by 10 years of normal everyday use. It will then be described as a driver or a project, and will be a #4 car instead of the #1 or high #2 “restored” or “pristine original” that we started out with.

    I think that the 09 should fare reasonably well in the future. This car gets 13-15 year old boys excited, and this is usually a pretty good indicator of future collectibility.

  • avatar

    Hate to tell you this, MMH, but $26K in an S&P Index fund over the last 10 years would have returned…zero. The stock market is flat relative to 2000. It went way up and came way down, then did that again on a smaller scale, but your $26K in an S&P fund over the last ten years would actually be worth LESS today due to inflation.

  • avatar

    “fabbro :
    October 11th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Hate to tell you this, MMH, but $26K in an S&P Index fund over the last 10 years would have returned…zero. The stock market is flat relative to 2000”

    And what is so divine about 2000??? I started working in 1982, and contributing to my pension plans the maximum I could all the time. When I started, do you know how much the DOw was? less than 800. Now it is 9,800! Grew more than TWELVE TIMES in less than 28 years.

    MORE Siginficantly, back then in 1982, the Dow and the S&P, JUST LIK TODAY, had ended a decade with two oil crises and all kinds of problems, incl idiot Jimmy Carter, and were flat for these ten years. ANd there is as good a chance that if you put $800 in the market TODAY, after another 27 years, it will indeed grow to another $9,800!

  • avatar

    @ afabbro
    Indeed, as anyone with a 401k, IRA, or brokerage account is well aware. However, the numbers I used were (I think) the annualized 10-year return over the life of the SP500. And they were inflation adjusted for the last 10 years, which is why the time period is salient.

    I’m pretty sure the last 10 years are an outlier, and the next 10 probably won’t look the same on a chart. On the other hand, if that’s not the case, Camaros (and all other luxury goods) won’t be worth much in 2019 either.

  • avatar

    The problem with these ‘old vs. new’ comparisons is that, in most cases, the whole reason for the new retro-mobile is that the old car was a popular, well-styled machine. But the old object d’art is also decades old in engineering. It’s kind of like comparing an old masterpiece with a new, well-painted reproduction.

    And that’s really the question. Ten years from now, do you want a garaged museum piece, or something you can actually drive with any kind of regularity? Unless you’re flush with money and extra, heated garage space, for us geezers that actually had to ride/drive those cars back in the day, the choice is clear.

  • avatar

    It’s OK, Jim, your wife is cool with the old Camaro. You don’t have to make it logical. :)

  • avatar

    # Dynamic88 :

    Also, even with umpteen thousand in upgrades, the old Camaro is not really safe to drive by modern standards. That’s worth thinking about.

    Why wouldn’t it be safe to drive “by modern standards”? It’s got decent steering and with disc brakes up front it stops just as well as modern cars.

    You think you need ABS, crumple zones and airbags to be able to drive safely?

    Sure, a modern car will protect occupants better in the event of a crash, but in terms of driving dynamics I don’t think a modern Camry is any safer than an old muscle car – as long as there are disc brakes. Actually, the advantage of disc brakes aren’t necessarily with absolute braking performance – drum brakes can work well. The advantage is that disc brakes don’t fade with repeated stops.

  • avatar

    Thank you Mr. Sutherland! Any car math that “adds up” – which means that I can ‘splain it to my banker/wife – I’ll gladly run with. I’m just certain she’ll buy it. Or rather, let me buy it!

    Yeah, right…. :-/

  • avatar

    I drove on 4 drum brakes for years. Believe it or not, they do stop the car reliably for thousands of miles. One of my motorcycles has drum brakes with cables to actuate them. Stops just fine.

    The biggest factor in braking is not how powerful the brakes are but the person operating them. With Drum Brakes I don’t tailgate others nor drive too fast into turns. I also take it easy when loaded with cargo.

    Maybe the Modern High Tech Safety we have today has the opposite effect of making drivers complacent.

    I’ve driven a 69 Z28 302 equipped, all original Camaro before. It had ample stopping power, handled well enough, and was a blast to drive. One thing I did not like was the front shocks were designed to allow the front of the car to rise up under acceleration, throwing more weight to the rear. It reduced visibility for sure. But that was part of the fun of the car.

  • avatar

    The 69 is pretty – the new one is curious. I’d geta 69 beater and do the upgrades (skipping the $4000.00 wheels).

    Actually, the advantage of disc brakes aren’t necessarily with absolute braking performance – drum brakes can work well. The advantage is that disc brakes don’t fade with repeated stops.

    Regarding drum brakes: They can fade to nothing in the middle of a panic stop. They pull left/right where ever, and suck when wet.

    You can’t make this argument. I’ve had too many near death experiences.

    One way to look at safety is: any car is infinitely safer than any motorcycle. Drive what you like.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Mental masturbation? Guess I was getting tired of the old fashioned kind.

  • avatar

    Once you modify a 69 Camaro like you mentioned, well its value would drop like a rock.

  • avatar

    I think collector cars are for suckers. If you drive them, they wear out and lose their value. Their value tracks the stock market, so when you need to get the money out, they tend to be at the low point of the cycle. They do not pay dividends and indeed, require expensive insurance.

    They are also horribly unsafe by modern standards. You may be a safe driver, but the drunken teenager who could slam into you might not be.

    The rule for car ownership is what it always has been: Buy something you can afford that you like to drive, drive the heck out of it until it falls apart, then get something else you like. You can’t go wrong that way.

  • avatar
    George B

    I prefer the look of the 1969 Camaro over the 2009. I’d probably keep the 1969 mostly stock with minor reversible upgrades and treat it as a nice weather hobby car. The money not spent on changing the 1969 Camaro into something it’s not could buy a relatively reliable and safe recent vintage car for commuting. Let a Subaru deal with rain, ice, and road salt up North. South of the snow zone, I’d rather buy a used Infiniti G35 than a new supersized 2009 Camaro as a daily driver.

  • avatar

    “Not only will your 2009 Camaro be worth zero in 10 years, it’s worth zero NOW. Only a dick-sucking homo buys a V6 when a V8 is available. If you find yourself with a V6 in your ‘09 Camaro you got cheated or you’re a complete moron.”

    Classy. I’d like to think that the knuckle-dragger association has evaporated with the new Camaro and that the V6 car is a budget A5/G37. I’d like to think that it would be the performance coupe for the thinking man on a budget, but it’s comments like this and the Camaro culture in general that keep me away from my Chevy dealer.

  • avatar

    “Excellent. Our plan is working. Perhaps you’d be interested in a FWD turbo four cylinder… right this way…”

    Your plan?…to keep GM in the red by discouraging new customers? Yup. It’s working.

  • avatar

    You can’t calculate the value of a modified, non-stock classic car by adding the cost of the mods to the original price you pay. Depending on the mods, the car may still be salable, but you will never get back the money you put into it. Classic cars also do not appreciate on a regular schedule equivalent to depreciation; their value is based primarily on availability and demand.

    The way to calculate the value of modified collectible cars is to deduct what it would cost to return the car to original, stock condition. In short, you don’t add the cost of the new engine and transmission, you deduct the cost of removing them and reinstalling the originals. If you don’t save the original parts, you’ll also have to deduct the cost of replacing them. If you plan to keep the car ten years, you should also factor in the storage costs for holding onto those parts.

    The only potential exception is if you modify the car to add (or remove) ‘correct’ OEM options. For example, if the car originally had drums and you add the power discs optional on the Camaro in 1969, you probably won’t be penalized for that unless the prospective buyer is very, very anal, or you make changes that would have been reflected in the VIN (e.g., a different engine option). On the other hand, if you try to clone a rare model or option — creating a Z/28 clone out of an SS350, say — only will the value drop, if you don’t clearly explain the modifications to a potential buyer, you will have committed fraud. Cars like the Camaro or Shelby Mustangs are psychotically well documented, so you wouldn’t get away with it, either.

    If there are dramatic changes in the social landscape between now and then, the importance of originality will only increase. If gasoline costs $40 a gallon and non-electric cars are rare, cars like the Camaro will be more museum pieces than daily drivers, and heavily modified cars make poor museum pieces.

  • avatar

    The new Camero is fugly. Every time I see one on the road, I wonder why it is necessary to design an ugly vehicle.

  • avatar

    If you really want a modded, fuel injected Camaro, and want to be frugal about it…..don’t dump your money into a crate motor and overdrive….just type “restomod” on ebay and pick up someone else’s money pit.

    With a little research, there are tastefully done, LS1 powered 1967 Camaros (and 5.0 SEFI 1967 Mustangs) that often show up for sale, and you will pay pennies on the dollar for each modification.

  • avatar

    I don’t care for the new Camaro very much. I thought it might grow on me as the retro Mustang did, but still it leaves me cold. But if you like it, more power to you, drive enjoy and to heck with what others think. In the years to come the 2009 re-imagined Camaro won’t be seen so much as a classic, but a period-piece. I think it will be in the same league as the 1978 Mustang. A transitional design that saved the marque from extinction. Hopefully in the years to come we’ll see some Camaros what are truly new designs with performance to match. That’s assuming GM is around in another 10 years.

  • avatar

    +1 to the commenter above who mentioned the possibility of a buyer being very, very anal, because people who are willing to pay large amounts of money for rare collectible cars do tend to be very, very anal, or have people working for them who are. Pick up a Hemmings Motor News and read the comments on the cars in the auction reports, and you’ll get some idea what I mean.

  • avatar

    If you want to buy something that will be worth more when you sell it, stick with gold or land. The valuation of a car is subjective to say the least. Buy your cars because you need them, because you like them. Instant classics usually aren’t.

  • avatar

    When the 2010 Camaro is dropped because lack of sales the market in 2020 will probably treat it the same was as the 2002’s are, somewhat higher than KBB if in very good condition but not $20K+ like the 1969’s.

  • avatar

    Dynamic88 : The last living soul who actually wants a ‘69 Camaro will, 10 years from now, need his money for the nursing home.

    I think this is the right answer. Once those who were teenagers in 1969 have passed on the value of these cars will drop. (As a bonus we’ll hear a lot less about Woodstock! ) Only the most expensive and unusual handcrafted cars from any given era will hold their value, for example, true limited production cars like Duesenbergs, or Le Mans winning race cars, etc. Mass produced items rarely (never?) appreciate over more than a generation (beany babies anyone?) Perhaps mass-produced coins and stamps can hold their own if they are rare enough (i.e. inverted Jenny and the like).

  • avatar

    (As a bonus we’ll hear a lot less about Woodstock! )

    LOL. and OUCH. I was 13 in ’69. Too young to go to Woodstock, but your point is well taken.

  • avatar

    The new Camaro is a good car in it’s own right but I believe the older 60’s muscle cars will always be worth more than anything from todays era. The new Camaro needs to be toned down a touch with a lower hood bulge, windows lowered an inch along with the dash cowl for better visibility, the steering wheel needs to be redesigned, the head rests need to be softer and more padded inwards and the grille is just all wrong. The “my tires are bigger than your tires” is good up to a point. Anything larger than 20″ looks ludicrous on this car and I actually find myself preffering the smaller LS and 1LT tires and wheels best.

  • avatar

    A RamJet fuelie 350 (350 hp) for the 69 is going to cost you $5400.

    Why use a 350 when you can have LSX power for about the same money.

    Crate engine new. Also bulletproof powerplant.

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