Dangerous hunt for two 1969 Camaros. You couldn’t ask for a better chance to own an iconic Chevy muscle car on the cheap. Two ’69 Camaros hidden in a neighborhood that few dare to enter. The owner, missing for more than a decade, was out of the picture, but a relative was ready to strike a deal. What could go wrong?
Craving a 1969 Camaro
Meet Bill Jones. He is a lifelong friend, gear head and Junkyard Lifer. Bill and I worked together at a car wash when we were eighteen years old. That job gave us the chance to bench race and discuss teenage automotive engineering. The years of friendship brought many cars and an assortment of interesting people into our lives. We almost bought two 1969 Camaros out of a barn together. Looking back, we could have been killed (more on that later), but if anyone would ever be killed trying to buy a ’69 Camaro, it would be Bill Jones.
Did I mention that Bill loves the last of the first generation Camaros above any other automobile? He has pictures all over his walls, his desk, his computer, his phone. He loves them. As do we. They just have awesome lines and a stance that reminds us of that old “looks like its going 100 MPH standing still” adage people used to say a lot.
|Bill Jones, an ardent ’69 Camaro fan, checks out the "new" 2010 Camaro when they were unveiled.|
Bill and I were traveling, sometime in 2007, when we stopped in Nashville, Tennessee. If you can believe that we, of all people, struck up a car conversation with a gentleman who worked for the City of Nashville. The man told us about a local urban legend — a tall tale, about a man who hoarded several classic Chevrolets. It was said there were two 1969 Camaros in his stash and that he had them stored in a barn but abandoned them in the late 1990s.
This story got really strange later. But for now, are you kidding me? Us? The barn find dreamers? Two Camaros? There are two of us. The math works out great so far. Plus, several other cars? Bingo! We should have known when the legend came with a serious warning… Don’t go!
Can't stop us
Why not? A bad part of town? Big deal. Bill and I both had been there and done that. We lived. But, this guy really tried to stop us. He explained that this is the part of town where people get killed. This is the part of town where you don’t go there, even during the day. Forget it. Angry thugs, dealers and trigger-happy guardians of the hood.
Do we listen? Did we heed the warning? Did we yield for safety sake? We just heard the part about several classic Chevrolets in a barn, possibly holding Bill’s dream car. So… no.
We find the “neighborhood” and in retrospect, put ourselves in grave danger. We just didn’t know it. We located the garage/barn structure fitting the description. It wasn’t hard, it was the only one there. When we got out of the car, we were immediately surrounded by a throng of concerned citizens requesting information on who we were, what we wanted and who we were looking for. Just as we tried to explain what we were looking for, a patrol car rolled up. Whew!
We really think the gentleman from the city dispatched an officer to make sure we weren’t stupid enough to actually approach this situation.
|We focused so much on the 1969 Camaros, that we almost didn’t see the other cars, like the 1950 Chevy sedan, (top right). This red ’69 SS was complete and original.|
Pick a 1969 Camaro!
It was real. With the police by our side, we approached the property owner
and asked if we could look at the cars. She said “yes”. The officer could not believe it. What can we say? We are charming. As I said, the story was real. A barn crammed full of Chevys. A 1970 Chevelle, a 1967 Chevelle, a 1950 Chevy Sedan. That was about it. Unless you count the two arrow straight 1969 Camaros. One red Super Sport and one blue Sport Coupe. Bill and I already had those accounted for upon first sight. It was real.
Bill put his hand on the red ’69 SS. I put my hand on the blue ’69 Camaro coupe. Both had power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. However “my” blue one had some performance mods and someone had removed the air compressor. "Bill’s" red Camaro still had everything intact. His was also of SS pedigree. It sure seemed to be. All the trick questions it answered correctly. The only exception was the lack of the blacked-out rear valance. If this SS was not real, someone went to a lot of trouble to appear so. Both Camaros had the expected bucket seat and console combo, although “mine” was redone with crushed velour inserts. As an added bonus, it had a vintage 1969 Z28 steel hood. “His” was the beautiful vented SS hood. Both were automatics with small blocks and rear spoilers. Oh, the plans we made.
The 1969 Sport Coupe that should have been mine. Curses! Notice the non-original Z28 hood. Camaro aficionados will probably notice the stripes and plain grill and start to get excited. Could this be a Z28? No. I wanted it anyway. Code 57 Fathom Green was its birth color. It might still be under that layer of dust.
The lady who let us see the cars introduced herself as Annalee. She told us the cars belonged to her uncle. The problem with selling them was a lost title and the issue of keys. There were none. Neither detail bothered Bill and I. We asked if we could return sometime and make her an offer. She seemed to respond positively, thus instilling a sense of hope in the two, drooling, car dorks. We went back a week later, ready to work out a deal.
Remember, the first time we had an officer drive up by chance. The next time, we asked an officer to come with us. Big mistake. The site of the police officer in our entourage made the neighborhood interrogation team think we were working a sting operation with the cops.
Neighborhood lookouts and guys with cell phones to their ear went running in all directions. Annalee was visible shaken and wouldn’t crack open the screen door when we knocked on her door. No doubt, she had been alerted to our “suspicious” behavior. Her answer was a stern “No” to selling the cars.
But, showing up with a cop was better than the mistake we could have made.
|Let the record show a red 1969 Camaro SS with a black vinyl halo top! More money for this 350-V8 SS!|
The Stupidest Thing Ron Kidd and Bill Jones Ever Did
We could have been caught in the worst, drug dealer-infested neighborhood in a strange city with several thousand dollars in our pants. Try explaining that to a judge. The other option strikes terror also. We could have easily been killed. That would have been really hard to explain because we told no one where we were going. Jody, Anthony and I have come close to matching that danger due to crazy circumstances that occur when I (Ron) am the common denominator.
A year or so later, I see the lady we met, as “Annalee,” on a local news clip giving a tearful plea for information on her uncle. He had gone missing nine years before we contacted her about the cars. But, something was odd. This lady went by a different name. But, it was the same woman! Giving explanation and credibility as to why the cars had been there so long.
We later learned that her uncle went “missing” before his legal troubles caught up with him. Missing? We thought she mentioned that she had talked to him? Adding to the mystery, another young man from that neighborhood, with the same last name, was found dead. Some type of drug deal? Was the uncle missing or did she know where he was? And who was she really? Was the dead guy connected to all that somehow?
Okay, that’s enough. We are done there. All we know is that the cars are gone. We hope they went to a good place.
Happy Hunting, but for Heaven’s sake, be careful and stay clear of situations like this.
— Junkyard Life
|Is there a better barn find duo than a 1969 Camaro sitting next to a 1970 Chevelle?|
|The last of the first generation Camaro was more like a human hypnotic design victory than it was a car. The 1969 model is beautiful from every angle. This was the blue ’69 that Ron was ready to own.|
|Chevy built 34,932 SS model 1969 Camaros.|
|Can I buy a 1969 Camaro SS barn find? It almost happened once, could it happen again?|
|There was also a 1967 Chevelle, (on right above). I don’t remember much about it, I had barn find Camaros on my mind.|
|A peek between the fenders revealed a 350 in the SS with a lot of good stuff attached, like A/C. How cool art thou? Don’t subtract original points for the chrome aftermarket air cleaner – Bill probably has a factory one on his wall.|
|Matching black interior and a very cool standard SS steering wheel. It looks fabulous in this upscale Camaro.|
|1969 Camaro Super Sport models, Big Block & Small Block, were equipped with the velocity stack ornamentation hood (above) or the ZL-2 cowl induction hood.|
|Aftermarket interior items such as the steering wheel and seat material are present. Who wants to play “Wheres Waldo” with the dead rat in the floorboard? That would have been ironic if this was a big block Camaro.|
|A good example of a 1970 base model Malibu. It seems like it was a standard issue bench seat with a column shifter. I wonder if the big block on the ground in front of it was allocated for the same car? It would fit.|
Know of a barn find or a junkyard that we need to visit? Send us the info at Junkyard Life.