Friday, June 19, 2020

Cars in Yards: 1978 Chevy Camaro Type LT

1978 Chevy Camaro Type LT in silver with red interior

A Camaro with abandonment issues? Someone in the market for a nice Camaro made a really good choice somewhere between mid-1977 and 1978. Out of all the choices, and there were several, they wound up with a decked out Type LT. One of our favorite Camaro packages. This one eventually got left behind. Cue… Junkyard Life!

1978 Camaro featured first year of restyled, larger, wraparound tail lights.
1978 Camaro featured restyled, larger, wraparound tail lights.

See the USA in your…in your…um, tow truck?
As the world turns, we really don’t know very much of the story behind this silver Type LT. It reels us in with more questions than we have answers. We gave it a Hardy Boys worthy investigation and found that it was born in California and lived most of its life in southern Tennessee. After several different mechanics liens, unpaid repairs, towing expenses and storage fees, it found its way to North Alabama and is now finally going to a new home. Just not ours. We had aspirations and momentary illusions of  jumping camp and rescuing this 1970s icon. Someone beat us to it. 

1978 Camaro Type LT sits in the high weeds beside a roadside near Smith Lake in Alabama.
This Type LT Camaro was loaded with options, including a 350-V8.

And So Begins the Questions
This Chevrolet showed signs of leading a pampered life until the last few years. What happened? If you are thinking it donated some of the missing parts to someone’s Z28 project, it didn’t. Everything that was removed was essentially still there. Why? The interior was in good shape. All still there. Although, someone had gone to the trouble of removing the bezels on the dash and only started to remove the factory tach. It was all still there. Other than showing signs of a repaint and a factory wheel missing, this car was all present, including 95% unmolested power train. Why 95%? The A/C had been converted to R-134 several years ago. Does that even count? Why the disassembly? Perhaps by intent of restoration?

Custom cloth Carmine interior in the 1978 Camaro Type LT.
Custom cloth Carmine interior is in great shape in the 1978 Camaro Type LT.

One for the Money or Two for the Show?
Junkyard Life’s roundabout way of asking if it had a posi rear differential. We could not verify due to the darn ground being so close to the car. But being the Sherlocks that we are, Keith and I (Ron) played a quick game of Rock/Paper/Scissors to see who got to take a belly flop in the ant beds and tall grass to investigate. Keith won and I did verify a rear sway bar. Cool! 

A blue Type LT horn button on the red steering wheel is an uncommon sight.

What You See is What Someone Else Got
A quick glance over the car, there is much to see. A very original interior in a rare deluxe pattern. We quickly spotted the tachometer and all of his friends. Rear defrost, power windows, power door locks, tilt wheel and cruise control meant the driver didn’t do a lot of work themselves. We found the F41 suspension with a rear sway bar following out back and a beautiful sport steering wheel with “Type LT” badging to guide you. The code 15 silver paint was sans pinstriping (Note: it may have been wearing some sporty stripes on at one time, because we did note that it had been repainted). 

The “L” in the VIN indicated that it was a 350-V8 engine. Rated at a wheezy 170 horsepower, we hope it doesn’t have the California emissions that would have robbed another 10 horsepower, which it could not afford to lose. Amazingly, it was all there-down to the AC belt!  It even had most of the 14-inch wheels (only three). The only things we did not see here were T-Tops and a rear spoiler. 

Original custom urethane/steel wheels on the 1978 Camaro Type LT.
Three of the original custom urethane/steel wheels are still mounted on the Type LT.

Goodbye for now
Though not destined for our stash, we are really okay with that. The silver f-body vanished from the roadside yard where we found it parked. We do hope the new owners realize what they have and make the effort to save this luxury Camaro. It really doesn’t appear to have far to go to get back on the road. We would have to add a little more punch under the hood and I always loved the fin style wheel introduced on the Z28 that year. I could go on and on, but I will leave those decisions to the new owner and we at Junkyard Life wish it only the best of times ahead.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life: The Story Beneath the Rust

Detail of red deluxe door panel in the Type LT Camaro.
The top of the line interior has the coolest pattern in a Camaro, more so in Carmine Red.

Junkyard Life’s Camaro Fun Facts

  • “Type LT” stands for “Luxury Type”. In this model you were more likely to find options associated with high end cars. 

  • 1978 was the first year for the new bumper cover in front and wrap around tail lights in the rear.

  • Technically introduced in 1976 on certain Firebirds and a few other GM cars, T-tops found their way onto the Camaro. By 1978 T-tops hit the market with raving success. T-Tops… the option you are often glad you have, but at times wish you didn’t. They were prone to leak and the car required proper storage or the rust monster would have a better chance of getting you. Still, so much fun.

  • 1978 was the LAST year for the Type LT package wearing that name in a second gen Camaro.

  • The Type LT package was replaced by the Berlinetta option as the luxury-appointed Camaro in 1979.

  • The Type LT could be combined with the Rally Sport package, which gave you a groovy two-tone paint scheme. This was the rarest of all models in 1978. A total of 5,696 units sold. 

  • The Type LT Rally Sports would have “Type LT” on the steering wheel and door panels. In some cases the “Type LT” emblem on the sail panel was also present.

  • Although this car does have an AM radio, I somehow think it may not be the original radio to this car. Fear not, Van Halen, for we have your back always. 

  • 1978 Camaros were equipped with a 130 MPH speedometer. The 130 MPH face carried over one more year to 1979, but the needles were thinner on the 1978 and looked a little more muscle car appropriate than the thicker 1979 needle. The government mandated an 85 MPH speedometer for the 1980 models. Boo! 

  • 1978 was the last year “Camaro” was written in script on the glove compartment. 
  • The Z28 was back on the market after a brief disappearance in 1975 and 1976. Chevrolet built enough to advertise in the latter part of 1977, but they indicated they would not make many. It is speculated that many early 1978 buyers did not know the Z28 was available. On that line of thinking it is understandable that the Type LT outsold the Z28 in 1978. A total of 54,907 Z28s sold compared to the Type LT’s at 65,635. You can’t buy it if you didn’t know about it.

  • The Z28 had about 15 more horsepower and readily available with a street fighting 3:42 rear gear ratio on automatics and even a 3:73 rear gear ratio behind the manual four speed. It didn’t do much for fuel mileage, but came in handy for red light to red light street battles. 

A 350-V8 under the 1978 Camaro hood.
A 350-V8 under the 1978 Camaro hood. Even though it is the lower 170-horsepower option, plenty of buyers would line up for a V8 Camaro. 

Chrome Type LT emblem adorns the grill.
Chrome Type LT emblem adorns the grill.

Faceplate that covers gauges has been pulled away. Oh, a tilt column and cruise control.

Engine bay looks untouched and original. Sometimes that's a good thing.

Type LT emblem on sail panel.
Type LT emblem on sail panel.

Another shot of gauges. A 130MPH speedo and a tach is under there somewhere.

The Z28s got all the glory but this Type LT survived for that same reason.

Carmine Red everywhere inside the Camaro. Check out the power windows.

Loaded inside and under the hood. A/C, power steering, power brakes.

Trim tag decoders have a shot at it. We needed a better photo but too late now.

Do you have a cool Car in Yard find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Video: Barn Find 1965 C20 Rescue

1965 Chevy Barn Find C20 Rescue video

The 1965 Chevy C20 Barn Find Rescue. We follow up on a tip about an old Alabama farm truck that has been sitting for 40 years! This C20 Farm Find was Chevrolet's 3/4-ton workhorse in 1965. A lumber company parked this beauty when it closed up shop in 1980. The remote, 100-plus acre property is loaded with junk. Tractors, dump trucks, a 1960 Ford pickup, and many other hidden gems. We bought the truck and Keith Lively hauled his own tractor and bush hog into the property to cut a road large enough for Junkyard Life to haul the old truck out.

WATCH: Barn Find 1965 C20 Rescue

What to do? What will we do with it next? Suggestions welcome in the comments. I'd like to see the straight six, 4-speed put back in working order. Only 103k miles. Plenty of potential for the 8-foot bed to do more work. It is mostly rust-free, except for the rot in the hood and tail gate. Note, the wood in the bed is long gone. A sheet of tin is the bed flooring now.
Those are not big problems. A fuel system, clutch, engine, tires and brakes are the only upgrades necessary to put this old girl back on the road. Parts and sponsors welcome. Thanks in advance!

Jody Potter
– Junkyard Life

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Saturday, May 30, 2020

1965 Chevrolet C20 Stepside Barnfind Rescue Part 1

Radiator leak? "Park it in the shed." That conversation happened in Alabama around 1980. The one-owner, family farm truck was put out to pasture. Well, to be specific, parked beside the pasture under the shade of a tin shed. In a blink, 40 years rolled by. Green paint became more rust than shine. The 1965 Chevy C20, long-wheelbase, stepside truck (that's a mouthful) was forgotten.

Busy, busy
Business and another home to take care of in the city put the old truck in the rearview. New vehicles were bought and sold by the owners but
 nary a lick was hit by the C20’s 230-cubic-inch inline-six cylinder engine. Likewise, the three-on-the-tree column shift appears to have minimal wear.

The 1965 Chevy C-20 steering wheel and instrument panel is in much better shape than the exterior.
The 1965 Chevy C-20 steering wheel and instrument panel is in much better shape than the exterior.

Bare bones, heavy duty
This is not a modern era heavy duty rig, but a capable hauler for its time. The C20 was Chevrolet’s model name for their three-quarter ton trucks. When big jobs required more of a “Hoss” to do the work. C20s have greater payload and towing capacity than C10 trucks. Equipped with 8-lug wheels, heavier duty springs, and better load handling under the bed with a full floating rear suspension. 

A 230-cubic-inch straight six engine with 120 Net horsepower at 3600 RPM is all the pulling power you could get with the base engine. That engine still sits under the rust-baked hood. Three other engines were available. 292-Straight-six, 283-V8, and a 327-V8.

New life for the C20
Keith Lively, our finder of much junk, can’t help but trip over unbelievable deals. They find him. This sweet C20 is the latest stepside to follow him home. Remember the 1976 C10 Scottsdale Sport? He got her running and spiffed up before trading her on a tri-five Chevy.
I’m hoping the C20 stays original, longbed and all. Elbow grease can go a long way toward making this farm truck a show stopper. Stay tuned!

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life

Did a leaky radiator sideline the C20? That's the story we got. Radiator is long gone either due to theft or a failed trip to the radiator repair shop.

Wood rails on the bed equals farm truck.

Windshield is caked with decades of dirt.

Bench seat shows no sign of wear or damage.

Steel dashes made people feel safer in 1965. Things have changed. Those new dashes won’t be around in 55 years but maybe you will?

I won’t hesitate to believe that we are looking at the original, factory-sprayed Light Green Chevy paint.

Even the tires look period correct for a truck parked 40 years. We hope to get this one running soon. Stay tuned.

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way! 
Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Video: Project $300ZX lowbuck Z31 Nissan Part 2

$300ZX Part 2: Swapping V6 engines

Part 2 of our Project $300ZX picks up as we remove and transplant a used fuel pump into our $300 1984 300ZX. The donor part came from what would soon be our "new" parts car in the driveway — a 1986 Nissan 300zx 2+0 NA (naturally aspirated). When you have one non-running 300ZX make sure to buy another in worse condition. Makes sense, right? 

WATCH Project $300ZX Part 2:

The body shop owner, where we found the parts car, was nice enough to let us "try out" the fuel pump before we made a decision to buy the car. A sweet deal by any measure. Fuel pump worked. Deal made. Our driveway and neighbors would thank us later.

Joe, my 16-year-old son, and his buddy, Ethan, tore into the project. Removing fuel pumps, gas tanks and destroying their good clothes in the process. With the donor fuel pump in place, the running and "knocking" engine was verified during a two-lap drive around the neighborhood. The decision to yank the "ran-when-parked" engine from our new parts cars was official. Two 3.0 V6 engines would need to be pulled out.

1984 Nissan 300zx has a rusty fuel pump that didn't work. Time to find a donor since we couldn't afford a new pump at $500 on a $300 car.
1984 Nissan 300zx has a rusty fuel pump that didn't work. Time to find a donor since we couldn't afford a new pump at $500 on a $300 car.

A $350 parts car 300ZX was located. Ran when parked. Fuel pump worked, so we decided to buy whole car.
A $350 parts car 300ZX was located. Ran when parked. Fuel pump worked, so we decided to buy whole car.

We learned the 1984 $300ZX had a bad knock and we needed to replace the engine - cheapest way was toss the parts car engine into it.
We learned the 1984 $300ZX had a bad knock and we needed to replace the engine - cheapest way was toss the parts car engine into it.

$300ZX is in full swing!
Engines swinging on chains. Enjoy! And stay tuned for more! 

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Yard Bird: 2002 Pontiac Firebird finds 2nd owner

Daytime pic with Firebird parked on road with headlights up and glowing.

Bird’s eye view. Ever noticed a car and thought it was cool? Then you notice it again. Then you can take no more, and beg the owners to take some money in exchange for the car, a few papers and the keys?  We at Junkyard Life do that all the time. Sometimes we are cool about it, but if I (Ron) am involved, forget negotiating and playing with a poker face, for I have not one. Those other times we buy the darn thing and no one believes it randomly followed us home. A 2002 Firebird Sport Coupe in Sebring Silver Metallic  found it’s way to my garage. We love the Yardbirds – the Jeff Beck kind or this really cool Bird we found in a yard. 

Firebird ownership can be addictive. I had to have this one. This yard bird was still in the hands (yard) of Miss Debbie, the original owner. A really nice lady who took great care of it, didn’t let anyone else drive it and serviced it regularly. The interior was as clean as the day it rolled off the showroom floor.

Wearing a bright Silver Metallic exterior and a harmonizing black cloth interior, this 2002 Firebird Coupe was packed full of options. How many options can one cram into a Firebird? Miss Debbie was up to the challenge. Her poor Pontiac salesperson at Crown Pontiac in Hoover, Alabama developed writer’s cramp filling her order. She was among the last lucky people to own a brand new Firebird. What a day that was. She went straight to her mom and sister’s house. “Look what I got!,” she said.

What did she get?
A beautiful Sebring Silver Metallic Pontiac with tons of options. Power seat, power windows, power door locks, T-Tops, power mirrors, power rear hatch release, cruise control and more things we didn’t even suspect or knew were even available on a V6 car. We were pleasantly surprised to find a positive traction rear end with the optional 3:42 gear. It moves this Bird quite well. Thank you, Miss Debbie. Your Bird is in good hands.

Last of the breed
We know it was not the last Firebird, but it was built in late August of 2002 and depending on how many Birds were hatching per day, this may very well have been built in the last week of production. (A mere 1,349 from the last Firebird to roll off the assembly line.) We also know it isn’t a rare model, but consider the minuscule number of Firebirds you see cruising around today. They are an endangered species to be sure. Ask anyone at the Trans Am Nationals, which we attend every August, about the disappearing act the Firebird is pulling. Many people have fond memories of a Bird from their past, but now regret letting the car out of their possession.

The Big Bird Show
Despite not being a Trans Am or a Formula, my Silver six-cylinder coupe will be welcomed at the Trans Am Nationals, the aforementioned annual gathering celebrating Pontiac Firebird history and a fellowship of Firebird fans. We also provide a counseling service of sorts to people passing near this gathering of Birds and take the time to stop and tell us their Firebird story usually ending in some type of seller’s remorse. We nod politely and use comforting words while we vow to ourselves to never be on the other side of that conversation. Long live the Firebird!  

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Junkyard Life’s Firebird Fun Facts

  • The actual last Firebird built was a bright red Trans Am convertible. 

  • This Firebird was sidelined due to cooling problems. 

  • 2002 saw 23,330 Firebirds built.
Exotic birds, such as Scarlet Macaws or Cockatoos are often subject to quarantine before being sold to the public. I bought this Bird DURING a quarantine. There has to be a joke or an irony here, but I just can’t put it together.
  • The most popular color for 2002 Firebird Coupes was black, selling 1,545 cars, narrowly outselling Bright Red at 1,504 cars.

  • The rarest of the Firebird Coupes would have to be Sunset Orange Metallic, a stunningly beautiful color, but only 372 were made in that optical celebration. 

  • Our color, Sebring Silver Metallic was the  fourth best-selling exterior hue with 1,189 so equipped. 
  • Sebring name comes via the South Florida city known for auto racing and home to Sebring International Raceway, which is one of the oldest continuously operating race tracks in the U.S. The first race there was in 1950.

  • The name “Firebird” is based on the famous Phoenix bird, which comes from Slavic folklore. 

  • Rumor has it that the car’s name “Firebird” was not contrived on the spot, but more of a revival of a name from turbine powered show cars GM was considering in the 1950s.
John Delorean would not have named this late arrival to the pony car war anything less than something spectacular.

*Editor’s Note: Junkyard Life staffer Ron Kidd made it through this article with only one classic rock reference and one mention of his hero, John Delorean. This is progress for him.

Shiny chrome 5-spoke wheels and shiny silver paint.

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Friday, April 10, 2020

1968 Corvette 427 Rescue of a Legend

Building and roof falling in on Corvette so it must be moved to save it from further damage.

The Urban Legend Lives On. 
Every town has a mystical car story from which urban legends are born. We tracked one down, uncovered the story and actually saw the car! It was (and still is) a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette (that story here) with a fat 427 and a 4-speed. Here are the Cliffnotes:

Young man does these things...

  • buys his dream 1968 Corvette convertible.
  • dominates the streets in his hometown.
  • encounters local law enforcement.
  • eludes a major citation, as well as several more he had coming.
  • stashes the car for 33 years.

1968 Corvette must be moved to keep it safe. The old barn/garage was in need of repairs.

Fast forward a few decades
Family helps Big Block Mike move his Vette from the once enjoyed seclusion. Mainly due to the threat of the now dilapidated garage coming down on the poor car. Junkyard Life was invited to witness the grand move. How could we turn that invitation down? A 427 Corvette? This is the ultimate in automotive excavation! We had to be there, join us!   

Rear wheels and tires are locked up and slide through the mud.
Tires slide through the mud as the 1968 Corvette dragged out of barn by a yellow tow strap.

The Corvette Virus

Now, extracting an automobile from where it has been sitting for three or four decades is not without its challenges. The Polyglass tires refused to hold air. Of course they wouldn’t. None of us thought they would. The period correct Cragar mags declined our request to leave the car. So a combination of, our buddy, Chris Sanderson’s temper and a large sledge hammer persuaded the stubborn tires to change places. Three 15-inch Rally wheels and one GM steely we had in the Junkyard Life stash served rolling stock duty for the relocation. The loading went surprisingly well after that, despite a few more expected problems. Nothing these guys couldn’t handle.

A removable hardtop and Camaro bucket seats were added in the 1970s. Sidepipes once roared beneath the doors.

Stubborn Clutch-Release Thyself!

No. It will not. I even said “please” several times. The heavy duty 1970’s era clutches made a work out of just a small commute. This one decided to stay in place and the 4:11 positraction rear did it’s job well and would not under any circumstances let those rear tires move. It has been in that position for 33 years-why unlock now? The original 4-speed took the side of the clutch and it too refused to move. No shifty business going on between those seats. What happened to common courtesy and southern manners? I said, “please!”

The one car wooden garage is close to caving in on the car. Moving it was the only option.
Don't look back! The Corvette is finally pulled out into the daylight.

Need help moving a car? Tell them it's a Big Block Corvette. Chris and Daryl go under to find a mounting point for winch.

Rear deck of the 1968 Corvette covered in animal waste and debris from decades in storage.
Footprints and debris from critters, such as possum, were found on the Corvette.

You Force my Hand-and my Tow Strap-and my 1968 Mustang

What? You lost me at “hand”*. You read correct. The solution to our locked up 1968 Corvette was a tow strap locked onto the chassis of a 1968 Mustang. Hey, it was there, we needed it, we used it, we were in Ford country! What can we say? So if you strap a Corvette to a Mustang, you can then pull the trailer from underneath it. Thus, freeing the Corvette. I know you Ford guys have some metaphors and phrases , so go ahead and hit us with them. We knew the job was dangerous when we took it.

Un-Locking the Rat Junkyard Life Style

It isn’t everyday we get to take the spark plugs out of a Vette and spray a ton of anti-seize penetrating oil into the massive bores of the 427. So we took advantage of that opportunity as well. Is that Junkyard Life style or what?  So stay tuned as we let this beast sit for a couple of days and let the magic oil do what it can, so maybe… just maybe, we can turn the motor by hand and see if it will budge. If it does, then a whole new line of fun begins! Stay tuned!

Ron Kidd

— Junkyard Life

* Editor’s Note: According to Junkyard Life staffer Ron Kidd, the phrase “You lost me at hand” was the first unsuccessful phrase before the “You had me at ‘hello’” slogan became popular.

Tag date is 1987.

Unloading required strapping the Corvette to a 1968 Mustang.

A 1968 Mustang, hidden in shadow of garage, helped hold the Corvette as trailer pulled away. Wheels, brakes and/or transmission on the Corvette are froze up.

No options under here. Manual steering, manual brakes, no A/C.
A look at the Fat motor 427 under the hood of the 1968 Corvette.

Street racers ran and hid from cars with these emblems back in the day.

Original wood wheels bring $500 in good shape.
Aftermarket steering wheel was cool. Now, not so much.

A set of borrowed Rally wheels and tires used to transport the Vette. Instantly the car looked better.

Will it turn over? To be continued...
Chris, Daryl, and Ron take a look at the engine. Will it turn over? To be continued...

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at