Back in April 1967, Dave Conner travelled to Mahion Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio. Placing an order for a factory-fresh Camaro Convertible, with his name signed on the dotted line, history was about to be made. Now, this historic Camaro is headed for auction with Gooding & Company during its Scottsdale 2019 sale.
Conner’s Camaro was ordered with a mighty L78 big block under the hood, mated to an M21 Muncle four-speed gearbox and Posi-Traction rear end with 4.10 gearing. Finished in Tuxedo Black over gold, the final retail price totaled $3,761.25 ($28k with modern inflation) with the Chevy delivered that May. It wasn’t long before fame as a Super Stock drag racer came knocking.
Conner wasted no time in getting the car on the track. In fact, he made his first quarter-mile pass with the window sticker still affixed. The Camaro then appeared at New Jersey’s Raceway Park in 1968, displaying new ‘Batcar’ livery – inspired by Adam West’s Batmobile and its distinctive colour scheme.
Conner’s success over the next two seasons saw him crowned SS/1A Class Champion at the AHRA and NHRA Winternationals. As such, both car and driver were suddenly in high demand with the media, featuring in the December 1969 editions of both American Rodding and Popular Hot Rodding. This attention and foundation of success earned Conner a place with Rod Shop, a famous Ohio-based drag racing team.
Rod Shop contracted with Mopar in 1970, an act which found Conner selling his Camaro to fellow racer Sherman Gerlach of West Virginia. However, although he was no longer the owner, Conner continued to race the 1967 Chevrolet – now as Gerlach’s Batcar – through 1975, setting an NHRA record at the Indy Nationals and capturing several class wins in the process.
Incredibly, Conner and Gerlach kept the major components that had been replaced or upgraded during the Camaro’s racing career, including the original engine. This meant that, once the Camaro was retired from racing, the car could be returned to its original configuration. The Chevy remained in Gerlach’s ownership until 2009, when it was sold to the current owner.
Taken under the wing of a new vendor, the Camaro was carefully restored to showroom condition using as many original parts and details as possible, including the original gold upholstery and convertible top.
Since the renovation, the ex-drag racing 1967 Chevy has since been shown at the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals, earning Concours Gold and Outstanding Display awards.
Since 1967, this Camaro has covered just over 1500 miles according to the odometer, the majority accrued a quarter mile at a time – usually at full revs. Yet, with drivetrain restoration work already completed, we aren’t 100% sure what the accurate mileage actually is.
Of the 1138 L78 Camaros built for the 1967 model year, fewer than 150 are believed to have been convertibles. Only 27 examples are known to have survived time’s onward march, with far fewer still retaining their original, matching-numbers engine.
Even among this extremely rare breed of Chevrolet muscle cars, few compare with the Batcar – a big-block Camaro with a rich history, competition pedigree, and presentation that is sure to impress the most discerning collector.
For those worried about the car's identity, the Camaro was inspected by Jerry MacNeish of Camaro Hi-Performance Inc., who confirmed the various stampings, casting numbers, paint and trim codes as original, and issued a certificate of authenticity as well as a detailed inspection report. Get a closer look at the Chevrolet here.
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