Barrett-Jackson photo

A spot-on replica of a 1969 Chevrolet ZL1 engine could go for $100,000 or more during the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January.

EngineLabs spotted Lot# 1292.1while perusing the catalog and called Campbell Auto Restoration (CAR) in Campbell, California. CAR has restored two ZL1 Camaros and been involved in numerous other projects related to the legendary all-aluminum 427ci engine, including sourcing original and NOS parts.

“Yeah, it’s crazy money for that engine,” says Kevin Long. “It could easily go for $100,000 or more. That’s a million-dollar car today.”

The engine is not from one of the original ZL1 Camaros or Corvettes built in 1969. Rather, it’s a purpose-built display motor. According to the auction listing, Floyd Garrett built the engine for his museum collection when it opened in 1996.

Barrett-Jackson photo

The block is dated May 14, 1969, and most likely was destined for Can-Am competition.

“This is not a later and more common Yenko block,” states the auction listing, which adds that several NOS parts are used in the motor. 

Judging by photo, the engine looks rather complete. It even has the smog pump and correct air-cleaner base for the 850cfm Holley.

Another reason the high price prediction is the growing trend of display-only engines. Campbell just finished restoring a Ford 427 SOHC engine that had been polished and dressed up during its life in a show car. But after purchasing the engine for $40,000, the owner commissioned CAR to restore it back to the original finishes and appearance just for display purposes.

“Another customer purchased a real nice ZL1 Camaro clone,” recounts Long. “He kept the engine and transmission for display and give us the body for another project.”

The original 427 all-aluminum Chevy block and head castings were designed for Can Am competition and never intended for a street vehicle. But Chevy dealer Fred Gibb had the idea of dropping one into a Camaro, so a milder version with a single 4-barrel was developed with the RPO designation of ZL1. Then, under the Central Office Production Order (COPO) system, Gibb ordered 50 1969 Camaros with the engine package. All totaled, 69 ZL1 Camaros were built, and the engine was dropped into two Corvettes.

Original press photo of 1969 ZL1 engine.