Junkman CHP 1979 Z28 Camaro

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) purchased and tested (12) 1979 Chevy Z-28 Camaros as part of their Special Purpose Vehicle Study program. Three cars each were assigned to four areas — Redding, Bakersfield, El Centro, and West Los Angeles.

In an effort to increase top speed, the CHP got a CARB exemption to change the axle ratios to 3.08:1 from the standard 3.42 or 3.73. The brakes were changed-out for the police Nova brakes. This included sintered metallic front pads and finned rear drums. The CHP used a special high-speed fabric-belted tire designed for police use in sustained high-speed pursuits over long distances. At the time, the retail cars factory steel belted radials were not recommended for this usage. All cars had the TH350 automatic with a 1st gear block-out plate.

Out of the (12) cars, (9) blew their LM1 350 V8 engines. Only the three used in the Los Angeles area had no engine failures. Some cars went through (2) or more engines. When the engines were replaced with 4-bolt main replacements, the failures stopped. Of the (9) that blew engines, none made it past 26,000 miles before a major failure. The most common part that let go were the pistons.

Click to see more about the California Highway Patrol 1979 Z28 Camaro.

This was not one of those cars….

This California Highway Patrol (CHP) painted Camaro was used in the 1982 film ‘The Junkman’, an action movie written by H.B. Halicki, the same director responsible for the 1974 film ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’.

In the movie, Harlan B. Hollis struggles to stay alive when a jealous public relations manager hires a team of assassins to kill him. The manager, also Hollis’ brother-in-law, resents Hollis for making the movie Gone in 60 Seconds, which is premiering at the Cinerama Dome.

The Junkman holds the Guinness World Record for wrecking over 150 cars, trucks, motorcycles and planes in one movie.

Many locals were used as extras in the movie. Most of the San Luis Obispo County sheriff deputies, Paso Robles, and Atascadero police officers in the movie were officers at the time of filming. All of the California Highway Patrol officers were professional stunt drivers.

This Camaro uses Chevy’s LG3 V-8, a 130-hp, 305-cubic-inch engine with a two-barrel carburetor bolted to a three-speed automatic transmission.

15″ wheels are finished in black and wrapped in 225/60 Nexen CP641 front and BFGoodrich Radial T/A rear tires.

The cabin features black vinyl bucket seats along with a matching dashboard, door panels, and carpets. Equipment includes sirens, a dash-mounted clipboard, gun holder, and period-style communication equipment. The dashboard is cracked, and wear is noted on the front and rear seats.

The four-spoke steering wheel is tilt-adjustable and frames a 130-mph speedometer, a 7,000 rpm tachometer, and auxiliary gauges.

Decoding the VIN reveals the following information:

1 — General Motors
Q — Camaro
87 — Sport Coupe
G — V8 305cid / 130hp
9 — 1979 model year
L — Van Nuys, California assembly
652367 — Production number

Movie Clip

More Photos

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I started my career as a police officer in 1989 with the Geneva on The Lake Police Department. I worked part time as a police officer and full time as a Security Sergeant doing armed mobile security patrols for a local security company. In 1990 I became a State Trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. During my career as a State Trooper I was certified as a Technical Crash Investigator, OPOTA Police Instructor, OPOTA Police Driving Instructor, LASER Instructor, and received awards for ACE (Auto Larceny) and Post Trooper of The Year. Code 3 Garage is a mix of my inner automotive gearhead, and public safety background. I hope you enjoy it!