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The One – 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28

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GM Scene Magazine®

Frank Sliva's 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28

Camaro enthusiasts tend to agree, the race bred RPO JL8 four-wheel disc brake system remains one of the most popular, impressive, and prized GM high-performance options available for the first-generation Camaro.  

Frank Sliva’s fully certified, Van Nuys built Le Mans Blue 1969 Camaro Z28 is one of the earliest and finest original examples of an RPO JL8 equipped Camaro that still retains its original factory documentation. And if that’s not enough, there’s a special GM surprise hiding under the RPO ZL2 plenum hood. 

The RPO JL8 four-wheel disc brake option was produced during a limited timeframe, from January 1969 to July 1969, with a factory supplied production figure of only 206 units. The JL8 option was available on any Camaro model; the cost was $500.30 for SS or Z28 models and $623.50 for non-SS non-Z28 models. In terms of performance, it could outperform any braking system offered at the time including those on some of the exotic imported sportscars.

The Camaro four-wheel disc brake system was so effective that it is recognized as being one of the largest contributing factors responsible for helping to establish the Camaro as the 1968 and 1969 Trans-Am champion and for indelibly imprinting that amazing legacy in the hearts and minds of Camaro enthusiasts across multiple generations.

Unlike today, in 1969, Corvette was the only mass-produced American car to use four-wheel disc brake technology, which made the concept new and exotic. Needless to say, when the four-wheel disc brake system became available on the 1969 Camaro as regular production option- RPO JL8, it was a remarkable occasion.

Frank’s 1969 Camaro Z28 is one of the best examples of an all original and accurately detailed RPO JL8 system right down to casting numbers, metal plating and paint coatings. The Camaro retains its born-with drivetrain, and it is an exceptionally complete, original example of a 1969 Z28 Camaro with factory installed RPO JL8. The vehicle also has authenticated documentation in the form of a transferred warranty Protect-O-Plate, a corresponding NCRS Shipping Data Report, and a title trail.

Frank’s verified original engine breathes through a factory installed chambered exhaust and has been upgraded with the coveted GM cross ram manifold assembly. And now we know why the four wheel disc brakes are critical for this rare build.

THE HISTORY OF RPO JL8

To support the Z28 in Trans Am racing, a four-wheel disc brake system was released in March of 1968 as over-the-counter (OTC) heavy-duty service parts. The system was adapted from the Corvette J56 heavy-duty brake package and included larger front and rear rotors (11 3/4″ vs 11″ for the production J52 rotor) and 4-piston brake calipers. Though included in the 1968 assembly manual and in the POP option field information, JL8 was not a 1968 production option. The inclusion in the 1968 documentation was apparently in preparation for an option release that never occurred.

A modified version of the OTC system was released in 1969 for production as RPO JL8, 4-Wheel Power Disc Brakes. The option was only produced during a limited timeframe, from Jan 69 to May 69, with a production of only 206 units. The JL8 option was available on any Camaro model; the cost was $500.30 for SS or Z28 models and $623.50 for non-SS non-Z28 models. All JL8 cars received the 15×7 rally wheels. Most JL8’s were installed on Z28’s, but GM documentation indicates that 27 non-Z28’s had JL8. Both SS and non-Z28 non-SS Camaros have been verified as receiving JL8!

Many of the disc-brake rear axles that survive are the HD service units, rather than JL8. There are easily identifiable physical differences between the JL8 and the service axles. The most notable is the factory-installed axle tube is tapered at the brake flange mounting plate, while the service axle has a larger diameter tube with no taper. See Wayne Guinn’s book, Camaro Untold Secrets 1967-1969, for details on other differences.

GM Scene Magazine®