Chevrolet Camaro

From Academic Kids

Modified 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.  Rear valence backup lights and hidden headlights denote Rally Sport option.
Modified 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. Rear valence backup lights and hidden headlights denote Rally Sport option.

The Chevrolet Camaro was a compact car introduced in North America by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors at the start of the 1967 model year as competition for the Ford Mustang. Although it was technically a compact (by the standards of the time), the Camaro, like the entire class of Mustang competitiors, was soon known as a pony car.

Though the car's name was contrived with no meaning, General Motors researchers found the word in a French dictionary as a slang term for "friend" or "companion." Ford Motor Company researchers discovered other definitions, including "a shrimp-like creature" and an arcane term for "loose bowels"! In some automotive periodicals before official release, it was code-named "Panther".

Four distinct generations of the car were produced.


Generation 1


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1967 Chevrolet Camaro with a 327 V8 and Z/28 stripes.
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1969 Chevrolet Camaro Indianapolis 500 Pace Car on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix

Sharing mechanicals with the upcoming 1968 Chevrolet Nova, the Camaro featured unibody structure. Chevrolet offered the car in only two body styles, a coupe and convertible. Almost 80 factory and 40 dealer options including three main packages were avaible.

  • RS Package included many cosmetic changes such as RS badging, hidden headlights, blacked out grill, revised taillights and interior trims.
  • SS Package included modified 5.7 L (350 in³) V8 engine (first 350 in³ engine ever offered by Chevrolet), also L35 396 in³ "big block" was avaible. SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping and blacked out grill. It was possible to order both - RS and SS packages to receive RS/SS Camaro. In 1967 Camaro RS/SS Convertible Camaro with 396 in³ engine paced the Indianapolis 500 race.
  • Z28 option code was introduced in 1966. This option package wasn't mentioned in any sales literature so was unknown by most of the buyers. The only way to order Z28 package was to order base Camaro with Z28 option, front disc brakes, power steering and Muncie 4-speed transmission. Z28 package featured unique 302 in³ "small block" engine, designed specifically to compete in the Club of America Trans Am racing series (which required engines smaller than 305 in³ and public availablity of the car). Advertised power of this engine was listed at 290 hp (216 kW) while actual dyno readings rated it at 360 to 400 hp (269 to 298 kW). Z28 also came with upgraded suspension and racing stripes on the hood. It was possible to combine Z28 package with RS package. Only 602 Z28's were sold.

The Camaro's base powertrain was a 3.8 L (230 in³) I6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) and backed by a GM Muncie three-speed manual transmission. A Muncie four-speed manual was also available. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was a popular option in 1967-68 until the three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" replaced it starting in 1969.

The 290 hp (216 kW), 5.7 L (350 in³) V8 first saw duty in the 1967 Camaro and virtually every engine in the Chevrolet lineup was offered as an option.

Production numbers:

  • RS: 64842
  • SS: 34411
  • Z28: 602
  • Total: 220906


1968 saw the deletion of the side vent windows and the introduction of Astro Ventilation, a fresh-air-inlet system. Also added were side marker lights, a more pointed front grill, and divided rear tailights. SS396 received chrome hood inserts. Multi-leaf rear springs replaced single-leaf units, and shock absorbers were staggered. 6.5 L (396 in³) 350 hp (261 kW) engine was added as an option for the SS, and Z28 became known by buyers and 7199 units were sold.

Production numbers:

  • RS: 40977
  • SS: 27884
  • Z28: 7199
  • Total: 235147


The 1969 Camaro carried over the previous year's drivetrain and major mechanical components, but all new sheet metal gave a car a substaintially sportier look. The grille was redesigned with a heavy "Y" cant and deeply inset headlights. New door skins, rear quarter panels, and rear valence panel also have the car a much lower, wider, more aggressive look. This styling would serve for the 1969 model year only. Collectors often debate the merits of smooth, rounded lines of 1967 and 1968 model versus the heavily creased and sportier looks of the 1969.

The real treat for the 1969 model year, however, was the vast array of new performance options. A General Motors corporate edict forbid Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 400 in³ (6.6 L) in the Camaro. Chevy also knew that there was a market for ultra-powerful Camaros armed with the Corvette's L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L) engine, as evidenced by the success of dealerships like Yenko Chevrolet, Nickey Chevrolet, and Dana Chevrolet, who installed their own. So, Chevrolet quitely offered two Central Office Production Orders (COPO) options, numbers 9560 and 9561, for the 1969 model year. The COPO 9561 option brought the fire-breathing L-72 big-block engine, making an underrated 425 hp (317 kW) gross. Don Yenko ordered several hundred of these cars, along with a variety of other high performance options, to create the now-legendary Yenko Camaro. Overall, Chevrolet produced just 1,015 L-72 equipped Camaros.

Even rarer was COPO 9560. This option installed an all-aluminum 427 in³ (7.0 L) big-block called the ZL-1. Just 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced, probably because the engine alone cost over 4,000 USD - nearly twice that of a base V-8 coupe. Though rated at 430 hp (321 kW) gross, the ZL-1 made closer to 550 hp (410 kW), making it both the fastest and rarest of all Camaros.

The 1969 model year was exceptionally long, extending into December of 1969, due to production problems with the completely redesigned second generation model. A small number of 1969 model year cars were titled as 1970 cars; this is also the source of the "1970 1/2" moniker sometimes applied to early 1970 model year cars. Equipped with the lighter weight "split bumper" in the front (i.e., no bumper across the central grill opening) and with all the refinements and enhancements up to that point, these "1970 1/2" model year vehicles are generally regarded as the most desirable of the early Camaros, since the performance of those immediately following was to be hampered by the addition of heavy Federally mandated bumpers as well as the power-reducing automobile emissions control systems of the period.

Production numbers:

  • RS: 37773
  • SS: 34932
  • Z28: 20302
  • Total: 243085


  • 1967-1969 3.8 L (230 in³) 230 I6 140 hp (104 kW)
  • 1967-1969 4.0 L (250 in³) 250 I6 155 hp (116 kW) @ 4200rpm, 235 ft.lbf (319 Nm) @ 1600rpm
  • 1967-1969 Z28: 4.9 L (302 in³) Small-Block V8 290 hp (216 kW) @ 5800rpm, 290 ft.lbf (393 Nm) @ 4200rpm
  • 1967-1969 5.4 L (327 in³) Small-Block V8 210 hp (157 kW)
  • 1967-1969 5.4 L (327 in³) Small-Block V8 275 hp (205 kW)
  • 1967-1969 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8 255 hp (190 kW)
  • 1967-1969 SS350: 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8 295 hp (220 kW) @ 4800rpm, 380 ft.lbf (515 Nm) @ 3200rpm
  • 1967-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 325 hp (242 kW) @ 4800rpm, 410 ft.lbf (556 Nm) @ 3200rpm
  • 1967-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 375 hp (280 kW) @ 5600rpm, 415 ft.lbf (563 Nm) @ 3600rpm
  • 1968-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 350 hp (261 kW) @ 5200rpm, 415 ft.lbf (563 Nm) @ 3200rpm
  • 1969 COPO 9561/L-72: 7.0 L (427 in³) Big-Block V8 425 hp (317 kW) @ 5600rpm, 460ft.lbf (624 Nm) @ 4000rpm
  • 1969 COPO 9560/ZL-1: 7.0 L (427 in³) Big-Block V8 430 hp (321 kW) @ 5200rpm, 450ft.lbf (610 Nm) @ 4400rpm

Generation 2

The larger second-generation Camaro featured an all-new sleek body and improved suspension. The 1970-1/2 Camaro debuted as a 2+2 coupe; no convertible was offered and would not appear again until well into the third generation. Most of the engine and drivetrain components were carried over from 1969 with the exception of the 230 in³ (3.8 L) six cylinder -- the base engine was now the 250 in³ (4.1 L) six rated at 155 hp (116 kW). The top performing motor was a L-78 396 in³ (6.5 L) V8 rated at 375 hp (280 kW). (Starting in 1970, the 396 in³ big block V8's actually displaced 402 in³ (6.6 L), yet Chevrolet chose to retain the 396 badging.) Two 454 in³ (7.4 L) engines - the LS-6 and LS-7 - were listed on early specification sheets but never made it into production. Besides the base model, buyers could select the "Rally Sport" option with a distinctive front nose and bumper, a "Super Sport" package, and the "Z-28 Special Performance Package" featuring a new high-performance 360 hp (268 kW) 350 in³ (5.7 L) cid V8.


The 1972 Camaro suffered two major setbacks. A UAW strike at a GM assembly plant in Ohio disrupted production for 174 days, and 1100 Camaros had to be scrapped because they did not meet 1973 Federal bumper safety standards. Some at GM seriously considered dropping the Camaro and Firebird altogether, while others were convinced the models remained marketable. The latter group eventually convinced those in favor of dropping the F Cars to reconsider, and Chevrolet would go on to produce 68,656 Camaros in 1972, the lowest production numbers for any model year.


A new LT option was offered in 1973, and new impact-absorbing bumpers were standard. The Super Sport package was dropped, and the big block 396 in³ V8 could no longer be ordered. Horsepower was down due to new emissions standards, with the top rated 350 in³ V8 producing 245 hp (183 kW).


The 1974 Camaro grew seven inches longer thanks to new aluminum bumpers and forward sloping grille. Round taillights were replaced with a more rectangular wraparound design.


The Z-28 option was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 models, and horsepower continued to decline drastically. Two 350 in³ V8s produced 145 hp (108 kW) and 155 hp (116 kW) (horsepower ratings were now net, measured at the rear wheels.)


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1977 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

The Z28 was re-introduced to the buying public in the spring of 1977 as a 1977-1/2. This car was an instant hit, with most cars sold equipped with air-conditioning and an automatic transmission for a comfort-oriented public. The cars were also available with a Borg-Warner Super T-10 4-speed manual and minimal option packaging for those buyers interested in a performance-oriented vehicle. The half-year model was one of the few American performance vehicles available at the time. The car was capable of turning in quarter-mile times comparable to many of the nineteen sixties' performance cars, and the chassis was developed to reward the driver with a first-class grand touring experience, capable of outstanding handling, especially in the hands of a competent high-performance driver. More than one Z28 was sold as a stripped radio-delete bare-bones performance car, and in this trim the Z28 could out-perform Trans-Ams and aging C3 Corvettes on highways and canyon roads.


The 1978 model featured new soft front and rear bumpers and much larger taillamps. This was also the first year T-tops -- gray tinted glass lift-out roof panels -- became available as an option.


The Type LT model was replaced by the more luxurious Berlinetta with dual mirrors, special wheels, paint, emblems, and interior. The instrument panel was redesigned, and the Z-28 boasted eye-catching dual-color stripes which wrapped around the lower sides and front bumper.


For 1980 the aged 250 in³ inline six was replaced with a 229 in³ (3.8 L) V6, 231 in³ (3.8 L) in California. The Z-28 hood included a rear-pointing raised scoop with a solenoid operated flap which opened at full throttle, allowing the engine to breathe cooler air.


The 1981 model was virutally unchanged from 1980 and would be the last model year for the second generation Camaro. Total production had dropped down to 126,139 from a high of 282,571 in 1979.


Generation 3


The 1982 model introduced the first Camaros with factory fuel injection, four-speed automatic transmissions (three-speed on the earlier models), five-speed manual transmissions (four-speed manual transmissions in 1982, and some 83-84 models), 15 or 16-inch rims, hatchback body style, and even a four-cylinder engine for a brief period (due to concerns over fuel economy). The Camaro Z28 was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1982.


In 1985 Chevrolet introduced a new Camaro model - the famous IROC-Z, called after popular racing series. IROC-Z Camaro featured upgraded suspension, special decal package and Tuned Port Injection system taken from the Chevrolet_Corvette Third generation Camaros also had a suspension system that was more capable in corners than the previous generation. The Camaro IROC-Z was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1985.


Generation 4


1993 began the fourth and last generation of Camaros, lasting through the 2002 model year. Production of the fourth and final generation was moved from GM's Van Nuys, California assembly plant to one in Ste. Therese, Quebec in 1993. Though the car would no longer be produced in the US, the new design which incorporated lightweight plastic body panels over a steel space frame, and a better suspension, further improved upon the Camaro line. From 1993 to 1997 the Camaro was available with the LT-1 engine, the same Generation II small block V8 used in the Corvette, although in slightly de-tuned form. In 1996, the long-discontinued "SS" option was resurrected and in 1998, the all-new LS-1 engine Generation III small block was offered on the SS and Z28 Camaros, marking the end of the Generation I small block V8 that had its roots in Chevrolet's 265 in³ engine of 1955. Unfortunately, sales were below expectations, and production of the Camaro ceased in 2002.


1998 saw a new head light design for the Camaro. The new design removed the previous recessed-light design present in the 1982-1997 Camaros. The faux air intakes on the hood were also eliminated. In addition the LT1 engine was removed and instead an LS1 in its place.



2002 marked the last year of the Chevrolet Camaro and was also the 35th anniversary for the Camaro. This milestone was celebrated with a special anniversary car modified from the factory by SLP. The anniversary package was only available on the SS (Super Sport). Engine modifications were available in addition to the 325 hp (242 kW) engine which all Super Sports produce. Silver racing stripes down the hood and trunk lid made the car more noticeable than ever—especially against the Bright Rally Red paint (the only color available with the anniversary package). The car also had the slogan attached to it “Leave a Lasting ImpreSSion” and had the logo embroidered in the seats. The car was only available as a convertible or with T-Tops. 3,000 Camaros with the anniversary package were produced for the United States and 152 for Canada.


Though production Camaros were never as fast as the flagship Corvette, the car cost less than half as much and was easily modified. If its frequent inclusion in automotive enthusiast magazines is any indication, the Chevy Camaro is one of the most popular cars for modification in the automotive history.

Throughout its history, the Camaro shared its internal body and major components with a sister car - the Pontiac Firebird.

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