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Camaro History


 

Chevrolet introduced the 1967 Camaro as its entry into what would later be called the "pony car" segment, the actual release date was September 29, 1966.  Offered in coupe and convertible models, with 69 available factory-installed options and 12 dealer-installed options, the Camaro was designed to be many things to many people.  First and foremost, the Camaro is to be a driver's car, which is reflected in its handling, ride, high-performance engine availability and styling.  It was intentionally designed to do what the Corvette can do for less money.  And judging by its popularity, it accomplished this goal exceedingly well.  Although it has always been available with options to suit a wide range of sports-coupe buyers, performance has been what the name Camaro brings to mind for most people. 

Camaro's long-hood, short-deck styling is intended to give a dynamic feeling of motion, even while the car is standing still.  The chassis is also a first in that it used a separate front subframe attached to a unit-body via bolts and computer-tuned double-biscuit rubber mounts.  This design helps minimize road noise and vibration into the passenger compartment from the drivetrain and front suspension.  The subframe is bolted to the body and front sheet metal at six points.  Four bolts and rubber mounts are used to attach the rear of the subframe to the body.  Two bolts and rubber mounts attach the front of the subframe to the radiator support, to which the front sheet metal is attached.  The engine, transmission, front suspension, brakes, steering gear and linkage are secured to the subframe.  With minor revisions for steering linkage and front suspension geometry for the second generation Camaros which began production in 1970, this basic design was used through the 1981 model year.

The rear portion of Camaro was initially designed to be very similar to the compact Chevy II sedan, using a solid Salisbury axle and splayed monoplate leaf springs.  Computer analysis indicated that placing the rear shock absorbers on the outboard side of the rear leaf springs and mounting near vertical would allow the wheels to more closely follow irregular road surfaces and improved cornering.  To combat wheel hop with the monoleaf springs, a rear-axle traction bar was installed on the passenger-side rear spring of all 1967 Camaros with high-performance engines.

Engine choices are what makes a Camaro a Camaro.  At its introduction, Camaro was offered with a choice of either 230 or 250 cu-in. 6-cylinder engines.  For those who wanted a Camaro with more authority, two 327s and a 295-hp 350 cu-in. small-block V8 were offered.  In May of 1967, a 396 cu-in. big-block V8 with 325 hp became available in the SS model.  And this was only the beginning of a series of big-blocks that could be installed in Camaros over the next several years.  Camaros with these engines required a driver with a very disciplined right foot or a good lawyer to keep there record clear of speeding tickets.  Braking action on the first Camaros was provided by 9 1/2-in. drums, front and rear.  Later models offer ventilated front disc brakes as optional or standard equipment depending on the model and year.  Rear disc brakes adapted from the Corvette were offered as a factory-installed option on 1969 Camaros on a very limited basis.  This system was offered in order to meet the homologation requirements of the Sports Car Club of America, who sanctioned the Trans-Am races Camaro competed in.

The Camaro continues the muscle-car tradition as a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe or convertible with available V8 power. The fourth-generation Camaro was introduced as a 1993 model and in 1998 received a major refreshening with body upgrades including a new front fascia, a new hood, composite reflector headlamps, and new fenders. The 1998 model also received chassis upgrades, a new 4-wheel disc brake system and a new anti-lock brake system (ABS).

 

1967

The first year of production, the Camaro was available in coupe and convertible body styles with seating for four. Standard seating were front buckets seats and a rear bench, but a front center console (with and without gauges), a front bench seat and a fold-down rear seatback were available as options.  The SS (short for Super Sport) package included a special hood and ornamentation, paint stripes, safety-wired fuel cap, SS identification, performance suspension, tires and wheels.  Another upgrade was the Rally Sport (RS) package, which included hideaway headlamps operated by electric motors, front valance-mounted parking lamps, rear valance-mounted backup lamps, safety-wired fuel-filler cap, RS identification (unless combined with the SS package), a special black-out grille and other specific trim. Camaros could be ordered with both SS and RS packages, the resulting car having hideaway headlamps, black-out grille and valance mounted parking and backup lamps, but otherwise SS trim, identification and running gear were dominant.  About 100 white-on-blue convertibles with this SS/RS trim combination and bearing Indianapolis 500 Pace Car decals were sold to the public.  The Z/28 was a mid-year introduction, with production not getting underway until December 29, 1966.  Central to the first Z/28 was its 302 cu in. V8 derived by installing a short-stroke crankshaft from a 283 cu in. V8 in a 327 V8 block. This enabled Chevrolet to use the Z/28 for the SCCA's Trans-Am sedan racing series, which at the time had a 305 cu in. (5.0 liter) displacement limit.  Available on coupes only, it also included a close-ratio Muncie 4-speed transmission, power-assisted front disc brakes, quick-ratio manual steering, 15x6-inch Rally wheels and red-stripe nylon-chord tires, a heavy-duty cooling system, 3.73:1 final drive, sport suspension and special "runway" hood and deck lid stripes.  Also, Z/28s could be ordered with a special plenum air intake and tubular steel exhaust headers. No external badging identified the cars as Z/28s.  The RS package could be combined with any Z/28.  Other than the Z/28's standard 302, engine choices included the 230 and 250 cu in. inline sixes, two 327 cu in V8s (one 2 bbl, one 4 bbl), the 350 cu in. 4bbl V8 and two 396 big-block V8s. Available transmissions included the synchromesh 3-speed manual, M20 (wide-ratio) and M21 (close-ratio) 4-speed manuals, Powerglide 2-speed automatic and the M40 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 400 automatic.  Unique to the 1967 models are front vent windows. Also, 1967 Camaros are the only models without side marker lamps.  A total of 220,906 1967 Camaros were produced.

1968

Camaro styling was largely a carryover for 1968, with notable changes being the addition of side marker lamps and the deletion of the front vent windows. Cloth and vinyl seat trim were available for the first time in Camaros (in a hound's-tooth pattern). The optional console-mounted auxiliary gauges changed to a two-tier, stacked arrangement and the automatic transmission floor-mounted shifter changed to a "stirrup" design. This was the last year you could order a Camaro with a front bench seat. The RS package continued as before, but its hideaway headlamps were vacuum-operated instead of by electric motors.  The Camaro SS package added a 350-hp 396 V8 to its specification sheet and all SS models had a black-painted rear panel. The Z/28 got exterior identification at the leading edge of the front fenders: a "302" insignia early in the model year and a full-blown Z/28 badge later that year. Some 1968 Z/28s had dealer-installed rear disc brakes adapted  from the Corvette and a dual-quad cross-ram manifold was sold over-the-counter for Z/28 installation.  One convertible Z/28 was built for a GM executive, the assembly line was shut down and that one car was built in 24 hours, however, that car was not available to the public and the car still exists today.  Again, the RS could be combined with the SS or Z/28 and the Z/28 could not be ordered on convertibles. Underneath, the staggered rear shock absorbers were used to help minimize rear axle hop. And all Camaros equipped with the 350 cu in. and 396 cu in. V8s switched to multi-leaf rear springs. Previous engine and transmission choices continued with a few additions. The mid-level performance 350-hp 396 V8 was new as was a heavy-duty, close ratio M22 "Rock Crusher" 4-speed manual (available only on Z/28 and 375-hp 396) and a Torque Drive manually shifted 2 speed automatic (available on 6-cylinder Camaros only). Chevrolet produced 235,147 1968 Camaros.
 
1969

Of all the first- and second-generation Camaros, the 1969 model stands alone as the most unique of the bunch. Except for the hood, roof and deck lid, no sheetmetal carried over from 1968. Neither did the instrument panel, which was completely new for 1969 and would change again in 1970. Why did Chevrolet go to all the trouble and expense to freshen the Camaro with a deeply recessed grille and scalloped wheel openings for 1969 when an all-new replacement was due one year later? Truth be known, Chevrolet was locked in a knock-down drag-out battle for the number-one sales position with Ford in the late 1960s and a three-year-old Camaro needed help if it was to gain any ground on archrival Mustang, which was all-new inside and out for 1969. Other elements set the 1969 Camaro apart from all the others. A few hundred 1969 Camaros were factory-equipped with a 427 cu in. V8, either the all-aluminum ZL-1 or iron-block L-72. While the 427 V8 option never appeared on dealer order forms, these could be special-ordered under codes COPO 9560 and COPO 9561.  The resulting COPO rat-motor Camaros (COPO standing for Central Office Production Order) are valuable collector items today.  Along with the COPO Camaros was an electrically operated cowl induction hood, with a ram air set-up, which could also be ordered on SS and Z/28 models. Also 4-wheel disc brakes (adapted from the Corvette) could be factory-ordered as options on the Z/28 and SS. Headlamp washers made their first and only appearance in 1969, standard on the RS and optional on all other models.  Various under-the-skin improvements made their debut in 1969. Single-piston, floating-caliper front disc brakes replaced the corrosion-prone four-piston design of 1967-68. Also new was a steering column mounted ignition lock, variable-ratio power steering and a medium duty, 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 350 transmission option for all applications except Z/28 (4-speed manual mandatory) and SS396 (which got the heavy-duty Turbo Hydra-matic 400 when an automatic transmission was specified). Under the hood, the 230 cu in. inline-6 and venerable 327 V8 made their last appearances and a new low-compression 307 cu in. 2-bbl V8 was introduced. And the gas filler neck was moved to a concealed location behind the license plate and beneath the rear bumper. The ever popular Rally Sport option continued to use vacuum-operated hideaway headlamps, but for 1969, new louvered "see-through" headlamp doors were used to permit night driving in the event the doors became stuck in the closed position. For the second time in three years, Camaro was named as the Official Pace Car for the 1969 Indianapolis 500, and Chevrolet commemorated the event by producing 3675 Pace Car replicas. Sold under RPO code Z11, all were orange-on-white SS/RS convertibles. Model year 1969 also marked the last time a convertible would be offered in the Camaro line until 1986.  A total of 243,085 1969 Camaros were produced during its extended model year, which ran 18 months--well into the 1970 calendar year.

1970

An all-new second-generation Camaro was introduced on February 26, 1970 to rave reviews. It would prove to be one of the longest running and most profitable production runs in GM history, the basic design evolving over twelve consecutive model years until being replaced  in 1982 by the third-generation Camaro. Because of the mid-February introduction, many have described these first second-generation Camaros as 1970 1/2 models. GM certified these as 1970 models, and the vehicle identification number verifies it. For state motor vehicle, insurance and other purposes, these are known as 1970 models.  In true Detroit fashion, the 1970 Camaro was longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, 2.0 in., 1.1 in., and 0.4 in. respectively. Although the new car had the 108-in. first-generation wheelbase, the entire passenger cabin was swept back, lending the long hood, short deck pony car theme. The second-generation Camaro had a more aggressive road stance, now 1.7-in. wider up front and 0.5-in. wider at the rear. Variable-ratio power steering was available for the first time and front disc brakes became standard equipment. Available in a coupe body style only, various improvements were incorporated. A strengthened front subframe aided structural integrity and a new double-panel roof with acoustic interliner helped minimize road noise. To reduce cost and manufacturing complexity, the rear quarter windows were eliminated. The doors ran all the way to the C-pillars and featured steel side impact beams for passenger crash protection. A new, larger, swept-back windshield helped increase glass area. Hideaway windshield wipers (hidden below the hood line when not in use) became optional equipment (standard on RS and SS models). And the radio antenna was incorporated into the center of the windshield. Inside, a completely new interior included a deeply recessed, wraparound instrument cluster and soft instrument-panel upper section for crash protection. A new, 150-mph speedometer boasted the second-generation Camaro's road worthiness. The rear view mirror moved from the roof to a mount bonded to the windshield. Low-back bucket seats with adjustable headrests were standard, but would be discontinued for 1971. The Rally Sport option (RPO Z22) continued for second-generation Camaros, but without the troublesome hideaway headlamps. Distinguishing the 1970 RS from other Camaros was its unique front-end appearance with split bumperettes, protruding nose with Endura grille surround and large, European-style parking lamps between the grille and headlamps.  This trim and front end was used through 1973. In addition to the front-end treatment, Rally Sports received upgraded trim, blackout grille, RS identification (unless combined with SS or Z/28 packages which then became dominant) and 14x7-in. Rally wheels. The SS option (RPO Z27) continued as well, in both SS350 and SS396 variations. Included with the SS package was the 300-hp 350-cu in. V8, plus power brakes, F70x14 bias-belted wide ovals on 14x7-in. Rally wheels, a blackout grille and rear panel, upgraded trim and SS350 identification. Go for either the 350-hp or 375-hp big-block 396 (actually displacing 402 cu in.), and you'd get the F-41 special performance suspension along with SS396 identification and a blackout tail panel. Also, Positraction was a required option when the limited-production 375-hp big-block was specified. The 402 cu in. displacement was achieved by overboring the 396 block 0.030 in. For marketing reasons, the SS396 designation was continued from the 1967-69 years. The 402 was not the killer big-block of the late1960s, having switched from Holley to Rochester carburetion and a 2-bolt main block for 1970. The Camaro's big performance gun for 1970 was the Z/28. Chevrolet took advantage of a rule change for the Trans-Am series which permitted destroked engines and made the 350-cu in. V8 standard in the Z/28. With 360 hp @ 5800 rpm, solid lifters, a Holley double-pumper sitting atop an aluminum high-rise intake manifold and 11:1 compression exhaling through dual exhausts, the Z/28 powerplant was the Camaro equivalent of the Corvette's LT-1. Other Z/28 mechanicals included F-41 performance suspension, power brakes, Positraction, heavy-duty radiator, choice of M20 4-speed manual or M40 Turbo Hydra-matic 400 transmission (a first in the Z/28) and raised-letter F60x15 wide-ovals on new 5-spoke 15x7-in. steel wheels. Also part of the package was special hood insulation, full instrumentation, rear bumper guards, one-piece rear spoiler, blackout grille, Z/28 identification and the black or white "runway" stripes running the length of the hood and deck lid. As in previous years, the Z/28 could be combined with the Rally Sport, the resulting car having the split-bumper RS front end with Z/28 mechanicals and identification. Another product of Trans-Am racing, a larger 3-piece rear spoiler with greater downforce, became available mid-year. Using the center section from the Firebird T/A spoiler, but with Camaro specific end caps, the 3-piece spoiler could be special-ordered for the Z/28 as COPO 9796. It would eventually replace the one-piece spoiler on the Z/28 and appear on thousands of Camaros through 1981 under RPO D80. Chevrolet produced 124,901 Camaros in the abbreviated 1970 model year.

1971

After the major changes of 1970, the 1971 Camaro was basically a carryover with a few refinements. Externally, Camaro received new emblems front and rear, and the side-marker lamps flashed in unison with the turn signals. The D80 spoiler option was the new 3-piece fiberglass design and included a black ABS chin spoiler as well, though the Z/28 continued with the smaller one-piece rear spoiler as standard equipment. Inside, the 1971 Camaro got new high back front bucket seats adopted from the Chevy Vega. These highly bolstered, full-foam buckets would continue mostly unaltered through 1981. Optional on the driver's seat was a 2-position seatback recliner. For occupant crash protection, protruding knobs and switches were padded for 1971. And there was a new 2-spoke steering wheel. Much to public dismay, performance ratings of Camaro's engines was down. An industry wide trend away from leaded gasoline forced automakers to lower compression ratios to the 8.5:1 to 9.0:1 ranges resulting in a power loss of about 10%. Automakers also changed the way they measured output from SAE gross to SAE net specification. This was accomplished by adjusting output calculations to an 85 degree Fahrenheit correction factor rather than the previous (denser) 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The effect was a more realistic rating system, reflective of an engine with all accessories mounted in an as-installed condition. A total of 114,630 Camaros were produced for 1971. Camaro production was discontinued at Van Nuys, CA.

1972

Refinement continued for the 1972 Camaro. the most obvious change was a coarser, egg-crate grille. Inside, revised door trim panels with built-in map pockets made their debut and a 4-spoke soft-vinyl sport steering wheel was optional. the speedometer was scaled back to a 130-mph maximum. This was also the last year for the Camaro SS, in both 350 and 396 (402-cu in.) versions. The Camaro and Firebird almost didn't survive the 1972 model year. Sales of all domestic manufacturer's pony cars had taken a serous nosedive due to safety and environmental concerns, high insurance rates, declining performance levels due to tightening emission controls, and a mild economic recession. F-body production had ended at Van Nuys, Ca. the year before. GM white collars were unhappy with sales when a 117-day UAW strike halted production at the sole F-car assembly plant in Norwood, Ohio. When the strike ended late in the summer of 1972, over a thousand cars had to be sent to the big master cylinder in the sky because they didn't meet stricter bumper-protection and emission-control regulations. Only 68,651 Camaros were produced in 1972.

1973

Model year 1973 proceeded better than expected. At a time when battering-ram front bumpers were tacked to the noses of many cars in response to Federal 2-1/2 mph front bumper regulations, Chevrolet engineers devised a bracing design that kept the Camaros sporty bumpers intact for one more year. They also saved the Endura-nosed split bumper RS for 1973 with hidden reinforcements that met crash standards. On the inside, the 4-spoke sport steering wheel was now standard. Available was a new soft vinyl padded console adapted from the Firebird that replaced the previous hard plastic version. When an automatic was ordered with the console, a new single-stalk shifter replaced the "stirrup" design used from 1968-72. Late in the model year optional power windows became available, the switches mounted on top of the new console. Full-foam rear seat cushions were introduced in 1973. Also, a molded hardboard headliner replaced the previous cut and sew cloth headliner. In response to a changing performance-car market, Chevrolet introduced an all-new luxury-touring Camaro model, the Type LT. They launched the Type LT with a full compliment of standard equipment. Included were previous extra-cost options such as a 145-hp 350-cu in. V8, variable-ratio power steering, extra sound insulation, 14x7-in. Rally wheels, hideaway wipers, dual sport mirrors, full instrumentation, deluxe seat and door trim, woodgrain accents, bright exterior accents, black accented rocker panels and Type LT identification. The Type LT could be combined with both RS and Z/28 option packages, the resulting car carrying Type LT interior and exterior trim and identification, but with RS split-bumper nose treatment and Z/28 chassis, drivetrain, D80 3-piece spoiler and 5-spoke wheels.  These cars were true sleepers because the Z/28 badges and runway stripes were deleted.  The Z/28 survived (unlike the dropped SS350 and SS396), and could be ordered with air conditioning for the first time. Power was down to 245-hp SAE net. For 1973, the Z switched to hydraulic lifters and Quadrajet carburetion on a low-rise, cast iron intake manifold. These changes plus the introduction of the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) on all 1973 engines drained another 10 hp from the previous years output. The Powerglide 2-speed automatic was dropped for 1973, but a new standard coolant recovery system and optional inflatable spare tire made their debuts. Chevrolet produced 96,751 Camaros in 1973.

 
1974

For 1974, the Camaro finally had the battering-ram bumpers to meet Federal crash standards. But rather than tack the squarish bumpers and their bulky leaf spring energy absorbing zones onto the Camaros flowing body, stylists crafted a new front and rear appearance. Up front, a long sloping nose made of sheet molded compound (SMC) tied the hoodline and the bumper together. The deeply recessed headlamps with "sugar scoop" bezels and Rally Sport-type parking lamps flanked a steeply raked grille. At the rear, the previous concave tail was replaced with a flat panel and triangular wraparound tail lamps, requiring a new rear quarter panel design. Inside, new three point front seat and shoulder belts with roof mounted inertia retractors replaced the clumsy separate seat and shoulder belt design. Also, 1974 marked the year of the federally mandated seat belt interlock system. In order to start the car, the driver and front passenger had to have the seat belts fastened. But the system sometimes prevented the car from starting even when both passengers did what they were supposed to do. So Chevrolet put a bypass switch in the engine compartment which would let the car start regardless of the passengers being belted or not. The system was so unpopular that Congress repealed the law requiring the interlock and by mid 1974, Camaros were rolling off the assembly line without them. With the bumperettes and Endura nose legislated into nonexistence, the RS was canceled for 1974. The Z/28 enjoyed one more year in the sun, 4-bolt mains, forged crank, baffled & cast aluminum valve covers, dual snorkel air cleaner and all. The 245-hp Z/28 engine was the first Camaro to be equipped with breakerless high energy ignitions (HEI). And to make sure everyone knew you were driving a Z/28, huge block letter Z/28 decals covered the hood and deck lid where the runway stripes lived. The Type LT was back with more luxury touches: extra sound insulation in the doors, firewall, rear deck and under floor, plus a color coordinated lower instrument panel. As in 1973, the Type LT could be combined with Z/28 mechanicals to make a luxury touring sleeper. The 307-cu in. V8 was dropped. Front disc brake wear sensors and lower ball joint wear indicators became standard equipment, as did a larger 21 gallon fuel tank adapted from the Nova. Radial-ply tires and AM/FM stereo radios became optional for the first time. 151,008 Camaros were made in 1974.

1975

A long standing second-generation Camaro weak spot was remedied in 1975. The rear three-quarter vision blind spot caused by the large C-pillars was minimized by a new roof design that incorporated a wraparound backlight. But this refinement was overshadowed by disturbing developments beneath the sheet metal. The catalytic converter made its grand entrance in 1975 and for the most part, caused the exit of the Z/28 that year. Use of the platinum and palladium packed muffler like devices allowed auto makers to meet stricter 1975 federal exhaust emissions regulations. But they also caused an airflow restriction that limited output of high winding performance engines such as the Z/28's. So rather than offer a stripe and tire Z/28 caricature, Chevy canceled the performance favorite. Catalytic converters were used across the board on other Camaro engines along with the maintenance saving HEI system. Radial tires became standard equipment on all Camaros. The Rally Sport returned for 1975 as a two tone paint and trim option with dual sport mirrors and Rally wheels. With the lower body color of your choice separated by a tri-color stripe, the hood, header panel, grille, headlamp bezels, tops of the front fenders, doors and front roof received a matte finish blackout treatment. Power door locks were offered for the first time on second-generation Camaros. Also, two new suspension options made their debuts. An FE8 radial tuned suspension featured front and rear anti-roll bars and shock absorbers designed to work with Camaro's newly standard radial tires. Plus a Z86 Gymkana suspension with 15x7-in. wheels, 60-series radials, fast-ratio steering and many of the canceled Z/28s underpinnings was offered. Camaro production for 1975 reached 145,770 units.

1976

Despite the fact that there was little new to herald the coming of the 1976 Camaro, a booming economy and strong Camaro demand caused Chevrolet to add Van Nuys, CA once again as a second F-car assembly plant, joining the Norwood, Ohio facility. A new 305-cu in. 2-bbl V8 made its debut as the smallest available V8. Power brakes were now standard with all V8s. And cruise control, PEI polycast wheels (cast aluminum with decorative polyurethane center section) and a new "halo" partial vinyl roof covering were released as options. The FE8 radial tuned suspension was dropped and F41 sport suspension replaced the previous Z86 Gymkana suspension option. Detail refinements to the Type LT included a "leather look" instrument cluster, "hockey stick" combined armrests and door pulls and a brushed aluminum panel between the tail lamps. With Norwood going full steam ahead and Van Nuys picking up the pace, Chevrolet produced 182,981 Camaros in 1976.

1977

Camaro styling for 1977 was a carryover from the previous year. Yet sales climbed to new heights, with Camaro finally ousting arch rival Mustang from the number-one pony car spot after a ten-year chase. Enthusiasts loved the mid-year return of the Z/28, the 14,394 sales of the vaunted performance model no doubt helping to tip the sales race in Camaros favor. This was a different Z/28 than before, down on power but with excellent handling and bold graphics. The Z/28s 350-cu in. V8 managed 185-hp breathing through a catalytic converter and single exhaust that split into two tailpipes and resonators with 40% less back pressure than a single outlet system. Other familiar Z/28 elements returned: M21 close ratio 4-speed transmission, revised F41 sport suspension with higher-rate front springs and a thicker front anti-roll bar, GR70-15 radials on color-keyed 5-spoke steel wheels, D80 spoilers, Z/28 identification decals, dual sport mirrors, blackout grille and full instrumentation. Chevrolet quickened the Z's power-steering ratio from 14.3:1 to 13.0:1, but dropped the variable ratio. Plus the Z/28 now sported color keyed bumpers and spoilers, front and rear. Hideaway windshield wipers became base standard. And the Rally Sport was now available in a variety of exterior two-tone paint schemes other than matte-black upper color and body-color lower only. Total 1977 Camaro production reached 218,854.

1978

The long awaited integral soft fascia bumper system, inspired by GM styling chief Bill Mitchell's 1973 ZL-1 Berlinetta show car, made its debut for 1978. The new bumpers transformed the Camaro from a tacked on battering ram look to an almost bumperless appearance. The soft facial bumpers looked to be made for the eight year old second generation design from the beginning. They were to have been introduced in 1976, but engineering problems and other delays pushed the timeframe back. They urethane skin is stretched over a honeycombed fiberglass skeleton, designed to provide support and give shape to the skin while collapsing in a front-end collision. The skeleton is bolted to a steel basher bar which is tied into the front subframe and radiator support. A similar, less bulky system makes up the rear bumper as well. Overall, the front end styling retained cues from the 1970-73 Rally Sport and 1974-77 models. A horizontally split grille was flanked by single round headlamps in "sugar scoop" bezels and RS-style parking lamps that were rectangular rather than round. At the rear, the wedge-shaped wraparound tail lamps continued, with the license plate moved to the center of the soft bumper and the gas filler hidden behind a hinged door in the plastic trim panel. Structurally, Camaro received a reinforced front subframe and rear spring perches to handle the additional weight of the bumpers. And a factory-built T-roof option (RPO CC1) with twin removable smoke-grey glass panels became available for the first time. The Z/28 continued with strong sales in 1978, there were 54,907 Z's produced. Aside from a downrated engine for buyers in California and high-altitude areas (175-hp versus 185-hp in the 49 states), all of the performance hardware from the previous year returned. The Z/28's exterior got updated with a fake NACA duct hood scoop, simulated front fender louvers, blackout grille & tail panel and an integrated front spoiler. Inside, a simulated rope wrapped, thick section Z/28 only steering wheel helped drivers keep a grip on things. The RS package and Type LT models continued as before. In 1978, 272,633 Camaros were produced and several thousand were exported to Europe.

1979

In 1979, all Camaros received a new squared-off vinyl covered upper instrument panel, dash pad and gauge cluster faceplate, although the actual gauges stayed the same. A new electric-grid rear window defroster replaced the previous blower type. And a power mast radio antenna and CB radio were available for the first time as options. The Z/28 suffered a slight performance decline due to retuning to meet emissions regulations. Power dropped to 175-hp in the 49 states and 170-hp in California and high altitude areas. Outside, the Z/28 got a new aggressive body color chin spoiler that wrapped up into the front wheel wells as well as tri-color Z/28 decals and stripes running from the front spoiler back along the lower portion of the front fenders and doors. Chevrolet replaced the Type LT with a new Berlinetta model for 1979. The Berlinetta's suspension was retuned for a "boulevard" ride and the PE1 Polycast wheels were made standard. But the upgraded trim, convenience items and extra soundproofing of the Type LT were carried over to the Berlinetta. The Berlinetta was the first Camaro built to target women, something the mustang had always done.  There were more 1979 Camaros produced than any other year; 282,582 and 84,877 Z/28s were built that year.

1980

Chevrolet made a new small-bore 120-hp 267-cu in. V8 available in 49 states. To save weight, Chevy also discontinued the 250-cu in. inline-six and replaced it with a pair of 90-degree V6s. In California, the base engine became the even-firing 110-hp Buick 231-cu in. V6, while all other customers got an odd-firing 115-hp Chevy 229-cu in. V6. All Camaros except the Z/28 got a new fine mesh grille for 1980. The Berlinetta came with wire wheel covers  instead of the Polycast wheels. the two-tone paint scheme on the Rally Sport changed, the upper color on the hood and nose only as wide as the grille. The speedometer only read 85 MPH and vinyl roofs were discontinued. Horsepower was up on the Z/28's 350-cu in. V8 with a functional rear facing cold air hood and functional engine compartment vents in the front fenders. At wide open throttle, a solenoid opened a trap door in the high-pressure area of the hood to allow dense ambient air to the carburetor. The 190-hp 350 V8 was limited to 49 states, California drivers had to settle for a 165-hp 305-cu in. V8. A heavy-duty radiator again became part of the Z/28 package. Outside, a new horizontal bar grille and rear wheel opening skirts distinguished a 1980 Z/28 from the previous model. 152,021 Camaros were produced in 1980.

1981

 

This would be the last year for the second generation Camaro. Exterior appearance was a carryover from 1980. Power brakes and the space saver spare tire were now standard. New options included halogen headlamps and for the Berlinetta locking wire wheel covers. The Rally Sport was dropped. A Computer Command Control emissions system made its debut this year with electronic control of the carburetor fuel mixture and torque converter lockup. Due to emissions considerations, the Z/28's 350-cu in. V8 was only available with an automatic transmission while a 305-cu in. V8 was required when a manual transmission was selected. Output was down for the Z/28, 175-hp with the 350 V8 and 165-hp with the 305 V8. In canada you could still purchase the V8 backed by a 4 speed.  For the 1981 model year, 126,139 Camaros were produced, 43,272 being Z/28s.


1982

This year Camaro designers decided to change the look of the Camaro, the round look was out.  The angular belt line was more pronounced than ever before giving the Camaro a very squat appearance.  This was also the start of the hatchback.  This new  Camaro design was also the most aerodynamic car GM ever produced to this point, the drag coefficient was a remarkable .368 and was around 500 pounds lighter than the 1981 design.  The solid rear axle remained but coil springs replaced the leaf springs and other changes were made to give the Camaro better handling and ride, the front suspension also sported a strut tower, another new feature of the Camaro.  From 82-86 the Camaro came with the LG4, a 305 with TBI, not known for it's great performance at only 145 HP.  The Z28 models came with the Cross-Fire injection that boosted HP ratings up to 165 and they only came with an automatic transmission.  For the 82-83 years the Z28 had some weight reduction in the form of a fiberglass hood.  But, the new look was well liked by the public with over 60,000 more units being sold than in 1981.  Can you believe that a 4 cylinder motor was standard in the sport coupe Camaro until 1986!  It was a 151 cubic inch motor with a rocking 90 horsepower.

1983

This year the Camaro saw the introduction of  an optional 5 speed manual that came standard in the Berlinetta and Z28.  The Z28 also sported the High Output version of the 305 that increased HP by 10.  This year along with 1984 only 3 Camaro options were available, the sport  coupe, Z28 and the Berlinetta Though sales figures dropped from the previous year the Camaro was still doing well with 154,381 units sold.

1984

In 1984 the government required the Central High Mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL).  GM also made several advancements in engine management that meant more power while remaining in the EPA's emissions requirements.  This was also the 3rd best selling year of the Camaro with a awesome 261,591 units sold.

1985 - 1986

1985 saw the birth of the IROC Camaro, for the International Race of Champions.  21,177 IROC's sold in 85 with more than double that in 86 at 49,585.  In 1985  of Cross-Fire and throttle body injection were replaced in all Camaros with Tuned Port Injection that offered more power, better throttle response and was more reliable. 

1987

This was the return year of the 350, which was highly anticipated by Camaro enthusiasts.  This new 350 put out 225 HP and also this year came the offering of a convertible, the first Camaro Convertible since 1969.  Because of the weaker structural integrity of a convertible the 350 was not offered in these models.  This was also the year that the Berlinetta was permanently discontinued and the Z28 took a vacation starting in 1988.

1988

Now that the Z28 was gone the IROC-Z was born, this model attracted mostly teenagers and those in their early 20's.  You could get this model in coupe or a convertible, though the coupe proved to be much more popular.

1989

1989 offered an option package that was created for the SCCA's newest race category, the Showroom Stock.  This package was known as the 1LE and consisted of 4 wheel disc brakes, a "true" dual exhaust, an engine oil cooler and performance tires.  This package was available to those who ordered an IROC-Z combined with the RPO G92 performance rear axle option.  For those who did not want A/C the car came with a factory installed aluminum driveshaft, revised damping, a high capacity fuel pump with and anti-slosh baffle in the gas tank to prevent fuel starvation during hard cornering as well as heavy duty front brakes.

Also, 1989 saw the return of the Rally Sport model, the RS coupe proved to be the most popular Camaro of that year selling over 83,000 with the 1LE package at only 111.  The 1LE is still available for those who know the proper options packages when ordering.

1990

This year offered an airbag in the drivers wheel due to federally mandated passive restraint systems.  1990 also saw a new low for Camaro sales and it was one that would not be matched again, just under 35,000 cars were sold.

1991

The IROC-Z disappeared and the Z28 returned in both coupe and convertible form and Chevy also began to combine options under group packages to simplify the order process.  The spoiler was also raised on the Z28, differing from the usual hatch mounted spoiler the rest of the 3rd gens had.  Sales had also jumped back up to over 100,000 units.

1992

The 25th anniversary of the Camaro offered a special Heritage Package option that featured twin racing stripes over the hood and trunk, a body color grille, black out treatment and special badges, more than 10% of the Camaros produced this year had this package.  Engine options remained the same for this model.  This year also saw the highest sales of the 1LE package at 705 units.

1993

The start of the 4th generation of Camaros was not based only on looks but also performance.  The interior and exterior of the car were totally redesigned to give it a more sleek look, with body panels that had curves and no hard edges, the interior saw rounded soft, profiles emerge.  The rear suspension remained similar to the third generation but the front was all new with a short-and-long-arm-style suspension to give the car awesome handling ability.  The LT1 was  introduced in Z28's and put out 275 HP, base models still carried a 6 cylinder but it was increased to 207 cubic inches and 160 HP.  No convertibles were offered but 10% of all Camaros had t-tops.

1994

This year the power convertible top and a new six speed Borg-Warner transmission were introduced.  Unfortunately a computer-aided gear selection function (CAGS) was installed to keep the car within fuel economy goals.   The CAGS forced the driver to shift from first to fourth gear during low RPM shifts, luckily aftermarket plug-ins were developed that allowed for shifting from first to second gear at any RPM.  1994 saw sales figures jump to near 120,000.

1995

A traction control system called Acceleration Slip Regulation that used both a combination of engine and braking power was installed.  Halfway through 1995 the 3.8 liter V6 became available that had a 200HP rating.  Sales jumped to over 120,000.  1995 was the last year Camaros saw over 100,000 produced in a year.

1996

In 1996 the RS model returned that came with a base 3.8 liter engine and the RS looks package.  Also, the big news was that the SS was once again available, being made by SLP Engineering out of Montreal.  The SS was a Z28 with the following options:  RPO R7T, QLC (tires measuring 245/50ZR 16), and the GU5 (performance axle ratio, for automatics only).  The 350 engine was still a stock LT1 but the Z28 hood was replaced with a NACA ducted hood with functional RAM air and the exhaust manifolds were ported, this all pushed 305 ponies out of the motor.  An optional exhaust added another 5HP.  The QLC option that was supposed to offer 16 inch tires actually turned out to be a 150mph speedometer and unlimited top end speed computer.  For wheels a set of corvette 17 x 9 inch alloy rims with 245/40 ZR17 tires were bolted on.  

1997

The 1997 Camaro style remained unchanged except for the instrument panel and refined seats.  This year was also the 30th anniversary of the Camaro and as expected a 30th anniversary edition was available in coupe or convertible form.  Twin anniversary Camaros where the pace cars for the Brickyard 400 in 1997.

1998 - 1999

In 1998 the LS1 made it debut in Camaros.  It was an all aluminum 350 block that would put the Z28 in the low 13 second quarter mile times with 335 pound feet of torque and 305 HP.  It also came with a  brand new plastic intake manifold to keep air temps down and it dramatically decreased the weight.  New brakes with larger disks were standard on the Z28 as well as a refined Acceleration Slip Regulation system.  An aluminum driveshaft and Torsen heavy-duty limited-slip differential also were put into the Z's.  

Starting in 1998 the SS's were no longer Z28s that were converted by SLP to an SS.  The SS cars were all built at the St. Therese plant as SS's and then sent to SLP for a different hood, spoiler Bilstein suspension, Hurst shifter and a few minor other mods.  The LS1 was given minor mods in-house to bring it up to 320HP but a free-flow exhaust.

2000 - 2002

All 2000 - 2002 Camaro's were built at the Ste. Therese plant.

2009-Present

March 2009 saw the production of the Camaro being once again as a 2010 model year car, more than 3 years after we saw the concept debuted at the North American International Auto Show.  The look was that of a modern car influenced by the previous years of the cars.  Several different models were available as well as special editions such as the Transformers Special Edition based on the "Bumblebee" character of the newest Transformers movies that helped to make the car so popular.

 

 


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