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Chevrolet Camaro



History

First Generation

1967-1969



Click to see fullsize image



Introduction: After two years of watching the Ford Mustang enjoy tremendous success, General Motors finally launched its entry into the pony car segment, the Chevrolet Camaro. Although available with a mediocre six cylinder for volume sales, the Camaro could be equipped with several V8s and a myriad of performance options. Then, of course, was the famous Regular Production Code, Z/28, that would change the industry's view of pony cars.


1967 Chevrolet Camaro






Comments: Inspired by the success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet launched its own pony car, the Camaro. Chevrolet stated that the "Camaro" was named after the French word for "comrade," although some linguists argued that it was actually Spanish for a type of shrimp. Not exactly an awe aspiring name for a new pony car. Luckily, the Camaro had the muscle to back up its case. The Camaro was based on the upcomming 1968 Chevy Nova platform, and featured a unibody structure from the windshield and firewall back, with a separate steel rail subframe for everything up front. The Camaro was available from the start in hardtop coupe and covertible body styles, and could be order with nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer accessories, including three main option packages and a choice of four different engines. The RS package included numerous cosmetic changes including a blacked out grill with hidden headlights, revised parking and tail lights, upgraded interior trim, and RS badging. Of greater interest to enthusiasts was the SS package which included as standard equipment a modified 350 cid V8 (the first 350 engine Chevy ever offered) with an available 396 cid big block producing 325bhp (L35) and later a 375bhp version, along with simulated air-intakes on the hood, special bumble bee striping, and a blacked out grill. It was possible to order both the RS and SS packages, and get a RS/SS Camaro, in which case the RS badging took precedence. Camaro popularity soared when a RS/SS Convertible with the 396 paced the 1967 Indianapolis 500 race.

In December 1966, Chevrolet then quietly released one of the most famous options codes of all time, option Z-28. Unpublicized and unknown by most of the buying public (and most Chevrolet sales people for that matter) and not mentioned in any sales literature, the only way someone could order the Z-28 package was to order a base Camaro with the Z-28 option, mandatory front disc brakes with power assist, and the Muncie 4-speed transmission. You could not order the SS package, automatic transmission, air conditioning, or the convertible. What you got was a unique 302 cid small block (Non-California emission cars were labeled MO while California emission engines were labeled MP) that was created by taking the 327 block and installing the short-stroke 283 crank. Specifically designed to compete in the Club of America Trans Am racing series which placed a 305 cid limit on its entries, the Z-28 was available to the public solely to qualify the car for racing. Advertised horsepower was listed at just 290bhp, which was not very impressive until one hooked it up to a dyno and got actual readings of 360-400 bhp. The Z-28 also came with a competition suspension, broad racing stripes on the hood and trunklid and could be combined with the RS option package. There was no Z-28 badging at all, lest it attract to much attention. The Z-28 proved to be difficult to launch on the street because its high reving engine was lethargic under 4000rpm and worked best when it was shifted at 7500rpm (!). Once it got going, the Z28 was tough to beat and boosted a 140mph top speed and numerous racing victories. Only 602 Z-28s were sold in 1967, making it a truly desirable collectable.

Production:
RS: 64,842
SS: 34,411
Z-28: 609

Engines:
230 I6 140bhp.
250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
(Z-28) 302 V8 290bhp @ 5800rpm, 290lb-ft @ 4200rpm.
327 V8 210bhp.
327 V8 275bhp.
350 V8 255bhp.
(SS350) 350 V8 295bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.

Performance:
(Z-28) 302/290bhp: 0-60 in 6.9 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.85 sec @ 101mph.
(SS350) 350/295: 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds @ 90 mph.
(SS396) 396/325bhp: 0-60 in 6.0 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.5 sec @ 99mph.


1968 Chevrolet Camaro






Comments: The 1968 received minor changes for its second year. The grill took on a more horizontal look while the vent windows were dropped and "Astro Ventilation" (i.e. flow-through ventilation) was added. Side marker lights were added while the SS396 received revised chromed hood inserts (the SS350s stayed with the 1967 styling). Underneath, the 1967 Camaros pesky axle tramp was cured by the addition of multi-leaf rear springs to replace the single-leaf units and rear shock absorbers were now staggered. A new 350bhp 396cid option for the SS was added, while the Z-28 option (now just labeled MO) actually received some publicity and sold 7,199 units. The Z-28s were now easier to spot as they sported Z-28 or 302 badges.

Production:
RS: 40,977
SS: 27,884
Z-28: 7,199

Engines:
230 I6 140bhp.
250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
327 V8 210bhp.
327 V8 275bhp.
350 V8 255bhp.
(SS350) 350 V8 295bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 350bhp @ 5200rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.

Performance:
(SS396) 396/325bhp: 0-60 in 6.6 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 94mph.


1969 Chevrolet Camaro






Comments: 1969 saw several noteworthy changes to the Camaro. The grill became deeper set, the taillamps were longer and thinner and broken into three segments. A heavy "eye-brow" crease was added on the both sides of the car extending from the front wheel well to the rear wheel well. A matching crease went from the rear wheel well to the rear quarter panel. The Camaro also received new fenders, door skins, rear quarter-panels, grille and taillights which gave it a wider, lower appearance. Inside, the Camaro received a redesigned dash and more comfortable seats. Endura rubber bumpers were available on the Camaro as well as two ram air induction systems for the SS. The first was a new special hood with a rear facing inlet and cold-air duct underneath the hood. The second was a dealer installed cowl plenum kit that came with a special air cleaner and adapter. No special hood was needed. 1969 saw an explosion in engine choices. On the low-performance side, a new 307 V8 (a 327 crank in a 283 block) rated at 200bhp was added and a new 350 V8 rated at 255 bhp replaced the more powerful 327 engine. The Z28 continued with its seriously under-rated 302 (now called DZ) engine. The RS package was still popular, and included a special grill with concealed headlights (of a ribbed design) and washers, chrome wheel well moldings, drip rails, pinstripes, and RS badging. The SS standard 350 received a slight power boost to 300 bhp while the 396 engines continued in 325/350/375 bhp versions. Once again, a white RS/SS convertible with the 396 engine paced the Indianapolis 500 race, and Chevy offered replica versions as white convertibles with orange stripes and orange houndstooth upholstery (though most replicas were powered by 350 engines. Because of their collectibility, there are many "fake" 1969 Pace Car replicas out in the collector market so be careful if you are planning on buying one.

But real performance is more than special upholstery and the big news for 1969 was the availability of special 427 cid V8 equipped Camaros. The first were special dealer-installed units, most notably the Yenko Camaro 427. Yenko Sports Cars, based in Pennsylvania, along with other Chevy dealers such as Nickey in Chicago, Dana in California, and Baldwin-Motion in New York, would install the L72 427 cid block, rated at 425bhp by Chevrolet, ordered under the Central Office Production Order System (COPO) code 9562 into a buyer's Camaro. The Yenko Camaro 427 is a typical example: it came from the factory with no ornamentation, badging, and the 427 engine in a crate. Yenko installed the 427 block, changed the rating to a more realistic 450bhp, and added 15-inch rally wheels, bigger front roll bar, and sYc (Yenko Sports Car) badging. A full complement of racing add ons were available and sub 13 second quarter miles were possible with a few more dollars.

Overshadowing these dealer modified Camaros was the factory Camaro ZL1. Specially designed to compete in the NHRA Super Stock drag classes, Chevrolet made it an option under the COPO system (code 9560). The cars began as SS396/375bhp Camaros with the F41 suspension. The SS trim and engine were deleted, and the 427 engine, cowl-induction hood, front disc brakes, a choice of heavy duty 4 speed transmissions or Turbo Hydra-matic, and a 4:10 posi axle were added. But instead of the regular iron-block and head L72 found in the dealer installed Camaros, the ZL1 sported aluminum heads and the first aluminum block ever made by Chevrolet. It shared the L88 aluminum head/iron block's engine rating of 430 bhp but made closer to 500 bhp -- making it probably the most powerful engine Chevrolet ever offered to the public. And the engine weighed just 500 pounds, the same as Chevy's 327 small block. The car was blessed with a 5 year/50,000 mile warranty and was fully street legal. With factory exhausts and tires, it turned low 13s; with headers and slicks, it could turn 11.6s @ 122mph. This was the fastest car ever produced by Chevrolet. Performance had its price -- $4,160 for the ZL1 engine alone pushing the price of the Camaro ZL1 to an unbelieveable $7,200 (about double the price for a SS396 Camaro). Chevy needed to build 50 to qualify the car for racing, and in the end built 69 Camaros and 2 Corvettes with the ZL-1 engine. Their high price made them difficult to sell and at least 12 engines were removed and about 30 cars were returned back to Chevrolet. It took until the early 1970s to sell them all. One can only wonder what they are worth today.

Production of the 1969 Camaros continued into the beginning of 1970 as the all new 1970 Camaros were not released until mid 1970. To add to the confusion, some late 1969 cars were titled as 1970 models.

Production:
RS: 37,773
SS: 33,980
Z-28: 19,014

Engines:
250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
Z28: 302 V8 290bhp @ 5800rpm, 290lb-ft @ 4200rpm.
307 V8 200bhp @ 4600rpm, 300lb-ft @ 2400rpm.
327 V8 210bhp.
327 V8 275bhp.
350 LM1 V8 255bhp.
(SS350) 350 V8 300bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 350bhp @ 5200rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.
(COPO 9561) 427 V8 425bhp @ 5600rpm, 460lb-ft @ 4000rpm.
(COPO 9560) 427 V8 430bhp @ 5200rpm, 450lb-ft @ 4400rpm.

Performance:
(Z-28) 302/290bhp: 0-60 in 7.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.12 sec @ 94.8mph.
(SS396) 396/375bhp: 0-60 in 6.8 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.7 sec @ 98.7mph.
(COPO 9561) 427/425bhp: 0-60 in 5.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.5 sec @ 102mph.
(COPO 9560) 427/430bhp: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.16 sec @ 110 mph.








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