(Image of a 1868 Chevrolet Camaro)
First Generation Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro was quickly designed by GM to compete with the new Ford Mustang, which was selling like crazy. Tthe 1967 Camaro was designed off the new Nova model platform, and the base model had a 230 ci straight six engine with 140 horsepower. There were many available options for more performance and trim packaging, called the RS and SS packages. The RS (Rally Sport) package had deluxe interior trim, and hidden headlights. The SS (Super Sport) package had more decorations, SS badging, heavy duty suspension, and larger tires on 14" wheels. A 350 ci small block V8 was available, giving this car some real muscle. The official pace car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500 was a convertible with the RS and SS packages, powered by a 396 ci engine. The Z/28 option was available a few months after the Camaro was released, and had a 302 ci V8 with 290 horsepower with better suspension.
Not much changed for the next model year. Chevrolet removed the side vent wing windows on the 1968 Camaro, and there were more body style changes for the 1969 Camaro. The 1969 Camaro gained a wider and lower profile due to new fenders, doors, quarter panels, grille and taillights. The interior was updated with a newer dash and more comfortable seating. The 1969 Camaro could possibly be the model with the most engine options available ever by GM. At the low end, you could get a 200 horsepower 307 ci small block V8. 327 ci and 350 ci engines were also available. The most exciting engines were the COPO (Central Office Production Orders) 9560 and 9561 engine options.
The COPO options turned the 1969 Camaro into a real racing threat. The COPO 9561 was a basic Camaro (no trim options) with a 427 ci all-iron big block V8 with 425 horsepower. 1,015 of these were built, and most were delivered to the Yenko Chevrolet dealership in Pennsylvania where they modified the car even more to build thier signature "Yenko Camaro". The real deal was the COPO 9560, and only 69 were built. This Camaro had an all aluminum 427 ci big block V8 engine, named the ZL-1. This engine was also rated at 425 horsepower, but this was very conservative. Some believe the output was more like 500 horsepower. Adding this lightweight aluminum engine with that much horsepower made this Camaro a monster.
Second Generation Camaro
This generation of Camaro would have a long life, nearly 12 years. The styling was taken after the Ferrari and became bigger and heavier, and throughout the 1970's the engine power would decrease significantly due to stricter emission standards and the fuel embargos. By 1975 the most powerful engine only put out a pathetic 155 horsepower, but the 1975 Camaro sold well. 1977 was the first year the Camaro was able to outsell the Mustang. America was not accepting the Mustang II changes. 282,571 Camaro's were sold in 1979, making it the most successful year for Camaro sales ever. 1980 Camaro sales fell over the cliff, nearly cut in half to 152,000 due to another fuel crisis and the second generation model getting old to the American consumer.
Third Generation Camaro
The 1982 Camaro was an all new model, considered the first new Camaro style since 1967, considering the second generation still had a lot of frame design carried over from the first generation. The third generation Camaro did not have front subframes or leaf spring rear suspensiosn. The front was held up with a strut system, and the rear was held up by a torque arm and coil springs. The 1982 Camaro was also the forst Camaro to have fuel injection, four speed automatic transmission, a five speed manual, four cylinder engines (ouch!), 16" wheels, and a hatchback body. Engine power would start to ramp up each year, and by 1985 the new IROC-Z was available, with 215 horsepower. By 1987 that engine reached 225 horsepower, making it the strongest Camaro engine in 13 years.
Fourth Generation Camaro
Chevrolet heavily redesigned the Camaro for the next generation, and increased engine output through the next few years. When the 3800 V6 became the base engine in 1996, the least powerful 1996 Camaro had more power than the most powerful 1984 Camaro. For 1998, the new all aluminum LS-1 V8 was an option, with output at 305 horsepower. The optional ram-air induction system boosted it to 320 horsepower. Styling did not change much from 1998, and by 2002 the Camaro celebrated it's last year with a 35th Anniversary package sporting special stripes and logos.