As the Camaro Turns 50, Take a Look at Its Most Iconic Models

November 24th, 2016 by

classic Camaros in Lexington, KYWith 50 years of history behind it, the Camaro family has iconic models that demonstrate the latest innovations of the time. Keep reading to learn how this model became the high-performance vehicle it is today.

The Very First Camaro

The Camaro was born in 1967 as the Chevrolet Camaro Sport Coupe. Its body was based on the upcoming Chevy II Nova, using the same unibody platform and front subframe. There were five available engines to choose from, with a 140 horsepower 3.8-liter straight six engine for the base model.

The First Racing Camaro

The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 offered the best handling choice of all the Camaros that year, which is probably why it was turned into a Trans-Am race car for driver Mark Donohue. He did well with it, thanks to the 4.9-liter high-compression V8 engine that put out 290 horsepower. The dual hood and trunk stripes probably didn’t hurt, either. Donohue won three times in 1967, 10 times in 1968, and eight times in 1969.

The Rarest Camaro

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the 1969 ZL-1 Camaro. Only 69 models were built, making it one of the most rare and valuable vehicles in the world. Built specifically for drag racing, the aluminum ZL-1 big block 4.0-liter racing engine produced an incredible 430 horsepower. It was available through special order only through COPO.

The Camaro of the ’70s

Several major style changes appeared in the 1970s. In 1974, Chevrolet was forced to redesign the Camaro’s nose and tail to meet new federal bumper regulations. 1977 saw the appearance of the legendary Camaro Z28. With a 350 small block four-barrel carburetor and an upgraded chassis, it produced 185 horsepower, which was quite a lot at the time. In 1978, the iconic T-top roof option became available for the first time with the Chevrolet Camaro Type LT.

The Camaro’s Engineering Breakthrough

The 1980s saw major changes to the Camaro’s engine and styling. The 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 introduced the hatchback design to the line as well as a new coil spring rear suspension and struts in the front. The performance jumped drastically in 1985 with the Chevrolet Camaro IROC; it came with a brand new Tuned Port Injection 5.0-liter V8 engine that was borrowed from the Corvette. This engine changed the game completely.

The Camaro Gets Smooth

Style changes in the 1990s transformed the Camaro’s sharp edges into the smoother contours seen in today’s models, starting with the 1993 Camaro Z28. Other significant changes include the larger rear spoiler and special 17-inch wheels added on the 1997 Camaro SS and the new face and compound headlights added to the 1999 Camaro Coupe. Now it’s looking familiar!

The Camaro’s Comeback

After stopping the line in 2002, Chevrolet brought the Camaro back in 2010. It brings old and new elements together, with the body based on an Australian Holden chassis and an overall design inspired by the 1969 Camaro. With its all-independent suspension and a 3.6-liter V6 engine generating 304 horsepower, it gave Camaro fans plenty to celebrate.

The Camaro has a rich history and, as time goes on, Chevrolet will bring more innovations to its designs. Whos knows? What’s new today could become a classic collector’s item in years to come.