The Best Camaros From the ’60s
Since there is so much hype built up around the 2016 Chevy Camaro, available now at Kentucky Chevy dealers, and its legendary performance, it’s important to remember where it came from. The Camaro has had a history with many ups and downs, and over the years there have been extremely successful models, and some that weren’t so successful. With that being said, let’s take a look back at the beginning, where three Camaros from the ‘60s were the ones to begin forging that legend.
These Camaros are ranked chronologically, not based on which one was best, since they have all garnered fame and respect since their inception. Here’s the 3 best Camaros from the ‘60s, and what they contributed to the Camaro legend.
1967: The Original
Apart from being the first Camaro, the original one made the list because of it’s devilishly good looks. Many consumers agree that it’s not the best performing; but that’s not what this article is about. It’s about what they each brought to the table, and this one brought good looks. The original Camaro was a refined and elegant muscle car, especially for it’s day. It still looked muscular, but it was a more toned and fit shape. Not as bulging in the front, fenders, and back as some of the other muscle cars of the time. Thanks to the original designer, Bill Mitchell, this iconic Camaro would become the one that future Camaros would be based off of; and still look back at it with envy.
Apart from these handsome looks, the original Camaro could also be partly responsible for why the 2016 model is such a customizable and attainable vehicle. The original Camaro had the availability of 81 factory options, plus 41 dealer accessories. This made the original Camaro one of the most versatile and personalized muscle car on the market, allowing consumers to enjoy a vehicle they personalized.
While it may not have been the best performing one in the ‘60s, this Camaro had the design that sparked a legacy for one of the greatest muscle cars on earth today.
1968 Camaro Z/28
The Camaro Z/28 from ’68 is a vehicle that took the Camaro and raised it to legendary new heights, particularly on the track. GM wouldn’t let Chevy build a Camaro for/establish a Trans-Am racing team, and not everyone was happy about that. Therefore, some enthusiasts set out to find someone who would create a race-capable Camaro. They found Roger Penske, and with his engineers they turned the Camaro into a track monster. This Camaro was able to dominate the SCCA Trans-Am series back-to-back in 1968, and then again in 1969.
In order for the Z/28 to handle its newfound calling, there needed to be some mechanical upgrades. Most importantly, the suspension and brake components were upgraded. They were both now considered “heavy duty,” and the enhanced suspension allowed the driver of the Z/28 to effectively handle it at high speeds. On top of this, the upgraded brakes also allowed for the driver to stop much quicker and safer than the conventional brakes on the non-racing model.
What did this contribute to the Camaro legacy? For starters, it was the first Camaro ever made to be considered track worthy. The most important thing it did for the Camaro though, is garner it fame outside of the Chevy community. With the creation of the Z/28, and it’s capabilities, it was finally able to step out from the Mustang’s shadow. This fame was surely the major reason as to why the Camaro was so popular over the years, and why it continues to be one of the most popular muscle cars in 2016.
1969 Camaro ZL-1
When you talk to a Camaro fan, they will talk about the one they drive… and then about the one they wish they owned. I know I said these models were ranked chronologically, and all of them are an important piece of Camaro history. But, as far as legends go, this is probably the biggest one out there.
Numerous fans and fanatics agree that this is still the most exotic Camaro to date. Apart from its extremely handsome looks, this ZL-1 was also the most powerful Camaro until the car’s revival in the early 2000s. This was a Camaro with a big-block engine like the world had never seen; it was an all aluminum 427 cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 that was rated at an absurd 430 horsepower. Thanks to the insane amount of horsepower, along with the 160 pound weight loss from switching over to aluminum for the engine block, this ZL-1 could move; it was able to hit 0-60 mph in just 7.5 seconds. While that might seem slow compared to the 2016 Camaro SS that can hit 0-60 mph in just 4 seconds, this Camaro was a speed demon at the time.
The fact that this model’s engine only gets 25 less horsepower than the 2016 models strongest engine should be an indicator at just how powerful this ’69 Camaro really was. It set legendary track records for the Camaro, and further bolstered this vehicles already stellar reputation. It’s considered the most coveted Camaro by many people today. Only 69 were sold, because the new engine increased the price of this Camaro significantly. Therefore, there aren’t many out there, and this fact also makes it the rarest Camaro of all time.
These are considered by many to be the 3 best Camaros from the ‘60s, and ones that have contributed greatly to the Camaro’s legacy. Without them, the Camaro might not be as well-developed as it is now, and it would have a much more barren history. The original Camaro’s design is the one that sparked inspiration for many years to come, and is probably one of the most iconic designs on the car market. The 1968 Z/28 was the one that allowed the Camaro name to garner fame and step out from the Mustang’s shadow; and the ZL-1 was the Camaro that took the vehicles performance to record-breaking new heights.
Until today, where the 2016 Camaro has all of these qualities and much more. A flawlessly aerodynamic and handsome design, combined with earth-shattering performance and exceptional engineering; everything the Camaro was known best for in the ‘60s.