by Kelley Timms The mid-sixties saw Camaro competing against



by Kelley Timms The mid-sixties saw Camaro competing against
by Kelley Timms
© Motor Trend 1966
The mid-sixties saw
Camaro competing against
Mustang for street and track
bragging rights while at the
same time GM and Ford
were competing for showroom sales. This era has
been etched in history as
the “Pony Car” Wars.
Since this is a special
Camaro issue, we
thought it might be
fun to run down the
timeline for the Camaro.
We’ll also be taking a look at
things that were happening
in the World of Camaro at
that time. Along the way
we’ll throw in a few weird
or rare Camaro options, just
for fun.
August 1964 – June 1966
The car initially known
just as the “F-car” was born
inside GM design studios
under the leadership of
Elliot M. “Pete” Estes. Many
names were considered for
the new car such as
Chaparral, Nova, Panther,
Wildcat, G-Mini, Gemini and
several others. Pictures do
exist of models actually
wearing the Chaparral and
Panther emblems. Pete finally settled on the word
“Camaro” from an obscure
French dictionary which
meant friend or companion.
10 June 2013 ChevyClassics
Sketches of “The Panther”
Photo of “The Panther”
© Motor Trend 1966
1966 - 1967
On September 21, 1966, the
Camaro was finally offered for
sale to the public; this was two
full years after the Mustang was
introduced. It was available in
coupe and convertible form
with power teams from a
thrifty 6-cylinder to the groundpounding 396 375HP Super
Sport big block. The Camaro
hit the big time with a fulllength movie, an off Broadway
play and a clothing line. Later
in 1966, the Z/28 with 602 units
produced and its high-winding
302ci engine was born to compete in the Trans-Am series.
Due to the market frenzy surrounding the Camaro, it paced
the Indianapolis 500 in 1967
and 100 “Festival” look-alike
Camaros were available for sale
to the public.
The Camaro stayed much
the same from 1967. Gone
were the vent windows.
Since the Camaro had competed in the 1967 SCCA
Trans Am series and it was
discovered Camaros were
extremely prone to wheel
hop under acceleration, the
rear shocks were staggered
in an effort to combat this
problem according to Paul
Van Valkenburg author of
Chevrolet-Racing. The D80
spoiler option was the first
GM option to go straight
from the clay model to the
production line. An extremely rare option this year was
the rear seat shoulder belts
(standard & deluxe) of
which only 133 units were
The Camaro changed its
looks with 2” wider sheet
metal on the body, ZL2 Cowl
Hoods and a more aggressive
stance. This year gave rise to
the awesome, all-aluminum
ZL1 engine in the COPO
Camaros of which only 69
were built to compete at the
drag strip. Meanwhile in the
Trans Am series, the dualquad, Crossram intake sitting
atop the 302 with headers
and transistorized ignition
was dominating the circuits.
A very rare option on the
1969 Camaro was the JL8
four wheel disc brakes
which could haul the
Camaro down to legal
speeds in a hurry! Only 206
units received this highly
desirable option. Production
continued on the 1969
Camaro well into February of
1970. As a result of the new
body design, the Camaro
was once again brought to
task to pace the Indianapolis
500 with 3,675 replicas available to the public.
The first year of the
Camaro’s Second Generation
saw a wider coupe body with
more flowing lines driven
strictly by the design group.
Because of this, radio antennas
found their way into the windshield. However, many of the
design flaws of “The Hugger”
suspension were fixed this year
which made the Camaro much
more fun to drive. The convertible was gone and would
not be available again until
1987. The SS 396 big block is
quite rare this year with only
600 units produced.
Not much changed in 1971
with exception of the highback seats which were adapted
from the Vega to replace the
1970 “Brick Headrest”, lowback seats. A rare option for
this year is the Muncie M22,
close ratio transmission with
only 1,290 units sold.
This year saw prices on
Camaro actually drop
because of the repeal of the
7% Federal excise tax.
However, the UAW struck
April 8, 1972 and severely limited and in some cases
ceased production altogether.
Because of this, one of the
rare options for this year is
the Z/28 with only 2,575 units
produced. This makes the
1972 Z/28 the 2nd rarest Z
behind the 1967 version.
This year marked the end
of the 2nd Generation
chrome bumper cars. Due to
USDOT crash standards
changing for minimal body
damage during 2.5 MPH or
less crashes, the ’73 Camaro
required many extra braces
for the front and rear bumper
to make this standard. Power
windows came back for the
first time since 1969 and it
wins as one of our rare
options with only 217 units
(unless we count the Trailer
Towing Package with only 28
units sold).
The Aluminum Bumper
era was ushered in this year
with a front fascia painted
body color above the
bumper. With the update of
the USDOT crash standards
the previous year; these
Camaros actually became 7”
longer with the bumper supported by springs to lessen
body crash damage. This was
the first year for High Energy
Ignition (HEI) in the
Camaro. 1974 was also the
last year for the Z/28 as the
Federal Government
stressed fuel efficiency over
performance. It appears the
1974 Camaro was more apt
to tow a trailer than the previous year, with 389 Trailer
Towing Packages sold.
1975 ushered in the “wrap
around” style rear window to
help alleviate blind spots. This
is the same year GM, under
Federal pressure to reduce
emissions, gave us the wonderful catalytic convertor. The
loop carpeting was replaced
with cut pile carpeting. But,
this may have been a late1974 switch according to
some sources. Sadly, the Z/28
was killed off due to more
pressure from the Federal
Government and nothing was
left to fill the void.
Except…You could go into
the dealer and order the
Type LT with the LM1 (the
most powerful V8 that year)
and the Z86 “Gymkhana”
suspension package. This
combo gave you the largest
V8 and a suspension package
with quick ratio steering and
big, fat sway bars. The box
was checked only 3,711 times
for the Gymkhana suspension package.
Keeping with the times,
GM kept the same body style
as the previous year and not
too much was different in
1976. Voltmeters became the
standard fare over the warning light or Amp meter.
Power brakes finally became
standard and the 305 V8
graced the engine compartment of the Camaro for the
first time. “Cruise Master”
cruise control wins the rare
option contest with only 990
units sold.
1977 saw the last year for
the Aluminum Bumper 2nd
generation Camaros. There
were not too many rare
options or “big news” for this
year except the Camaro finally outsold the Mustang and
the Z/28 was back! The Z/28
was its own separate model
this year rather than an
engine option. Intermittent
wipers were introduced with
16,190 units sold and the 4speed shift pattern changed
from a “reverse up” to a
“reverse down” configuration.
The “Urethane Nose” era
was ushered in this year and
received rave reviews from
ChevyClassics June 2013 11
the public. 1978 saw the 2
millionth Camaro being made
on May 11, 1978 and T-tops
were available for the first
time as RPO CC1 which were
installed in 9,875 Camaros.
There were not too many
rare options as the cars
became more “option rich”.
However, there was a very
rare color introduced in 1978
and only used that year
known as Yellow-Orange.
Only 2,311 cars received this
awesome hue. Looking
through and old paint chip
book, it appears to be a cross
between DOT road cone
orange and Cheez Whiz.
The body remained the
same for the most part with
different graphics packages
available for the different
models. This was the first
year for the 3-piece front
spoiler design that everyone
wants on their 1979-1981
Camaro. The biggest changes
were in the interior where
the dash went from the “Flat
Front” Style which had been
in use since 1970 to the more
modern “Wrap Around” Style.
One of the rarest options for
1979 was the UP5 AM/FM
radio (not Stereo) with the
CB and power antenna available at the princely sum of
$489.00, which would be
$1522.24 in today’s inflated
dollars– and you don’t even
get a GPS!
12 June 2013 ChevyClassics
Since the U.S. was under a
recovery of sorts from the gas
crunch, the new Camaro
debuted with subtle changes
to the exterior and interior
(i.e. 85 MPH speedo) and
major changes to the available engines to entice buyers
with fuel economy. This was
the first year for the V6.
California cars received the
Buick 231 engine and the
other 49 states received the
Chevy 229 to lessen weight
and improve fuel economy.
Parts store countermen have
been having nightmares since
because the average consumer had no idea GM
played “Musical Engines”.
This was the first year for the
functional, AIR INDUCTION
rear facing hood scoop on
the Z/28 which was a throwback to the ZL2 Cowl
Induction on the 1969
1981 marked the last year
for the Urethane Nose 2nd
generation Camaro and
closed the chapter on the 2nd
generation altogether. The
body was pretty much the
same as 1980 and the RS was
not available for the first time
since 1967. Under the hood,
the Camaro received an
upgrade with its first computer controlled engine known
as “Advanced Computer
Command Control”. The con-
sole housing is different this
year because the computer
module was hidden under
the front of the console
where the map pocket was
on previous years. Sales were
lackluster at best in 1981
(lowest since the strike of ’72)
due possibly in part to the
public getting word of the
release of the new 3rd generation Camaro.
1982 dawned with the
newly designed 3rd
Generation Camaro being the
Motor Trend car of the year.
The Camaro had undergone
a major change with the
wheelbase being shorter and
the weight being reduced by
almost 500 pounds. For the
fuel economy minded consumer, the Camaro was finally
available with a 4 cylinder
engine which was the “Iron
Duke” found in the 19751977 Pontiac Astre (Rebadged
Vega) models. Four wheel
disc brakes were available
again as an option since the
JL8 option in 1969. Once
again, the Camaro was
pressed into service to pace
the Indianapolis 500 and
6,360 Silver & Blue replicas
were again available for public consumption.
This year the Camaro
remained largely unchanged
over the previous year due to
the short production run in
1982. 1983 saw the first year
for a 5-speed transmission
and a 4-speed automatic
transmission in the Camaro.
Only available in 1982 &
1983, the LU5 V8 with the
Crossfire Injection was a
throwback to the Crossram
intake system of 1969. Later
in 1983, the HO engine
became available with its aluminum intake and Quadrajet
carb. This optional engine
proved to have more horsepower and better reliability in
the long run. The L69 engine
only mustered 3,223 units its
first year; but eventually
became the power plant of
choice in the Z/28 until the
debut of the IROC.
As 1984 dawned, accolades
poured in from the likes of
Car and Driver and Road &
Track which led to the Z/28
taking top honors over the
Corvette in the US. Unique to
the 3rd generation in 19841986 was the Berlinetta
model. The Berlinetta had
been around since 1979. But,
this “Starship Camaro” was
light-years ahead of its time
with its all-digital dash and
stalk mounted AM/FM
Cassette player which was
attached to the console forward of the gear selector. One
odd option to the Camaro in
1984 was the ’84 Sarajevo
Olympics Package which consisted of red/white/blue
stripes and Winter Olympic
decal emblems placed on
3,722 all white cars.
The Camaro remained virtually unchanged on the
outside with the exception
being a new front fascia and
grille treatment, rear tail
light changes and a new
color palette to choose
from. A new option which
has since gone down in
automotive history was the
B4Z package. Checking that
box on the order form for
your Z/28 in 1985 got you
the all-out performance
IROC (International Race Of
Champions) package which
boosted the Camaro’s performance to .92G on the
skidpad and low 7 second
0-60 mph times straight off
of the showroom floor. Midyear in 1985, the venerable
L69 HO engine (ironically
only available in the IROC
with a manual transmission)
began its slide from grace
(2,497 units in ’85 to 74 in
’86) in favor of the more
powerful LB9.
This year saw the death
of the Berlinetta Starship
Camaro with only 4,479
units sold due to an odd
change in the automotive
market. Apparently, consumers wanted more performance over bells and
whistles…Imagine that?!
The 5-speed was the only
choice for a manual transmission for that year and
the third brake light
appeared in the compound
curve rear window. The
IROC remained as an option
package. Two colors: Light
Brown and Copper were
deleted from the palette
that year with four Camaros
painted light brown and two
in the copper hue. Looking
in the paint chip book, we
can see why they were
deleted. I can’t really imagine a Light Brown IROC-Z.
The convertible was finally resurrected from 1969
this year in a very short production run. These convertibles were not actually built
by GM; but rather conversions of T-top models done
by ASC. The convertible
could be ordered in any fla-
vor, including the IROC-Z.
The low production option
for 1987 was the Sport Coupe
Convertible with only 263
units sold. It is fair to say that
ASC converted Camaros for
their customers as well, and
some 1986 convertibles not
sold through Chevy dealers
have been documented.
1988 saw the Z/28 fade into
obscurity again in favor of the
IROC-Z that took its place.
Two models were available in
coupe or convertible: the
Sport Coupe and the IROC-Z.
However, RS models were
available in some areas to the
tune of 7,038 units. These
were V6 cars designed to look
good and save fuel. There
were also around eight 1LE
Camaros made in the Van
Nuys Assembly Plant. More
about the 1LE shortly…
This year saw the Sport
Coupe fall by the wayside and
be replaced by the RS. Now,
the Camaro stable consisted
of the coupe and convertible
RS and IROC-Z. A curious little option was the 1LE.
Checking the right boxes on
the order form (without Air
Conditioning) tripped the
light fantastic and brought
you a Camaro to be used on
the SCCA Showroom Stock
Class circuit with big Corvette
brakes, aluminum driveshaft
and items removed for
weight savings. Chevrolet
built around 111 1LE
Camaros and they are highly
sought after today.
First year for the supplemental restraint system
required by the Federal
Government (airbags, in layman’s terms.) Models were
the same as 1989 and much
remained unchanged. The
1LE saw only 62 units built.
Chevrolet did not renew
their contract with the
International Race of
Champions, so that was the
end of the IROC-Z. The Z/28
returned to active duty with
the RS again in coupe or convertible form. The 1LE could
be ordered under the Z/28,
which was done 478 times. A
new package appeared this
year which was the B4C
Special Service Package or
“Police” package. The B4C
got you an RS with the riproaring Z/28 drivetrain–
which was offered for sale to
police departments nationwide. 592 were sold.
1992 was the 25th
Anniversary of the Camaro
and all dashes had an emblem
touting this fact. The RS and
Z/28 were back in coupe and
convertible and a “Heritage
Package” was available, which
gave your Camaro the stereo
stripes up the hood and
down the deck. 705 1LE cars
and 589 B4C cars were built
that year. 1992 closed out
unremarkably as the end of
the 3rd generation.
This concludes our visit
down the Camaro timeline.
We chose to end it here
because the 4th generation
Camaro became more and
more “cookie cutter” and
options began to become
enclosed in packages. Not to
say the 4th gens aren’t cool.
We like the 1995 SS Z/28,
1997 30th Anniversary, 2002
35th Anniversary models
and the GMMG models like
the Tom Henry, Berger and
Intimidator SS Camaros. We
realize in our option list
there are some options like
block heaters and high altitude rear end ratios that
had lower production numbers that we did not include
due to their absence of the
cool factor.
ChevyClassics June 2013 13