Since Ford’s unveiling of the Mustang in April 1964, General Motors sat back and watched Ford’s runaway success. Although Chevrolet had the European styled Corvair in its arsenal since 1960, poor press from Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at Any Speed” placed a notable dent in sales. In late-1964, Chevrolet Motor Division was given the mission to develop a pony car of their own. Chevrolet joined the pony car race with the first Camaro rolling off the assembly line on August 29th, 1966.
The Camaro was attractively priced $2,572.00 and was available as a sports coupe and convertible. Buyers had the choice of a wide variety of powerplants, from the thrifty 230 inline-six to the 327 V-8 for the standard Camaro. Thrill seekers gravitated toward the Super Sport models, a hot commodity on the strip and the streets.
The SS package featured only V-8 engines such as the 325 horsepower 350-cid small-block or the choice of two different 396-cid big-block V-8s. Suspension and brakes were also beefed up to handle the additional power. The most visually striking of the Camaro family was the Rally-Sport, which featured a blacked-out grill with hideaway headlights. The RS package could be ordered in conjunction with the SS package, making the Camaro a powerful and sleek Mustang eating beast.
Rarest of the pack
The rarest and most desirable Camaros were born for racing. Camaro became a legend in the SCCA Trans-Am series where the famous turnkey race car, the Camaro Z-28, battled the Mustang on racetracks across the country. Chevrolet developed the big-block equipped ZL1 specifically for the dragstrip. In a time when Chevrolet was offering very little factory support in motorsports, the Z-28 and ZL1 homologation cars carried the torch on a grassroots level, and today are among the most expensive pony cars to hit the auction block.
Camaro rolls through the years
Chevrolet continued production of the Camaro for four generations, and like all muscle cars, it adapted to the times to survive. This meant becoming leaner in the ‘70s and more streamlined from the ‘80s into the 2000s. In 2002, the Camaro was cancelled along with its Pontiac stablemate, the Firebird, for the 2003 model year due to the market’s 50% decrease in demand for sports cars since 1990. Pontiac’s Firebird was replaced by the reborn GTO. While Chevrolet had Camaro on hiatus, fan renderings of a new Camaro circulated online.
The Camaro dry spell ended in 2007 with the introduction of the Camaro concept at the North America Auto Show. This concept borrowed design cues from the 1969 Camaro and signaled the rebirth of the legend. That summer the concept Camaro was the hero car in the live action adaptation Transformers movie on the big screen. This move introduced Camaro to a new generation of enthusiasts. Pre-orders for the 2010 Camaro opened in October 2007 and dealers noted that the demand largely outpaced initial production.
The Legend Continues
Today the Camaro remains a favorite among enthusiasts on and off the racetrack. Continuing its mission of rivaling the Ford Mustang and in doing so making itself a legend. Want to experience this American classic yourself? Cruise to DriveShare and check out our selection of vintage and modern Chevrolet Camaros.