When the Ford Mustang was released in 1995, it was a sensation. Lee Iacocca, then the president of Ford, was behind the development of the Mustang and, boy did he nail it. In its first year, Ford sold 559,500 Mustangs and in the second year, 607,500. This essentially was the first salvo in Detroit’s new war of the pony cars.
General Motors knew they needed a piece of the action but they took their time and, in 1967, responded with , and was almost as big a hit as the Mustang. The battle for pony car supremacy that its introduction started continues to this day.
In the last 50 years, Chevrolet’s Camaro has gone through 5 generations and remains a popular sports car. Let’s take a look at the fascinating evolution of this American icon.
General Motors joined the new pony car market in 1967. After a great deal of research and design, the automaker’s Chevrolet group released the Camaro. It was a good-looking car with more curves than the angular Mustang and offered a bevy of cosmetic, comfort and performance options to satisfy a wide range of buyers. The most popular Camaro model was a base coupe with a 327-cid small-block V-8 and a Powerglide automatic transmission.
Establishing street credibility for the Camaro were the bigger engines. The SS package offered a 350 cube small block and a 396-cube big block was available. Those who desired sports car-like handling had the option of the special Z28 Special Performance Package, which included an exclusive 290-horse 302 and handling upgrades that made the Camaro eligible for the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) road racing series.
The second generation Camaro went through a cosmetic redesign that incorporated a Euro-flavored fastback look. Rumors are that the design was inspired by the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. Engines that could be equipped ranged from the 4 cyl “Iron Duke” up to several big block V8s.
The second-generation Z28 was powered by the Corvette’s solid-lifter LT-1 350 engine, switching to the hydraulic-cam L82 for the 1973 model year. The SS stayed through 1972, offering a choice of a small-block or big-block engine.
Sales softened in the early 1970s due to a sluggish economy, which was made worse by a nasty recession that followed and lasted from 1973 to 1975. Thankfully, Camaro sales rebounded in 1976, and in 1977, the Z28 returned as a separate model, now fitted with a powerful 350-inch four-barrel engine. In 1979, Chevrolet set the Camaro’s all-time sales record with 282,571 units sold.
The third generation Camaro sported a new design that was slightly downsized from the previous generation. The selection of engines was still wide but ended with the 350 V8 Chevrolet. Big blocks were not available in standard models from the factory. The Z28 impressed with its handling and an optional 190-horse 5-liter H.O. A 5-speed manual transmission was made available in 1983, while the convertible and the 350-cube V-8 with port fuel injection returned for 1987.
The fourth-generation Camaro was a sleek new design that still looks modern today. Just 5 different engines were available in the late 1990s and they ranged from a 207 cube V-6 to a modestly powerful 350 V-8. The Z28 was a scorcher, though, with a 275-HP 350 cube V-8 and six-speed manual transmission. Unfortunately, in the late 1990s, declining sales in the pony car market segment were industry wide. Because of that, General Motors brass decided that the Camaro needed to go into hibernation for a while and production was stopped in 2002.
While the brand was in hibernation for most of the 1990s, design work continued on the model and new design prototypes were shown at various trade shows through the 2000s. When the economy started to pick up again in the late 2000s, the Camaro concept was resurrected. The new Camaro was a fresh new design and offered some advanced technology. For example, independent rear suspension refined the handling and ride, and even the base V-6 offered solid performance. And some Cadillac technology, too. According to , a local Cadillac dealer in Schaumburg, IL, the latest Camaro is based on Cadillac’s Alpha base framework, the same framework that underpins the Cadillac ATS and CTS.
2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE Is Faster With New 10-Speed Auto
Because excellence is not always good enough…
The 2019 Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE is now faster than ever thanks the application of a new 10 speed automatic transmission.
According to Chevy, the new automatic transmission makes the critically-acclaimed sports car faster than the manual equipped version, allowing it to lap General Motors’ 2.9-mile Milford Road Course more than one half second faster.
Engineers were also able to shave off several seconds from their previous Nurburgring lap times set with the six-speed manual ZL1 1LE.
“This transmission is optimized for speed,” said Camaro Chief Engineer Mark Dickens. “With unique Track Mode calibrations and 10 gears, you are always in the perfect gear when rolling on or off the throttle. You may not be a professional race car driver, but now you can shift like one.”
The calibrations for the transmission, electronic limited-slip differential and traction control system were tweaked to achieve the best performance, while the front and rear Multimatic DSSV dampers have been tuned to accommodate the quicker shifts in weight transfer.
As a reminder, the Camaro ZL1 is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 that produces 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the 2019 Camaro ZL1 1LE starts at $64,695 in the United States,. Opting for the new 10-speed auto adds $1,595 to the price.
12 Second-Tier Classic Muscle Cars To Consider For Your Collection, Part 2
These American classics made a name for themselves in a field dominated by Mustangs and Corvettes.
In Part One of our article on second-tier muscle cars, we looked at six of 12 models that are certainly considered genuine muscle cars but failed to make the waves that some of their bigger-engined brothers did. Here are the remaining six lesser known gems of the muscle car era.
1967 Dodge Coronet R/T
The R/T was a special model produced to make a statement. While a more domestic version with a 440 CID engine was available, buyers had the option of a monster.
Yes, according to , the Dodge Coronet could be optioned with the 426-cid Hemi. Drivetrain options were Mopar’s excellent heavy-duty three-speed TorqueFlite automatic or a four-speed manual.
1964 Mercury Marauder
The debuted in the middle of 1963 to take part in the horsepower wars. It was available with the 390, 406, and 427 cubic-inch engines, which could be paired with a 3-speed or 4-speed manual, or a 3-speed automatic.
1968 Chevrolet Biscayne 427
The all-new 1965 Biscayne was available with just one engine, a 250 cu in inline-six. That all changed in 1966 when the in-line six became the entry level engine, replaced by the Big-Block 427 cu in V-8 as the top engine.
The high-powered, high-revving 425 hp V8 version with solid lifters proved to be what the doctor ordered.
1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 Sport Coupe
Introduced in 1964, the Pontiac Catalina was 2+2, a full size coupe based on General Motors’ iconic B-body chassis. It sourced its power from a 421 cu in powertrain with dual exhaust, heavy duty front springs, a 3-speed synchromesh manual transmission (a 4-speed with a Hurst shifter came as an option), and a 3.42:1 performance axle ratio.
1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400
Built by Pontiac from 1967 to 2002 — yes, it was around for that long — the Firebird was a very capable machine. Two Ram Air 400 cu in engines were available for the 1970 model year: The first was the L74 Ram Air III model (335 HP) and the second was a 345 hp LS1 Ram Air IV (370 HP) that were carried over from 1969.
The was capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 6.4 seconds.
1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
The Fairlane Thunderbolt introduced in 1964 as a limited production, factory experimental model. A total of 100 units were produced — forty-nine featuring a 4-speed and fifty-one making due with an automatic — which was enough to secure Ford the 1964 NHRA Super Stock title.
The Thunderbolt’s combination of Ford’s light weight, intermediate-sized body with a “high rise” 427 cu in V8 powertrain and dual Holley four-barrel carburetors proved to be a force to be reckoned with in NASCAR.
Chevy Corvette Gets Big Price Increase For 2019
The C7 Corvette remains a popular sports car even though sales are declining. If you’re hoping to get one, you better act fast.
Kerbeck Corvette in Atlantic City, has revealed that some versions of the 2019 Corvette are getting a for the 2019 model year. The starting price of the base Corvette Stingray has increased by $405 to $55,900, a small differential that gets much bigger as you move up the Corvette range.
For example, the 2019 Z06 coupe now starts at $80,900, representing a $1,405 price hike, while the range-topping ZR1 shoots up by $2,500 to $125,400. Have a look at the price differential for each model…
Chevy has also raised the price for the 8-speed automatic transmission, which now costs $1,995 compared to $1,725 previously.
It’s not clear why the prices were raised across the board, especially since Corvette sales continue to decline.