Chevrolet Camaro at 50
Five decades and six generations of an American icon
The Camaro arrived in dealerships on Sept. 29,
1966 and customers were eager for Chevrolet’s
entry in the new personal sports car segment.
Sales of nearly 221,000 in its first year made
the Camaro a success and firmly established
its role in American popular culture.
In the 50 years since its introduction there
have been six generations of the Camaro, all
distinguished by styling that uncannily
captured the design zeitgeist of their
respective eras and performance technologies
that remained sharply focused on the driving
fun that made the original a hit from day one.
First Generation: 1967-69
The Camaro’s first generation was born into the era’s raging muscle car and drag racing wars – as well as
road racing, which spawned the original Z/28 in 1967. First-generation Camaros also served twice as the Indy
500 pace car: first in 1967 and again in 1969. The ’69 examples, with their Hugger Orange stripes and
orange hounds tooth interiors, are among the most distinguishable and recognizable special models of the
Second Generation: 1970-81
The Camaro’s second generation was its longest and it’s most successful, despite tumultuous changes in the
industry that saw the horsepower of performance models such as the Z28 erode significantly. An all-new
structure offered a slightly wider footprint and lower center of gravity – attributes that gave the Camaro
excellent handling characteristics. It also supported dramatic, European-influenced styling. The Camaro
enjoyed its best year ever in 1979, when 282,571 were sold, including nearly 85,000 Z28 models.
Third Generation: 1982-92
The third-generation Camaro also introduced and all-new architecture, with a contemporary strut-type front
suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and more. The chassis system turned a car already renowned for its
handling capability into a serious track machine, which was taken to its zenith with the special 1LE package,
introduced in 1988. Aggressive styling complemented the car’s performance capability and it was the first
Camaro with a hatchback. Additionally, the 1982 Z28 was the first American production car to incorporate
ground effects – and it was also named the Motor Trend Car of the Year.
Fourth Generation: 1993-2002
Performance continued to improve with the
fourth-generation Camaro, with higher-power
engines and chassis enhancements that built
on the basic layout of the third generation.
Styling evolved with more dramatic
proportions, including a fast-raked windshield
that gave the car an undeniably sleeker
profile. The Camaro’s front end was
redesigned in 1998, which coincided with the
introduction of the landmark LS1 V-8, which
gave Z28 and SS models performance
reminiscent of the muscle car heyday.
Fifth Generation: 2010-2015
The seven years between the fourth-generation’s hiatus and the launch of the fifth-generation (it was
introduced in 2009 as a ’10 model) didn’t seem all that long, but was a comparative eternity in the
automotive world. Chevrolet decided a new Camaro would have to acknowledge its heritage on the outside
and it was the right call. The fifth-gen car went on to sell more than 500,000 copies and outpace its pony-car
rival for five consecutive years. It also spawned new, track-focused 1LE, Z/28 and ZL1 models.
Sixth Generation: 2016+
The Gen Six Camaro introduced the Camaro’s
highest-ever levels of performance, technology
and refinement, all rooted in a lighter, stronger
architecture, which helped earn the 2016 Motor
Trend Car of the Year award. For 2017, new
track-capable 1LE and ZL1 models debut, with
the ZL1 driven by a supercharged 6.2L V-8
estimated at 640 hp and offered with a new 10-
speed automatic transmission.
Camaro 50th celebration
Chevrolet marks the Camaro’s 50th anniversary
this summer with activities leading up to and
coinciding with the Woodward Dream Cruise, on Aug. 20, and including tours of the Lansing Grand River
plant, where the Camaro is built, on Aug. 18.
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