One of the most popular Chevrolet cars is the Chevy Camaro. This muscle car first hit the market on September 29, 1966. Chevy launched the Camaro to directly compete with the Ford Mustang. Development began in 1965 and was presented to the public in June of 1966. The name continued the tradition of naming all Chevy's with a name that started with C. According to rumors, the name was found in a French/English dictionary, where "camaro" translates to "friend." However, it's not a French word, and the story is most likely not true.

The first Camaro heavily borrowed from the Chevy II Nova. Both the Camaro and the 1968 Nova used the same subframe design, but the Camaro came in three different main models: the RS, the SS, and the Z/28. The base sport coupe costs just under $2,500. However, buyers could upgrade the engine, the transmission, and more. The Z/28 model was the race-oriented Camaro and had even more horsepower. Chevy designed it to serve as their entry in the SCCA Trans-Am race series. In addition to the coupe design, the first generation of Camaros also included a convertible.

 

Almost 100,000 Camaros were produced in 1967, a shocking number. Since then, Chevy has produced six distinct generations of this muscle car, although only the first three are currently considered classic cars. Each generation has updated the basic design and added more power to the car.

Best Known Features

 

 

Chev Camaro Coupe (Orange Julep)

 

The Camaro has a number of interesting features. The first Camaro used a basic unibody design to make it look lean and mean. The hidden headlights, long hood, and many different interior options were fan-favorites, as was the signature paint stripe on the front of the 1968 SS model. The changes made in 1969, including the new round headlights, skinny taillights, and the pointier front were also big hits and propelled the Camaro to new heights--Chevy sold over 240,000 units that year! Many of these features have either stayed with the Camaro or have been optional.


Brief Evolution of the Camaro

As with any model of car, the Camaro has gone through some evolutions over the years. While the 1969 model is perhaps the best known, it was still a basic Generation One Camaro. It was the next year's version that saw a total redesign of the Camaro. This second generation Camaro looked and felt more like a European car and was compared to vehicles like the Berlinetta Lusso by Ferrari. The hood wasn't as flat, and the headlights were now placed within the front panel.
The second generation of Camaros ran through 1981. During this time, newly implemented federal regulations forced Chevy to make more body changes, including a new bumper and engine. The car lost some of that European flare, but gained more of a smooth look to it.

 

1982 once again saw the Camaro get a major overhaul, beginning the third generation. This new car looked boxy and beefed up. The headlights went from round to square, while the front of the car became more angular. New suspensions and rear coil springs were added to this model. This look would continue through the rest of the third generation, ending with the final IROC-Z car in 1990. Chevy lost the rights to use the name to Dodge when the company became the official IROC sponsor.