Inspired by the French slang for comrade or pal, the Chevrolet Camaro has always been meant to feel like a good friend that can be relied on for both exciting adventures and everyday fun.
Keep reading to see how this beloved car has changed over time — and to learn why it continues to be a top choice for anyone who craves unmatched style and excitement.
The original Chevrolet Camaro didn’t arrive until several years after its Ford counterpart. At the time of the Mustang’s release, Chevrolet simply didn’t have a viable contender in the works.
Before arriving at what we now think of as the iconic Camaro, Chevrolet looked to its Chevy II Nova (which, in turn, was modeled after the Ford Falcon) for inspiration. The first edition of the Chevrolet Camaro is largely regarded as a rush job, with just over 200,000 sold when it became available in 1966.
Race Car Developments
The Chevrolet Camaro literally picked up the pace in 1967, when it was used as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500. This helped draw much-needed attention to the vehicle. It made an even bigger splash as the Z/28 was unveiled. Given an acid bath and driven by Mark Donohue, the car achieved three victories in 1967, followed by another ten wins the next year.
Following these key developments, the Chevrolet Camaro quickly became a highly trusted race car — a reputation it continues to hold to this day. Drag racing legend Grumpy Jenkins, for example, used the Camaro in many of his races.
The Beloved Second Generation
When most people picture a classic Chevrolet Camaro, they think of the second edition, which was largely produced during the 70s. The aesthetic for this version of the vehicle is unforgettable. Following a significant restyling effort, the car became far wider, with noteworthy similarities to Ferrari.
The first redesign of the second generation arrived in 1974, as a result of new federal regulations related to the vehicle’s bumpers. The Z/28 disappeared soon after, although this wasn’t a big loss — at the time, this particular model was a shell of its former self.
Still, the main version of the Chevrolet Camaro remained impressive, plus a replacement arrived a few years later in the form of the Rally Sport. Later Z/28s recaptured the appeal of the original.
The IROC-Z Era
The Chevrolet Camaro saw many other editions after its second generation was retired. Various features and models have come and gone, but one of the most memorable was easily the IROC-Z.
To call this version controversial would be an understatement. It continues to receive a great deal of criticism for its heavy build and astronomical price. Still, there’s no denying that the IROC managed to stand out, even in a sea of bold 80s cars.
Taking a Break
As the 90s gave way to a new millennium, the Chevrolet Camaro began to feel a bit archaic. It got a sleeker look in its fourth generation but still struggled to capture the glory of its early days. As such, Chevrolet called it quits.
What seemed like farewell was simply a pause, with the Chevrolet Camaro returning in full force for the 2010 model year. This new version was inspired by a concept that had debuted several years earlier.
The Chevrolet Camaro’s power was far from impressive when it first returned, but that quickly changed as the ZL1 and 1LE were released. Featuring supercharged engines that produced jaw-dropping horsepower, these preceded the long-awaited return of the Z/28.
The success of the new Camaro allowed Chevrolet to continue with this model, even celebrating its 50th birthday with the launch of the sixth generation. In 2016, the vehicle reached new heights as it was named the Car of the Year by Motor Trend.
There’s no vehicle quite like the Chevrolet Camaro, which remains one of the most popular classic cars. This vehicle has seen its ups and downs over the years, but there is no denying that it holds a ton of staying power. Nothing compares to the thrill of getting behind the wheel of a classic or modern Camaro — or simply witnessing one on the open road.