Back when the Chevrolet Camaro debuted, the Beatles were making albums, color TV was a new novelty and the Vietnam war was escalating. Chevy's sleek new number, an answer to Ford's super successful Mustang launched a few years prior, came onto the groovy scene to get its slice of the "pony car" pie. In the nearly half century since, the Camaro has stayed true to its roots by providing enthusiasts with an abundance of styling and performance at an affordable price.
We've already covered the first three generations of the Camaro so now with part two we pick up where we left off.
Something borrowed, something new
The fourth generation of the Camaro debuted for the 1993 model year. Even sleeker than before, this Camaro initially came in base and Z28 versions. The base car came with a 3.4-liter, 160-hp V6, while the Z28 borrowed the "LT1" 5.7-liter V8 from the Corvette, though in this application it made 275 hp versus 300 hp in the 'vette. Still, it was the most powerful engine fitted to a Camaro since the early '70s, and made
the Z28 truly quick with 0-to-60 and quarter mile times running around 5.6 and 14.0 seconds, respectively. The V8 was backed by either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Safety was also enhanced via standard antilock disc brakes. That year, the Z28 paced the Indy 500 and replicas were produced in its honor.
The following year, a convertible version returned to the Camaro lineup. For 1995, a more powerful V6 (3.8-liter,200 hp) became available on the base car and traction control became available on the Z28. More power was the battle cry for '96, as the Z28 got 10 more horses, the base car got the 3.8-liter V6 as standard, and an SS option took the Z28's V8 even higher, to 305 hp. The latter was known as the Z28 SS, strange considering those were separate trim levels in the past.
To celebrate the Camaro's 30th anniversary, Chevrolet offered a special white and orange themed Z28 for 1997. One could also choose a limited edition of the SS featuring a 330-hp V8, the LT4 borrowed from the previous year's Corvette engine roster.
A facelift for 1998 gave the Camaro a more aggressive nose with a bigger grille and headlights. But the big news—for the Z28 anyway—lay behind it. An all-aluminum LS-1 V8 (shared with the Corvette) gave the Z28 305 standard (and likely considerably underrated) horsepower, while the base car continued with the 3.8 V6. The SS boasted a functional hood scoop and 320 horsepower from its LS-1. Nothing major happened over the next few years apart from, in 2001, the Z28's output rating being changed to a more realistic 310 horsepower.
The last year of the fourth-gen Camaro—2002—also signaled the 35th anniversary of the model, an occasion celebrated by a special edition of the SS featuring red paint and a pair of silver stripes that morphed into checkered flags as they neared the windshield.
After a seven year hiatus, the Camaro returned for 2010. With retro styling that obviously paid homage to the first-gen Camaro, it looked like a show car that rumbled right off the turntable and into the showroom. Indeed, it visually differed little from the concept car displayed at auto shows a few years earlier.
The lineup consisted of base LS, luxury LT and sporty SS. The Z28 was noticeably absent. Even V6 versions packed plenty of heat, with their 3.6-liter engine making a stout 304 hp. The SS sported no less than 426 hp (400 with automatic) from its 6.2-liter V8. Transmission choices for both included a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. Going with the V6 still meant a seriously quick car, with 60 mph and the quarter mile taking just about 6 and 14 seconds, respectively. Springing for the SS gave you performance that could embarrass most any old muscle car; we're talking low 5 second 0-60 blasts and a low-13 second quarter.
An independent rear end and quick steering came regardless of which Camaro you picked. The SS also featured larger Brembo brakes and a sport-tuned suspension, making it a strong performer on a twisty road as well. The chief gripe road testers had concerned the car's poor outward visibility that was due to the thick roof pillars and high beltline. For 2011, the V6 got a boost to 312 hp, while later in the model year a convertible version debuted.
Not since the 1960s had such a power war raged, and for 2012 the Camaro faced off against its top Mustang and Challenger rivals with the new ZL1. With a pavement scorching 580 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 the ZL1 ripped to 60 mph and through the quarter mile in the low 4-second and low 12-second ranges, respectively. An adaptive suspension and dual-mode exhaust are also part of the ZL1 deal. Less exciting but still notable for that year were more power for the V6 (now at 323 hp) and an upgraded interior. The following year saw the debut of the road-racing oriented 1LE option package for the SS.
Making a triumphant return for 2014, the Z/28 topped the lineup and returned to its roots as a no-nonsense track-ready car. As such, weight was dropped via the deletion of A/C and some sound insulation, making the Z/28 about 300 pounds lighter than the ZL1. Even more focused than the 1LE, the Z/28 features a 7.0-liter, 505-hp V8 (formerly used in the Z06 Corvette), lightweight 19-inch wheels, a race-ready suspension setup and exotic carbon ceramic brakes. The whole Camaro line benefitted from an update that featured new front- and rear-end styling, with the former showing off a larger lower grille and smaller headlights and the latter sporting rectangular taillights and a new spoiler.
For 2015, Chevy's iconic sport coupe (and drop top) saw no changes as that year marked the end of the fifth gen Camaro.
Six generations strong
Although it didn't look much different, the 2016 Camaro was nearly all-new, but the important attributes remained...the long standing tradition of power, performance, and unmatched aesthetics.
A number of Camaro enthusiast sites provide advice as well as classifieds for cars and parts for sale. You may want to check out Camaro Forums and Camaro Source. Furthermore, acceleration times can be found on zeroto60times.com.
Are you a fan of the Camaro? Tell us about your experience.