Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Chevrolet Camaro was a compact car introduced in North America by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors at the start of the 1967 model year as competition for the Ford Mustang. Although it was technically a compact (by the standards of the time), the Camaro, like the entire class of Mustang competitiors, was soon known as a pony car.
Though the car's name was contrived with no meaning, General Motors researchers found the word in a French dictionary as a slang term for "friend" or "companion." Ford Motor Company researchers discovered other definitions, including "a shrimp-like creature" and an arcane term for "loose bowels!" In some automotive periodicals before official release, it went by the name, "Panther".
Four distinct generations of the car were produced.
Sharing mechanicals with the upcoming 1968 Chevrolet Nova, the Camaro featured unibody structure. Chevrolet offered the car in only two body styles, a coupe and convertible. Almost 80 factory and 40 dealer options including three main packages were avaible.
- RS Package included many cosmetic changes such as RS badging, hidden headlights, blacked out grill, revised taillights and interior trims.
- SS Package included modified 5.7 L (350 in³) V8 engine (first 350 in³ engine ever offered by Chevrolet), also L35 396 in³ "big block" was avaible. SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping and blacked out grill. It was possible to order both - RS and SS packages to receive RS/SS Camaro. In 1967 Camaro RS/SS Convertible Camaro with 396 in³ engine paced the Indianapolis 500 race.
- Z28 option code was introduced in 1966. This option package wasn't mentioned in any sales literature so was unknown by most of the buyers. The only way to order Z28 package was to order base Camaro with Z28 option, front disc brakes, power steering and Muncie 4-speed transmission. Z28 package featured unique 302 in³ "small block" engine, designed specifically to compete in the Club of America Trans Am racing series (which required engines smaller than 305 in³ and public avaiblity of the car). Advertised power of this engine was listed at 290 hp (216 kW) while actual dyno readings rated it at 360 to 400 hp (269 to 298 kW). Z28 also came with upgraded suspension and racing stripes on the hood. It was possible to combine Z28 package with RS package. Only 602 Z28's were sold.
The Camaro's base powertrain was a 3.8 L (230 in³) I6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) and backed by a GM Muncie three-speed manual transmission. A Muncie four-speed manual was also available. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was a popular option in 1967-68 until the three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" replaced it starting in 1969.
- RS: 64842
- SS: 34411
- Z28 602
1968 saw the deletion of the side vent windows and the introduction of Astro Ventilation, a fresh-air-inlet system. Also added were side marker lights, a more pointed front grill, and divided rear tailights. SS396 received chrome hood inserts. Multi-leaf rear springs replaced single-leaf units, and shock absorbers were staggered. 6.5 L (396 in³) 350 hp (261 kW) engine was added as an option for the SS, and Z28 became known by buyers and 7199 units were sold.
- RS: 40977
- SS: 27884
- Z28: 7199
- 1967-1969 3.8 L (230 in³) 230 I6 140 hp (104 kW)
- 1967-1969 4.0 L (250 in³) 250 I6 155 hp (116 kW) @ 4200rpm, 235 ft.lbf (319 Nm) @ 1600rpm
- 1967-1969 Z28: 4.9 L (302 in³) Small-Block V8 290 hp (216 kW) @ 5800rpm, 290 ft.lbf (393 Nm) @ 4200rpm
- 1967-1969 5.4 L (327 in³) Small-Block V8 210 hp (157 kW)
- 1967-1969 5.4 L (327 in³) Small-Block V8 275 hp (205 kW)
- 1967-1969 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8 255 hp (190 kW)
- 1967-1969 SS350: 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8 295 hp (220 kW) @ 4800rpm, 380 ft.lbf (515 Nm) @ 3200rpm
- 1967-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 325 hp (242 kW) @ 4800rpm, 410 ft.lbf (556 Nm) @ 3200rpm
- 1967-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 375 hp (280 kW) @ 5600rpm, 415 ft.lbf (563 Nm) @ 3600rpm
- 1968-1969 SS396: 6.5 L (396 in³) Big-Block V8 350 hp (261 kW) @ 5200rpm, 415 ft.lbf (563 Nm) @ 3200rpm
The larger second-generation Camaro which debuted in 1970 suffered two major setbacks. A strike at a GM assembly plant in Ohio disrupted production, and 1100 1970-1/2 Camaros were scrapped because they did not meet 1971 Federal bumper safety standards. This was the most enduring Camaro design, lasting until the more modern, lighter third-generation Camaro of 1982 through 1992.
The Z28, which had been discontinued after the 1974 model year, was re-introduced to the buying public in the spring of 1977 as a 1977-1/2. This car was an instant hit, with most cars sold equipped with air-conditioning and an automatic transmission for a comfort-oriented public. The cars were also available with a Borg-Warner Super T-10 4-speed manual and minimal option packaging for those buyers interested in a performance-oriented vehicle. The half-year model was one of the few American performance vehicles available at the time. The car was capable of turning in quarter-mile times comparable to many of the nineteen sixties' performance cars, and the chassis was developed to reward the driver with a first-class grand touring experience, capable of outstanding handling, especially in the hands of a competent high-performance driver. More than one Z28 was sold as a stripped radio-delete bare-bones performance car, and in this trim the Z28 could out-perform Trans-Ams and aging C3 Corvettes on highways and canyon roads.
The 1982 model introduced the first Camaros with factory fuel injection, four-speed automatic transmissions (three-speed on the earlier models), five-speed manual transmissions (four-speed manual transmissions in 1982, and some 83-84 models), 15 or 16-inch rims, hatchback body style, and even a four-cylinder engine for a brief period (due to concerns over fuel economy). The Camaro Z28 was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1982.
In 1985 Chevrolet introduced a new Camaro model - the famous IROC-Z, called after popular racing series. IROC-Z Camaro featured upgraded suspension, special decal package and Tuned Port Injection system taken from the Chevrolet_Corvette Third generation Camaros also had a suspension system that was more capable in corners than the previous generation. The Camaro IROC-Z was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1985.
- 1978-1981 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8
- 1982-1985 2.5 L (151 in³) Iron Duke L4
- 1982-1984 2.8 L (173 in³) LC1 V6
- 1985-1989 2.8 L (173 in³) LB8 V6
- 1990-1992 3.1 L (191 in³) 60 Gen II V6
- 1982-1992 5.0 L (305 in³) Small-Block V8
- 1985-1992 5.7 L (350 in³) Small-Block V8
1993 began the fourth and last generation of Camaros, lasting through the 2002 model year. Production of the fourth and final generation was moved from GM's Van Nuys, California assembly plant to one in Ste. Therese , Quebec in 1993. Though the car would no longer be produced in the US, the new design which incorporated lightweight plastic body panels over a steel space frame, and a better suspension, further improved upon the Camaro line. From 1993 to 1997 the Camaro was available with the LT-1 engine, the same Generation II small block V8 used in the Corvette, although in slightly de-tuned form. In 1996, the long-discontinued "SS" option was resurrected and in 1998, the all-new LS-1 engine Generation III small block was offered on the SS and Z28 Camaros, marking the end of the Generation I small block V8 that had its roots in Chevrolet's 265 in³ engine of 1955. Unfortunately, sales were below expectations, and production of the Camaro ceased in 2002.
1998 saw a new head light design for the Camaro. The new design removed the previous recessed-light design present in the 1982-1997 Camaros. In addition the LT1 engine was removed and instead an LS1 in its place.
- 1993-1995 3.4 L (208 in³) 60 Gen III V6
- 1995-2002 3.8 L (231 in³) 3800 Series II V6
- 1993-1997 5.7 L (350 in³) LT1 V8
- 1998-2002 5.7 L (350 in³) LS1 V8
Though production Camaros were never as fast as the flagship Corvette, the car cost less than half as much and was easily modified. If its frequent inclusion in automotive enthusiast magazines is any indication, the Chevy Camaro is one of the most popular cars for modification in the automotive history.
Throughout its history, the Camaro shared its internal body and major components with a sister car - the Pontiac Firebird.
- CamaroSource.ca - Contains extensive, in-depth information on the Chevrolet Camaro.
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