Throughout its long history, the Chevy Camaro has been a favorite of drivers who want a car that is sporty and highly-styled while also being affordable. The Camaro enjoyed four generations -- and 35 years of muscle car paradise -- until Chevrolet decided to end production in 2002. Luckily for fans of the very first generation of Camaro, the car -- which shares major components and a platform with the Pontiac Firebird -- was resurrected for a fifth generation in 2009. A sixth generation was introduced in 2015 to coincide with the vehicle's 50th birthday.
The First Generation -- 1967 to 1969
Debuting as either a two-door convertible with 2+2 seating or a two-door coupe, the Camaro was built on a General Motors (GM) F platform body. This new platform was rear-wheel drive and able to support a range of engine types including a 3.8 liter (230 cubic inch), 4.1 liter inline six cylinder with 250 cubic inches, a 7.0 liter, 427 cubic inch, V8 and more.Amid a pair of mysterious telegrams sent by management to automotive journalists in order to pique their interest, Chevrolet rolled out its version of a pony car. First released for sale on September 29, 1966, this generation of Chevy Camaro got its start as the manufacturer's answer to the Ford Mustang. This decision was made once executives realized that their current offering -- the Corvair with its rear-engine design -- was declining in popularity. This was partly due to Ralph Nadar's blockbuster book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile that highlighted the dangers of its design. Sales for the Corvair continued to slip as well. This first generation's run lasted until 1969. More than 30 years later, the same body style was reintroduced as a retro-style fifth generation in 2010.
The Second Generation -- 1970 to 1981
With the introduction of the second generation Camaro came numerous stylistic changes. Cosmetic changes to the body style occurred in both 1974 and 1978. For the 1980 and 1981 models, stylistic changes to the Z28 included an intake door installed on the air induction hood scoop. When driven under full throttle, this door was designed to open.
Though still built on the GM F body, this second generation Camaro became slightly wider and larger than its predecessor. That being said, other elements of its body -- such as a front subframe, solid rear axle controlled by leaf springs, A-arm front suspension and a unibody frame -- remained the same between the generations. In August of 1971, the 1971 SS350 was recognized as being one of the ten best cars of the year by Road & Track magazine.The SS package was dropped by Chevrolet the following year, but resurrected in 1996.
The Third Generation -- 1982 to 1992
The third generation Camaro signaled a huge innovation leap as well as an expanded roster of choices for consumers. With a 1982 introduction planned, production on this generation started in 1981. For the first time, Chevrolet offered fuel injection, a
five-speed manual transmission, a four-speed automatic transmission in the form of a Turbo-Hydramatic 700R4, a hatchback body, a standard OHV 4-cylinder engine and either 15- or 16-inch wheels for its third generation Camaro. This model also boasted a reduction in weight as it was 500 pounds lighter than the last generation.
Though the Camaro had been used as the official International Race of Champions (IROC) car since 19875, it wasn't until 1985 that Chevrolet introduced the IROC-Z. Production of this model continued until 1990. In 1986, the Iron Rod four cylinder engine was phased out and the OHV 2.8L V6 engine became the standard for the Camaro. A tuned port injection was made available as an option for the 305 small block V8 engine that was rolled out in 1985. Two years later, the V8, 5.7L 350 engine -- in combination only with an automatic transmission -- was made available as an option on the IROC-Z.
The Fourth Generation -- 1993 to 2002
As the fourth generation Camaro was rolled out on an updated F body platform, it contained many of the same options available in the very first generation. In addition to options like t-tops, this generation Camaro featured its 2+2 seating within a coupe
body style, V8 and pushrod 6-cylinder engines and rear-wheel drive. A convertible option was released in 1994. SS versions,which were available from 1998 until 2002, had upgraded features such as different gearing ratios to allow for more rapid acceleration, larger tires and wheels, a slightly revamped suspension to allow for improved grip and handling and improved intake and exhaust systems. In 2002, Chevrolet released a 35th-anniversary edition to mark 35 years of continuous Camaro production. Also during that same year, Chevrolet ceased production of the F-body platform citing plant overcapacity, sluggish
sales and a reduced demand for sports cars.
The Fifth Generation -- 2010 to 2015
In 2009, sales of the fifth generation of Camaros began for a release date of 2010. Totally redesigned atop a new platform, the World Car of the Year Awards bestowed the title of World Car Design of the Year on the Camaro. The LS and LT trim models were paired with a six-speed manual-shift automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The SS package was mated with a manual transmission and features a 6.2L V8 engine. Automatic transmissions with the SS package were paired with a 400 horsepower V8 engine. Additional options were available for the LT and SS models and included RS appearance upgrades such as 20-inch tires, a unique spoiler and red badges noting that the car is either an SS or RS.Production of convertibles was begun in January 2011 with a release date set for later that year.
Chevrolet introduced a 45-year anniversary package that included exclusive 20-inch wheels, taillight details and a RS spoiler, interior stitching in red, white and blue, Bluetooth connectivity and a unique stripe package. The only choice in the paint color
was "Carbon Flash Metallic." The V6 engine was upgraded while the SS package included a boosted suspension system. In 2014, the Camaro underwent numerous upgrades, including new fog lights, a slimmer grille, a bigger lower fascia and LEDs in both the tail- and headlights. The Z28 was reintroduced during 2014 as well.
The Sixth Generation -- 2016 and Beyond
Built on the GM Alpha platform, the release of the Camaro's sixth generation was in celebration of its 50th birthday. While weighing in at 200 pounds less than past generations of Camaros, more than 70 percent of Camaro's architectural components are unique to the car as they are not found in any other GM vehicle.