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Camaro History 1967-1969

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1967 Camaro

After two years of watching the Ford Mustang enjoy tremendous success, General Motors finally launched its entry into the pony car segment, the Chevrolet Camaro. Although available with a mediocre six cylinder for volume sales, the Camaro could be equipped with several V8s and a myriad of performance options. Then, of course, was the famous Regular Production Code, Z/28, that would change the industry's view of pony cars.

Inspired by the success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet launched its own pony car, the Camaro. Chevrolet stated that the "Camaro" was named after the French word for "comrade," although some linguists argued that it was actually Spanish for a type of shrimp. Not exactly an awe aspiring name for a new pony car. Luckily, the Camaro had the muscle to back up its case. The Camaro was based on the upcomming 1968 Chevy Nova platform, and featured a unibody structure from the windshield and firewall back, with a separate steel rail subframe for everything up front. The Camaro was available from the start in hardtop coupe and covertible body styles, and could be order with nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer accessories, including three main option packages and a choice of four different engines. The RS package included numerous cosmetic changes including a blacked out grill with hidden headlights, revised parking and tail lights, upgraded interior trim, and RS badging. Of greater interest to enthusiasts was the SS package which included as standard equipment a modified 350 cid V8 (the first 350 engine Chevy ever offered) with an available 396 cid big block producing 325bhp (L35) and later a 375bhp version, along with simulated air-intakes on the hood, special bumble bee striping, and a blacked out grill. It was possible to order both the RS and SS packages, and get a RS/SS Camaro, in which case the RS badging took precedence. Camaro popularity soared when a RS/SS Convertible with the 396 paced the 1967 Indianapolis 500 race.

In December 1966, Chevrolet then quietly released one of the most famous options codes of all time, option Z-28. Unpublicized and unknown by most of the buying public (and most Chevrolet sales people for that matter) and not mentioned in any sales literature, the only way someone could order the Z-28 package was to order a base Camaro with the Z-28 option, mandatory front disc brakes with power assist, and the Muncie 4-speed transmission. You could not order the SS package, automatic transmission, air conditioning, or the convertible. What you got was a unique 302 cid small block (Non-California emission cars were labeled MO while California emission engines were labeled MP) that was created by taking the 327 block and installing the short-stroke 283 crank. Specifically designed to compete in the Club of America Trans Am racing series which placed a 305 cid limit on its entries, the Z-28 was available to the public solely to qualify the car for racing. Advertised horsepower was listed at just 290bhp, which was not very impressive until one hooked it up to a dyno and got actual readings of 360-400 bhp. The Z-28 also came with a competition suspension, broad racing stripes on the hood and trunklid and could be combined with the RS option package. There was no Z-28 badging at all, lest it attract to much attention. The Z-28 proved to be difficult to launch on the street because its high reving engine was lethargic under 4000rpm and worked best when it was shifted at 7500rpm (!). Once it got going, the Z28 was tough to beat and boosted a 140mph top speed and numerous racing victories. Only 602 Z-28s were sold in 1967, making it a truly desirable collectable.

Production:
RS: 64,842
SS: 34,411
Z-28: 609

Engines:
230 I6 140bhp.
250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
(Z-28) 302 V8 290bhp @ 5800rpm, 290lb-ft @ 4200rpm.
327 V8 210bhp.
327 V8 275bhp.
350 V8 255bhp.
(SS350) 350 V8 295bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.

  • The first Camaro model was the 1967, introduced on September 26, 1966. At the time of introduction, several important options were not available. These included the RPO-Z28 Special Performance Package, and the 396-cid displacement engine for Camaro SS models.
  • The 1967 model was the only first generation Camaro to have both rear shocks mounted forward of the rear axle. Later years changed to a staggered arrangement to counter wheel hop. The 1967 was the only Camaro to feature a right-side traction bar, also to counter wheel hop. The traction bar was standard equipment for all Z28 models, and was installed on other high performance models.
  • The 1967 Camaros did not have side marker lights.
  • The 1967 Camaro was the only Camaro model to have its VIN tag mounted to the door hinge pillar. The VIN tags of later models moved to positions visible through the windshield.
  • The bumblebee nose stripe was part of the SS package at the start of 1967 production, but became a separate option (RPO-D91) in March 1968.
  • Chevrolet built three special Camaro pace cars for the 1967 Indianapolis 500 auto race. It also built 78 lookalikes for complimentary use by race officials and dignitaries during the month preceding the race. After the race, these lookalikes were sold to the public as used cars. All were white SS/RS convertibles with Bright Blue custom interiors. Other options varied. All had "Chevrolet Camaro Official Pace Car 51st Annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race - May 30, 1967" decals on their doors. (Chevrolet also built anywhere from 100-560 Pace Car Replicas for a special "Pacesetter" campaign which ran through June, plus 21 cars exported to Canada. The actual number of these cars is unknown, this number is my guess - Greg McGann)
  • When first introduced in September 1966, the 1967 Camaro SS came only with a 350-cid engine, an engine displacement exclusive to the Camaro within the Chevrolet line that year. In November 1966, the 396-cid engine was added to the SS option list.
  • Though similar to 1968, the 1967 instrument panel was unique to the year. Its padding did not fold over the corners as did the following year. And, with the exception of air conditioned models, the 1967 instrument panel did not have the side air (Astro Ventilation) vents.
  • The ignition for the 1967 model (and 1968) was located on the dash.
  • The first Z28 models were built starting on December 29, 1966, and low volume delivery began in January 1967. The Z28 was initially developed as a contender for the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Trans Am sedan racing series. The series had a displacement limit of 305 cubic inches which the Z28 met by combining a 327-cid Chevrolet block with a 283-cid Chevrolet crankshaft for a 4" x 3" stroke that yielded 302.3 cubic inches.
  • The "Z" in Z28 was at first nothing more than another option code, along with others like Z23 for the Special Interior Group, or Z87 for the Custom Interior. But the Z28 had a special ring to it and became the model's official name. However, the Z28's built in 1967 carried no external identification other than wide racing stripes. Convertibles could not be ordered with the ZZ8 option
  • The 1967 was the only Camaro model to feature side vent windows.
  • The headlight door covers of the 1967 Camaro were electrically operated. Later model years were vacuum operated.
  • All 1967 Camaros had single leaf rear springs.
  • The center console design used in 1967 was unique to the year. Additionally, the design of the optional instrument grouping which mounted to the console was unique to 1967. The secondary instrument cluster consisted of fuel gauge, temperature gauge, oil gauge, ammeter, and clock.
  • The first 1967 Camaro built at the Norwood, Ohio, plant had a VIN ending in N100001; the first built at the Van Nuys, California, plant had a VIN ending in L100001

    Performance:
    (Z-28) 302/290bhp: 0-60 in 6.9 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.85 sec @ 101mph.
    (SS350) 350/295: 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds @ 90 mph.
    (SS396) 396/325bhp: 0-60 in 6.0 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.5 sec @ 99mph.


  • 1968 Camaro

    The 1968 received minor changes for its second year. The grill took on a more horizontal look while the vent windows were dropped and "Astro Ventilation" (i.e. flow-through ventilation) was added. Side marker lights were added while the SS396 received revised chromed hood inserts (the SS350s stayed with the 1967 styling). Underneath, the 1967 Camaros pesky axle tramp was cured by the addition of multi-leaf rear springs to replace the single-leaf units and rear shock absorbers were now staggered. A new 350bhp 396cid option for the SS was added, while the Z-28 option (now just labeled MO) actually received some publicity and sold 7,199 units. The Z-28s were now easier to spot as they sported Z-28 or 302 badges.

  • The 1968 Camaro model featured a restyled center console, and a restyled secondary gauge package with a "sawtooth" design. The sawtooth design didn't contain a clock, so when the optional instrument package was ordered, the clock was combined with the tachometer in the right side instrument pod creating 1968's Tick-Tock-Tach.
  • The 1968 Camaro was the first to feature Astro Ventilation. It did not have side vent windows.
  • Side marker lamps were used for the first time in Camaros in 1968.
  • The dash location for the ignition was last used in the 1968 Camaro model .
  • The headlight cover doors in 1968 Camaros were vacuum operated rather than electric as before.
  • Cloth upholstery was used for the first time in Camaros in 1968 with the introduction of the famous houndstooth cloth pattern in black and white check.
  • The Torque Drive transmission, a Powerglide automatic that was shifted manually, became available in 1968 Camaros.
  • The bumblebee nose stripe continued in 1968, but was joined by two other striping styles. One wrapped across the top of the nose, down the leading edge of the front fender to a point about four inches above the bumper, then horizontally back to almost the end of the door. The other nose stripe was multicolored and came as part of a special Customized Camaro sales promotion. The sales promotion required selection of Rallye Green, Brite Green, Corvette Bronze, or LeMans Blue exteriors.
  • To neutralize the wheel hop problems associated with the 1967 models, the 1968 Camaro received staggered rear shock absorbers (the passenger side shock passed behind the axle and the driver-side ahead of the axle). Also, multi-leaf springs were added to V-8 models except for those powered by 210-hp and 275-hp versions of the 327-cid engine.
  • Four-wheel disc brakes were not factory options for 1968. They were installed on 1968 Camaros, but only by dealers, or customers who purchased them across-the-counter.
  • The Z28 option continued in 1968, and Z28 models had either 302 or Z28 emblems on their front fenders.
  • The crossram intake manifold with dual four-barrel Holley carburetors became available across-the-counter.
  • The grille of non-Rally Sport 1968 Camaros was redesigned to have a more distinct center split. Non-Rally Sports had backup lights incorporated within the standard taillight bezels. The backup lights for Rally Sports were separate units below the bumper. The taillamps of all 1968 Camaros had center splits to create a four-lamp (two per side) appearance.
  • A passenger-side grab handle (mounted above the glovebox) came as part of the Custom Interior or Special Interior groups in 1968 Camaros.
  • Nineteen-sixty eight Z28 Camaros are often seen with rear spoilers, but the spoiler (actually called an auxiliary panel and valence) was a separate option as RPO-D80. They were fiberglass.
  • Camaro SS models had unique hoods in 1968, and the hoods were different for SS-396 and SS-350 models. The SS-350 models had the same style as all 1967 SS models which featured two thin-ribbed, decorative inserts. The SS-396 models featured two inserts which each had four simulated carburetion stacks.



    Production:
    RS: 40,977
    SS: 27,884
    Z-28: 7,199

    Engines:
    230 I6 140bhp.
    250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
    327 V8 210bhp.
    327 V8 275bhp.
    350 V8 255bhp.
    (SS350) 350 V8 295bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 350bhp @ 5200rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.

    Performance:
    (SS396) 396/325bhp: 0-60 in 6.6 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 94mph

  • 1969 CAMARO



    1969 saw several noteworthy changes to the Camaro. The grill became deeper set, the taillamps were longer and thinner and broken into three segments. A heavy "eye-brow" crease was added on the both sides of the car extending from the front wheel well to the rear wheel well. A matching crease went from the rear wheel well to the rear quarter panel. The Camaro also received new fenders, door skins, rear quarter-panels, grille and taillights which gave it a wider, lower appearance. Inside, the Camaro received a redesigned dash and more comfortable seats. Endura rubber bumpers were available on the Camaro as well as two ram air induction systems for the SS. The first was a new special hood with a rear facing inlet and cold-air duct underneath the hood. The second was a dealer installed cowl plenum kit that came with a special air cleaner and adapter. No special hood was needed. 1969 saw an explosion in engine choices. On the low-performance side, a new 307 V8 (a 327 crank in a 283 block) rated at 200bhp was added and a new 350 V8 rated at 255 bhp replaced the more powerful 327 engine. The Z28 continued with its seriously under-rated 302 (now called DZ) engine. The RS package was still popular, and included a special grill with concealed headlights (of a ribbed design) and washers, chrome wheel well moldings, drip rails, pinstripes, and RS badging. The SS standard 350 received a slight power boost to 300 bhp while the 396 engines continued in 325/350/375 bhp versions. Once again, a white RS/SS convertible with the 396 engine paced the Indianapolis 500 race, and Chevy offered replica versions as white convertibles with orange stripes and orange houndstooth upholstery (though most replicas were powered by 350 engines. Because of their collectibility, there are many "fake" 1969 Pace Car replicas out in the collector market so be careful if you are planning on buying one.

    But real performance is more than special upholstery and the big news for 1969 was the availability of special 427 cid V8 equipped Camaros. The first were special dealer-installed units, most notably the Yenko Camaro 427. Yenko Sports Cars, based in Pennsylvania, along with other Chevy dealers such as Nickey in Chicago, Dana in California, and Baldwin-Motion in New York, would install the L72 427 cid block, rated at 425bhp by Chevrolet, ordered under the Central Office Production Order System (COPO) code 9562 into a buyer's Camaro. The Yenko Camaro 427 is a typical example: it came from the factory with no ornamentation, badging, and the 427 engine in a crate. Yenko installed the 427 block, changed the rating to a more realistic 450bhp, and added 15-inch rally wheels, bigger front roll bar, and sYc (Yenko Sports Car) badging. A full complement of racing add ons were available and sub 13 second quarter miles were possible with a few more dollars.

    .

    • The 1969 Camaro was the highest volume first generation Camaro, selling 243,085 units in a long model run that extended from September 26, 1968, through the end of November, 1969. The 1970 model Camaro wasn't introduced until February 26, 1970. This production total wasn't exceeded until 1978.
    • Although part of the first generation of Camaros, the 1969 model received an extensive exterior and interior facelift. New exterior sheet metal included header, valance, fenders, doors, rear quarters, and rear end panel. Wheelwells were flattened for a more aggressive look. The standard grille was redone with sharper angles. The grille of the Rally Sport 1969 models featured vacuum operated covers over the headlights, but the covers had see through slits to permit partial lighting if the doors stuck.
    • The 1969 Camaro was the only model year to have headlight washers. The system was operated by vacuum much like windshield washers. The headlight washers were included with all Rally Sports and could be purchased separately as RPO-CE1.
    • Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmissions were available in any 1969 Camaro except Z28's. Availability was more restricted in previous years.
    • Variable-ratio steering appeared in Camaros for the first time in 1969. This meant that as the steering wheel was turned, the wheels turned progressively more as they approached lock. This permitted faster steer but prevented excessively quick response in straight-line driving.
    • The console and secondary sawtooth instrument cluster designs remained as in 1968, but the 1969 Camaro did get a redesigned main instrument panel. It featured two main pods as before, but 1969's were squared off instead of round. A smaller pod was placed between the two bigger ones. In the standard arrangement, the left pod housed the speedometer, the right pod the fuel gauge, and the center pod the optional clock. With the Special Instrumentation option, the secondary gauges (fuel, battery, temperature, oil) were mounted on the console, the tachometer rook over the big right side pod, and the clock again went into the center pod. If a tachometer was purchased separately in 1969 Camaros (the first time this could be done), the fuel gauge was relocated to the small center dash pod normally reserved for the clock.
    • The 427-cid engine never appeared on 1969 dealer order sheets, but some were specially ordered by dealers. These were legitimate factory built vehicles. These 427-cid Camaros are known as COPO cars, the letters signifying Central Office Production Order. COPO 9560 Camaros included an aluminum block "ZL1" 427-cid engine. Sixty-nine of these Camaros were built, fifty for Chevrolet dealer-racer Fred Gibb and nineteen for other dealers. Although Chevrolet had toyed with the idea of a special graphics package for ZL1 Camaros (and actually built two for its own use), the ZL1 Camaros released to the public carried no special exterior identification. The option cost was $4,160, more than the base Camaro itself. A second category of COPO 1969 Camaro was COPO 9561. These had iron-block 427-cid engines. Chevrolet dealer-racer Don Yenko received 201(or 199, depending on the source) of these Camaros and sold some of them through his dealership with special Yenko graphics. Most of the Yenko Super Camaros were sold through Yenko's distributorship, SPAN, Inc.
    • Additional iron-block 427-cid Camaros were factory-built under COPO 9561, but the quantity isn’t presently known. Additionally, dealer and owner installations of 427-cid motors into 1969 Camaros were common.
    • Four-wheel disc brakes adapted from the Corvette became a legitimate factory option in 1969. It is a misconception that these were factory options only with Z28 and SS models. You could purchase RPO JL8 for any Camaro, but it cost more if it wasn't a Z/28 or SS - $623.50 instead of $500.30. The design of these brakes was completely different from the front disc rear drum option for 1969. The disc/drum combination used a new single piston, floating caliper design. The Corvette style was non-floating with four pistons per wheel.
    • The 1969 Camaro was the first to offer two-tone paint.
    • The Camaro was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 auto race in 1969. Chevrolet sold 3,675 replicas of the pace car under Regular Production Option Z11. These were SS Rally Sport convertibles with code 911 Dover White exteriors, orange houndstooth cloth seats, custom interiors, orange striping, white body sills and rear panels, Rally Wheels, bright exhaust tips, and cowl induction hoods. Other options weren't mandatory, but to match the actual pace car, the following RPO's had to be ordered: A01, A39, A85, C06, D55, D80, G80, M40, N34, N40, U17, and U63. There were also a limited number of Pace Car hardtops produced under RPO Z10.
    • All 1969 Camaros with four-speed transmissions came with Hurst shift linkages .
    • Cowl induction hoods with rear facing cold air inlets were installed on all 427-cid COPO 1969 Camaros, on the pace car replicas, and could be factory-ordered for any SS or Z28. A fiberglass version of the cowl induction hood was also sold over-the-counter for use with the dual four-barrel carburetor crossram setup, or (with an adapter) with single four-barrel engines.
    • Factory-applied stripes on 1969 Camaros with rear spoilers did not cover the small portion of trunk exposed between the spoiler and the taillight panel. Dealers and owners often painted the trunk lip.



    Production of the 1969 Camaros continued into the beginning of 1970 as the all new 1970 Camaros were not released until mid 1970. To add to the confusion, some late 1969 cars were titled as 1970 models.

    Production:
    RS: 37,773
    SS: 33,980
    Z-28: 19,014

    Engines:
    250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
    Z28: 302 V8 290bhp @ 5800rpm, 290lb-ft @ 4200rpm.
    307 V8 200bhp @ 4600rpm, 300lb-ft @ 2400rpm.
    327 V8 210bhp.
    327 V8 275bhp.
    350 LM1 V8 255bhp.
    (SS350) 350 V8 300bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 350bhp @ 5200rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
    (SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.
    (COPO 9561) 427 V8 425bhp @ 5600rpm, 460lb-ft @ 4000rpm.
    (COPO 9560) 427 V8 430bhp @ 5200rpm, 450lb-ft @ 4400rpm.

    Performance:
    (Z-28) 302/290bhp: 0-60 in 7.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.12 sec @ 94.8mph.
    (SS396) 396/375bhp: 0-60 in 6.8 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.7 sec @ 98.7mph.
    (COPO 9561) 427/425bhp: 0-60 in 5.4 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.5 sec @ 102mph.
    (COPO 9560) 427/430bhp: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.16 sec @ 110 mph.

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    Of course the Chevrolet Camaro has been a Pace car more than any other car.