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Mustang Vs. Camaro: The Biggest Battle of the Muscle Car World

Vukasin HerbezDecember 16, 2018

  1. Chevrolet Camaro 1977

Like all muscle cars in the ’70s, the Camaro faced tightening emission and safety regulations resulting in a loss of power and performance. The early second-generation models looked promising, but just a few years after, Chevrolet discontinued the Z/28. Sadly, the most powerful V8 model produced approximately 165 HP, which was a pale shadow of its former glory.

However, the 1977 model is important for two reasons. First, it marked the return of the Z/28 option after a few years of absence. The ’77 Z/28 delivered just 185 horses. However, with a special body kit, wild graphics package, and spoiler, it looked wild. But, it was the second reason that is much more interesting.

In 1977, Chevrolet Camaro finally outsold the Ford Mustang for the first time since 1967. The mid-70s Mustang was a slow, ugly car while the Camaro at least looked much better with proper muscle car styling and stance. That is why Chevy sold over 200,000 Camaros in that year alone while Ford sold just 153,000 Mustangs.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro IROC

The third-generation Camaro was a well-received and popular car. But after a while, car buyers wanted more performance and power. Soon, Chevrolet delivered that in the form of the legendary IROC-Z. Debuting in 1985, the IROC-Z was a tribute to the Chevrolet-sponsored International Race of Champions racing series. However, it was much more than just an appearance package and a cool name.

Under the hood was the 350 V8 producing 225 HP in the early years, and 245 HP in later versions. The buyers could opt for a manual or automatic transmission, and they tuned the suspension as well as steering. Chevrolet even offered a cool-looking convertible, which was the first Camaro ragtop in 18 years. The IROC-Z proved to be a popular and influential muscle car that finally brought some real performance to the buyers.

  1. 2001/02 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The fourth-generation Camaro, along with its twin brother, the Pontiac Firebird, lasted until 2002 and then went on an eight-year hiatus. During its nine-year lifespan, Chevrolet improved the Camaro, not only aesthetically but with the introduction of various mechanical improvements. They included newer, more powerful engines that added to the performance and style of the late ‘90s and early 2000s Camaros.

Arguably the best Camaro from that period is the 2001/2 SS version that featured a 5.7-liter V8 with 325 HP. The combination of a powerful engine, sturdy chassis, and six-speed manual made the fourth-generation Camaro SS a classic muscle car in every aspect. In fact, it had the same feel, noise, and performance as the legendary models from the ‘60s, but with better comfort and ride quality.

Most car fans remember the early 2000s Camaro SS as one of the best affordable muscle cars from that period. Also, it was a great basis for modifications since the venerable V8 has big potential. Achieving 400 to 500 HP from the LS1 V8 is relatively easy, too.

  1. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Camaro fans were terribly disappointed when Chevrolet decided to retire the nameplate after 2003. It looked like the Mustang had finally won the muscle car battle since Chevy also discontinued the Firebird. The Mustang was the only domestic pony/muscle car still on the market at the moment. However, Chevrolet was just waiting for the right moment to bring the Camaro back to the market.

But, this time, it would be in a totally redesigned, restyled and re-engineered form. That moment came in late 2009 when they introduced the new, fifth-generation Camaro to an eager market. After a few years of showing concept cars and design renderings, Chevrolet was finally ready to introduce its modern interpretation of the classic Camaro shape an updated and highly advanced chassis and engines.

The 2010 Camaro was a triumph of retro-futuristic design and engineering since GM’s Zeta platform was highly sophisticated. It allowed the new model sports car-like road holding and driving dynamics. The base engine was a V6, but right from the start, the fifth-generation Camaro buyers had the option of the SS model with a 6.2-liter V8 engine and 426 HP.

That engine made the 2010 Camaro SS one of the fastest domestic cars at the moment. With an advanced chassis and brutal performance, the Camaro SS was far better than the Mustang GT of the same vintage. And that motor is what helped Chevrolet beat Ford in the car sales war.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet knew the Camaro platform could handle much more than 426 HP. It could deliver fantastic cornering speeds and world-class handling. So, it was only natural, that as soon as the new generation hit the streets in 2010, the Chevy engineers started developing performance versions. The first of those was the great Camaro ZL-1 they introduced in 2012, selling it throughout 2015.

The ZL-1 was a special 427 V8 powered drag beast from 1969, and its 2012 counterpart followed the same formula. Chevrolet took the biggest, most powerful engine GM had, which was the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and stuffed it into the Camaro. The result was a 580-HP street terror with a highly advanced Magnetic Ride suspension and performance Goodyear tires, Brembo brakes and lots more.

The 2012 Camaro ZL-1 was not a one-trick pony like its 1969 predecessor was. Instead, it was a pure sports car that could put the Porsche 911 to shame. In fact, it could outhandle and outrun much more expensive and exotic cars. However, it was expensive at $57,000 MSRP, but it was well worth it.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

The legendary Z/28 version returned for 2014 in an interesting and extremely capable package. Once again, the Z/28 was a track day car, road race-oriented Camaro with its brakes, suspension and steering dedicated to precision and driving dynamics. Under the hood was a 7.0-liter V8 from the Corvette Z06 that delivered 505 HP.

The engine provided more than enough power and grunt, but they highly-engineered the rest of the car for precision. Stiffer shocks, thicker anti-roll bars, special wheels and brakes, and a 300-pound lighter body helped the Z/28 achieve better numbers at the racetrack. With its supercharged engine, the Camaro ZL-1 was faster in the straight line. However, the Z/28 was a better all-around performer as well as the perfect track day vehicle.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

The base Camaro SS is one of the best muscle cars around with its 6.2-liter, 450 HP V8 engine, loads of torque and perfectly balanced chassis. But, the 1LE is even better. The engine is the same as you would get in a Corvette, which means it delivers 460 HP. The suspension is even more focused and slightly revised to give drivers a better driving feel and sharper response.

Imagine driving this perfectly tuned machine on a long road trip with every mile bringing you more driving pleasure. Also, they improved the aero package slightly and the 1LE is the best car if you want an all-around sports machine. It is a capable road car and comfortable enough for everyday use and long drives.

Also, it is sharp enough to be a track car that will provide tons of fun on the racetrack. Besides the SS V8 1LE, for $10,000 less, you can get the V6 1LE. It is less powerful and slower, but still a capable sports car.

Mustang or Camaro: which car wins in your book? This is the biggest battle of the muscle car world that continues to this day. In reality, both cars win since they have sparked many innovations and advancements in the automotive industry.

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