Home Cars The History of the Chevrolet Camaro – The 20 Best Bow Tie Pony Cars

The History of the Chevrolet Camaro – The 20 Best Bow Tie Pony Cars

Vukasin HerbezJuly 31, 2018

  1. 2002 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The fourth generation Camaro, along with its twin brother, the Pontiac Firebird, lasted until 2002 before going on an eight-year hiatus. During its nine-year lifespan, Chevrolet improved the Camaro aesthetically with various mechanical improvements. They also offered newer, more powerful engines, adding to the performance and style of the late 1990 and early 2000 Camaros.

Arguably the best Camaro from that period is the 2001/2 SS version. It 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. It had the same feel, noise and performance as the legendary models from the 60’s but with better comfort and ride quality.

The early 2000’s Camaro SS is also one of the most affordable muscle cars from that period. They were a great basis for modifications since the venerable V8 has big potential. In fact, achieving 400 to 500 HP from the LS1 V8 is relatively easy to do.

  1. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Camaro fans were terribly disappointed when Chevrolet decided to retire the nameplate for the 2003 model year. It looked like Mustang had finally won the muscle car battle since they also discontinued the Firebird. So the Mustang was the only domestic pony/muscle car still on the market at the moment. However, Chevrolet was waiting for the right moment to bring back the Camaro in a totally redesigned, restyled and re-engineered form.

That moment came in late 2009 when they introduced a brand new, fifth-generation Camaro to the eager market. After a few years of showing concept cars and design renderings, Chevrolet was ready to introduce its modern interpretation of the classic Camaro shape. They planned to include some new, highly advanced chassis and engines, too. The 2010 Camaro was a triumph of retro-futuristic design and engineering.

They used GM’s Zeta platform, which was highly sophisticated and gave the new model sports car-like road holding and driving dynamics. The base engine was a V6, but fifth-generation Camaro buyers could get the SS model with a 6.2-liter V8 engine and 426 HP. This 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 better than the Mustang GT of the same vintage. This is what helped Chevrolet beat Ford in the sales war.

  1. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

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

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

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

  1. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

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

Although it provided more than enough power and grunt, they 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 impressive numbers at the race track. With its supercharged engine, the Camaro ZL-1 was faster in the straight line. But the Z/28 was the better all-around performer and a perfect track day vehicle.

  1. 2017 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. It provides loads of torque and a perfectly-balanced chassis, and the 1LE is even better. The engine is the same as in a Corvette, which means it produces 460 HP. The suspension is more focused and slightly revised to give the driver 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, so the 1LE is an all-around sports machine. It is a capable road car that is comfortable enough for everyday use, as well as for long drives.

But the Camaro SS 1LE is still sharp enough to be a track car for tons of fun on the race track. And for $10,000 less, you can get the V6 1LE. It is less powerful and slower but still is a decent sports car for the price.

  1. Yenko Camaro 427

The Yenko family started a Chevrolet dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1949. And in the late ’50s, Don Yenko started managing the business. He slowly turned the company to the performance car market. He started with a series of race-ready Corvettes that Don raced himself. Soon, they were doing full conversion jobs they based on various Chevrolet models.

So, when they introduced the Camaro in 1967, Yenko started converting them to 427 V8 power, selling them as Yenko Super Cars. In addition to more power, wild graphics and a long list of optional extras, Yenko even offered a factory warranty. He also heavily promoted his models. And that is why Yenko Camaros were the most popular choice if you wanted a custom 427 V8 conversion on your regular SS.

  1. 1968 Penske Camaro Trans AM

Chevrolet wanted to promote the Camaro on the race tracks but the company was under a racing ban. So, they supplied various racing teams, such as Penske with factory-tuned Trans Am eligible Camaros.

For 1968, Penske entered two signature blue examples that were unbeatable due to some clever engineering and rule bending. However, the record set in 1968 of winning 10 out of 13 races is still unbroken, so the blue Camaro deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.

  1. Baldwin Motion Camaro

If you think that Yenko was the only classic Camaro tuner, think again. In fact, there were several well-known names in the business. However, the most extreme was Baldwin Motion. Their 427 conversions for the early ’70s models were simply the best.

Baldwin Motion installed numerous special performance parts and dyno tuned their cars. Also, they delivered them with a written warranty saying the car could achieve 10 second quarter mile times and produce 500 HP. Today, Baldwin Motion Camaros are highly desirable, valuable pieces of muscle car history.

  1. 1974 Camaro Z28

The 1974 model year was the last year for the classic chrome bumper Camaro. The option would later return, but this model year marked the end of an era. Although they produced it in the dark ages of the muscle car culture, the 1974 Z28 still had some muscle.

This was thanks to its 350 V8 that produced 245 HP. That may not sound like much, but it was a respectable number for the mid-70s. In fact, this engine gave the Camaro some much-needed performance numbers.

  1. 2012 COPO Camaro

You may know about the legendary COPO Camaro ZL1 cars of the late ’60s and their incredible drag strip performance. For the 2012 model year, Chevrolet introduced a special edition COPO Camaro which they made for the NHRA Stock Eliminator Championship.

Under the hood was a naturally aspirated 427 V8 engine delivering over 600 HP. Also, they gave it the latest racing technology to be the fastest car on the drag strip. Chevrolet wanted to pay homage to the original COPO Camaros, so they only produced 69 cars for 2012.

  1. Camaro Bumblebee

The Chevrolet Camaro as one of the most popular American muscle cars ever has appeared in numerous movies in the last 51 years. However, the most popular of all movie Camaros is the Bumblebee – the yellow and black Camaro from the Transformers movies. As such, it deserves a place on this list, both in classic and modern interpretation.

Did you choose a favorite from this history of the Chevrolet Camaro? These are the best bow tie pony cars to roll out of Chevy dealerships in America. Some are rare while others are plentiful, but there is a Camaro to appeal to every driver.

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