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The Chevy Camaro - First Generation

Introduced in 1967 as a competitor to the Ford Mustang, Chevy graced the world with the Camaro.  Fitting nicely into the "Pony Car" classification, the Camaro has endured as one of the most sought-after muscle cars of all time.  The car was a hit out right out of the gate: Chevy sold 220,000 units within the first year. The first generation Camaro was a small, two door, four seat car which was powered with anything from a yawn-worthy inline six to a hair-raising 427 V8.   Filling the gap between each was Chevy's Small-Block a.k.a. "Mouse Motor" offered with 302, 307, 327 and 350 CID displacement and also the Big-Block or "Rat Motor" which was offered with 396 or 427 CID displacement (as special order only). The Camaro was built on a partial uni-body chassis with an actual box-frame cradling the engine and front suspension with the rear running gear supported by structure within the body.

The Camaro was offered with nearly 80 factory and 40 dealer options. These options were packaged into three core offerings including the Rally-Sport (RS) appearance package, Super-Sport (SS) performance package and also the highly sought after Z/28 package which was essentially a Trans Am spec race-ready car. Combinations of the Rally and Super sport were available as an RS/SS and are also highly collectible. But it wasn't just Trans Am racing that the public was interested in. The Camaro was, and still is known as a legendary drag car. Several dealers including Baldwin-Motion, Dana and Yenko embraced the craze and offered dealer modified cars which could be driven from the show room to the drag strip and win races. GM policy did not permit the installation of a engine larger than 400CID so in 1969, COPO (Central Office Production Order) cars were being ordered by super-stock drag racers such as Fred Gibb and Dick Harrell with L72 and ZL1 427 engines.   The ZL1 was the most fearsome of the motors putting out over 500 HP.  Only 69 ZL1 Camaros were ever made making them the most valuable. 

If  you're looking to get in on the Pony Car craze, you can still find hundreds of first generation Camaros for sale but beware of what you buy. Rust can be an issue so be sure to inspect the shock towers in the trunk,  rocker panels and floor pans. Like all muscle cars, Camaros have been hacked and chopped to make way for huge engines in the quest of straight line speed. The prices on all-original, numbers-matching cars continues to climb over and above $60,000 but good un-original "driver" condition cars can sell for an average of $20,000.  Parts are still very much available and the support network for the first generation Camaro is huge - go check out our friends at Camaros.net.

Stay tuned, we'll be bringing you more on the Camaro in the coming days. Do you have a favorite Camaro? Any fond memories of these cars? Let us know in the comments section right here on Chubbcollectorcar.com or on our Facebook Site.

Jeff Walker

About Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker is a Classic Car Insurance Specialist and financial services professional; As the son of a Drag-Racer and auto restorer, he was born with a wrench in his hand and learned the trade at an early age. His specialty is 60’s and 70’s American Muscle but his mechanical ability has afforded him the opportunity to work on all types of cars from Alfa-Romeos to Gullwings and everything in-between. Jeff is also a motorcycle fanatic and maintains his own stable of classic & collectible bikes. He is happiest when a car or motorcycle project is underway in his garage.

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My favorite Camaro? The '69

My favorite Camaro? The '69 Z-28 with the RS appearance package. 302 DZ solid lifter engine, under rated at 290 HP (rumored to be closer to 400 in reality), upgraded suspension, and the coolest badging of the era.

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