The Mustang Eater: Chevy Camaro From Then to Now

July 27, 2023

Before it officially came out on September 29, 1966, the Chevy Camaro was code-named 'The Panther,' and was slated to become a competitor to the Ford Mustang. A press conference was pulled together, and General Motors showed the world what would soon be the most iconic muscle car made in America: The Chevrolet Camaro, or Project XP-836. When asked what 'Camaro' meant, Chevrolet responded it was a "small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs." The real origin of the name actually helms from the word 'comrade,' and specifically, the word Camaro is of French-English Creole origin.

First Generation

The first generation of Camaros lasted from 1966(7) to 1969. They came as two-door coupes or convertibles, with two + two seats. These bad boys boasted rear wheel drive with a choice of seven different sized V8 engines to power the front. There was a Super Sport and Rally Sport design to pick from, and, in 1967, the Z-28 was introduced with stripes down the hood and a 302 cubic inch V8 engine to fit to melt asphalt.

Second Generation

The second generation of Chevrolet Camaros was introduced to the public in February 1970 and lasted through 1981. As the style of the vehicle changed with the times, so did the size. It became larger and wider through its major changes in 1977 and 1978. It still was based on the F Body Platform, a signature GM design prevalent in the first generation.

Third Generation

This generation lasted from 1981 all the way through 1992. These were the first to introduce fuel injection, five-speed manual transmissions, Turbo-Hydramatic 700R4 four-speed automatic transmissions, 15/16 inch wheels, an OHV four-cylinder engine, and hatchback bodies and yet were five hundred pounds lighter than their predecessors. The 2.5 liter Iron Duke pushrod four-cylinder engine was dropped in favor of the 2.8-liter V6 engine, but in the 1985 model, car owners were given an option of a 305 small block V8. This engine soon became popular and was standardized in 1987.

Gen 4

The fourth generation debuted in 1993 and came with an updated F-body platform, while still retaining its traditional features, like the two + two seating, coupe body style, rear wheel drive, and a gnarly V8 under the hood. This generation lasted up through 2002 and saw large steps in the right direction with each year, including a Z-28 model boasting a 350 MPFI V8 and a limited SS model with a 330 HP LT4 small block. The interior was updated a few times up through 1997 and 1998. As handling, exhaust, and acceleration tightened up, the market started seeing drastic changes, and Chevrolet quickly realized the classic F Body Platform wasn't the way to go any longer.

Gen 5

In 2010, the Chevy Camaro saw a renaissance unlike anything before. Production was approved in 2006, and it hit showrooms near the end of 2009. GM Holden from Australia led the design of what would be the new face of Camaro, and the results took the world by storm. LS and LT models were released, containing 220 V-6 engines with a horsepower of 312, while the SS models held a 376 cubic inch V-8 and put out up to a horsepower of 426. Soon after, on April 10, 2010, the Chevy Camaro won the World Car Design of the Year. Following up on their recent success, GM started manufacturing convertibles in 2011, but due to the devastating 2011 Fukushima earthquake, pigments for some colors were not available. 2012 marked the Camaro's forty-fifth anniversary, and to celebrate, GM put out a special edition in Carbon Flash Metallic paint, with many customization options. GM finished the party by relocating to the United States where it all began. 2014 saw a refreshed body design and the return of the ever-popular Z-28, this one coming with a monster of an engine: a seven-liter LS7 V8 engine able to produce up to 505 horsepower. And, like the original Z-28s, A/C was optional. The fifth generation of Camaros lasted until 2015.

Gen 6

The sixth and most current generation of Camaros began in 2016 and is still seeing updates today. It was launched at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on May 26, 2015, coinciding with the Camaro's upcoming fiftieth birthday. The 2016 Camaro debut came off the lines lean and pristine, weighing two hundred pounds less than its predecessor. It came out with an LT and SS model and was one of the most unique vehicles GM put out. In fact, seventy percent of its architecture was exclusive to the 2016 Camaro. But rather than an anticipated Z-28, Camaro responded with the ZL1, with a souped-up performance package that made 2017 grin like an idiot. It came with both a V-6 and V-8, a black satin hood, and other options for the car enthusiast. They built on the ingenuity of the ZL1 in 2018, launching a quicker, leaner ZL1 1LE, which performed three seconds faster than the previous ZL1 and is further proof Chevy is always improving.

Future Gen

For over fifty years, Chevy's little 'mustang eater' has given the world one heck of a ride. Since its induction in 1966, up until this year, Chevrolet has proven what it loves is fast, efficient vehicles, and the Camaro is a perfect example of this. From the classic F Body Platform to the sleek, modern design of the ZL1, Chevrolet is always improving and is calling on the world to answer the call, sit behind the wheel, and hit the road with them.