The Camaro Timeline


April, 1964. Super Nova.

Super Nova made its initial appearance at the New York Auto Show. With five nameplates already in production, Chevy officials decided not to produce the car at that time. When Camaro was in its design phase, many of the ideas from Super Nova were incorporated, such as a variation on the console and central instrument panel.

August, 1964. GM initiates the F-Car Program.

GM made the decision to go ahead with an entirely new program to compete with other automakers in ways that Chevy Corvair could not. Dubbed the "F-Car" at first, it would later become an automotive legend called Camaro.

August, 1964. Styling begins.

Chevy engineers and designers worked in conjunction with Fisher Body Division to see that the performance of Camaro did not take away from its styling. Computers were used extensively for the first time , as were other unorthodox methods. Transparent quarter-scale bodies let engineers view stresses and part relationships.

February, 1965. "Mule" test drives.

In Camaro prototypes called "mules," as well as in competitor's cars, GM officials took test drives at the GM proving grounds in Milford, MI. Longer trips went as far east as New England, south of Florida, and west to the GM Desert Proving Grounds outside Phoenix, as well as along mountain roads of California.

February, 1965. First Wind-Tunnel Test.

Chevy sent a quarter-scale replica of the coupe, along with a staff stylist, clay sculpter, and Chevy engineer to an aircraft wind-tunnel near Dallas. Not much attention had been paid to aerodynamics prior to this test, but it proved successful. It was because of this 11-day test that the Z-28 was designed with a chin spoiler and a rear spoiler.

August, 1965. Camaro "face" finalized.

The distinctive wide grille and headlights of the first Camaro went through several changes before getting the official sign-off. Early designs borrowed from Super Nova, among others.

Date Unknown. Camaro Fastback.

Chevy stylists optimistically mocked up this fastback version of Camaro to compete with Ford Mustang 2+2. The car never went into production.

June, 1966. The Camaro Name.

Just weeks before production began, the name "Camaro" was decided on. General Manager Elliot M. "Pete" Estes announced the name publicly, quipping, "I went into a closet, shut the door and came out with the name." Camaro is french for "comrade, pal, or chum," according to an obscure 1935 French-to-English dictionary.

September 21, 1966. Camaro for Sale.

The 1967 Camaro hit dealer showrooms and was eagerly accepted by the public. The basic sport coupe had a standard six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission with a base price of $2,466. More than 80 options, including a V-8 engine, SS-350 Package, and RS Package, among others, were available, which brought the price of delivered cars to over $3,500.

September, 1966. Camaro: The Movie.

To help launch the new car, Chevy put togeather an hour-and-a -half long movie. In color, the movie, The Camaro, was narrated by cartoonist Milton Caniff and told the story of the F-Car. It was shown extensively in Detroit theaters and on television, and featured cameo appearances by GM staffers Dave Holls, Don McPherson, Alex Mair, and Bob Lund.

September, 1966. Camaro: The Play.

An elaborate stage revue called Off Brodway was performed by four different road companies throughout 25 U.S. and Canadian cities. Its purpose: To promote awareness of Camaro. It featured a small orchestra, dancers, a chorus, and, as centerpieces, a '67 coupe and convertible. Automotive News called Off Brodway, "...some of the fanciest, gaudiest, and costliest entertainment ever to hit the boards."

September, 1966. Camaro: The Clothing

Perhaps the most unlikely of Camaro promotions was a line of women's fashions by a New York designer. Known as the Camaro Collection, the dresses were available in 450 shops and cost between $20 and $40. Who knows? This may have set precedent for the stylish houndstooth trim inserts in the '68 .

May, 1967. Indy 500 Pace Car.

In just its first production year, Camaro was recognized for its performance and style when selected as Official Pace Car of the Indianapolis 500, the first of four times Camaro would be so honored. In all, 100 or so Camaro pace car replicas were made, most of them SS-350s with the Powerglide automatic transmission.

1967. The Penske Era.

After losing races early in the year due to handling probllems, Roger Penske's new Camaro Z-28, won its first Trans-Am race, in Morlboro, Md. Chevy engineers, alongwith Penske's team, tackled the handling problems with computer aides and, finally, through trial and error. The Z-28 beat out Mustangs, Cougars, and Javelins to take the checkered flag.

October, 1965. The Need for Speed.

In a Smokey Ynick Z-28, three drivers--including Bunkie Blackburn--set world speed records on the salt at Bonneville. The USAC\FIA-sanctioned event saw the Yunick Camaro crush old records with speeds upwards of 174 mph.

1968. Minor Differences.

Camaro experts can tell you about the many subtle changes made between '67 and '68 years. Here are a few: Square sidemarker lights were added to each fender. "Ventipanes" were deleted on '68s. The '68 had rectangular parking lamps instead of round, and the grillle mesh was now silver in color, rather than black. An added option was houndstooth seat trim inserts.

May, 1969. Indy 500 Pace Car Part 2.

In its second appearance as pace-setter, a White, 1969 Camaro Convertible with Hugger Orange stripes and trim was used. The car had a 396 Turbo Jet V-8 engine with Turbo Hydra-matic three-speed automatic transmission and attained the required 120-mph pace lap speed without breaking a sweat.

1969. Mr. Popular.

The 1969 Camaro won its second straight SCCA Trans-Am championship, set the pace at Indy and was selected NASCAR official pace car for its eight major stock-car races. CAR AND DRIVER's reader's poll named it "the year's best sporty car," and Chevrolet sold more Camaros than ever.

1970. The Next Generation.

The first major redesign of Camaro was ruled mostly by designers. And, the unique shape and style of the car made it an instant hit. One version of the new was Camaro that (thankfully) never made it to production was Camaro Station Wagon. If it were produced, however, you would have gotten your groceries home in record time.

Big Bad Z-28.

Camaro Z-28, in conjunction with an SCCA rules change, upgraded the stock V-8 engine from a 302cid to 350; essentially the same LT-1 engine that was in the Corvette that year. It blew the doors off almost anything on wheels.

1974. Whoops!

By mistake, the Z-28 decals on '74 s were printed with White as a background color instead of Transparent. As a result, only decals on White 1974 Z-28 Camaros look as intended.

1974. Farewell to Z.

The Arab oil embargo of 1973, coupled with tighter federal emissions and noise regulations, made the future of Camaro Z-28 bleak. As designer Jerry Palmer put it, "Chevrolet took the position that we'd rather the car now before it died a slow, lingering ." Production ceased after that year until 1977.

1974. IROC.

Penske Racing made the switch from Porsches to Camaros for the International Race Of Champion series. Incidentally, Camaro won every IROC race that yeear. Then again it couldn't lose.

1977. Z-Revival.

Due in large part to TV coverage of IROC, the popularity of Camaro once again soared. Chevy made the decision to bring back the Z-28, this time with more emphasis on handling, to accurately reflect the races.

1978. The T-Top.

When people think T-Tops, they think Camaro. The winter of '78 saw these grey-tinted, lift-out glass panels enter production. They were coooooool.

1982. Third Generation. Third Indy 500.

For the third time ever and the first time in 12 years, Camaro underwent a major redesign. The results were a success as Camaro was selected to pace the Indianapolis 500, also for the third time. The Z-28 was fully-loaded with a twin-TBI V-8 and available T-Top.

1985. IROC-Z Package.

Minor exterior revisions were made on the Camaro in the 1985 year and a special Z-28 package was offered, commemorating the International Race Of Champions.

1985. The Music Industry.

Camaro was immortalized in music when th neo-punk group "The Milkmen" released their colllege radio surprise hit song, Bitchin' Camaro.

1987. Convertible.

Even with T-Tops, some people still feel claustrophobic. Never fear, the Camaro Convertible is here.

1991. If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em.

Camaro made its debut as a law enforcement vehicle, making it quite easy for the men in blue to track down Ford Mustangs on high speed chases.

1993. Fourth Generation. Fourth Indy 500.

With a totally redesigned body and significant mechanical improvements, the fourth-generation Camaro debuted. Retained were the Camaro hallmarks--a long hood, a short deck, beefy tires, a menacing stance and its reputation as a racer. Camaro was selected Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 a record fourth time.

1996. The Big Three-Oh.

Yes, Camaro is 30 years old, and it looks better all the time. The optional 30th Anniversary Package, features a White exterior with Hugger Orange striping, white aluminum wheels and black-and-white houndstooth seating surfaces with available leather accents reminiscent of th 1969 Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car.

1998. New Look, More Muscle & All-American Attitude.

Camaro's new front-end design hints of its predecessors and sets high standards for aggressive beauty. Put your foot down and the 200hp, 3800 V6 responds with enthusiasm. The Z28 also grows some muscle in '98 thanks to the 305hp LS1 V8 under the sleek hood. And back for 1998, the ultimate--Camaro SS with the LS1 V8 pumped up to 320hp! Dramatic style awesome power and all-American attitude--there's just no catching Camaro.