History of The 69 Camaro

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Inspired by the success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet launched its own pony car, the Camaro. Chevrolet stated that the “Camaro” was named after the French word for “comrade,” although some linguists argued that it was actually Spanish for a type of shrimp. Not exactly an awe aspiring name for a new pony car. Luckily, the Camaro had the muscle to back up its case. The Camaro was based on the upcomming 1968 Chevy Nova platform, and featured a unibody structure from the windshield and firewall back, with a separate steel rail subframe for everything up front. The Camaro was available from the start in hardtop coupe and covertible body styles, and could be order with nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer accessories, including three main option packages and a choice of four different engines. The RS package included numerous cosmetic changes including a blacked out grill with hidden headlights, revised parking and tail lights, upgraded interior trim, and RS badging. Of greater interest to enthusiasts was the SS package which included as standard equipment a modified 350 cid V8 (the first 350 engine Chevy ever offered) with an available 396 cid big block producing 325bhp (L35) and later a 375bhp version, along with simulated air-intakes on the hood, special bumble bee striping, and a blacked out grill. It was possible to order both the RS and SS packages, and get a RS/SS Camaro, in which case the RS badging took precedence. Camaro popularity soared when a RS/SS Convertible with the 396 paced the 1967 Indianapolis 500 race.

In December 1966, Chevrolet then quietly released one of the most famous options codes of all time, option Z-28. Unpublicized and unknown by most of the buying public (and most Chevrolet sales people for that matter) and not mentioned in any sales literature, the only way someone could order the Z-28 package was to order a base Camaro with the Z-28 option, mandatory front disc brakes with power assist, and the Muncie 4-speed transmission. You could not order the SS package, automatic transmission, air conditioning, or the convertible. What you got was a unique 302 cid small block (Non-California emission cars were labeled MO while California emission engines were labeled MP) that was created by taking the 327 block and installing the short-stroke 283 crank. Specifically designed to compete in the Club of America Trans Am racing series which placed a 305 cid limit on its entries, the Z-28 was available to the public solely to qualify the car for racing. Advertised horsepower was listed at just 290bhp, which was not very impressive until one hooked it up to a dyno and got actual readings of 360-400 bhp. The Z-28 also came with a competition suspension, broad racing stripes on the hood and trunklid and could be combined with the RS option package. There was no Z-28 badging at all, lest it attract to much attention. The Z-28 proved to be difficult to launch on the street because its high reving engine was lethargic under 4000rpm and worked best when it was shifted at 7500rpm (!). Once it got going, the Z28 was tough to beat and boosted a 140mph top speed and numerous racing victories. Only 602 Z-28s were sold in 1967, making it a truly desirable collectable.

Production:
RS: 64,842
SS: 34,411
Z-28: 609

Engines:
230 I6 140bhp.
250 I6 155bhp @ 4200rpm, 235lb-ft @ 1600rpm.
(Z-28) 302 V8 290bhp @ 5800rpm, 290lb-ft @ 4200rpm.
327 V8 210bhp.
327 V8 275bhp.
350 V8 255bhp.
(SS350) 350 V8 295bhp @ 4800rpm, 380lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 325bhp @ 4800rpm, 410lb-ft @ 3200rpm.
(SS396) 396 V8 375bhp @ 5600rpm, 415lb-ft @ 3600rpm.

Performance:
(Z-28) 302/290bhp: 0-60 in 6.9 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.85 sec @ 101mph.
(SS350) 350/295: 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds @ 90 mph.
(SS396) 396/325bhp: 0-60 in 6.0 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.5 sec @ 99mph.

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