Joshua Lee Williamson
January 24, 2002
The name "Camaro" came from a French word for friend. The decision on the name came down to the last minute, with most of the world sure the car would be named, "The Panther." Although the strange name had to be explained to the public, Camaro fit in with other Chevy names- Corvette, Chevelle, Chevy 2, and Corvair.
The main reason the Camaro was introduced was because of the huge success of the Ford Mustang. The Camaro was roughly the same size as the Mustang, a little wider and based more on performance. The Camaro is one of the last remaining muscle cars still in production today. It is only fitting that buyers still expect maximum performance from their Camaros. It is that expectation that has kept the Camaro alive for all these years, while many other cars have faded away, lost in memory.
The Mustang GT only only offered the 289- cubic inch or an 390- cubic inch V8 in 1967. The Camaro rolled out with 302, 327, 350, and 396 cubic inch V8's (Camaro 14) The Camaro's style was much smoother as well. The introduction of the Camaro threw pony car development into a frenzy. Before the Camaro, the Mustang and Barracuda were not quite considered full muscle cars. Most serious performance enthusiasts still opted for intermediate sized GTO's or the Chevelle Super Sports (SS). The Camaro changed the image of those sport coupes. (Camaros, Eric Ethan)
The Z28 and the stout SS-396 were more than just a stylish ride. Under the hood Camaros were well respected. Such respect helped establish the Camaro as the premier high-performance pony car.
Camaro sales increased each year form 1967-1969. To this day, these Camaros are the favorite among enthusiasts. The Camaro brings a bad-boy image to the street and the track. The car has always been based on racing even when the Camaro was not officially involved. "It's at home drag racing, and racing away from convenience stores after hold-ups. Because of this, media has given the Camaro a bad boy reputation."(American Muscle Cars, 47)
1969 saw several noteworthy changes to the Camaro. The grill became deeper set, the taillamps were longer and thinner and broken into three segments. A heavy "eye-brow" crease was added on the both sides of the car extending from the front wheel well to the rear wheel well. A matching crease went from the rear wheel well to the rear quarter panel. Endura rubber bumpers were available on the Camaro as well as a two ram air induction systems for the SS. The first was a new special hood with a rear facing inlet and cold-air duct underneath the hood. The second was a dealer installed cowl plenum kit that came with a special air cleaner and adapter. No special hood was needed. The RS package was still popular, and included a special grill with concealed headlights and washers, and RS badging. The SS standard 350 received a slight power boost to 300bhp but the big news was the availability of special 427 cid equipped Camaros. The first were special dealer-installed units, most notably the Yenko Camaro 427. Yenko Sports Cars, based in Pennsylvania, along with other Chevy dealers such as Nickey in Chicago, Dana in California, and Baldwin-Motion in New York, would install the L72 427 cid block, rated at 425bhp by Chevrolet, ordered under the Central Office Production Order System (COPO) code 9562 into a buyer's Camaro. The Yenko Camaro 427 is typical of the breed; it came from the factory with no ornamentation, badging, and the 427 in a crate. Yenko installed the 427 block, changed the rating to a more realistic 450bhp, and added 15-inch rally wheels, bigger front roll bar, and sYc (Yenko Sports Car) badging. A full complement of racing add ons were available and sub 13 second quarter miles were possible with a few more dollars. Overshadowing these dealer souped up Camaros was the factory Camaro ZL1. Specially designed to compete in the NHRA Super Stock drag classes, Chevrolet made...
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