The Chevy Camaro has long been an American classic, but it has gained fame worldwide as well. Released in 1966, the Camaro was originally designed to compete against the popular Ford Mustang, and it did so valiantly for four generations before production was halted. This did not end the Camaro though, as it was later taken out of retirement for a fifth generation in 2009.
The first generation of the Camaro had the most iconic muscle car design, but had a production run of only two years. The car was wildly popular, and thus two legacies were born: the image and performance of the Camaro and the difficulty in getting an official right-hand drive version available in Australia.
That isn’t to say you can’t find Camaros in Australia, but General Motors has practically ignored the Australian market due to it’s presence there as Holden. It has taken other companies importing the car with the purpose of RHD conversion to get them over here.
The second-generation Camaro had significantly different styling. The popularity of the vehicle continued to increase, and during its run of 11 years, it overtook the Ford Mustang in Australian sales for the first time. This generation was wider and larger, with a number of minor tweaks added throughout its lifespan. The most notable version of the second generation was the Z28 Special Performance Package, which was the model that included the scoop in the bonnet.
The third generation of the Camaro really embraced the eighties. Once again, a drastic redesign took place and the Camaro was updated with 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual transmissions. This generation also saw the return of the convertible, something that was absent from the second iteration of the Camaro.
General Motors continued to adapt to the styles of the times with the fourth generation. The edges were rounded off for the new design and the 6-speed manual transmission made its first appearance. While they do exist in Australia, the fourth generation is one of the harder variants to find on the used-car market. In 2002, the Camaro was supposedly retired after 35 years of production.
Beginning in 2006 though, two Camaro concept cars surfaced, piquing public interest and starting the rumblings of the Camaro returning to production. This became a reality in 2009, when the fifth generation was released. Based on the design of the first-generation Camaro, the newest model was a classic design with a modern touch. This is the current generation and is also the most widely available.
The initial conception of the Camaro came from Chevrolet’s need for a car to fit the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive category. While more than a dozen different engines were available for the first-generation, the 5.7L V8 was one of the most popular performance options.
The 1979 Z28, a model that remains significant to this day, sported a 5.7L V8 engine that produced 138kW of power and 380Nm of torque. Over 50,000 of those sold in its release year alone, despite the fact that it competed with other Camaro models.
The third-generation Camaro gave the driver even more power. While it still had the 5.7L V8 engine, this version of the Camaro was able to pull as much as 183kW of power and 461Nm of torque out of it.
As one might expect, the newest model of the Camaro pushed the boundaries even further. The fifth-generation Camaro is available with a 6.2L V8 with 415kW of power and 747Nm of torque.
The earliest Camaros didn’t come with a lot of kit. By the third-generation though, the car sported power windows and locks. Better audio equipment and air-conditioning worked their way in as well.
It will come as no surprise that the fifth generation, which debuted in 2009, has all the standard kit you would expect in a modern vehicle. It may not represent a major example of modern car technology, but you can be sure the car will be comfortable and contain standard amenities like ABS, front side airbags, and even a satellite radio.
Fittingly, the major competitor to the Camaro is the car it was designed to compete against, the Ford Mustang. The second-generation Mustang lasted only four years though, as the Camaro finally surpassed it in sales. That version was smaller both in weight and length than previous models and the performance suffered with its 2.3L engine.
The resurgence of the Mustang in the late 1990s and early 2000s was a contributing factor to the first retirement of the Camaro. Popular demand, though, brought the Camaro back and the two cars competed once again. In the most recent models, the Mustang maxes out with a 5.0L V8, 307kW of power, and 529Nm of torque. When you compare that to Chevy’s 2010 1SS 2 dr Coupe Camaro, it doesn’t even come close. This Camaro trim boasts a 6.2-litre engine, 317.9kW of power, and a whopping 569Nm of torque. For Aussie drivers looking for power, the Camaro wins hands-down.