With the occasion of the 2016 Camaro’s introduction on Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, Chevrolet has showcased approximately 25 historic and milestone Camaro models, including the very first model ever built.
It was the first time Chevrolet gathered such a collection of historic production, concept and race cars from the first five generations of the Camaro.
Many of the cars on display were from the GM Heritage Collection, while others were loaned by private collectors for the special event. Let’s take a look at the most interesting of them.
The star of the exhibition was without a doubt the 1967 Camaro VIN #100001, the first one of 49 hand-built “pilot assembly” vehicles at the Norwood, Ohio plant in mid-1966. These were early models built for evaluation before regular production began. Powered by a 3.7-liter inline-six engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission, it was the car Chevrolet used for the public introduction of the Camaro, in August 1966. It was also used in a number of public relations photos and promotional films.
The original Z/28 package was developed specifically to homologate the new Camaro for SCCA’s popular Trans-Am road-racing series. It featured special chassis and suspension components, along with a unique 302-cubic-inch version of the small block V8 engine required to accommodate class rules limiting engine displacement to 305 cubic inches. Only 602 examples were built in 1967.
There was no first-generation Z/28 convertible available for the general public, but one was built for Chevrolet general manager Pete Estes. The hand-built specialty Camaro fulfilled his desire for a performance-oriented convertible with a full complement of features and helped convince him to keep the Z/28 in the lineup for 1969. His Z/28 convertible featured a number of special parts not offered on regular-production 1968 Z/28 models, including a cross-ram intake manifold, cowl-induction hood and four-wheel disc brakes.
The Cortez Silver Camaro ZL1 is number 66 of the 69 made in 1969 – all built through the COPO special order system with an all-aluminum 427 big-block engine. This example is one of only 12 ordered with the famous Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual transmission and one of only six delivered with Rally wheels.
The first year of the Camaro’s second generation brought the Z/28 which featured a 360hp LT-1 engine. This unique version is the Hurst Sunshine Special, one of three cars built with a prototype power-sliding sunroof – a feature that never saw production.
The 1974 Camaro’s facelift answered new federal bumper standards, bringing a new, sloping front-end design and wraparound taillamps. New extruded and polished aluminum front and rear bumper added nearly 7 inches to the car’s overall length.
Camaro received another facelift in 1978 that introduced body-color, molded urethane front and rear fascias. This model is a Canadian-spec vehicle which features a 170hp 5.7-liter small block V8 and a three-speed automatic transmission.
Named for the International Race of Champions series, which pitted drivers from different racing series in identically prepared Camaro race cars, the IROC-Z production model brought more performance. It offered the all-new 5.0-liter Tuned Port Injection V8 engine, rated at 215hp, along with four-wheel disc brakes, special 16-inch wheels and additional exterior appointments.
In 1992, Camaro celebrated its 25th anniversary and marked the final year of its third generation. All ’92 Camaro models received 25th anniversary badges on their instrument panels, but only a Camaro with the Heritage Package had another badge on the rear deck lid.
The fourth-generation Camaro generation was selected as the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. The Z28 on which the Pace Car was based introduced the Gen II Small Block V-8. Dubbed LT1, the new 5.7-liter engine was rated at 275 hp – the most in a Camaro V8 since 1971.
Chevrolet marked the return of the Camaro SS in 1996 with a bold hood scoop, taller rear spoiler and ZR1-style 17-inch wheels – as well as more horsepower. The 5.7L LT1 engine was rated at 305hp.
On August 27, 2002, in its 35th anniversary year, Chevrolet suspended production of the Camaro. This red Camaro Z28 convertible was the last car off the line that day.
Besides the 2006 and 2007 Camaro concepts, the exhibition features the first production fifth-generation Camaro built, carrying vehicle identification number #001.
This engineering prototype vehicle was used for the 7:37.40 run around the Green Hell.