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Revision as of 00:14, 4 February 2009 by Budlight
The Chevrolet Camaro is a Pony car manufactured by the Chevrolet division of General Motors. It went on sale on September 29, 1966 for the 1967 Model year and was designed as a competing model to the Ford Mustang. The car shared the GM F platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced for 1967. Four distinct generations of the car were produced before production ended in 2002. A new fifth-generation Camaro will roll off assembly lines in spring of 2009.
Before any official announcement, reports began running in April 1965 within the automotive press that Chevrolet was preparing a competitor to the Ford Mustang, code-named Panther. On June 21, 1966, around 200 automotive journalists received a telegram from General Motors stating, "...Please save noon of June 28 for important SEPAW meeting. Hope you can be on hand to help scratch a cat. Details will follow...(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet Public Relations – SEPAW Secretary." The following day, the same journalists received another General Motors telegram stating, "Society for the Eradication of Panthers from the Automotive World will hold first and last meeting on June 28...(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet Public Relations SEPAW Secretary." These telegrams puzzled the industry.
On June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit, Michigan’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. It would be the first time in history that 14 cities were hooked up in real time for a press conference via telephone lines. Chevrolet General Manager Pete Estes started the new conferences stating that all attendees of the conferences were charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World and that this would be the first and last meeting of SEPAW. Estes then announced a new car line, project designation XP-836, with a name that Chevrolet chose in keeping with other car names beginning with the letter C such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II, and Corvette. He claimed the name, "suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner" and that "to us, the name means just what we think the car will do... Go!" The new Camaro name was then unveiled. Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, "What is a Camaro?" and were told it was "a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs."
The Camaro was first shown at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan on September 12, 1966 and then later in Los Angeles, California on September 19, 1966. The Camaro officially went on sale in dealerships on September 29, 1966 for the 1967 Model year.
The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro debuted in September 1966, for the 1967 model year, up to 1969 on a brand new rear-wheel drive GM F platform and would be available as a 2-door, 2+2 seating, Coupe or Convertible with a choice of Inline-6 and 302 Cubic inch (4.9 L), 307 cu in (5.0 L), 327 cu in (5.4 L), 350 cu in (5.7 L), or 396 cu in (6.5 L) V8 engine powerplants. Concerned with the runaway success of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet executives realized that their compact sporty car, the Corvair, would not be able to generate the sales volume of the Mustang due to its radical rear-engine design, as well as declining sales, partly due to bad publicity from Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Therefore, the Camaro was touted as having the same conventional rear-drive, front-engine configuration as Mustang and Chevy II. In addition, the Camaro was designed to fit a variety of power plants in the engine bay. The first-generation Camaro would last until the 1969 model year and would eventually inspire the design of the new retro fifth-generation Camaro.
Introduced in February 1970, the second-generation Chevrolet Camaro would be in production for a total of 11 years. The car grew somewhat larger and wider with the new styling, thus resulting in a heavier car. Still based on the GM F platform, the new Camaro was engineered much like its predecessor in that it still used a unibody structure with a front subframe, leaf springs in the back and A-arms up front for suspension. The car would see major changes in both styling and performance as time progressed from the introduction through the end of second-generation production in 1981.
The third-generation Chevrolet Camaro was introduced for the 1982 model year. It continued to use General Motors' GM F platform and would produce a "20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition" for 1987 and a "25th Anniversary Heritage Edition" for 1992. These were also the first Camaros with throttle body Fuel injection, Turbo-Hydramatic 700R4 four-speed automatic transmissions, five-speed manual transmissions, 15 inch or 16-inch wheels, Hatchback bodies, and a rear window third brake light. It was during the third generation that the famous IROC-Z Camaro was available, which included upgrades such as Performance Suspension and 16-inch Z rated tires.
The third-generation Camaros would continue through the 1992 model year.
The fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaro debuted for the 1993 model year on an updated GM F platform. It would retain the same characteristics since the first-generation's introduction back in 1967; 2-doors, 2+2 seating, available as a Coupé (with optional T-top roof) or Convertible (with the latter introduced in 1994), rear-wheel drive, and a choice of V6 engine and V8 engine powerplants. Options included the 3.4 L (207 cu in) 160 hp (119 kW) V6 (changed to 3.8 L (232 cu in) 200 hp (149 kW) V6 in mid-1995) and the LT1 V8 engine (350 CID) 5.7 L V8 with 275hp (flywheel rated) that had been introduced in the Corvette one year earlier, as well as an optional six-speed manual T-56 transmission.(The motor was later rated at 285hp) The 1997 model year introduced a newer interior, while the 1998 model year was refreshed and revised with both exterior and engine changes. The engine was replaced with GM's all-aluminum LS1 (346 CID) which had been introduced with the Corvette C5.
The fourth-gen Camaro would last up through the 2002 model year, marking 35 years of continuous production. Production of the F-Body platform was stopped due to slow sales, a deteriorated sports coupe market, and plant overcapacity.
Based on the 2006 Camaro Concept and 2007 Camaro Convertible Concept, production of the fifth-generation Camaro was approved on 10 August 2006. Oshawa Car Assembly will produce the new Camaro  which will go on sale in spring of 2009 as a 2010 model year vehicle. The 2010 model is offered as a coupe only in LS, LT, and SS trim levels. The LS and LT trim levels will be powered by the LLT 217 cu in (3.6 L) V6 producing 300 hp (220 kW). The SS is powered by the LS3 376 cu in (6.2 L) V8 producing 422 hp (315 kW). The RS appearance package will be available on both the LT and SS. Production will begin on 16 March 2009 as a 2010 model year.
A Camaro driven by Bob Jane also won 2 championships in the Australian Touring Car Championship, now known as V8 Supercars), in 1971 and 1972.
The Camaro was the official car of and used in the International Race of Champions starting in 1975 and lasting for 12 years until 1989. It was the first American car of the series succeeding the Porsche Carrera.
Today, Camaros are raced in many forms of auto racing throughout the world. They are a favorite in Drag racing and can be currently found in several series from the National Hot Rod Association, International Hot Rod Association, and United States Hot Rod Association. Road racing Camaros can currently be found in the Sports Car Club of America's American Sedan series. They have also been the exclusive vehicle used in the Swedish Camaro Cup series since 1975.
The Camaro not only participated in racing, but was bestowed the honor of Indianapolis 500 Pace Car duties in 1967, 1969, 1982 and 1993. The Camaro also paced races at Daytona, Watkins Glen, Mosport in Canada and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Appearances in popular culture
- Chevrolet Camaro Concept official Chevrolet site
- 2009 production announcement official GM press release
- Chevrolet Camaro at the Open Directory Project
- Chevrolet Camaro at the Internet Movie Cars Database
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