8 January 2014

Camaro remains a big hit

Classy muscle car remains a big hit among collectors and newcomers alike

Ford beat GM to the punch by two years with the introduction of the Mustang. The origin of the Mustang name is not that clear, though some suggest it was named after the P-51 Fighter. Other understandably sway towards the wild horse. Either way, a very suitable name.

On the other hand, Chevrolet’s choice of the name Camaro was subject to acrimony.

Chevrolet claimed it was taken from an old French dictionary showing the word meant “friend” or “companion,” but Ford announced that an alternate meaning found in an old Spanish dictionary meant “a small, shrimp-like creature.”

The last fourth-generation Camaro rolled off the production line at the Sainte-Therese plant, just outside Montreal, in August of 2002.

That seemed to signal that GM was content to allow Ford to continue what it started and be the sole manufacturer of a modern muscle car.

That is, until Chevrolet resurrected the Camaro nameplate with production of the fifth-generation car starting on March 16, 2009. The base model Camaro sold in 1967 for $2,800 and was available from the start as a coupe and convertible; it could be ordered with 80 manufacturer options and an additional 40 dealer-installed options. This enabled GM and the dealers to build considerably on the base price.

The bare-bones car came with a 250-cid, six-cylinder engine. The next step would take you up to the more popular 327-cid V8, and the ultimate tire-squealer came with a 396-cid V8, producing 325 horsepower or an optional 375.

Transmission options included a three- or four-speed manual, the sedate and mushy Powerglide automatic or the popular three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic.

The ultimate sleeper was the Z-28 fitted with a high-compression 302-cid V8 engine. Very few were sold in the 1967 model year — 602 to be exact. These cars are highly sought after today, a perfect (numbers matching) example can command more than $100,000.

The Z-28’s highly strung engine was a bit lethargic until it reached 4,000 rpm, and then it really woke up, all the way to 7,500 rpm.

The 2014 base model Camaro uses a 3.6-litre V6 engine producing 323 hp, while the Z-28 model is fitted with a monstrous 7.0-litre boasting an output of 500 ponies.

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