Which Camaro should you buy, sell, or hold?


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There’s an implied truth to the Chevy Camaro that applies to any example across its six generations. An honesty about what it is, along with just a touch of “I-can-back-up-my-looks” self-assuredness, endears the Camaro to legions. As new cars, Camaros have always offered an excellent performance entry point. As collector cars, most models still represent affordable fun from eras gone by. We’ve noticed some value trends lately across a few of the Camaro’s generations, so we decided to share from the perspective of cars you should buy, sell or, hold.

The Gold Standard of Camaros—the first generation—escapes judgment here. And while two the most recent generations offer a mix of old values and new technology, their positions on the late-model depreciation curve make data a bit too murky. Let’s see where the other three generations of Camaro fit in our assessment.

Buy: 4th gen SS and Z/28

2001 Chevrolet Camaro

The T-top F-body at its most evolved, the fourth-gen Camaro offers a unique middle ground: modern power and ’90s styling with quintessential Camaro character. The distinctive hood scoop, rear wing, and extra performance goodies added by SLP engineering help the SS stand out further.

“They represent good value for the performance, especially later cars with the LS1,” notes Hagerty Price Guide editor Greg Ingold.

Values for the Camaro SS in #2 and #3 condition stayed fairly flat for years, but like many vehicles they saw a pandemic bump in early 2021. There’s definite room for growth still, and it’s not just because an LS1 engine and available T-56 six speed manual are a blast to drive. The fourth-gen SS and Z/28 in particular feel a bit ahead of the curve; they have yet to take off in value like third-gen IROC-Zs, and 1990s performance cars continue to rise in popularity.

“I don’t see a world in which these don’t keep going,” said Ingold.

Sell: Late 2nd-gen Z/28 (1978–81)

1978 Camaro Z28 front three quarter

The Z/28s from the end of the second generation have experienced a heroic upward trajectory, likely thanks to a substitution effect related to the Bandit Trans Am’s exploding value. There are only so many flashy Pontiac F-bodies from the Malaise Era to go around, after all. Though the Z/28 made do with a 350-cubic inch engine instead of the 400 (or Olds 403 in automatic-equipped models) found in the Trans Am, that difference matters less these days than it did in period. V-8 rumble, aggressive looks, and assertive stickers make the Z stand out regardless of displacement.

Values in the last few years reflect the late ’70s Z/28’s increased popularity. 2023 has seen a noticeable downturn, however—a result of several months of mixed public sales. “Often, vehicles that appreciate this rapidly are among the first to reset values as part of a market correction,” notes Ingold.

That in and of itself is not a reason to unload—you did buy your collector car to enjoy it, right? Just the same, the market has softened on these, and if you are considering selling, now be the best time to maximize your return on your F-body investment rather than waiting toward the end of this year’s driving season.

Hold: 3rd-gen IROC-Z and Z/28

1990-Chevrolet-Camaro-IROC-Z front three quarter

The third-gen IROC and Z/28 Camaros are represent a more stable play from a valuation perspective. After a healthy 50+ percent increase for #2 Condition cars over the last few years, values have settled somewhat. The 305-cubic inch examples have taken a 5 percent loss recently, but IROC values are strong when equipped with the iconic 350-cu-in powerplant. These don’t benefit from a substitution effect—the third gens are sought after for what they are.

“Third-gens are still relatively affordable in comparison to other generations of Camaro,” said Ingold. “Given their age, and the fact that Gen-X and older Millennials are steadily growing as the dominant force in the collector market, there is still potential for these to go up.”

We’ve made our choices, but which Camaro would you add to your stable? Which would you unload? Which would you keep? Let us know in the comments.


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    Sell all of them, because we all know that Camaros are driven exclusively by murderers. At least, so says 4th century philosopher Clarksonius.

    The Camaro I would buy right now is a 5th Generation 1LE. Specifically the 2014-15. They have depreciated and you will no longer be able to find a car that big inside with a simple powertrain, 6-speed transmission, no electronic nannies or fake sounds being piped into the cabin and plenty of spare parts.

    The Z/28 may be faster but it has the LS7 reliability hanging over it with carbon ceramic brakes that are expensive and Multi-Matic shocks that are no longer available.

    The ZL1 has a supercharger that also has issues with bearings since it is loaded on the drive end, magnetic shocks that are no longer available and it can be had with a lousy automatic transmission or convertible.

    The aftermarket has all your issues covered. The LS7 issue was taken care of by the time it was put in the Camaro, or so GM tells me. Blueprint engines sell a 427 LS3 based engine, 625hp/565lb/ft. Suspension and brakes are replaceable with stock pieces. Base car with that drivetrain.
    Built a ’98 that way and it gives our ’17SS1LE morning sickness.

    Bob, I have a 2002 on blue , a convertible v/6 should I keep it or trade for 2012 or 2013 they seem to sell for less money with higher mileage

    The 4th Gen Camaro and the “Beak” Firebirds from 93-97 were homely. The 98-2002 Trans Am WS6, Formula WS6, or Firehawk are the best looking 4th Gens.

    Hyper V6-
    I agree. I did buy one last summer. I think it’s a better looking car. Basically same car though. Really a matter of opinion on the looks

    The only Z28 to own was between 1968 and 74. All the others were posers. I cannot believe nothing was written in the article about these cars the real Z cars.

    Yes, they were addressed but Bento is 99% correct! Except add in the first year 1967 Z/28, even though they only made 602 of them. They all had high performance 302, 350 LT1 and 350 L82 engines with upgraded suspensions, clean styling, no electronics and easy to work on. These are the real and original Z28 Camaro’s, which sadly is why the average person is not able to afford one anymore. Glad I still have my 3 Z’s: 69, 70 1/2 RS, 73 RS Type LT and a 72 Formula 400 RA.

    3rd Gen all the way. Style is my key buy in point as that series will get more heads to turn and feel more like a statement car.

    To think they were so cheap. I paid $1500 for a pristine 1991 (albeit V6 and auto coupe) with the teal metallic and matching wheels in 2007, and added a ratty ’88 t-tops 5 speed V8 to the collection for a similar price around 2013. Parted with the junker ’88 but that teal one is still sitting covered in the driveway as my next project. I was one of only a couple 20-somethings rolling around in a 3rd gen back then, so that car has meaning.

    I had a third generation Camaro, an 83. It was simply a piece of garbage I bought it new. Transmission went out with 250 miles on it. It had a weird throttle body fuel injection system that would not idle smoothly. It was a manual clutch, so it had to be double clutched or clutch which slap against the fly wheel. The day that I sold the car dealer installed two $1.50 rubber spacers and the problem was solved. I’ve known other people that have had a myriad of problems with that generation. Really poor quality control from GM.

    I had a third generation Camaro, an 83. It was simply a piece of garbage I bought it new. Transmission went out with 250 miles on it. It had a weird throttle body fuel injection system that would not idle smoothly. It was a manual clutch, so it had to be double clutched or clutch which slap against the fly wheel. The day that I sold the car dealer installed two $1.50 rubber spacers and the problem was solved. I’ve known other people that have had a myriad of problems with that generation. Really poor quality control from GM.
    Ironically, I ran into the gal who bought the car about six months later and she said the car was running great. It’s because I took care of all the problems and got the bugs out but I was done with it.

    I bought a 4th gen high mile, T top, LS powered Z28 with the RS package for almost nothing in 2014. Over the years I fixed the small stuff and within a year or so hope to begin driving it……..or selling it.

    My 19 year old son just purchased a 1999 Z28 with the 6-speed manual and 90K miles for $9k. Black with T-tops. One of the previous owners installed a set of the black, 5-spoke wheels from a 4th gen Corvette Grand Sport, SLP air box and 3″ exhaust (cat delete), supposedly a Corvette Z06 clutch, subframe connectors and tubular lower trailing arms on he rear. Recent dyno sheet says 325-hp at the wheels. He’s never driven a manual car before but wanted to learn. Equally proud of him and scared to death. Love that he loves these cars and want to learn how to drive a manual but scared that he’s driving so much car at 19. I remember what I was like in my Nova at 19!

    I bought a 128k miled 94 Z/28 LS1/auto for $3500, I spent $1500 rebuilding the slipping trans and another $500 getting the A/C working. It’s black over grey cloth, no rust or body or paint damage issues but I’m not sure I’d even get my investment back out of it today….the 94’s are no where’s near as popular as the 2002’s.

    The car to purchase and keep is the current model, as an SS 1LE. These will be regarded as the best ever, with the torque vectoring diff, magnetic dampers and the LS 3 or the LS7 Z28s being the most valuable while the blower Z28s and ZL1s 1LEs are already appreciating. These cars are going away after the ’24MY. We won’t be seeing anything like them again.

    You can buy an early series, but there will probably be work to do. Getting the latest model and preserving that will be the way to go. Just don’t wear it out.

    Deja Vu!

    3rd generation looks best to me, late 4th generation was a very good platform. I will say 4th gen isn’t a long term comfortable car for me.

    Buy or hold onto a 4th generation Camaro, specifically the LS1-powered SS models with RPO Y2Y SLP options, such as a cat-back exhaust, wheels, and suspension upgrades. It’s important to note that these cars, along with their Pontiac counterparts, are often considered to be the first modern muscle cars and served as a foundation for the high-performance vehicles we see today. Unlike the previous generation, which had lackluster powertrains, the 4th generation LS models feature factory power that surpasses even some of the quickest production muscle cars from the 1960s and early 70s, with an impressive 0-60 time in just 5 seconds and a quarter-mile sprint in the low 13s.

    I met my wife to be in the early ’80’s. She was driving a Camaro with a V8 and manual transmission. Not even sure what year it was (76?) but I knew she was the girl for me!!

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