The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro is an American pony car introduced by Chevrolet in the fall of 1966 for the 1967 model year. It rode on a brand-new rear wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, hardtop, and convertible. The F-body was shared with the Pontiac Firebird for all generations. A 230 cu in Chevrolet straight-6 was standard, with several Chevy V8s available as options. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year.
Almost all of 1967–1969 Camaros were built in the two U.S. assembly plants: Norwood, Ohio and Van Nuys, California. There were also five non-U.S. Camaro assembly plants in countries that required local assembly and content. These plants were located in the Philippines, Belgium, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Peru.
The Camaro's standard drivetrain was either a 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) at 4400 rpm and 220 lb⋅ft (298 N⋅m) of torque at 1600 rpm; or a 327 cu in (5.4 L) and 307 cu in (5.0 L) (in January 1969) V8s, with a standard three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 1967), 10 (in 1968), and 12 (in 1969) different engines available in 1967-1969 Camaros. There were several optional transmissions. A four-speed manual was available with any engine. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was available all three years. The three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1968. The optional automatic for SS 396 cars was the Turbo 400 three-speed automatic. A semi-automatic "Torque-Drive" two-speed transmission was available on six-cylinder models.
There were a plethora of other options available all three years, including three main packages:
The SS performance package consisted of a 350 cu in (5.7 L) or 396 cu in (6.5 L) V8s and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging.
The Z/28 performance package was designed (with further modifications) to compete in the SCCA Trans-Am Series. It included a solid-lifter 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8, 4-speed transmission, power disc brakes, and two wide "skunk" stripes down the hood and trunk lid.
The idea of offering such a wide variety of packages and numerous options was to "blanket" Camaro's end of the personal car market segment with everything from an entry-level 6 cylinder engine to high-performance V8 engines.
The 1967 Camaro shared the subframe / semi-unibody design with the 1968 Chevy II Nova. Almost 80 factory and 40 dealer options, including three main packages, were available: the RS, the SS, and the Z/28.
The SS included a 350 cu in (5.7 L) producing 295 bhp (299 PS; 220 kW) at 4800 rpm and 380 lb⋅ft (515 N⋅m) at 3200 rpm of torque; and the L35 and L78 396 cu in (6.5 L) big-block V8 engines producing 325 bhp (330 PS; 242 kW) or 375 bhp (380 PS; 280 kW) at 5600 rpm and 415 lb⋅ft (563 N⋅m) at 3600 rpm of torque were available. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging on the grille, front fenders, gas cap, and horn button. It was possible to order both the SS and RS options, making it a RS/SS. In 1967, a Camaro RS/SS convertible with a 396 engine paced the Indianapolis 500.
The Z/28 option code was introduced in December 1966 for the 1967 model year. It was the brainchild of Vince Piggins, who conceived offering "virtually race-ready" Camaros for sale  from any Chevrolet dealer. This option package was not mentioned in any sales literature, so it was unknown to most buyers. The Z/28 option featured a high-output small-block 302 cu in (4.9 L) V-8 that had been designed for racing in the 5 litre (305 cu in) class in the then very popular Trans-Am racing series. It was intended as a head-to-head competitor for the Ford Boss 302 Mustang. It had a 3 in (76.2 mm) stroke crankshaft with 4 in (101.6 mm) bore, an aluminum intake manifold, and a 4-barrel vacuum secondary 780 cfm Holley carburetor.
Advertised power of the 302 was listed at 290 hp (216 kW) - an under-rated figure. Chevrolet wanted to keep the horsepower rating at less than 1 hp per cubic inch, for various reasons (e.g. insurance and racing classes). The factory rating of 290 hp occurred at 5300 rpm, while actual peak for the high-revving 302 was closer to 360 hp (268 kW) (with the single four barrel carb) and 400 hp (298 kW) (with optional dual-four barrel carbs) at 6800-7000 rpm.
The Z/28 also came with upgraded suspension, front disc power brakes, and a 4-speed Muncie close-ratio manual transmission. Posi-traction was available as an option. Cosmetically, the Z/28 came with wide racing stripes on the hood and trunk lid (that could be "optioned-out" a no charge), '302' front fender emblems on the '67 and early '68 cars, and 'Z/28' emblems in late '68 and '69. It was also possible to combine the Z/28 package with the RS package.
A total of 602 Z/28s equipped Camaros were sold in 1967, along with approximately 100 Indianapolis Pace Car replicas. The 1967 and 1968 Z/28s did not have the cowl induction hood, optional on the 1969 Z/28s. The 1967 Z28 received air from an open-element air cleaner or from an optional cowl plenum duct attached to the side of the air cleaner that ran to the firewall and got air from the cowl vents. 15-inch rally wheels were included with Z/28s while all other 1967-9 Camaros had 14-inch wheels.
The origin of the Z/28 nameplate came from the RPO codes - RPO Z28 was the code for the Special Performance Package. RPO Z27 was for the Super Sport package.
Swiss assembled cars
Cars assembled in Switzerland, at GM's local facility in Biel, were all coupes with the 283 cu in (4.6 L) V8 that produced 198 PS (146 kW; 195 hp) at 4800 rpm and 285 lb⋅ft (386 N⋅m) at 2400 rpm - an engine which was not available in contemporary Camaros built in the United States. The Swiss-built Camaros were not available with the three-speed manual and had a limited-slip differential and front disc brakes as standard. Some additional safety equipment was also standard.
The styling of the 1968 Camaro was very similar to the 1967 design. With the introduction of Astro Ventilation, a fresh-air-inlet system, the side vent windows were deleted. Side marker lights were added on the front and rear fenders which was a government requirement for all 1968 vehicles. It also had a more pointed front grille and divided rear taillights. The front running lights (on non-RS models) were also changed from circular to oval. The big-block SS models received chrome hood inserts that imitated velocity stacks and low-gloss black rear tail light panel.
The rear shock absorber mounting was staggered to resolve wheel hop issues and higher performance models received multi-leaf rear springs instead of single-leaf units. A 396 cu in (6.5 L) producing 350 hp (261 kW) at 5200 rpm and 415 lb⋅ft (563 N⋅m) of torque at 3400 rpm big block engine was added as an option for the SS, and the Z28 appeared in Camaro brochures. The 427 cu in (7.0 L) was not available as a Regular Production Option (RPO). Several dealers, such as Baldwin-Motion, Dana, and Yenko, offered the 427 as a dealer-installed replacement for the factory-supplied 396 cu in (6.5 L) engine.
Chevrolet's Special Production Division wanted to promote the Z28. They had to convince Chevrolet's General Manager Pete Estes, but the General Manager only drove convertible vehicles, and the Z/28 was never produced as a convertible. A Central Office Production Order (COPO) was placed for the only Z/28 convertible Camaro built. The car was placed in the executive garage which Pete Estes had access to. Upon driving the vehicle, he promptly gave approval for promoting the Z/28. A 1968 Z/28 competed in the 1971 British Saloon Car Championship at Crystal Palace in a three-way battle for the lead, a race which was later featured in the BBC's “100 Greatest Sporting Moments”.
The 1969 Camaro carried over the previous year's drivetrain and major mechanical components, but all-new sheet metal, except the hood and trunk lid, gave the car a substantially sportier look. The grille was redesigned with a heavy "V" cant and deeply inset headlights. New door skins, rear quarter panels, and rear valance panel also gave the car a much lower, wider, more aggressive look. This styling would serve for the 1969 model year only.
To increase competitiveness in the SCCA Trans-Am racing series, optional four-wheel disc brakes with four-piston calipers were made available during the year, under RPO JL8, for US$500.30. This system used components from the Corvette and made for a major improvement in the braking capability and was a key to winning the Trans-Am championship. The option was expensive and only 206 units were produced.
The Rally Sport (RS) option, RPO Z22, includes a special black-painted grille with concealed headlights and headlight washers, fender striping (except when sport striping or Z28 Special Performance Package is specified), simulated rear fender louvers, front and rear wheel opening moldings, black body sill, RS emblems on grille, steering wheel and rear panel, Rally Sport front fender nameplates, bright accented taillights, back-up lights below rear bumper; also includes bright roof drip moldings on Sport Coupe. $131.65, 37,773 built. This option could be added to any other option (i.e., SS or Z/28), making the model an RS/SS or an RS/Z28.
The Z28 option was still available with the 302 cu in (4.9 L) small block producing 290 hp (294 PS; 216 kW) at 5800 rpm and 290 lb⋅ft (393 N⋅m) of torque at 4200 rpm. It was backed by Muncie four-speed with a new-for-69 standard Hurst shifter and connected to a 12-bolt rear axle with standard 3.73 gears. The 302 featured 11:1 compression, forged pistons, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, solid lifter camshaft, and Holley carburetion on a dual-plane intake manifold. A dual four-barrel crossram intake manifold was available as a dealer-installed option.
The 1969 model year was exceptionally long, extending into November 1969, due to manufacturing problems that delayed the introduction of the second generation model planned for 1970.
A GM corporate edict forbade Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 400 cu in (6.6 l) in mid-size and smaller models. Requests from dealers (notably Don Yenko) who were dealer-installing 427 cu in (7.0 L) engines in the Camaro prompted Chevrolet to use an ordering process usually used on fleet and special orders (taxis, trucks, etc.) to offer 427 engines in the Camaro. Two Central Office Production Orders (COPO), numbers 9560 and 9561, were offered in the 1969 model year.
The COPO 9561 used the solid-lifter L72 big-block engine, rated at 425 hp (317 kW) SAE gross at 5600 rpm and 460 lb⋅ft (624 N⋅m) of torque at 4000 rpm. Yenko ordered 201 of these cars to convert them into Yenko Camaros. Other dealers also became aware of the L72 engine package. Around 1,000 Camaros were fitted with the L72 engine option.
The COPO 9560 used an all-aluminum 427 cu in (7.0 L) big-block called the ZL-1 and was designed specifically for drag racing. The package was conceived by drag racer Dick Harrell, and ordered through Fred Gibb Chevrolet in La Harpe, IL, with the intention of entering NHRA Super Stock racing. A total of 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced. The engine alone was at over US$4,000—or more than the cost of a base V8 Camaro. Rated at 430 hp (321 kW) gross at 5200 rpm and 450 lb⋅ft (610 N⋅m) of torque at 4400 rpm, the ZL-1 made 376 hp (280 kW) SAE net in its "as installed" state. With exhaust changes and tuning, gross horsepower could be increased to over 500.
The ZL1 engines were hand-assembled in a process that took 16 hours each, in a room that Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov described as "surgically clean." All the ZL1 engines were manufactured at the Tonawanda Assembly Plant before being installed in Corvettes and Camaros, or sold over the counter to racers.
|Year||1967–69||1967–69||1967–69||from 01/1969||until 12/1968||until 12/1968||from 01/1969||until 12/1968||from 01/1969||1967–69||from 1968||1967–69||from 1968||only 1969|
|Order code||L26||L22||Z28||L14||LF7||L30||LM1||L65||L48||L35||L34||L78||L78/L89||COPO 9561||COPO 9560
|Engine name||Turbo-Thrift||Turbo-Fire (Small Block Chevrolet)||Turbo-Jet (Big Block Chevrolet)|
|Type||straight-six engine||V8 engine|
|Engine block||cast Iron||aluminium|
|Cylinder head||cast iron cylinder head, 2 valves per cylinder||aluminium cylinder head, 2 valves per cylinder|
|Valvetrain||OHV, gear drive||OHV, timing chain|
|Bore × stroke||98.4 mm × 82.6 mm
(3.875 in × 3.25 in)
|98.4 mm × 89.7 mm
(3.875 in × 3.531 in)
|101.6 mm × 76.2 mm
(4 in × 3 in)
|98.4 mm × 82.6 mm
(3.875 in × 3.25 in)
|101.6 mm × 82.6 mm
(4 in × 3.25 in)
|101.6 mm × 88.4 mm
(4 in × 3.48 in)
|104 mm × 95.5 mm
(4.094 in × 3.76 in)
|108 mm × 95.5 mm
(4.25 in × 3.76 in)
|Power @ rpm||140 bhp @ 4400||155 bhp
|max. torque @ rpm||298 Nm
(220 lbf·ft) @ 1600
(235 lbf·ft) @ 1600
(290 lbf·ft) @ 4200
(300 lbf·ft) @ 2400
(320 lbf·ft) @ 2400
(355 lbf·ft) @ 3200
(365 lbf·ft) @ 3200
(345 lbf·ft) @ 2800
(380 lbf·ft) @ 3200
(410 lbf·ft) @ 3200
(415 lbf·ft) @ 3400
(415 lbf·ft) @ 3600
(460 lbf·ft) @ 4000
(450 lbf·ft) @ 4400
|Compression||8.5 : 1||11.0 : 1||9.0 : 1||8.75 : 1||10.0 : 1||9.0 : 1||10.25 : 1||9.0 : 1||10.25 : 1||11.0 : 1||12.0 : 1||12.5 : 1|
|Fuel system||carburetor 1bbl||carburetor 4bbl||carburetor 2bbl||carburetor 4bbl||carburetor 2bbl||carburetor 4bbl|
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