50 Years of the Camaro – Video Series!

We celebrate 50 years of the Camaro with a special five-part series, featuring all five gens!

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 50th Anniversary

The 2010s – Episode 5/5

We’re back to the present in the final episode of our series on 50 Years of Camaro – it’s the 2010s, when we got the fifth generation version. The decade sucks, but the cars rock!

The 1990s – Episode 4/5

Looking Fly! We’re taking it back to the decade of peace – the 1990s to look at the fourth-generation Camaro. This college-student’s daily driver is still owned by the same person today. See it in our penultimate episode in our special series.

The 1980s – Episode 3/5

The best decade ever? It’s the 1980s and we go all Miami Vice in the third episode in our series on 50 Years of the Chevrolet Camaro. The future was real bright when James Gayan’s amazing IROC-Z was born. Where’d we put those Wayfarers?

The 1970s – Episode 2/5

Can you dig it? It’s the decade of the bitchin Camaro. We go all Saturday Night Fever as we borrow another of Khalid Bin Hadher’s Camaros, this time a stunning 1972 SS.

The 1960s – Episode 1/5

We get transported back to the 1960s in our very special series on 50 Years of the Chevrolet Camaro. We look at the decade in which the Camaro was born and drive Khalid Bin Hadher’s gorgeous 1969 Camaro SS in Dubai.

 


50 years of camaro - 2010s

Full text of Episode 5 – 2010s

This is the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS. The latest and newest example of a legend. It’s leaner, meaner and tighter, but still brings the thunder. 6.2-litres, 455 horsepower, 455 lb ft of tarmac-terrorising torque, 4.1 seconds to 100kph and a top speed of 266kph. This one’s the 50th anniversary edition finished in smooth Nightfall Gray metallic and with mesh grille and nifty 50 badging all over the car. And it comes in my favourite flavour – manual!

Fabulous machine. But the reason I fell back in love with Camaros is not this car, but the one before: the 5th gen Camaro.

If you’ve seen the previous episodes in this series, you’ll know that a transformation occurs about now!

OMG! It did work after all. I guess my clothes didn’t change because about 6 years ago, I was wearing pretty much the same type of clothes. LOL. In fact these might actually be the same ones I wore at the launch.

So the 2010s then – well we’re still in them. And let’s be honest, this decade mostly sucks, SMH!

Terrorism, wars, global economic misery, deadly epidemics, greenhouse gases, look-at-me selfies, banal social media, Justin Bieber and endless movie reboots. I mean WTF, right?

Talking of reboots though, we also got the return of The Pony Car Wars – which is so much more awesome than Avengers Civil War and Batman V Superman put together!

On the plus side then, we’ve had huge advances in technology this decade, and that also means, IMO, the fastest and most powerful muscle cars ever!

Ah… sorry, just checking my Snapchat because, well, that’s what we do these days innit? Right, I’d better tell you about this car. But first… let me take a selfie!

Earlier gen Camaros were a happy accident of bits of other models being brought together to create the magic. Muscle cars were so much more than the sum of their parts, but almost by chance.

In contrast, a lot of time, energy, thought and investment, as well as an epic global effort, went into the birth of this Camaro. It was designed by South Korean-born Sangyup Lee, developed in Australia and built in Canada.

Forget the futuristic 4th gen edition, this one’s more like the original 60s car, with the inset grille and headlights, long bonnet, short rear deck, and mock side vents. It was retro done right, winning the World Car Design of the Year award in 2010!

Hey cool! I got a load of likes on my selfie, maybe I should do one in the car now!

Ah yes, it was also a big star in a certain blockbuster movie about cars changing into robots and bashing the bajeezas out of each other.

Movie fame and the fact that it was so well-engineered guaranteed success. From launch to the end of 2010, over 140,000 of these were sold, easily beating its famous arch-nemesis.

It was offered with a couple of V6s, and of course a 6.2-litre V8 putting out 400bhp in the SS model. In fact if you opted for a manual transmission you were rewarded with an extra 26bhp!

My favourite though was the mighty and mental ZL1 introduced in 2012. Chevrolet supercharged the 6.2 motor and gave us a barely-controllable beast with 580bhp and 556lb ft of torque trying to wrench the world apart!

This one’s a 2013 model belonging to James Gayan, who’s tweaked it up even more because he goes Drag Racing in it! Eek!!

As standard the ZL1 got a bulging bonnet, deeper front splitter, rear diffuser and 20-inch rims.

Inside there was leather and suede, heads-up display, flat-bottomed steering and a nine-speaker stereo – though why would you need that with an exhaust like this?

There was relentless thrust, the same magna ride suspension as Ferraris, and great handling, plus lots of screech and smoke. You can powerslide out of a T-junction at will.

This thing has so much God-given torque that no man-made electronics can contain it. Long live muscle-cars – yee haa! I love this thing!

Wait, what?

Oh boy, I’m back in the 2017 car.

Gotta say though, this new SS does feel about as quick as the old ZL1. Remember it’s smaller and weighs less!

BTW the next ZL1 will be 650bhp. That’ll be crazy – but hey, YOLO innit?

Anyway, there has never been a Camaro as well sorted as this. It’s a clean sheet design, representing not just a new generation, but a whole new level of evolution.

No more excuses, this is perfect tribute to a remarkable 50-year heritage.

I’m gonna go drive into the sunset now – cue the music!

50 years of camaro - 1990s

Full text of Episode 4 – 1990s

This is the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS. All-new from the ground-up, lighter, smaller, smarter, faster: 6.2-litres, 455 horsepower, 455 lb ft of Earth-shaking torque, 4.1 seconds to 100kph and a top speed of 266kph. This one’s very special; it’s the 50th anniversary edition which only comes in seductive Nightfall Gray metallic, with go-sexier stripes, mesh grille and nifty 50 badging all over the car.

You can’t get any cooler than the new 50th Anniversary Camaro. As If! But you can get more 1990s. You guessed it: we’re going back to press play and head back to the  decade I was cool! (and finally, one I was actually alive in…)

Check it – this is how you looked fly in 1992, the best decade, like, ever. Because while every other decade had some sort of drama or cultural upheaval going on  – in the 90s, we were chill, man.

Let me give you the 411. If there’s one way to sum up the 90s, it was the decade of peace. Following the go-go-party-party 80s, the 1990s was remarkable for how many major conflicts came to an end.

The Fall of Berlin Wall was the first step in a chain reaction that eventually led to the reunification of Germany, the break up of the USSR and the end of communism. Nelson Mandel walked free from jail after thirty years in prison, putting an end to apartheid soon after. Northern Ireland put an end to apartheid. It wasn’t always chill – what happened in Rwanda and Kosovo was terminally uncool, man – but by and large we had it good in the 90s.

We had it so good that we had time to revolutionize the planet. The internet brought us all closer, the Pentium got us computing faster, the MP3 made our CD players obsolete and the Hubble allowed us to stare into the depths of the universe.

People like to think the 90s was a cultural wasteland – to them I say, talk to the hand! Just think about how many genres came of age: grunge, alternative rock, hip hop, pop punk, eurodance, R&B – heck even Britpop made the 60s cool again.

This is also the decade where multiculturalism finally took root.  Will Smith became – and still is – one of the biggest stars on the planet thanks to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, followed by an epic movie career. Independence Day, Men in Black, Bad Boys and er…Wild Wild West.

OK, maybe the last one isn’t his first pick on Netflix.

Yo, check it out – this is when things get personal. Y’see, back when I was growing up, this Camaro – was the car to have.  It was just so…so damned sexy compared to all those bland sedans on the streets of Dubai.

It might have as well have been a spaceship.

Like previous Camaros, the fourth generation ran for just shy of ten years, from 1993 to 2002. Unlike previous Camaros though, this one was made not in the US of A, but up North in Canada, eh? And it would continue to be made there until the fifth gen car.

Underneath, the Camaro was still the same F-body as the 80s car, and continued with its floor plan and rear suspension. But you’d never know from the ultra swoopy sleek body that sat on top of it. Sporting plastic – uh huh, plastic – fenders and rack-and-pinion steering, the 90s Camaro had the exotic flavour of Milla Jovovich, the spunk of Shannen Doherty, and the effortless All-American style of Jennifer Aniston all wrapped up in one delectable package.
As before, you could buy your Camaro as a coupe, t-top or my favourite, this lovely convertible, owned by our good friend and GM collector, James Gayan Wijesinghe. He’s had this car for twenty years.

In 1969, Camaros were available with a whopping 12 engines. By ’93, you could buy this muscle with a mere two: a 160bhp 3.4-litre V6 or the 275bhp LT1 from the Corvette, with either a four speed auto or a five or six speed manual.

This was a time of great evolutionary leaps for automobiles. In the space of a few years, the Camaro would receive its first electronically controlled automatic, four wheel antilock brakes as standard, traction control, and in 1996 – the year Alanis Morisette wrote a song about Irony that completely misunderstood the concept – this very car was born.

It’s a ’96 Z28 with a healthy 285bhp and still-impressive-today 325lb ft of torque. 96 also saw the return of two storied names: the RS or Rallysport package beefing the appearance of V6 cars, and a legendary pair of letters: SS. With a functional hoodscoop, 17” rims and sticky tires, this SS was both straightline bruiser and corner carver in one.

And there was still more. ’98 saw Will Smith get jiggy with it, Bruce Willis drill into a giant asteroid, and the new LS1 engine. The first all-aluminum engine in nearly 30 years, it produced an outrageous 305 bhp, or 320 with the optional Ram Air system.

Unlike all the cars we’ve driven in this series, this one….feels more or less like a modern car, one that you could drive around every day. The V8 stomps and roars like a modern SS, it feels quiet like a new car, stops on a dime the A/C is ice cool and the steering is finger tip light yet precise. And at the touch of a button, the roof goes down!

I can’t tell you how much of a trip this is, driving this car, or how much I wish I had it when I turned 18. In fact, I’m insanely jealous that James got to drive this car in college, while I was riding the bus! Can you imagine how many…students wanted to join him after class and cruise down beach road? Can you imagine how jealous I still am?

Let’s face it. This isn’t a car. It’s a time machine.

The worst part about time travel is coming back to our dull dreary present.

Happily, not this time The fourth gen Camaro showed the way forward for chevy’s mean muscle machine. From now on, the Camaro would never again be a slow car – even as a v6 – and in its most powerful SS form, it was starting to mutate from knuckledragger to race-bred sports car.

You could laugh at a Camaro and how affordable it was compared to your high-dollar European exotic – and then you could eat dust as it took off into the distance.

As much as I wanted this generation of Camaro, it couldn’t last. The world went through some turmoil in the early 2000s, and the Camaro…well, it went away for a while.

But you can’t keep a good muscle car down, and boy, oh boy, were we in for heck of a transformation when it came back.

50 years of camaro - 1988 Z28 IROC-Z

Full text of Episode 3 – 1980s

This is the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS. All-new from the ground-up, lighter, smaller, smarter, faster: 6.2-litres, 455 horsepower, 455 lb ft of Earth-shaking torque, 4.1 seconds to 100kph and a top speed of 266kph. This one’s very special; it’s the 50th anniversary edition which only comes in seductive Nightfall Gray metallic, with go-sexier stripes, mesh grille and nifty 50 badging all over the car.

It’s superb, but today I’m going to look at the Camaro that first got me hooked. Boy I wanted one of these so bad.

Most Excellent!

I’m really Amped now, because of all the decades we’re doing on our series on fifty years of Camaro – the 1980s was definitely my favourite – it was Mega!

Okay it started off in a recession and there were the usual troubles around the world, but it also brought back hope, optimism and confidence to its generation.

We had computers at last – IBM’s PC, the Commodore 64, the little Macintosh; we got Sony Walkmans, VCRs and video games from Nintendo. And there was the Space Shuttle – how cool was that?

Meanwhile the Iron Curtain started to come down, Nuclear Armageddon seemed to be off the table; and whilst Yuppies made loads of money, we also got together to Feed the world and had a Bangin concert to celebrate how righteous we were.

And as for pop culture – where do I even begin or end?

Music: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Duran Duran, Whitney Houston… put it this way, my 80s playlist is by far my biggest.

Movies? Gosh, ET, Rain Man, Batman, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Ferris Bueller, Bill & Ted, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop, Back to the Future… Great Scott! The list is endless.

And some of my very favourite TV shows ever are from this decade – Knight Rider, A-Team, Airwolf, Magnum, Quantum Leap – even Star Trek returned to the small screen!

And let’s not forget Miami Vice – after which I model today’s appearance! So a truly Fantabulous decade – but were the cars as good?

Like totally! I mean just look at this baby – what a ride!

It had a sleeker more rakish look with a windscreen reclined more than any Chevy before at 62 degrees. It got a hatchback and drop-down rear seats, man it was practically family-friendly.

Lighter too – by over 200kg. And in another first for a Camaro – there was fuel injection!

172,000 were sold just in the first year. There was a four-cylinder and V6, but about half sold were V8s – a 305 motor, that’s a 5.0-litre V8 putting out 145bhp at the start but going as high as 230bhp over the next 10 years.

The one to have was the Z28 – or I should say Zee 28. It had a lighter bonnet, and tweaked styling. It was Ace! Until the IROC-Z came along – er should that be IROC-Zee?

Named after the International Race of Champions, it got all the bits of the Z28, plus better, lower suspension, different wheels, Tuned Port Injection from the Corvette and serious attitude!

In 1987 Chevy dropped a 350cu V8 motor into the IROC-Z. This 5.7-litre started off with 225bhp and by 1992 had 245 – that made it good for 0-100kph in about 6.5seconds.

This particular IROC-Z from 1988, however, belongs to James Vijaysinger. And a couple of years ago he dropped an LS1 engine and transmission from a Lumina SS into it which endows it with yet more power.

And I can confirm, this feels surprisingly eager for a car that’s nearly three-decades old! Woo hoo!

Even the standard 350 was said by magazines to have a ‘herd of horsepower’ and ‘mind-bending torque’. Car magazines hailed it and even loved the handling.

Chevy had set it up like a race car –most of these were dragged-raced which is why original ones are so hard to find today – and valuable.

It had lowered and stiffened suspension with Delco-Bilstein shocks, and stronger stabilisers and struts, including a ‘wonder bar’ steering brace.

It feels big and butch and dramatic to cruise along in. Comfortable too. And cool.

And you know what, like the decade that brought it into being, it’s bold and confident, sure of an even better future.

As the song went: ‘the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades…’

Oh boy, I’m back!

Man I really miss the 1980s and in the words of Doc Brown I do feel that: ‘We have to go back!’

But in some ways this 2017 car does replicate the bold and forward thinking character of that third gen car.

Talking of forward-thinking though, wait till you get a load of the 90s Camaro!

1972 Chevrolet Camaro

Full text of Episode 2 – 1970s

This is the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS. All-new from the ground-up, lighter, smaller, smarter, faster: 6.2-litres, 455 horsepower, 455 lb ft of Earth-shaking torque, 4.1 seconds to 100kph and a top speed of 266kph. This one’s very special; it’s the 50th anniversary edition which only comes in seductive Nightfall Gray metallic, with go-sexier stripes, mesh grille and nifty 50 badging all over the car.

That new Camaro is one cool cat, man. But if you want the straight dope on what’s really cool, we gotta make tracks back to the decade that fashion….forgot.

That’s right – we’re going to the 70s baby!

Can you dig it, man?

If the 60s was one long counter culture party, the 70s was kind of the morning after. You know – the hangover.

At the close of the 60s, the future seemed bright. The Beatles had transformed music, man had landed the moon, counter culture had made teenagers king of world and the muscle car had never been faster, cooler or hipper.

But then it all fizzled out. America gave up on going to the moon. The hippies went from earnest youth to jaded adults, and eventually, punchline. Vietnam dragged on forever. The oil crisis of ’73 had everyone in a panic that cheap gas was done, dude. And Watergate created an entire subculture of paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Hold up, though. That was the early 70s. By the mid 70s, things were looking up, daddy-o. The feminism movement reached fever pitch as women fought for their rights. Modern computing basically began in the 70s with the invention of fiber optics. Microwave ovens, VCRs, walkmans, videogames, even e-mail all got their start in the 70s.

This was also the golden age of rock n roll. AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Zeppelin! Pink Floyd! Aerosmith! Kiss! Deep Purple! The Ramones! Skynrd! Queen! And then, the first ever rap song in ’78 with Rapper’s Delight…

And how we can forget that it also produced some of the greatest films of all time? The epic drama? The godfather. The perfect comedy? Annie Hall. The slasher movie? Halloween. In 75, Spielberg’s JAWS created the modern blockbuster , which was then perfected by his college buddy George Lucas two years later with STAR WARS, creating the template for the modern tentpole: the big summer feel good action movie. Where do you think your Marvel movies came from, kids?

For my money, my favourite film of the 70s is Saturday night fever; hence my disco threads. It had it all: an ice-cool star, drama, and killer dance moves. Much like this baby right here: the second generation Camaro.

The second gen Camaro appeared seven years before Travolta put on his leisure suit, in February 1970 and stayed in production for nearly 12 years.

Based on the Nova platform like its predecessor, it was nicknamed the “super hugger”. The ad men called it a “whole new kinda car for a whole new kind of people who really dig driving.”

They were right. Out went the 60s blunt nose and in its place, a gorgeous fastback body, more Italy than Detroit. Bigger, easier to get into with wider doors, more comfortable with an improved suspension, the Camaro of the 70s was more grand tourer than backroad-stomping sports car. Interestingly, this is the only Camaro never to be sold as a convertible.

Rally Sport Camaros featured a unique split-front bumper and center grille. Super Sport cars – or SS to you and me – had tougher suspension. At launch there were six engines and four transmissions, ranging from 155bhp to the mighty 396 with 350bhp.

Top dog was the Z28 with 360bhp – in 1970! – from the new LT1 motor, capable of doing 0-100 in 5.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.2. In 1970! And for the first time, you could get it with an auto!

Did you know Saturday Night Fever actually had a sequel? Tricky things, sequels. Disco was dead by the time Staying Alive came out. You could pretty much say the same for the muscle car in 1970. The days of tire smoking big blocks were numbered as insurance rates went up, power figures went down.

The Camaro may have started the decade with 360bhp, but by the end of it, thanks to strict EPA regulations even the most powerful version made just 190bhp. And the less said about the looks, the better.

But let’s not dwell on those final years. This 1972 car, belonging to well known collector Khalid Bin Hadher is the best looking Camaro of the 70s, before the looks went to pot.

Under the hood, it’s packing the tried and tested 350 motor with an automatic for maximum cruising cool. And even though it’s more than 40 years old, it still feels pretty rapid, even by modern standards.

But like my frankly awesome threads, these Camaros aren’t about raw performance. They’re about feeling the vibe, baby. I feel dyno-mite! sitting in these awesome bucket seats and staring down these hooded dials that remind you of a fighter jet. This was the car to cruise down the strip down to your local disco and impress those fly ladies. And if you needed to school some fools down at the lights, this Camaro still has the grunt to get the job done.

Now, where did I put those 8-track tapes….?

Wait, wait…..oh man, and I was just getting to used to platforms too!

OK, I might actually be too young to really know what the 70s were like but by all accounts, it was one heck of a decade, producing one heck of a Camaro.

Sure, it really wasn’t fast as it used to be, but it did something much more important: it built the legend of the bitchin’ Camaro. A spirit that survives all the way back to this brand new 2016.

Hold on to your shoulder pads though. The Camaro was about to make a serious comeback. That’s right – the 80s are up next!

1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Full text of Episode 1 – 1960s

This is the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS. All-new from the ground-up, lighter, smaller, and packing one helluva punch: 6.2-litres, 455 horsepower, 455 lb ft of tire-shredding torque, 4.1 seconds to 100kph and a top speed of 266kph. This one’s very special; it’s the 50th anniversary edition which only comes in sexy Nightfall Gray metallic, mesh grille and nifty 50 badging all over the car.

This one’s awesome, but I want to take it back to where it all begin: 1967. Cue the psychedelic special effects, man!

Groovy baby! That’s what I call decked out!

The Sixties was revolutionary. It changed, well, everything really. It was the decade when young people got fed up of listening to The Man, man. So they took charge and they changed history, forever.

An amazing decade, but not one without turmoil. We had the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy was killed, and half a million Americans went to fight in Vietnam, when all we really wanted, was to give peace a chance, man. Heavy.

But we also did amazing stuff, we put a man on the moon, James Bond hit our cinema screens, Rock n Roll took over, art went pop, fashion went hippy, and we got the polka dot bikini, the miniskirt, tie dye shirts and paisley pants. Outtasight man!

By ‘67, everything looked great. You could do what you liked, wear what you liked, and drive what you liked. And that year nearly 100,000 people went out and bought the sexiest new muscle car on the block – the Chevrolet Camaro.

Can you imagine it? Back in 1967 you could pick up one of these for just $2466?! Try to picture it. Everyone drove big, boring upright saloons in Squaresville. Then you rocked up in this thing, with its sexy cokebottle curves, big throbbing bonnet and mean engine note.

When you arrived at the drag strip in this baby, you knew it, and everyone else knew it too. You’d won even before the lights had gone green!

But if some flake tried to race you for pinks, he’d totally wipe out man.

So let me give you the skinny. Your secret weapon was a 350 cubic inch V8 motor, (that’s 5.7-litres for you modern folks) with 295bhp. Or you could lay a patch with the 396, (that’s a 6.5-litre) available in various power outputs, right up to 375bhp.

And if you really wanted to tear it up, they had a super secret 7.0-litre COPO 427 with 430bhp. You’d be booking it in that for, sure!

This car, belonging to UAE collector Khalid Bin Hadher, is actually a 1969 model, and it is gorgeous!

I reckon the 69 was the best looking of the three years of the first gen. It was subtly restyled with sharper creases and bulging bodywork giving it a lower, wider and more aggressive look.

This one’s not entirely original of course, riding on custom 18-inch wheels and Ridetech coilover suspension. It’s running a 396 and a TH400 3-speed Auto with new headers and mufflers.

The interior has been completely redone and it has a Digital Dakota instrument cluster.

To drive, well there’s just so much drama here. You can feel, hear and smell everything. It’s tactile, it’s mechanical, it’s… REAL man.

It’s surprisingly easy to drive. Potent too. Blip the throttle and you’ll find out what the song Twist and Shout was really about.

Yep, with your favourite gal riding shotgun and the Fab Four playing on the Music Machine, you were sure to score!

Plus it’s so spacious and airy, feels like there’s tons of room in here, and these thin pillars make it perfect to look out of. And, more importantly, be seen in.

You see in the Sixties, being cool was everything. Fortunately, sitting here in the driver’s seat of the Camaro, you were automatically more hip than everyone else around you!

Oh boy, I’m back!

Gosh the 60s were amazing weren’t they? What a fab period in human and automotive history?

But the party couldn’t last forever, man. The 70s were coming.


Let us know which is your favourite Camaro in the comments below!

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