Few cars are as beloved as the Chevrolet Camaro. One of the very best muscle cars ever produced, more than five million Camaros have been sold since the nameplate was first introduced in September 1966. Meant to compete head on against the popular Ford Mustang, the Camaro shared a platform and many of its key components with the Pontiac Firebird, which was introduced at the same time. Over more than 35 years, four distinct generations of the Camaro were created. Sadly, production of the classic Camaro ended in 2002 due to an internal realignment at Chevrolet and declining sales. Fortunately, the car was revived with a fifth-generation Camaro in 2009. The muscle car continues to impress people all over the world with its style and power. Here is a list of our ten favorite Camaros of all-time.
2018 Camaro ZL1
Before we get into the classic Camaros, let’s look at one of the more recent models, the 2018 Camaro ZL1. With 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque courtesy of a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, the 2018 ZL1 is the most powerful Camaro ever produced. That fact alone warrants inclusion on this list. However, the Camaro ZL1 is not just a street racing car.
This version of the Camaro features many impressive add-ons such as active rev matching, an electronic limited slip differential, magnetic ride control system, and an optional 1LE package. All those enhancements make the ZL1 a true performance vehicle. It has been called “the most advanced Camaro ever built.” Enhanced aerodynamics can be purchased to further boost the 2018 ZL1’s performance, should you want to fully trick it out.
2014 Camaro Z/28
Another great (and more recent) Camaro is the 2014 Z/28. While only five years old, the 2014 Z/28 has been hailed as an “instant classic.” This is largely because is revived the much loved “Z/28” badging after years of it being dormant. Once it was re-born, fans were not disappointed. The Z-28 was instantly described as a “stripped-down track car.” A little pricey at a cost of $75,000 (when new), owners insist it’s worth the price.
Under the hood, there is a 7.0-liter dry-sump V8 engine that cranks out 505 horsepower and 481-pound feet of torque. When that engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, you’ve got some real power. Removal of the air conditioning unit and stereo helped to take 300 pounds off this Z/28, making it lightweight as well as powerful. Enhanced suspension and massive carbon ceramic Brembo brakes further trick out this impressive Camaro. Reviewers have said that the 2014 Z/28 is destined to be remembered as one of the all-time great Camaro models.
2002 35th Anniversary Camaro
This Camaro holds a special place in the hearts of many collectors and fans. As mentioned, internal upheaval at Chevrolet, along with dwindling demand for sporty coupes due to the rising popularity of SUVs, spelled the end of the Camaro after 2002. However, Chevy gave the car a fitting send-off with a “35th Anniversary Package” for the 2002 Camaro SS.
The package cost $2,500 and was offered only in red. It included silver stripes with a checkered flag pattern, unique fender badges, embroidered headrest logos, and special 10-spoke wheels with black accents. The engine was an impressive LS1 V8 that cranked out 325 horsepower. That enabled this Camaro to hit 60 mph from a standing start in 5.2 seconds. Despite warm reviews and sales, this Camaro could not sustain enough sales. The beloved nameplate went into hibernation for the next eight years.
1985 Camaro IROC-Z
Anyone who came of age in the 1980s will remember this Camaro. The 1985 IROC-Z is a classic car in every sense of the word. It was the model that launched the third generation of Camaro, and drivers loved it. By the way, IROC stands for the “International Race of Champions.” That was fitting, since this Camaro was definitely built for racing.
It was lowered, received a upgrades suspension, and took on a tuned port injection from the Corvette. The IROC-Z also had the same tires as a Corvette, which helped improve its handling. A 205 horsepower, fuel injected V8 engine only added to the sterling reputation. A total of 18,418 IROCs were sold in the first year alone. Car and Driver magazine even compared it to the best made Ferrari of its day. The IROC-Z today endures as one of the most recognizable Camaros ever, thanks to its bold striped door tag. Not only is the IROC-Z one of the best Camaro’s ever released, it’s one of the greatest overall cars of its decade.
1968 Camaro Z/28
The original 1968 Camaro Z/28 certainly deserves a place on this list. When the Camaro first came along in 1966, it was only available in Sport Coupe and Rally Sport editions. Chevy quickly realized that the Camaro needed more guts if it was to seriously compete against the Mustang. So they developed the road-going Z/28 as a “virtual race-ready” muscle car in ’68.
The first Z/28 came with a 302-horsepower small block V8 engine with an aluminum intake, an enhanced suspension, racing stripes, and 15-inch rally wheels. Today, the first Z/28 is a bonafide classic. This Camaro also inspired one of the most iconic race cars of all-time, in the Donohue-Penske SCCA Camaro. No doubt the executives at Camaro consider the creation of the Z/28 as one of their best decisions ever.
1970 Camaro SS
The 1970 Camaro SS is a classic muscle car. It’s the car that kicked off the second generation of Camaro models. As the first version of the second-generation Camaros, the SS received a major overhaul in terms of power and appearance. Its design was actually led by Pontiac engineers who were redesigning a new Firebird at the same time. While some Camaro purists use this fact to knock the 1970 SS, there’s no denying it had style and power to spare.
It held a mighty 350-horsepower big block V8 engine. At the time, that was a major upgrade from the 155-horsepower base six-cylinder found in the first-generation Camaros. The 1970 Camaro SS is widely viewed as the car that showed the full potential of the brand.
Built for the 1967 model year, the original Camaro is a one-of-a-kind classic. This original Camaro is credited with changing perceptions of cars forever. Today, a first-year model is a highly sought-after collectible item, since it’s viewed as the template for the modern muscle car. A true original, it took engineers at Chevy a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get the very first Camaro right. They were, after all, under pressure to repeat the success of the hugely popular Corvette. The hard work paid off. The ’67 Camaro became the first in a long line of amazing cars that are among the most popular in automotive history.
1973 Camaro Z/28
The 1970s are considered the golden age of the Camaro. The car truly helped to define the decade. Of all the Camaros produced in the 70s, the 1973 Z/28 is widely considered the cream of the crop. This beauty was one of the best performing cars of its generation and won numerous performance contests.
Armed with a 350-horsepower V8 engine that was taken from the Corvette, the 1973 Z/28 was a real beast on the street. Even by today’s standards, the engine is considered quite powerful. Additionally, this gorgeous Camero had a European style that was accentuated with its long flowing lines. It both looked cool and could compete with any other muscle car. What more could you ask for?
1969 Yenko/SC Camaro
The Yenko Camaro has taken on mythic status among car aficionados. This model is named after Chevrolet dealer Don Yenko. Through Chevy’s Central Office Production Order program, Yenko ordered specially outfitted Camaros. He sold them through his Pennsylvania dealership as the Yenko/SC. The “SC” apparently stood for “Super Camaro.”
The factory-built cars featured an L72 iron-block 427-cubic inch V8 engine that produced 425 horsepower (although Yenko claimed 450 horsepower to help move the cars off his lot). The Yenko Camaros also had disc brakes (revolutionary at the time), a cowl-induction hood, and heavy-duty suspension.
The dealership tricked the cars out with racing stripes, badging, and customized headrest logos. The Yenko/SC Camaro proved extremely popular. Yenko managed to sell 201 of them at his dealership alone. Today, these Camaros are among the rarest and most prized in the world.
The 1969 Camaro is hands down the most popular of all-time. This model came in Z/28, ZL1, Yenko, Baldwin Motion, and Big Red editions. The ’69 Camaro was so popular that it literally came in every edition available at the time. Coming off two successful sales years in 1967 and ’68, Chevy had planned to modify the 1969 Camaro only slightly. However, once engineers began tinkering with the fascia, they kept going. What resulted was a totally transformed Camaro — one that provided a huge boost to Chevy sales.
In 1969, the Camaro went from being a sporty coupe to an extremely aggressive muscle car. Alongside an updated design, the Camaro received optional disc brakes and four-piston calipers that were not widely used at the time. Those elements would help transform the Camaro into essentially a Trans-Am throughout the 1970s. Today, many fans refer to the ’69 model as the very best Camaro ever produced. That means buying one is not cheap. A well-preserved ‘69 Camaro sells for upwards of $150,000 these days.