Present History; the Charismatic Camaro

February 25, 2016

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By Matt Wolfe

February 26, 1970, the second generation Chevrolet Camaro is introduced.

Produced from 1970-1981, the second generation Camaro lived longer than any other version of Chevrolet’s muscle machine. For 1970, the Camaro became less of a “Pony Car” and more a focused driving machine, but it was still competing for sales with its mortal enemy; the Mustang.

The new Camaro was longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. GM’s engineers applied lessons they had learned racing earlier Camaros to improve the new car’s steering, brakes and handling balance while advances in sound-deadening and suspension design reduced cabin noise and improved ride quality. The convertible body-style was discontinued for this generation, making this the only Camaro never offered with a drop-top. The engine lineup was also refreshed for 1970, and the “Z-28” package was available with the 360 horsepower “LT-1” V8 borrowed from the Corvette.

Despite these improvements, new safety standards, stricter emissions regulations and global events like the Oil Embargo began to erode the car’s performance. Ironically, as the Camaro’s engines and horsepower numbers shrank, its sales grew. The same regulations and events that strangled the Camaro’s performance actually eliminated most of its competition. By 1974, even the mighty Mustang had become a Pinto-based pony that lacked an optional V8.

For the first time since its creation, the Camaro (along with its Firebird twin) had the muscle car market to itself. GM took full advantage of this monopoly, and the Camaro outsold the Mustang for the first time ever in 1977. It also set a single year sales record in 1979 that still stands today. One of the few survivors left from Detroit’s golden years, the “Super Hugger” Camaro carried the torch for American muscle cars through some of the darkest days of U.S. based performance.

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