Chevrolet Camaro (1969)

13 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Chevrolet Camaro (1969)
Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

The Chevrolet Camaro was introduced in North America by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors at the start of the 1967 model year as competition for the Ford Mustang.

Camaro advertising would first be found on AM top-40 stations of the day – stations which appealed to young adults. Although it was technically a compact car (by the standards of the time), the Camaro, like the entire class of Mustang competitors, was soon known as a pony car. It may also be classified as an intermediate touring car, a sports car, or a muscle car.

The car shared the same platform and major components with the Pontiac Firebird, also introduced in 1967. Production of both cars ceased in 2002 with only the Camaro going back into production in 2009.

Though the car’s name was contrived with no meaning, GM researchers reportedly found the word in a French dictionary as a slang term for friend or companion. In some automotive periodicals before official release, it was code-named Panther. Historical examples exist of Chevrolet product managers being asked by the automotive press what is a Camaro?, with the tongue-in-cheek answer being a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs, a sideways reference to the competing Ford Mustang.

The Camaro was the flagship for Chevrolet, and was for many years one of its most popular models. If its frequent inclusion in automotive enthusiast magazines is any indication, the Chevy Camaro is one of the most popular cars for modification in automotive history.

The 1969 Camaro carried over the previous year’s drivetrain and major mechanical components, but all-new sheetmetal, except the hood and trunklid, gave a 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 valence panel also gave the car a much lower, wider, more aggressive look. This styling would serve for the 1969 model year only.

Collectors often debate the merits of smooth, rounded lines of 1967 and 1968 model versus the heavily creased and sportier looks of the 1969.

Chevrolet Camaro

1969 Chevrolet Camaro

The real treat for the 1969 model year, however, was the vast array of new performance options. A GM corporate edict forbade Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 400 in³ (6.6 L) in the Camaro. Chevrolet also knew that there was a market for ultra-powerful Camaros armed with the Corvette’s L72 427 in³ (7.0 L) engine, as evidenced by the success of dealerships like Yenko Chevrolet, Nickey Chevrolet, and Dana Chevrolet, who installed their own.

So, Chevrolet quietly offered two Central Office Production Orders (COPO) options, numbers 9560 and 9561, for the 1969 model year. The COPO 9561 option brought the fire-breathing L72 big-block engine, making an underrated 425 hp (317 kW) gross. Don Yenko ordered several hundred of these cars, along with a variety of other high performance options, to create the now-legendary Yenko Camaro.

Overall, Chevrolet produced just 1,015 L72-equipped Camaros.

Even rarer was the COPO 9560. This option installed an all-aluminum 427 in³ (7.0 L) big-block called the ZL-1. Just 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced, probably because the engine alone cost over US$4,000 nearly twice that of a base coupe with a V8.

Though rated at 430 hp (321 kW) gross, the ZL-1 made closer to 550 hp (410 kW), making it both the fastest and rarest of all Camaros.

The 1969 model year was exceptionally long, extending into December 1969, due to production problems with the completely redesigned second generation model. Many of the late production cars were titled as 1970 models, and there are GM press photos showing cars sporting 1970 license plates; this is also the source of the 1970 1/2 moniker sometimes applied to the second generation 1970 model year cars. Equipped with the lighter weight split bumper in the front (i.e. no bumper across the central grille opening) and with all the refinements and enhancements up to that point, these 1970 1/2 model year vehicles are generally regarded as the most desirable of the early Camaros, since the performance of those immediately following was to be hampered by the addition of heavy federally mandated bumpers as well as the power-reducing automobile emissions control systems of the period.

Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet Camaro
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