Friday, July 1, 2011

Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS

The inaugural 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was Chevy's four-seat "personal" car, turned out in responding to the limited but significant success of the bucket-seated Corvair Monza -- and, of course, the stunning popularity of the phenomenal Ford Mustang.

Demand for such "ponycars" was strong and growing, tightening the traditional Chevy-Ford rivalry into a Camaro vs. Mustang competition that spanned five decades and is about to be reignited with the introduction of the all-new 2009 Chevrolet Camaro.

Hardtop coupes and convertibles went on sale, both riding a 108-inch wheelbase. Not everyone realized that Camaros were based on off-the-shelf components -- shared by the modest Chevy II, no less -- with engines borrowed from Chevelle. Camaro's F-body was one of GM's first to be evaluated in a wind tunnel.

Early on, engineers decided to use a front sub-frame in combination with unit construction, sandwiching rubber inserts in between -- the first such application in a low-priced U.S. car. Back seats were strictly "for emergency use only."

Single-leaf rear springs resulted in "axle tramp" under hard acceleration with the larger V-8 engines, so those cars were fitted with traction bars. Chevy's 230-cubic-inch six was standard, with a 250-cubic-inch six op­tional. The V-8 selection started with 210- and 265-horsepower 327s, then stretched all the way to a big 396-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower V-8 with four-barrel carb and 11:1 compression.

Midyear brought an SS 350 edition with a 295-horsepower V-8 and "bumblebee" nose striping. Meanwhile, a Rally Sport (RS) package featured stylish concealed headlights.

Despite promotion of Camaro as a male-oriented machine, especially with a hot V-8 under the hood, one in four buyers was a woman. A lengthy accessories and options list let customers personalize the car. Vinyl-covered roofs were optional on coupes.

First-year production totaled 220,917 cars (162,109 with a V-8 engine). That was less than half Mustang's total, but all five other Chevrolet car lines saw diminished output. Chevrolet also issued 602 race-bred Camaro Z28s with a 302-cubic-inch V-8 nominally rated at 290 horsepower but capable of considerably more.

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