By the fall of 1977, when the new models were hitting the showrooms, the twilight of the twilight of the malaise era and its lack of performance was on the horizon. For the Camaro, the gloom of the mid-‘70s was finally being cast off, and some excitement starting to reignite in the lineup. The year before the Z28 reappeared after a brief absence, and for the ’78 model, GM had a few things in store for the Camaro.
First up was the concealment of the bulky and unattractive 5 mph bumpers behind one-piece endure fascias. The new one-piece nose provided a dramatic facelift for the Camaro that gave it a sportier and edgier look reminiscent of the ’70-’73 models. Not a difficult task to accomplish since the ‘78 Camaro still boasted essentially the same interior since the second generation came out in 1970. To go with the new rear bumper, the Camaro received new taillight housings. Also new for ’78 was the T-top removable glass roof panel option, something that would become a staple of the Camaro for the next two generations.
The engine options were the same as ’77, with the tried and true 350 small-block cranking out 170 smog equipment choked horsepower (160 in California), and only non-California cars could leave the factory with a four-speed manual gearbox. One new item was a 3.73 gear option for manual trans Z28s.
Ah yes, the Z28. After a mid-year reintroduction in ’77, the ‘78 Z28 was ready to help buyers out of their malaise era funk with race proven handling abilities, good horsepower (for the time) and thanks to the new one-piece nose and rear bumper cover, a much sportier look. Buyers could either go with the standard 15-inch five-spoke Rally wheels, or the new for ‘78 optional “turbine” aluminum rollers.
In addition to the Z28, you also had the Rally Sport model. No longer just an RPO option, the Rally Sport became its own model, and could be combined with the Type LT option, but not Z28.
One other historical note for the ’78 model, the two millionth Camaro rolled off the assembly line at the Van Nuys plant in California.