It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since the first Chevrolet Camaros started rolling down the highway, but it’s true. Arguably the most popular Chevy nameplate has been with us—aside from a brief hiatus—for five decades! It’s hard to imagine what today’s Chevy scene would look like if GM had opted for the Super Nova instead of developing the XP-836 into the Camaro, but they didn’t and our reward is a car that’s still going strong all these years later.
We love rivalries, but to be honest if you’re a Camaro fan you need to thank the Ford Mustang. If Ford hadn’t kick-started the ponycar segment who knows how things would have gone. But, even though the Camaro was designed to compete with the Mustang they were both very different in terms of styling. On a personal note, my first ride was an early 1965 Mustang, a cool car for high school, but it wasn’t until my second car, a 1967 Camaro, that I really got neck deep into hot rodding. I spent way too much time (and too much cash) at Super Shops buying the next cool widget or speed part, but the upside is I was too broke to spend money on other vices. The Camaro served as my daily driver for many years until it was sold to some collector in Japan and I picked up a ’71 Camaro RS. It’s been Chevrolet, especially Camaros, ever since.
If you stepped back in time and told those assemblers at the plant and Chevrolet designers that 50 years in the future people would be spending tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars restoring and customizing these cars they would most likely think you were nuts. As much as we love our Camaros they were first designed to be affordable transportation with a sporty flair, and disposable. But the timeless styling of the Camaro has kept it firmly entrenched in the hearts of Chevy lovers everywhere.
Today, the Camaro roars on, more powerful than ever. The amount of bleeding-edge technology stuffed into the gen-6 Camaro is downright amazing, and while I still prefer the styling of the early years, the performance and road manners the current Camaro offers is light years better than what was offered back then. The world keeps on changing, so I have no idea how the Camaro will evolve or if the gen-7 Camaro will finally succumb to the pressure of CAFE standards and boring, soulless bean counters, but for now I’m just happy to report that the Camaro is here and, in terms of performance, better than ever.