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Camaros through the years: coolest

By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos

1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS

The Chevrolet Camaro isn't just another performance car; it's an integral part of American culture. Sean Penn's character Jeff Spicoli drove a Camaro in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," Megan Fox captivated a generation of adolescent boys leaning over one in "Transformers," and John Cusack eventually got his running in "Better Off Dead." Over the past 46 years, the Camaro has been an astoundingly fast and beautiful V8-powered muscle car as well as a painfully slow 4-cylinder cruiser with some questionable styling. Click through for a look at the most significant Camaros of all time. Did your favorite make the list?

1967 Camaro

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

The Chevrolet Camaro made its debut in September 1966 as a 4-seat coupe or convertible. It was widely viewed as a reaction to the immensely popular FordMustang of 1964, but Chevrolet had been toying with the idea of the Camaro since 1962. As it developed a cult following alongside the Mustang, the Camaro helped spawn the pony car segment, as it possessed the pony car's key trait of a large engine stuffed into a small package. The most powerful standard Camaro was the 325-horsepower SS396, but a limited number of special-order SS396 models cranked out 375 horsepower.

1967 Camaro Z/28

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Although it wasn't the most powerful Camaro in that first year, the Z/28 was the best-handling choice. Developed to qualify the Camaro for the Sports Car Club of America's new Trans-Am class, the Z/28 featured a 302-cubic-inch V8 engine that spun out 290 horsepower. The firmer F41 suspension improved handling, and exterior changes included dual hood and trunk stripes and Rally wheels on red-stripe tires. Only 602 Z/28s were built that first year, making it a desirable collector car today.

1969 Yenko/SC Camaro

1969 Yenko/SC Camaro

Through Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order (COPO) program, Don Yenko ordered specially outfitted Camaros and sold them through his Pennsylvania dealership as the Yenko/SC ("Super Camaro"). The cars featured Chevrolet's L72 iron-block 427-cubic-inch V8 engine, which officially made 425 horsepower, although Yenko claimed 450. They also had disc brakes, positraction, a cowl-induction hood and heavy-duty suspension. A total of 201 1969 Yenko Camaros were sold.

1969 ZL1 Camaro

1969 Camaro ZL1

The most powerful and rarest Camaro of the 1960s was the legendary ZL1, which was essentially a race-ready factory dragster for the National Hot Rod Association Super Stock class and was available only through the COPO program. The heart of the ZL1 was an aluminum-block 427-cubic-inch V8 racing engine that officially produced 430 horsepower, although actual output was likely more than 500 horses. Only 69 of these monstrously powerful Camaros were built, making the ZL1 one of the most valuable Camaros today.

1970 1/2 Camaro

1970 Chevrolet Camaro

The second-generation Camaro made its debut in February 1970, offered only as a coupe. Styling showed cues from Jaguar and Ferrari. The new car was longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model, and that gave it more interior space. It handled better and rode softer, too. All the improvements inspired Road & Track magazine to call it the best American car of the time. The Z/28 received the 360-horsepower LT1 350-cubic-inch V8 engine from the Corvette. Car and Driver staffers piloted a Z/28 to a zero-to-60-mph time of just 5.8 seconds.

Baldwn Motion 1970 1/2 Camaro

Baldwin-Motion Phase III 454/500 '70 Camaro

Starting in 1967, two Long Island businesses collaborated to create some of the fastest Corvettes, Novas, Chevelles and Camaros of all time. Motion Performance modified the cars, and the Chevrolet dealer Baldwin Auto Co. sold them and offered financing. The cars were built to order and outfitted with 427-, 454- and even 482-cubic-inch engines, and could develop more than 500 horsepower. SS and more powerful Phase III models were offered, and Motion Performance guaranteed the Phase III cars could turn in quarter-mile times of at least 11.5 seconds at 120 mph.

source: http://editorial.autos.msn.com/camaros-through-the-years-15-coolest#16


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