Chevy Camaro (1967-1968)
Article by Mark Trotta
Arriving late on the pony car scene, the Chevy Camaro quickly made up for lost time with a long list of luxury and performance options. The long hood/short deck exterior was based on a 108-inch wheelbase and offered as coupe or convertible. Three optional platforms were available; RS, SS, and Z-28.
Body construction on the 1967 Camaro was semi-unitized; the front chassis is a sub-frame held by four rubber-isolated mounts, and rear chassis is part of the unibody. This design was intended to give a smoother and more quiet ride than a full unibody car, and also allowed maximum space for the already small rear seat and trunk.
Engine choices were plentiful, including the standard 230-cid six-cylinder, optional 250-cid six-cylinder, and 327-cid small-block V-8 in either 210 or 275-horsepower versions. Chevrolet's venerable 350-cid small-block would make its debut in the 1967 Camaro, and would not appear in other Chevys until 1968.
Read: Chevy Small-Block V8 History
The Camaro's engine compartment had been designed to accommodate Chevy's 396 big-block, and easily accepted the 325-horsepower L-35 motor, later joined by the 375-horsepower L-78 big-block.
Standard transmission for first-year Camaros was a column-mounted three-speed manual, with a floor-mounted four-speed optional. The two-speed Powerglide automatic could be had with any model, and on big-block equipped cars the Turbo-400 three-speed automatic was offered.
RS And SS Packages
With nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer accessories, the Camaro could be ordered to nearly anyone's liking. The RS package included electrically-powered headlight covers, revised tail-lamps, and special RS badging.
A 350-cid V-8 came standard with the SS package, with both the 325 and 375 horsepower 396 engines available. Externally, non-functional hood-mounted air inlets, special badging and body stripes distinguished the SS models from the others. RS and SS options could also be combined.
1967 Camaro Z-28
Originally brought out to qualify the Camaro for the SCCA Trans Am racing series, the Z-28 option was quietly introduced in December of 1966. Class rules required engines to be no larger than five litres (305 cubic inches). Chevrolet combined the 3.00-inch stroke of a 283 engine with the 4.00-inch bore of the 327 motor to produce a high-revving, 302-cid small-block.
All early Z-28 engines received special forged-steel crankshaft and pistons. Compression ratio was 11.0-1. Modifications included an aluminum high rise dual-plane intake manifold, 780-cfm 4-barrel Holley carburetor, 2.02" intake valves, 1.60" exhaust valves, and a Duntov-designed solid-lifter camshaft.
Read: Best Oil For Classic Cars
The Z-28 option also included a close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission, heavy-duty suspension, front-disc brakes, quick-ratio steering, and 15x6-inch Corvette Rally wheels. Exterior features included a special hood with functional air-intake, trunk-lid spoiler, and dual stripes running across the hood and trunk lid. There were no exterior badges on first-year Z-28's.
To keep the 302's advertised power rating less than one horsepower per cubic-inch, the factory figure of 290-horsepower was measured at 5,300 rpm. Actual redline was 7,500 rpm, real figures were closer to 350-375 horsepower.
It's curious to note that first-year Z-28-equipped Camaros included Chevrolet's 2-year/24,000-mile warranty and 5-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty. 602 buyers ordered the Z-28 option in 1967.
1967 Indy 500 Pace Car
The new Chevy Camaro was chosen to pace the Indianapolis 500, only the third time for a Chevrolet to receive the honor. Driven by three-time Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose, the RS/SS Camaro was painted white with contrasting blue interior. Four cars were built for the race, and approximately 100 replicas offered to the public. Most replica pace cars were equipped with the 375-horsepower 396 big-block, others had the 295-horsepower 350 small-block motor.
With the new third-generation Corvette stealing the spotlight at Chevy dealers, 1968 saw only minor changes to the second-year Camaro, which included a mild grille redesign, divided rear tail-lamps, and side-marker lights added to the front fenders and rear quarters. Front running lights on non-RS models were changed from circular to oval.
Interior console and gauges were new for 1968, and a passenger-side grab-handle was available with either one of two custom interior groups. Side vent windows seen on 1967 models were gone, replaced with Chevrolet's new fresh-air-inlet system called Astro Ventilation.
Camaros were originally equipped with single-leaf rear springs, which contributed to unwanted wheel hop under hard acceleration. For 1968, multi-leaf rear springs were fitted to high-performance V-8 models. Rear shock absorber mounting was also redesigned; the passenger-side shock passed behind the axle, and the driver's side shock mounted in front of the axle. This staggered arrangement improved handling and helped eliminate wheel hop.
1968 Camaro SS
The SS350 continued to use the same hood as last years, while the SS396 got its own, adorned with twin non-functional intake ports. A new 350-horsepower 396-cid option was added, and aluminum cylinder-heads were now available with the L-78 big-block.
1968 Camaro Z-28
Racing legend Mark Donahue, driving the blue #6 Camaro, won 10 of the 13 Trans Am races this year, easily winning the 1968 series. A Penske/Sunoco prepped 302 engine produced an estimated 480-horsepower. With SCCA rules stating parts used on race cars must be available to the public, the Penske/Donohue race team should be credited for helping bring many heavy-duty race items to dealer parts-counters.
Initially nothing more than an option code designation, the Z-28 moniker stuck, and models so equipped sported either Z-28 or 302 badges. Dual low-restriction mufflers, heavy-duty radiator with temperature-controlled fan, and 15x6-inch wheels were included with the Z-28 package. The potent 302 small-block engine remained the same. A dual-four-barrel cross-ram intake manifold was available, using twin 600-cfm carburetors.
The rear decklid spoiler, first seen on Z-28 models, was soon available on all Camaros, and buyers could now combine the Z-28 package with the RS package. 7,199 examples of the second-year Z-28 were sold.
Consistently finishing ahead of Mustangs on the track, the resulting publicity helped overall Camaro sales. Total first year Camaro production totaled 220,906, with 235,417 models sold in 1968.
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