Chevrolet Camaro Design Analysis Covers Every Generation from 1967 to 2015

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 6 photos
Photo: Chevrolet
1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/281970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/281982 Chevrolet Camaro Z/281996 Chevrolet Camaro SS2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Although the Mustang came a few years earlier and the Challenger was always more badass than its competition, the Chevrolet Camaro holds a special place in our hearts. Call it an icon, a pony or a muscle car, call it whatever, but the Camaro is Chevrolet's most popular nameplate together with the Corvette.
Before the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro (sixth generation) will make its purported live debut at the New York Auto Show in April, General Motors thought that it would be nice to go through all the five generations produced up to this moment. Without further ado, here's what GM's design higher-ups think about the Camaro's cues and how these changed through time.

Ed Welburn, VP of GM Global Design and the owner of a 1969 Camaro, commented the following about the first generation (1967 - 1969):

  • Every effort was made to make it appear wider, sleeker and more muscular
  • Character lines that trailed the wheel openings gave the car an aura of speed
  • The rear fenders were pulled out, giving the car a wider, more muscular flair
  • Dual-plane grille added visual interest to the nose and became a trademark of Camaro design
  • Wide taillights, with body-color sheet metal between them, exaggerated the car’s width
  • Simulated grilles forward of the rear fenders provided accent detail and became one of the 1969 Camaro’s focal styling cues
  • Chevrolet-signature “cowl induction” power bulge hood signified the muscle beneath it, from high-revving small-block V8 to high-torque big-block V8 engines.

Ken Parkinson, executive director of design for Chevrolet Trucks and Global Architecture and the owner of a 1968 Camaro, commented the following about the second generation (1970 - 1981):

  • The strong horizontal crease running the length of the body sides creates strong tension and forward motion in the body
  • Below this horizontal crease, the body tucks in dramatically, exposing the tires for a more muscular appearance and great stance
  • The bold split-bumper design on RS models was a signature feature that gave the car an aggressive and more contemporary design, arguably one of the greatest fronts on any car
  • Great hood design with lots of form exaggerating the power of the V-8 underneath
  • The upper portion of the design is placed rearward on the body, giving it a significant amount of “dash to axle” – a key to the car’s dramatic proportion
  • The sail panel at first glance is a clean, simple statement, but on closer look is also a sophisticated complex shape that flows into the rear quarter of the car, cradling the backlight
  • The Chevrolet-signature dual taillights are simple and beautiful.

John Cafaro, the executive director of Chevrolet global car design and the owner of a third-gen Camaro 1LE racecar, commented the following about the third generation (1982 - 1992):

  • Quad rectangular headlamps gave Camaro a contemporary appearance and were part of the aggressive front-end design
  • A hatchback was de rigueur in the 1980s and the Camaro’s large backlight compound-curved glass was a technological achievement in its day
  • Ground effects on the Z28 were inspired by Formula 1 racecars and represented the first production application for a mass-produced American car – kicking off a styling trend that would become an industry-wide staple of 1980s automotive design
  • Linear five-spoke wheels complemented the car’s angular proportion
  • A characteristic sharp body-side crease was part of Camaro’s DNA and neatly divided the upper and lower sections of the angular body
  • Large, multi-color taillights spanned the rear panel, adding to the high-tech ambience of the era.

Kirk Bennion, Chevrolet Camaro exterior design manager and the owner of a 1993 Camaro Z/28, commented the following about the fourth generation (1993 - 2002):

  • Four, mini-halogen headlamps were new during design development and helped achieve the goal for the low front end
  • Super-fast 68-degree windshield was one of the most radical of its day, and was a primary element of the car’s sleek proportion
  • Smooth body sides with integrated wheel flares were a first for Camaro
  • Black upper section on Z28 and SS models reinforced sleekness
  • Integrated, wraparound rear wing was another first and its shape was ultimately determined by numerous wind-tunnel tests
  • SS-specific hood scoop looked appropriately aggressive and contributed to performance.
  • Seventeen-inch five-spoke wheels were a new, coveted feature on the 1996 SS models.

Tom Peters, Chevrolet Camaro exterior design director and the owner of a 1969 Camaro, commented the following on the outgoing fifth-generation model (2010 - 2015):

  • It’s all about proportion and sculpture – from the dash-to-axle dimension that suggests performance to the efficient, 2+2 “canopy,” its sculptural design conveys lean power
  • The cross-car, dual-plane grille is a heritage cue reimagined and gives the car a sporty character
  • The sharp body-side crease is a great example of a fundamental, timeless element that is consistent throughout the Camaro’s history and works just as effectively on the fifth-generation
  • Rear fender “gills” pay homage to the iconic cue of the 1969 Camaro
  • Dual-element taillamps are a signature Chevrolet cue
  • The hood evokes the style of the first-gen cowl-induction power bulge
  • Rear-fender kick-up feature adds muscular character to the overall design

For more design insights on this legendary machine from General Motors, check the release below.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
Press Release
About the author: Mircea Panait
Mircea Panait profile photo

After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories