The Chevrolet Camaro (First Generation) vs. 2023 Camaro
There are many ways to compare the first and next-to-last rendition of the Chevy Camaro. While the technology has improved tenfold, Chevrolet has worked hard to keep the legacy of the Camaro alive and well. Here are some primary comparisons we made between the two Chevy beasts.
Design and Dimensions
The Camaro’s story begins with a name. When the press first heard the name of Chevrolet’s new car line, the most obvious question was, “What Is A Camaro?” To which the product managers replied, “It’s a car that eats Mustangs.”
Initially designed as a direct competitor to the popular Ford Mustang, Chevy used the F-body platform as a 2-door, 2 + 2 hardtop coupe and convertible model. The rear-wheel drive sportscar had a definite Coke-bottle body style that was popular in the late sixties. The early Camaro shared parts with the Chevy Nova (much like the Mustang pilfered parts from the Falcon). The first generation Camaro was built for three years. During that time, several trim packages were offered, including the RS, SS, and Z28 (and a special ZL1 drag racing engine in 1969), with over 120 different factory and dealer-installed options available.
The first generation Chevrolet Camaro was 184.6 inches long, 72.5 inches wide (74.0 for the ‘69 MY), and stood 51 inches tall from the ground to the roof. The car had a 106-inch wheelbase, making it smaller than the Mustang. Depending on the version, the Camaro boasted 3,400 - 3,600 lbs, significantly heavier than Ford’s muscle car at 2,700 - 3,000 lbs.
By contrast, the sixth generation Camaro began production for the 2016 model year by sharing the Alpha platform with enhanced components with the Cadillac ATS and CTS models. The 2023 Camaro reflects the iconic retro look that Chevrolet used when the Camaro was rebirthed in 2009 but gave the muscle car more aerodynamic lines and body contours. The new version of the Camaro sits 188 - 190 inches long, has a 75-inch stance, and is 53 inches tall, with a wheelbase almost five inches longer than its first-gen cousin.
Power And Performance
What makes a Camaro great is what is under the hood. The first generation Camaros offered over 8 - 12 different engine combinations during the three-year production run, increasing the number every year from eight (1967) to ten (1968) to 12 (1969). Chevrolet felt that they needed to use a shotgun approach to their engine and options offerings, not just to give customers more freedom but to capture every quirky configuration that might appeal to new buyers.
Depending on the year, Chevrolet’s standard engine was a 3.8L inline-six that produced 140 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque or the 5.4L V8 (the 5.0L V8 was added in January 1969). All engines had a three-speed manual transmission as standard, but a four-speed was optional, along with three automatic transmissions that customers could order.
The SS model offered one of the top V8 engines, a 396 (6.5L) Big Block V8 producing 350 - 375 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. The SS model could scoot down the track, posting 6.8 seconds 0 - 60 mph with a top speed of 140 mph. While it wasn’t as fast as the ‘69 Mustang Mach 1 (5.7 seconds), it was strong enough to provide healthy competition.
In 1969, Chevrolet allowed a special COPO 427 V8 (7.0L) engine that could be ordered. Only about 1000 Camaros were outfitted with the $487 powerplant, which produced 425 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The L72 engine option has 11.0:1 compression and shaved the 0 - 60 mph time to 5.4 seconds.
The current generation Camaro continues the tradition of muscle cars by offering several different engine options, including a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl, 3.6L V6, and two 6.2L V8 direct injected V8s (one with a supercharger). A supercharger on the 6.2L V8 boosts the power output to 650 hp and 650 -lb-ft of torque. As you might expect, the 2023 Chevrolet Camaro boasts a 3.4 second 0 - 60 mph time and a top end of 149 mph. The new Camaro has a ten-speed automatic with paddle shifters to compliment the supercharged engine.
While automakers like Chevy were more interested in speed than safety in the mid-sixties, the decade's end saw dramatic changes. The paradigm shift was caused by releasing a bestselling expose, Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, which revealed how truly unsafe consumers were on the road. The book led to massive changes in automobile safety, including seatbelt mandates, and catalyzed many safety improvements Americans have grown accustomed to today.
The ‘69 Camaro featured shoulder and lap belts, an energy-absorbing steering wheel and column, front seat head restraints, a dual master cylinder, and a four-way hazard emergency flasher. The current 2023 Camaro has a full suite of safety features such as a rear backup camera, blind spot warning, rear-cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and assist and forward collision warning. The car is filled with airbags (seven), including an airbag to protect occupants in the event of a rollover. The Camaro has earned an overall safety rating of 5 stars from NHTSA.
The first generation Camaro Coupe had a base price of $2,466 when it was first introduced in the fall of ‘66. By 1969, the price had risen to $2757, with a Z28 or SS model stretching to $3600 - $4000 depending on the options selected. (These figures translate to roughly $22k - $36k in today’s dollars).
In comparison, the base price for the 2023 Camaro starts at $25,800, with the top-of-the-line ZL1 with its supercharged engine beginning at $66,700.
While it remains to be seen what the value of the 2023 Camaro will be in fifty-sixty years, the value of a first-generation Camaro has increased over the years. The average price for a ‘67 - ‘69 Camaro SS runs between $76 - 90k, depending on its condition. A ZL1 with the 427 ci engine in excellent condition is worth $700,000 based on Hagerty estimates.
Annual production for the early Camaro ranged from 220 - 240k units each year, with most being base models. Only 1000 427 ci Camaros were made during 1969 (COPO 9561). A few ZL1 Camaros were produced through COPO 9560 (only 69 units were made). These ZL1s were used exclusively for drag racing applications. The ZL1 engine cost around $4k, so it is easy to see that only a few were ordered.
The 2023 Camaro will be produced in limited numbers (numbers have yet to be released), but if 2022 indicates, the production will be about 24k units.