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1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS

In this edition of Muscle Car Milestones, we’ll focus on the 1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS. The first generation Chevrolet Camaro SS made its debut to the automotive press and public in September 1966. It’s been said that Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett chose the name Camaro after discovering the word meant friend in a French-English dictionary. Make no mistake, the Camaro SS’s mission was simple - - to put the Ford Mustang GT in its place. Let’s see what makes the 1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS a hit with the F-body aficionado.

1967: Meet the Hugger

The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS was available as a notchback coupe or convertible. The SS 350 featured simulated hood louvers, a bumblebee paint band around the front panel and fenders, “SS 350” grille emblem, “SS 350” fuel filler cap, “SS” badging on front fenders, and red or white stripe tires.

Checking off the Rally Sport option on the order form gives the Camaro SS a captivating presence. The Rally Sport package included a full-width, black lattice grille with concealed headlamps, lower body side molding, sports-styled parking lights and backup lights, and taillamps trimmed in black. The Rally Sport package also features bright wheel opening trim and bright drip gutter molding on coupes.

The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS was available with three engine choices. The base engine was the L48 350 cubic-inch small block. This engine was rated at 295 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine features a four-barrel carburetor, 10.25:1 compression, and 2 1/4-inch diameter dual exhaust. A 61-amp battery, hydraulic camshaft, and higher performance starter motor are also standard equipment. The L48 came standard with a Saginaw three-speed manual transmission. A Borg-Warner heavy-duty three-speed manual, Muncie four-speed manual, and a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission were also available.

Drivers wanting more performance could choose between two 396 cubic-inch big block V8s. A 325 horsepower L35 and 375 horsepower L78. The L35 came standard with a Borg-Warner heavy-duty three-speed manual with a four-speed manual offered as an option. Drivers wanting an automatic transmission could opt for the three-speed Turbo-Hydra-Matic. The L78 was available with a Borg-Warner three-speed manual with a Muncie M21 four-speed manual as optional. No automatic transmission was available with this powerhouse.

Car and Driver tested the Camaro SS 350 for their November 1966 issue. The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS ran from 0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds and sprinted the quarter mile in 16.1 seconds at 86.5 miles per hour. While the editors pointed out the highs and lows of the new Camaro 350, in the end, they seemed a bit disappointed with Chevy’s sporty new pony car. The article concluded with the statement “Measuring the Camaro in terms of what it could be, we – and some other enthusiasts – don’t think it is yet the kind of success that we’d been hoping for.”

1968: Back for Another Round

The 1968 model year brought some minor changes to the Camaro SS. Federally-mandated side marker lamps were added to the front fenders and rear quarters. Also, vent windows in the doors were eliminated, thanks to the addition of Astro Ventilation. A new grille featured satin-silver horizontal bars over deep-set black with rectangular parking lights. Also, new Camaro SS taillamps with integrated back-up lights bring up the rear.

The 1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS was still offered with the L48 350 cubic-inch small block. For 1968, Chevy offered two extra 396 big block options in addition to the L35 and L78. The new big blocks included the 350 horsepower L34 and the 375 horsepower L89.

Performance improvements include staggered rear shocks to alleviate wheel hop and five-leaf rear springs. Buyers willing to dish out more mullah could opt for front disc brakes, positraction, and the Rally Sport package.

Motor Trend put the 1968 Camaro SS 396 to the test in their January 1968 issue. Their tester was equipped with the 325 horsepower version of the 396 V8, Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission, and 3.07 rear axle. Motor Trend sped from 0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds and laid down a quarter mile time of 15.6 seconds at 92 miles per hour. Motor Trend commended the Camaro’s handling by stating “handling this car is a joy, one of the outstanding features” and “the Camaro SS handles like a car twice its size and weight.” The magazine also gave high marks to the Camaro’s braking abilities, stating the optional disc brakes “are remarkably fade-resistant after repeated high-speed stops.”

1969: Setting the Pace

The 1969 Camaro SS went through even more changes for the 1969 model year. Changes include a revised fascia, front fenders, and rear quarter panels. Molded body lines now stretch from the rear of the front and rear wheel opening. The 1969 Camaro SS grille was also more pointed and featured larger grille openings. New taillamps feature a triple-lens design.

Something that didn’t change — engine choices carried over from the 1968 model year. However, power in the SS 350 rose slightly to 300 horsepower.

Standard equipment included power front disc brakes, black-accented simulated rear fender louvers, and chrome engine accents. A two-spoke steering wheel with SS badging, wide wheels with F70 x 14-inch tires, and a special hood with simulated hood ports were also standard on the Camaro SS.

Car Life tested an SS 396 and walked away with a 0 to 60 time of 6.8 seconds and a quarter mile time of 14.8 seconds at 98.7 miles per hour.

The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS was chosen as the official pace car for the 53rd running of the Indianapolis 500. This was the second time in three years the Camaro SS paced the race. The 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS pace car was unmistakable in its Dover White paint with Hugger Orange stripes. Those wanting their own pace car were in luck. According to Hemmings, 3,675 examples were built for the buying public.

It should be noted that production of 1969 model last through November 1969 due to production interruptions with the upcoming 1970 models. In fact, an ad depicting several 1970 Chevy SS models and Corvette featured a 1969 Camaro, not a 1970 model.

The styling of the 1969 Camaro SS also set a standard. Most Camaro lovers believe it is the most stylish first generation Camaro. Incidentally, both the fifth generation and the sixth generation Camaro styling mimicked the 1969 model.

Check out any car show you encounter and, chances are, you’ll see a first generation Camaro SS. The 1967–1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS seems to be as popular today as they were 55 years ago. Camaros are like family and finding a one-owner car or one that’s been passed down from generation to generation isn’t uncommon. It just goes to show that some things never go out of style.

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