Chevy Camaro. The Rise of the Z/28


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The March 1967 edition of Road & Track magazine featured a road test of a Camaro RS sport coupe with the 327-cid 275-hp V8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission and 3.07:1 ratio rear axle.

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Chevy Camaro. The Rise of the Z/28

  1. 1. Chevy Camaro. The Rise of the Z/28<br />July 19, 2010<br />
  2. 2. “Straight-line Terror”<br />The March 1967 edition of Road & Track magazine featured a road test of a Camaro RS sport coupe with the 327-cid 275-hp V8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission and 3.07:1 ratio rear axle. <br />It did 0 to 30 mph in 3.7 sec., 0 to 60 mph in 9.1 sec. and the quarter mile in 16.9 sec. at 87 mph.<br />Those numbers only underscored what performance enthusiasts were finding out: <br />properly equipped, Camaro was a straight-line terror. <br />The majority of 1967 Camaros were already being ordered with a small-block 327 or the new 350 cid 295 hp V8, both of which easily out-performed Ford's 289 cid 271 hp V8, even with its chrome air cleaner and valve covers. <br />
  3. 3. Cranked Up Camaro<br />Recognizing an untapped performance market, some Chevrolet dealers also began sliding 427 cid 435 hp Corvette engines under Camaro hoods before sending them out the door. <br />On drag strips across the country, big-block Camaros soon began propelling weekend-racers to Super Stock victories over their hated Mustang rivals.<br />At the time, Mustang’s largest available engine was a 390 cid 320 hp V8. And, with the introduction of the Z/28 option package<br />
  4. 4. Trans Am Heats Up<br />Camaros immediately began tearing up the SCCA Trans Am circuit. <br />In 1966, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) created a new racing class: the Trans American Group II Sedan Racing series, better known as Trans Am. <br />Mustang won the series in the first year, running against an assortment of Plymouth Barracudas and Valiants.<br /> There had been no challenger from Chevrolet. <br />However, the Chevy marketing team and engineering boss Vince Piggins, wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.<br />
  5. 5. Undercover<br />In 1957, GM signed an agreement of the Automobile Manufacturing Association (AMA) that called for a ban on the promotion of speed or participation in racing. <br />Therefore in early 1963, GM chairman Frederic Donner issued a stern memo ordering all division heads to immediately cease all racing activity.<br />Despite the restrictions, Piggins created a covert racing development team within his department and developed performance parts for cars such as the Impala SS and Corvair Monza<br /> labeling them “heavy-duty” or “off-highway” parts to disguise their real purpose. <br />
  6. 6. The Package<br />In December 1966, Chevrolet quietly released one of the most famous options codes of all time. Few knew about it, because it wasn’t advertised. That package was the Z/28. <br />To get it, a knowledgeable buyer had to order a base 6-cylinder Camaro coupe for $2,466 and then check the Z/28 RPO on the order sheet.<br />The package cost $400 and included broad racing stripes on the hood and rear deck lid, the F-41 handling suspension, 15-inch tires on Corvette six-inch Rally wheels, quick-ratio manual steering and a 302 cid small-block V8 engine created by taking the 327 block and installing a short stroke 283 crank. A Muncie four-speed manual was the only transmission and power front disc brakes were a mandatory $100 option.<br />
  7. 7. Champs on the Track<br />While there was no official Chevrolet Trans Am team, Roger Penske's Camaro, sponsored by Sunoco and driven by Mark Donohue, was about as close as you could get. <br />As far as anyone could tell, Penske did not receive money from Chevrolet, but did give Penske considerable technical support. <br />Behind the wheel of the Penske Camaro Z/28, Donohue would chalk up 20 race victories between 1967 and 1970, along three unofficial drivers' championships. <br />Chevy delivered on its promise to beat Mustang on the track. <br />
  8. 8. Camaro vs. Mustang?<br />So, you decide: Camaro versus Mustang?<br /> It’s a question as epic as Mac versus PC, Coke versus Pepsi, or Army versus Navy.<br /> According to figures from various sources, including Ford, Mustang has outsold the Camaro in 28 out of 36 years, not counting the six year period from 2003 to 2009 when the Camaro was not in production.<br />
  9. 9. Camaro vs. Mustang? <br />Sales figures, of course, are sterile, passionless and emotion free. <br />They give no weight or importance to all the memories of warm summer nights, all the unforgettable first dates, or all the long patches of burning tire rubber both vehicles have left smoking over the last 40 years at stop lights and outside neighborhood Dairy Queens all across the country. <br />
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