That thumping noise you heard was every single auto-writer’s jaw hitting the ground—the Camaro Z/28 is back, and it’s awesome. How’s this sound: 300lbs lighter through obsessive weight-savings measures, a seven (seven!) litre engine cranking out 500hp, a six-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Turn up the good, turn down the suck.
Once again, Chevy’s muscle car is taking the fight to the lighter, lout-ier Mustang and it’s anyone’s guess as to which one’s going to be faster and/or more furious. Honestly, who cares? We live in a time when the average Joe can pick up Ferrari-levels of horsepower and just give’r; how great is that?
Ford can claim serious heritage for their iconic pony car, an unbroken model line stretching back to the mid-’60s. Chevy’s Camaro history has been a bit spottier but it’s still been a wild ride. Here are a five examples of the best of the breed.
1969 Yenko Camaro
You might remember one of these blue-and-white beauties making the leap onto a boat deck in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious—a stunt that was not really 2 Believable. Both that car and the movie’s plot were reasonable imitations of the real thing; in the case of the car, the original 1969 machine is among the most collectible GM products of all time, equipped with 427 cubic inches of V8 muscle and heavy duty suspension to handle the power.
If you’re the editor of something like “Green Living Monthly”, you might drive a Prius. If you’re David Freiburger, the editor of Hotrod Magazine, you drive something a bit meatier. Like, 1540 horsepower kind of meatier. F-bomb indeed! Built by resurrecting an $800 junkyard beater, the matte-green F-Bomb is powered by a twin-turbo small-block and gets several miles to the gallon if driven carefully. Which it almost certainly never is.
With just 215hp in top-of-the-range tuned-port-injection cars, the IROC would be thoroughly thumped by either its muscle-car ancestors or hi-po descendants. Even so, it’s a damn cool car, in a sort of donkey-rope, Adidas-tracksuit, Run-DMC kind of way. Overshadowed by its TV-star Firebird cousin, Knight Rider‘s KITT, the IROC still appeals to everyone’s internal teenage dirtbag.
2002 Camaro SS 35th Anniversary
An all-aluminum 325hp V8. Factory ram-air-style hood. Six-speed manual transmission. Racing stripes. And it’ll beat the mighty Ford Mustang Cobra through the quarter-mile—that’ll be down to the racing stripes. It was the last Camaro built until the end of the decade, but it carried the torch.
2006 Camaro Concept “Bumblebee”
If Megan Fox wanted to sneak a look under our hood, we’d transform too—the change from ratty ’77 beater to 2006 concept car was a central part of Michael Bay’s explosion-packed Transformers movie. Even as our childhood exploded all over the big screen, it blazed the trail for the eventual return of the Camaro as a production 2010 model.
Brendan McAleer is a freelance auto-writer based out of North Vancouver, BC, and a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His work appears in BBCAutos, Road&Track, Autos.ca and elsewhere. Follow him on twitter @brendan_mcaleer.