Billed at the “Mustang killer,” the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was Chevrolet Division’s answer to the incredibly popular 1965-66 Ford Mustang that rolled off the line at first as a “secretary’s car.” The horse race that developed between the Camaro and Mustang quickly spawned pony car wars as tuners got their hands on them.
The blunt-nosed Camaro was Chevy’s answer to Mustang. It was a pretty good idea for a “parts-bin” vehicle. (The term “parts-bin” vehicle means that when Chevy decided to go after the Mustang market – continuing a decades-long performance war – it looked around to see what it had available that it could readily use underneath the body panels and it found the Chevy II platform and the engine from the Chevelle — base was a pretty good 230/250-cubic-inch L6.
The body panels were new and the form factor was similar to Mustang — long body/short deck. Unlike the Mustang, where you could seat four, the Chevy design team put most of the room up front so that the back seats were best used as either emergency seating, seating for very little kids, people who knew each other well or as a package shelf.
F-platform and wind tunnel
The 1967 Camaro was built on what Chevy’s “F” platform. The panels, designed for the Camaro, were reportedly the first ones the automaker actually tested in a wind-tunnel.
It was easy to see that they were somewhat wind-cheating as they did flow away from a very blunt front end. Indeed, the front end, which featured widely separated headlamps, was – from the side, blunt – although if you really looked closely you could see some very subtle rounding. The hood was long and somewhat rounded and it did flow up to a set of hidden wipers.
The fenders were rounded and worked well through the A-pillar and the rounded doors to the rounded rear quarters. It was a pleasant design, but one that, if you had looked at the Mustang closely, had been done before with a few key changes – the blunt front end, a separate front subframe with stiffening and a 108-inch wheelbase.
The suspension was independent up front, while the rear used a single-leaf that, under hard acceleration from one of the big V-8s, would tramp. To combat axle tramp, the Chevy engineering team used traction bars. That there could be axle tramp with this vehicle is easy to see because once you got past the sixes (230/250) and into V-8 land, you had a set of V-8s that offered 210 to 265 horsepower, while you could use the same large-lock version of the engine, bored out to 396-cubic-inches and capable of 375 horsepower with a four-barrel and 11:1 compression as another power option. That’s quite a kick in the tramp.
The 1967 Camaro’s introduction marked the beginning of the pony car wars and saw the mid-year introduction of an SS350 model with special nose striping and a horsepower rating of 295 and then there were the Rally Sport with concealed headlights.
First year Camaro sales came in at 220,917, roughly half the Mustang. Roughly 162,109 Camaros were equipped with V-8s and the remainder with 6s. Interestingly, though the TransAm Team did manage to make 602 streetable Z28s that were normally rated at a very flexible 302 – the Camaro was still a secretary’s car as one in four buyers was still a woman.