A Little History…
The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared in Chevrolet dealerships in September 1966, for the 1967 model year on a brand-new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and was available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, hardtop (no “B” or center pillar) or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 power plants. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1969 model year.
The Camaro’s standard drive train was either a 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp (104 kW) or a 327 cu in (5.4 L) (307 cu in (5.0 L) later in 1969) V8 engine, with a standard three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 1967), 10 (in 1968), and 12 (in 1969) different engines available in 1967-1969 Camaros. There were several optional transmissions. A four-speed manual was available with any engine. The two-speed “Powerglide” automatic transmission was available all three years. The three-speed “Turbo Hydra-Matic 350” automatic became available starting in 1969. The optional automatic for SS396 cars was the Turbo 400 three-speed automatic.
There was a plethora of other options available all three years, including three main packages:
The RS was an appearance package that included hidden headlights, revised taillights with back-up lights under the rear bumper, RS badging, and exterior bright trim. It was available on any model.
The SS performance package consisted of a 350 or 396 cu in V8 engine and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging.
The Z/28 performance package was designed (with further modifications) to compete in the SCCA Trans-Am series. It included a solid-lifter 302 V8, 4-speed transmission, power disc brakes, and two wide stripes down the hood and trunk lid.
The idea of offering such a wide variety of “packages” and numerous options was to “blanket” Camaro’s end of the personal car market with everything from a nice, plain and docile Six to a gaudy and fire breathing V8.
Almost all of 1967-1969 Camaros were built in the two U.S. assembly plants: Norwood, Ohio and Van Nuys, California. There were also five non-U.S. Camaro assembly plants in countries that required local assembly and content. These plants were located in the Philippines, Belgium, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Peru.
The styling of the 1968 Camaro was very similar to the 1967 design. With the introduction of Astro Ventilation, a fresh-air-inlet system, the side vent windows were deleted. Side marker lights were added on the front and rear fenders which was a government requirement for all 1968 vehicles. It also had a more pointed front grille and divided rear taillights. The front running lights (on non-RS models) were also changed from circular to oval. The big block SS models received chrome hood inserts that imitated velocity stacks.
The shock absorber mounting was staggered to resolve wheel hop issues and higher performance models received multi-leaf rear springs instead of single-leaf units. A 396 cu in (6.5 L) 350 hp (261 kW) big block engine was added as an option for the SS, and the Z28 appeared in Camaro brochures. The 427 cu in (7.0 l) was not available as a Regular Production Option (RPO). Several dealers, such as Baldwin-Motion, Dana, and Yenko, offered the 427 as a dealer-installed replacement for the factory-supplied 396 cid engine.
While the Z/28 variant was previously available as a track-only car during the 1967 production run, Chevrolet’s Special Production Division came up with an ingenious plan to make the Z/28 available for public road use. They had to convince Chevrolet’s General Manager Pete Estes to allow a production run by first building a road-ready Z/28 for him to drive. But the General Manager only drove convertible vehicles, and the Z/28 was never produced as a convertible. A Central Office Production Order (COPO) was placed for the only Z/28 convertible Camaro ever created. The car was placed in the executive garage which Pete Estes had access to. Upon driving the vehicle, he promptly gave approval for production of the Z/28. A 1968 Z/28 famously competed in the 1971 British Saloon Car Championship at Crystal Palace in a three-way battle for the lead, a race which was later featured in the BBC’s “100 Greatest Sporting Moments”.