Since 1966, the Chevy Camaro has been something of a tradition in the United States, a vehicle that has epitomized the cool image desired by many when it comes to automobile ownership. It was first classified as a ‘pony car’, which was a sport convertible or coupe that offered high-performance at an affordable price.
Other Camaro versions were referred to as ‘muscle cars’, which was coined for high performance autos with large (usually V8) engines and rear-wheel drive. Many muscle cars were manufactured or equipped for drag racing. Designed and manufactured as a competitor to the Ford Mustang, the Camaro was also something of a sister car to the Pontiac Firebird.
The Camaro was initially manufactured by Chevrolet for thirty-six years and four generations before being discontinued in 2002. Then, in 2009, a concept car was unveiled by Chevy which ended up being developed into the fifth Camaro generation, and manufacturing on the vehicle began that year. The new 2010 Camaro was released, and has continued to this day; it is now in its sixth generation. A phenomenal five million Camaros have been sold to date.
What's Captured the Hearts of Millions
We can try to second-guess what it is about the Chevy Camaro that has captured the hearts of drivers everywhere, but chances are that it is impossible to narrow it down to one particular thing. Perhaps its sentimentality; maybe it’s the uniquely hot styling and design. It has changed so much over the years that it is hard to pinpoint the lure exactly. What started as a pony car is now a mid-sized one, but its attraction, and the love and devotion felt for it, are still as powerful as the day it was first released. All we can do is reminisce and pay homage in our own way, and that is what we have done here today.
Below are twenty of the hottest, most popular Chevy Camaro models of all-time, ordered from 20 to 1, or the least to the greatest (if any, indeed, are the least). We feel that each and every one of these models deserves the spot it is in, and while some may have performed better, sold more, or been more popular that the one before it, the fact that each is a Camaro speaks for itself. If you are a Camaro fan, this is for you, and if you are looking to purchase one used, this will certainly help you narrow down your list of choices. Either way, you come out ahead. Read on, and discover our choices for… The 20 Best Chevy Camaro Models of All-Time:
20. 2013 Camaro SS 1LE
Belonging to the fifth generation of the Camaro family, this particular model had a special order option that was created just to rival the Ford Boss 302 Mustang: the 1LE package. This option was created to combat the ‘understeer’, which is a handling trait that makes it more and more difficult to take corners as speed picks up.
Oversteer is what is provided by the 1LE package, and it is essential in the Camaro when it comes to racing, but it must be used effectively by the driver, says Road and Track. Well, it made a substantial enough improvement that the 2013 Camaro SS not only looked like a bada** car, but drove like one too. This is the reason it makes our list, as the package was great enough improvement to make a good car great.
19. 1969 Camaro Z28
Hailing from Generation 1, the 1969 Z28 was actually not the fastest of the Camaros, but it did offer a unique exhaust system combo and a style that wasn’t run of the mill. Four-wheel disc brakes were offered, the steering had an improved reaction time, and it also came with racing stripes that consumers thought were exceptionally hot. It also came with a Hurst-shifted four-speed and a V8 that put out 290 horses. This much-loved model makes number nineteen on our list with ease.
18. 1967 Camaro Yenko
Another first generation, the Camaro Yenko was named for the dealership Yenko Chevrolet, which was located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The dealership, which was best known for its sales of muscle cars, sold some of the most collectable vehicles of the 1960s. The Yenko Camaro was one of these, and came in Granada Gold with black race stripes and a black vinyl interior. It had a V8 with 450 hp and a four-speed manual transmission. A Camaro set to Yenko specs at a Stage 1 package had an MSRP of $46,995; the Stage 2 ran $66,995.
17. 2013 Camaro Z28
2013 turned out to be a heck of a year for the Camaro, as having two from that year on our list attests to. The 2-door coupe featured a 7.0 liter LS7 engine that boasted 500hp and was naturally aspirated. The engine revved high and was lightweight, features that racers dreamed of, and it even had integrated coolers, which were perfect for use on the track. This aerodynamic beauty was considered the ultimate Camaro, and we would have to agree.
16. 2019 Camaro ZL1
True, the 2019 ZL1 is very new, but with the look it sports, and with an engine that puts out 650hp, we could hardly resist. It has a 6.2 liter V8 and comes as a coupe or convertible, to suit any taste. The MSRP on this baby may be a starting $62k, but from what we can see, it’s well worth every penny. Everything you would expect from a 2019 Camaro and more can be found here, and it is said that it easily rivals the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350…no small feat, by the way. It’s exciting to think that the Camaro has come this far, and I think every lover of this model will agree. It definitely deserves a spot on our top twenty list.
15. 1998 Camaro Z28 SS
This fourth generation Z28 is a Super-Sport version that had a 5.7 liter V8 capable of 320hp and a 6-speed manual tranny. The car could reach a maximum speed of 160mph, which was more than enough for any driver, yet tempted even the mildest of them. The body style, which was Camaro all the way, just oozed strength, and though it was clearly like that of the Pontiac Firebird, the public simply loved it. The popularity of its look, coupled with the power and smoothness it provided, made the 1998 a shoe-in for our list, as you can see here.
14. 2010 Camaro SS V8
The 2010 SS V8 emerged during the first year of the fifth generation, and it left a mark that couldn’t be denied. Both sexy and powerful, thanks to the attention-grabbing V8, the car had an MSRP of $33,945, and that was to start. 426hp seemed to draw them again, keeping things par for the course for this Chevy golden child. In 2010, the thing that made it stand out more than anything was the fact that it received a total facelift, or redesign, that was based on a ’06 and ’07 Camaro concept cars. The look worked, probably because it looked more like a real Camaro than the model had in years. Kudos, number fourteen!
13. 2019 Camaro Turbo 1LE
The second 2019 on our list is the Turbo 1LE, which differs from the ZL1 in a couple of ways. First and most obvious, it has a turbo-charger, so one could expect more power than in the other one on our list. Secondly, while it looks as smooth as the first, it does have a higher price, which is to be expected. While many cars of today happen to have hatchbacks, this one doesn’t, and that just so happens to be something that consumers are happy about. This enables this beauty to compete the proper way a Camaro should…with muscle rather that, well, muzzle, so to speak. It’s cool looking, super-fast, and reeks of testosterone, though plenty of women love it too (that just may be the reason why!).
12. 1993 Camaro Z28
Z28s have been some of the most popular Camaro models to date, and this one was no exception, though it was a hatchback. It had a 5.7 liter V8 that possessed the highest horsepower rating for Chevy since 1971 at 275. Sure, it had the Pontiac-like, streamlined body style, but when it came out consumers loved its sexy look. It was certainly a performance vehicle, and that was a fact. 1993 was the first year for the fourth generation, and that fact alone garnered much attention; people waited anxiously for its release, as you can guess, if you don’t remember. With all that said, the ’93 Z28 had to be on the list. To leave it off would have been a travesty.
11. 1970 Camaro SS
Another Firebird look-alike, the 1970 SS had the body style that everyone seemed to love, and it was the first picture that came to mind when the word ‘Camaro’ was mentioned. This second generation killer sported a 350 with a manual four-speed tranny, and it put out 300hp. It was love at first site, and marriage at first drive, for most anyone who got a chance to test her out; she was a great seller for the company. Number eleven on our list almost doesn’t do her justice, but there are many more Camaros yet to come, so buckle up!
10. 2016 Camaro RS
This particular model marked the first year of the sixth Camaro generation. It had a V6, which may have been slightly smaller than what Camaro fans were used to, but it did get a shade better gas mileage. It had a body style that was reminiscent of the Camaro, yet seemed to stand alone, and it went over well, even though it seemed a bit more Mustang-esque than those before it. It also came in four- and eight-cylinder options. Many said that this one simply had too many drawbacks, ie: it was a bit more cramped inside, a price jump, small trunk, etc. But keeping those things in mind, drivers bought it anyway, and the gas mileage was likely a big convincer. It makes our list at number ten due to the bigger range of engine options and the sales it made.
9. 2012 Camaro ZL1
The ZL1 is from the fifth generation. The typical 2-door coupe Camaro had a window sticker price of $54,095 that came with a V6 standard, but the V8 option was available. This year also marked the 45th anniversary of the model, so Chevy put out a special edition, which had a standard V8 and some other attractive extras. The best thing about the 2012 was the fact that it featured many upgrades and improvements which increased performance, and that seemed to really draw consumers in. Its gas mileage was also much better, which didn’t hurt a bit. With its gorgeous, muscle-type body styling, it was really a head turner, but when you combined that with its performance level, it was worth much more than just a look.
8. 1970 ½ Camaro Z28
Earlier we discussed the ’70 SS. This came out mid-season, and is the Z28 model, which is technically a ’70, but for all intents and purposes, that is neither here nor there. This Z28 was argued by some to be the very best Camaro ever produced, and that for a variety of reasons. Not only did it sport the ever popular long-nosed body style that was adored by so many, it also put out 400hp and had phenomenal acceleration capabilities. This was one bad beast, and the world new it. It’s no wonder we find this car on our list today…there were very few that could compare.
7. 2018 Camaro ZL1
With 650 horses moving this thing along, the ZL1 from 2018 gives most others a run for their money. It has the typical modern body style that still screams ‘Camaro’, but with all the extras expected today. With a powerful V8 that’s backed up by a six-speed tranny that pulls its lightweight body, it provides drivers with a power that is fluid and exciting. With a starting price of around $62k it may not seem worth it, but its spot on our list says otherwise. With this Camaro, you get so much more than you bargain for.
6. 1967 Camaro
One from the early days, the ’67 had the privilege of setting the standard, and that it did in spades. Even today it is one of the most loved cars in existence, and for good reason. It came with either a three or four-speed tranny, with a three-speed heavy duty available, as well as a three-speed automatic. It also came with either a 140hp 6-cylinder or one that gave 270 horses. A 295hp V8 was also available. For the times, there was so much to choose from, and all with such a sexy package, that the Camaro was hard for anyone to resist. Its tenacity speaks volumes, and it the main reason the car is still in production today.
5. 2014 Camaro Z28
With a supercharged V8 and a sleek and light body, the 2014 Z28 drew in the masses perfectly. Sure, its newer design provided all the bells and whistles, but drivers would barely notice because they were so busy enjoying the experience. Improved balance in this year’s model made for improved performance, and because the powerful engine was much lighter this baby really hauls. We love it for all the reasons above, and we love it even more because its entire look exudes muscle, thanks to the finely honed Camaro style. It’s completely easy to look at it and see why it made our number five!
4. 1968 Camaro Z28
After just reviewing a newer Z28, you may wonder why this is closer to number one. To us, the answers are obvious. Not only is it first generation, making it almost irreplaceable, but it is also one of the most powerful cars of its day…state of the art, so to speak. It drove around and made everyone want one just like it, first for its appearance and next for its ability. Its V8 bragged 375hp, and that was nothing to shake a stick at. While today’s updated models are awesome, there is just something about the originals that always takes us back home.
3. 2017 Camaro SS 1LE
This hot piece of sixth-generation action holds its own for sure. Faster than the Mustang Shelby that competes with it, and twice as beautiful, the 1LE can reach 60 in 4.2 seconds. According to Automobile Mag, it feels more like a German sports car than what it is, but isn’t that the beauty of progress? The LT1 V8 gives 455hp, which is a change from the previous model, but all the rest is the same, and it works so well together that we brought it in for you at number three.
2. 1985 Camaro IROC Z
This particular Camaro managed to gather an entirely new fan base when it was released and sold in 1985. With a body that was designed with testosterone in mind and inner workings to match, this car could put 155 horses out of its V8. Drivers had a choice of manual or automatic transmission, which was nice at the time. The fact is, this car produced an entirely new sales boost for the company, and those who were teens when it came out knew that this was the car that dreams were made of. With that being said, we put it at number two…it was simply outstanding.
1. 1971 Camaro
Slightly improved over the 1970, and sporting that body that we know and love so well, we put the 1971 Camaro in the number 1 spot. While many would argue, and effectively so, that the 1969 was the best Camaro, this body style simply takes the cake, and because of slight improvements made during this second generation, it really is a given that it gets this place. Its powerful V8, three- or four-speed transmission, and long-nosed flair help it to nudge the others out of the way, and that’s good enough for us. So, while we may have doubters and haters, we gladly give the 1971 the place we feel it deserves.
There you have them, the twenty best Chevy Camaro models ever made. We know opinions vary, but you’ll have to admit that this particular car model has much to love no matter what year it is, and it has proven itself time and again. While we may have to agree to disagree on the best in show, we can all agree that there is no car out there quite like the Camaro, with so much beauty, power, and memories to boot. So, we hope you enjoyed the information, because it’s been a lot of fun for us. Until, next time, drive safe, but drive fast.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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