Chevy Camaro, Born to Perform

Chevy Camaro, Born to Perform

Chevy Camaro, Born to PerformBy Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko,

Many of the greatest muscle cars ever crafted were produced between 1965-1969. It’s true, and Ford fan or not, hail the Blue Oval. Without the Mustang, the American icon we’ve come to know as the Chevrolet Camaro would be nothing more than a set of dusty blueprints. What’s more, the sensational history and exhilaration of past and current pony wars would be nonexistent.

“Competition was intense during the early muscle car era,” said Smitty Smith, Technical

Sales Coordinator at Edelbrock Performance. “Everybody wanted to be the first out with a new product on a new car, and that’s the bottom line,” he added. Enthusiasts were eager to swap out factory parts for classic name brands like Kooks Headers and Exhaust, Hurst, Doug’s Headers, Moroso, Cal Custom, Hooker Headers, Comp Cams, Segal, and Cyclone Headers.

Edelbrock Performance is steeped in Camaro heritage and has fancied the sleek, high-powered platform since the very beginning. In fact, they have a minimum of one per generation on-site, including “a ’67 that was one of the first off the production line and was even used as an early Hot Rod test vehicle. It was the first in California and also the first Camaro to be road tested for print media,” said Hot Rod Magazine. “In the early days, Edelbrock was the first to get horsepower per cubic inch, and we were one of the few making performance increases on those small-block Chevys with just an intake manifold,” said Cary Redman, National Sales Manager at Edelbrock Performance.

Chevy Camaro, Born to PerformLongtime aftermarket manufacturer Moroso has always been able to quickly build performance products for the Camaro “because of the demand for them by racers and street performance enthusiasts alike. It started back when the first Camaro was produced and continues to this day,” said Frank Thibodeau, Sales Manager at Moroso. “It’s almost as if Chevrolet, Ford, and Chrysler want customers to modify their muscle cars; they are very easy to work on. The first-generation Camaros especially lend themselves so well to performance, chassis, and appearance upgrades,” he continued.

Clearly, there’s been a significant swing in styling and performance standards since the original production run of approximately 221,000 Camaros in 1967—from v-shaped grilles, long hoods, and rockin’ T-tops to sports car-inspired design and extreme highs and lows in horsepower. But Chevy has made significant advancements with each passing generation, and its modern muscle is arguably the champion.

Modern Muscle Mods

Bold and balanced with full-body flavour, the Camaro is like a fine whiskey aged to perfection. Best known as the working man’s muscle car, fans of the platform still revel in the fusion of aggressive styling, powerful engine sounds, and throaty factory exhaust. It’s hard to believe, but this classic ride just gets more satisfying with age, and much to the credit of Mark Stielow, “an engineer at GM and the Godfather of the Pro Touring Camaro. His passion and engineering for the beast has really unleashed the late model Camaro platform,” said Jim Holloway of Mothers, an aftermarket supplier of appearance products. Holloway, an industry veteran and passionate road racer, has witnessed the pony flourish during five decades. And Mothers, well, it’s kept its fair share of Camaros looking pristine and show ready.

Chevy Camaro, Born to PerformFrom street to track, the Camaro’s gazelle-like acceleration, responsive braking, better attack in and out of corners, and agile driving experience are better than ever and only enhance the platform’s reputation of elite prowess. “The Camaro is a much different animal compared to the other cars in its category. Chevrolet does a great job emphasizing the fact that these are track-proven cars, whether it’s in a straight line or handling a road course,” said Rory Connell, Vice President of Sales at Gibson Performance. “It’s amazingly popular in the U.S. and Canada and we (at NMCA) see the embers glowing red. We’re not going to have a year go by that a Camaro isn’t in the hunt for a championship,” continued Steve Wolcott, President and CEO of ProMedia Inc.

Although late-model Camaro sales in Canada are relatively small in comparison to the U.S., the aftermarket remains strong and provides enthusiasts with an abundance of performance options. The year 2010 was a shot in the arm for both the Camaro platform and the modern muscle aftermarket at large. “The fifth-generation Camaro release boosted the performance segment; it continues to be one of the leading forces in the pony wars, and its engine transplants are highly popular even today,” said Redman. “I don’t know if we’d have the exposure we have today if it wasn’t for the Camaro; it’s been integral to the expansion of the  aftermarket and a huge benefit to all of us manufacturers,” he added.

Case in point, Holley Performance is now offering its Hooker Blackheart series cat-back exhaust for sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaros powered by the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder LTG engine. “Holley’s Hooker Blackheart system is comprised of mandrel-bent, 3-in.  tubing in 304 stainless steel, straight-through mufflers, and 4-in., dual-wall, angle-cut tips. It uses the same mounting points as the factory cat-back, making installation a simple matter,” said GM Authority. “Beside lending the 2.0L Camaro some extra style and a more boisterous note, the system strips off 13 pounds of weight and offers maximum gains of 14.91 horsepower and 21.97 lb-ft of torque,” continued GM Authority.

Even MBRP, a Canadian-based manufacturer well respected within the diesel market, has branched into the modern muscle segment. “We have always made some systems here and there for cars, but it got really serious for us when the owner and I purchased a pair of 2011 GT500 Mustangs in 2010 to build for SEMA. From that date forward, our love affair with late-model cars has only grown and our offering has followed suit,” said Jesse Rohr, Director of Marketing & U.S. Sales.

When it comes to differentiating themselves among long-time aftermarket performance masters, there’s really no secret at all. “We build the absolute best systems we possibly can for a price point the average working man can afford,” continued Rohr. The sixth-gen Camaro has been a sweet spot for MBRP. “Since the 2016 model year Camaro release, our business is up quadruple digits year over year, something we are very proud of,” he added. As for Canadian-specific sales, “Sales are very strong given the economic climate in Canada and the currency rate.”

The Camaro has not only outperformed and outshone, but also outlived many of its competitors, thus sealing its legacy alongside fellow automotive icons such as the Ford Shelby Mustang, Plymouth Hemi Cuda and Dodge Charger R/T. “The Camaro’s 50th anniversary is a fantastic milestone and one to be really proud of. The fact that auto manufacturers are still building performance-based cars shows how popular the segment continues to be, and Moroso is pleased to be involved,” said Thibodeau.

As famed Car and Driver magazine once said, “While the (pony) cars would jockey for the title over the intervening years, the real winners all along were the enthusiasts. Competition, as ever, improved the breed, with cars that now boast more power and performance than ever could have been imagined some five decades ago.” Cheers to another 50 years, Camaro.

Categories: Features, Muscle Car Plus