Nissan GT-R: Premium Midship Godzilla

From 1989 to 2002, Nissan Motor Co produced a series of legends that would captivate the auto enthusiast community with amazement and excitement.  These were the RB-series Skyline GT-Rs; and they packed such panache so much as to have the last special edition named after a famed racing circuit.  Although at the turn of the early 2000’s the new Z-car (the 350Z) was introduced, the era of high-performance twin-turbo sportsters made by Nissan had come to an end.  Or, at least it would have, if not for the debut of the Skyline-based 2001 GT-R concept.  This concept is what lead to years of research and development for the return of the automotive Godzilla.

The production version made its initial debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, and released for the public in December that year.  North American production was confirmed in July 2008 (for the 2009 model year).  The GT-R was both a continuation of and a break from the Skyline.  For one thing, the name “GT-R” is obviously a recollection of the Skyline GT-Rs of the past.  The GT-R’s mission is to be a jet-fast high-power car.  The fastest a 2009 GT-R went around the Nürburgring was 7 minutes and 26.7 seconds, beating the Porsche 911 GT2 by 5 seconds.  This secured the GT-R in its place in the world racing stage, as well as carry on the legacy of the R34 Skyline GT-R.  On the other hand, the GT-R was a whole new lineup.  This “R35” sat on a vehicle platform unique to itself, the Premium Midship (PM).  Power for the base GT-R comes from an all-aluminum 3.8L VR38DETT V6.  Initial power has been rated at 478 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 434 ft/lbs at 3200 rpm.  Transferring all this power is done with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission, which sends power out to the electronically controlled ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive system.  Inside, the GT-R’s multifunction display was designed by Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital.  This customizable system displayed statistics such as boost, engine oil temperature and pressure, and real-time cornering g-forces.

The GT-R received positive recognition.  It won Top Gear’s Sports car of the Year (2007), Autocar’s Driver’s Car of the Year, Evo Magazine’s Car of the Year, and Popular Mechanics’ Automotive Excellence Awards in 2008.  That year, the GT-R sold 6,739 units worldwide; the majority of which (4871 to be exact) were sold in its home market, Japan.  The second largest quantity, 1730 examples, were shipped to the United States.  US model year 2009 sales saw a turnout of 1534 units.

In 2010, the GT-R gained a power upgrade (485 horsepower and 434 ft/lbs of torque) and a cosmetic update for 2011.  In addition, the GT-R gained higher turbocharger boost, more rigid carbon composite front strut bar, larger brakes, lighter and stronger wheels, and grippier tires.  In 2012, the power was amped to 530 horsepower and 448 ft/lbs of torque.  A March 2011 test by AutoGuide.com found the 2012 GT-R two seconds faster than the Dodge Viper ACR and six seconds faster than the Porsche 911 GT2 RS around the Nürburgring, elapsing a new lap record of 7 minutes and 24.2 seconds.  In 2013, the GT-R got 545 horsepower and 463 ft/lbs of torque.  In 2015, Nissan Motorsports (Nismo) debuted the GT-R NISMO.  The Nismo had a staggering racetrack-style bodykit and large rear spoilers.  Models with the N-Attack Package were equipped with a more powerful engine throwing out 600 horsepower.  Claimed Nürburgring lap time was 7 minutes and 8.6 seconds.

2017 GT-R

For model year 2017, the GT-R gained a mild facelift and more power.  The long-staying VR38DETT engine was tuned yet again; this time 565 horsepower and 467 ft/lbs of torque for base GT-Rs.

GT-R Gallery

2010 GT-R
2013 GT-R
2014 GT-R
2017 GT-R

Chevrolet Corvette Part Two: Bowling Green, Indy Pace Cars, and Convertibles

In the mid-1970s, the era of engineering input from Zora Duntov had come to an end.  His replacement, Dave McLellan, looked over the remainder of the C3 Corvette’s production run.  He would also commence the engineering input for the C4 Corvette for the 80’s.  For the up-and-coming C4 Corvette, McLellan implemented styling input from Jerry Palmer, chief designer of Chevrolet Studio 3.  The automotive landscape in the early 80’s was somewhat more hostile towards sports cars, especially the Corvette.  But the second gas crunch of the late 70’s did not deter Palmer, McLellan, and company from developing the C4 Corvette, which, by the way, was already under development in the late 70’s.

Although the C4 was originally planned for a 1983 launch, only 43 prototypes were produced for that year.  This was due to the 1984 model year emissions standards the car had to meet, as well as delays in parts production.  All but one of the prototypes were serialized to 1984 models.  Eventually, most of these prototypes were destroyed.  The one and only 1983 Corvette, a white coupe, was preserved and kept by General Motors in its facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The prototypes provided the framework for subsequent production Corvettes: a digital instrument cluster, high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) uniframe chassis with polyester resin (plastic) based sheet moulding compound (SMC) exterior body panels for light weight and rigidity, and fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) mono-leaf spring front suspension.

1985 Corvette

The C4 Corvette released for the public in March 1983 for the 1984 model year.  Compared to the outgoing C3 Corvette, the new model sat on a slightly shorter wheelbase (96.2 inches or 2440 mm), and reduced exterior length (176.5 inches or 4480 mm).  Like the 1982 Collector Edition, the 1984 C4 Corvette featured a hatchback body with rear glass liftgate.  The sole power for the ’84 Corvette was the carried-over L83 V8 with Cross-Fire throttle-body injection.  For 1984, this engine was tuned for slightly more power than featured in the ’82 Corvette.  GM provided the economy-conscious public with 205 horsepower for all 51,547 Corvettes produced for 1984.  The Corvette improved for 1985, ditching the outgoing Cross-Fire L83 for a more powerful L98.  This engine was capable of 230 horsepower and featured tuned port injection.

1987 Corvette convertible

1986 saw the first convertible variant in a decade.  Notable updates to the ’86 Corvette included the addition of a center-mounted brake light, climate control, and anti-lock brakes.  To keep the burglars out, a key-code anti-theft system was installed.  The Corvette convertible was chosen to be the pace car for the 70th Indianapolis 500.  In 1987, the L98 engine was tweaked for more power: thanks to improved roller valve lifters, the Corvette could throw 240 horsepower and 345 ft/lbs of torque.  The Corvette was also available with an updated Z52 handling package.  1988 marked the 35th anniversary of the Corvette.  The “Triple White Corvette” was clad with white exterior paint, black pillars, dark-tinted roof, white wheels, and white interior.  In addition to a slight power upgrade, the 35th anniversary coupe came equipped with a superior sport-handling package and 17-inch wheels and tires.  For 1989 onward, the ZF 6-speed was the only available manual transmission.  The Corvette could also be had with a Selective Ride Control (SRC) handling package, which featured three modes: Touring, Sport, and Competition.

The long-rumoured “King of the Hill” Corvette, under development with help from Lotus Cars and Mercury Marine, made its debut in 1990.  This model, dubbed ZR-1, was built with intent to be the world’s fastest production car.  Initially available only as a fastback coupe, the ZR-1 got loads of power from a Lotus-built 32-valve 5.7L LT5 V8.  This engine featured tuned port injection and developed 375 horsepower and 370 ft/lbs of torque.  A world record in 1990, the Corvette ZR-1 could launch from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.4 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 175 mph (283 km/h).  To help aid the ZR-1’s performance, it was fitted with an “ABS-II” anti-lock brake system.  This extremely pricey supercar Corvette sold 3049 examples in 1990.  Over the next few years, Chevrolet would refine and re-engineer the ZR-1.

In 1991, the entire Corvette range received a mid-cycle cosmetic refresh.  What was meant to distinguish the ZR-1 from other Corvettes had been incorporated into the design of all Corvettes.  What was initially a highly anticipated release of the 5th gen (C5) Corvette ended up as a continuation of the C4.  Contributing to this issue was GM’s high production overhead and decreased demand for the Corvette – this was the second time the Corvette was nearly axed.  Despite this uncertain financial situation, Corvette production soldiered on.  In 1992, the 300 horsepower LT1 replaced the L98 in the base Corvette.  Almost matching up to the “King of the Hill” ZR-1, the base Corvette could launch from 0 to 60 mph in over 5 seconds.  Top speed: 170 miles per hour (273 km/h).  On July 2, 1992, Chevy built its millionth Corvette.  To commemorate, this millionth model was a white convertible with red interior, just like the first 1953 Corvette.  Attending the unveiling ceremony were both chief engineers Zora Duntov (father of the Corvette) and David McLellan.

In September of 1994, the National Corvette Museum opened in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  This museum, located within close proximity to the Corvette’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, is a showcase of all things Corvette, including many concepts, prototypes and race cars.  In 1995, the Indy 500 pace car was released, which featured unique graphics.  Except for some minute tweaks, the Indy pace car was relatively stock.  Only 527 pace car replicas were produced.  It was also by this time the ZR-1 discontinued production.  1996 was the final year for the C4 Corvette.  To commemorate, two special editions were released: Collector Edition and Grand Sport.  The latter featured the LT4 engine.  The LT4 was capable of 330 horsepower and 340 ft/lbs of torque.  In total, 358,180 C4 Corvettes were produced from 1984 to 1996.

The C5 Corvette made its production debut in 1997.  Compared to the outgoing generation, the C5 had a much more muscular stance.  It sat on a 104-inch (2654 mm) wheelbase and boasted slight increases in exterior dimensions (179 inches in length and 73 inches in width).  The Corvette’s body was made in a process called hydroforming, which uses high-pressure water to form metal body panels.  Not only was this method of manufacturing cost-effective, it also contributed greatly to the body rigidity of the C5 Corvette.  Power was sourced from a new 5.7L LS1 V8.  The LS1, in stock form, could develop 345 horsepower and 350 ft/lbs of torque.  In manual Corvettes, that power was transferred to a rear-mounted “transaxle”.  Combine all these stats, and the Corvette had a drag coefficient of 0.29 and near 50/50 front/rear weight distribution.  Despite all these winning remarks, the Corvette sold only 9752 examples in its first year.  Oh, well.  No matter.

Whereas the 1997 Corvette was available only as a fastback coupe, 1998 saw the return of the convertible.  Also making a return to the Corvette lineup was a rear trunk-lid – the first time since 1962.  Since the C5 Corvette debuted just last year, the engine and transmission remained unmodified.  Chevy produced 1163 replicas of the Indy 500 pace car convertible.  To improve handling, an “Active Handling” system was introduced.  1998 production soared to 31,084 units.  In 1999, a less-expensive fixed-roof hardtop released.  The Z51 suspension package was now standard.  That year, the traditional coupe outsold the new hardtop: 180,078 coupes versus 4031 hardtops.  Model year 2000 sales of the Corvette saw a slight equilibrium between coupes and hardtops.  18,113 coupes and 13,479 hardtops were sold.  Convertible sales plunged to 2090 units.  In 2001, Chevy began production of the high-performance Z06 model.  The first high-performance Corvette since the ZR-1 of the 1990’s, it employed a modified version of the small-block LS1, titled LS6.  The LS6 could throw out 385 horsepower and 385 ft/lbs of torque.  Other modifications included a strengthened six-speed transmission, firmer FE4 suspension setup, and wider and grippier tires.  Being the priciest Corvette for 2001, it sold only 5773 examples.  Total Corvette production that year was 35,627 units.  In 2002, the Z06 got a power upgrade.  The LS6 now threw out 405 horses and 400 ft/lbs.  Chevy managed 8297 Z06s, selling a total of 35,767 Corvettes in 2002.  The Corvette turned 50 in 2003, and to commemorate, the F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control Suspension was made standard.  This system superseded the F45 Selective Ride Control system.  This suspension setup utilizes a special fluid called magnetorheological (MR) fluid that changes viscosity when a magnetic field is applied.  2003 production fell to 35,469 units.  In its final year, the C5 Corvette was available with the 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition.  This special edition was available on all models, including the Z06.  The Commemorative Edition Corvette featured a unique blue and silver/red stripe livery.  Total Corvette production fell again, to 34,064 units.  After an 8-year, 248,715 unit production run, the C5 Corvette ended production, with the C6 on the horizon.

Nissan Skyline GT-R: Godzilla of Japanese Autos

Very few Japanese cars evoke passion and popularity like the GT-R.  Of course, even lower-tier Skylines garner much attention thanks in no small part to media exposure, such as in movies, TV shows, and video games.  The GT-R dates back to an era in Nissan Motor Co’s existence under the name of “Prince Motor Company“.

When Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan in 1966, they left a lot of carried-over hardware to be re-engineered into the Nissan lineup.  When the C10 generation Skyline, the first to feature the GT-R variant, debuted Japan-only in 1968, it utilized 1.5 and 1.8 liter engines designed under license by Prince.  However, Nissan Motor Co engineered their own series of inline-6 engines: the L20 for the 2000GT, and the S20 for the 2000GT-R.  When the PGC10 Skyline GT-R released for the public in February 1969, it featured the 2.0L S20 as its powerhouse.  The S20 developed 160 horsepower and 130 ft/lbs of torque.  Typical of the era, the GT-R had an FR drivetrain layout like the rest of the Skyline range.  A popular Japanese nickname for the PGC10/KPGC10 Skyline was “Hakosuka”, which roughly translates to “boxy Skyline”.  The second generation GT-R, the KPGC110, made its debut at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show and released for the public for 1973 only.  The “Kenmeri” GT-R was short-lived due to the Energy Crisis, and as there was very little demand for high performance sports cars, the GT-R was ultimately discontinued (or at least on hiatus) from the Skyline range for many years.

In 1984, former chief engineer Shinichiro Sakurai left development of the 7th-generation R31 Skyline to his “student”, Naganori Ito.  Ito then became chief of engineering for the 7th Skyline, which was set to debut in 1985.  However, due to negative reception from Skyline aficionados, Ito gained a bad reputation.  Ashamed of the R31 Skyline, he ventured to develop the 8th-generation R32 Skyline.  Ito was determined to bring back the GT-R which had been on hiatus for 16 years.  Ito gained a good reputation when the R32 Skyline and its GT-R variant debuted in 1989.

1990 Skyline GT-R (R32)

The BNR32 GT-R started production in August 1989.  Whereas lower-tier Skylines were rear-wheel-drive, the GT-R transitioned to an all-wheel-drive layout.  Of all the Skyline GT-Rs produced, the R32 was the lowest-slung: its height was at 1340 mm (52.8 in).  Power came from a 2.6L twin turbo RB26DETT inline-6 throwing out 276 horsepower.  A limited-run Group A racing homologation special, the GT-R NISMO, released in February 1990.  Performance modifications included were improved airflow to the intercooler, front and rear bumper lip spoilers, larger ceramic turbines in place of the standard turbochargers, and ABS delete.  In addition to the limited 500 NISMO models, 60 more were produced for Group A competition; however the ABS delete was not legal under Group A regulations.  February 1993 saw the introduction of the V-Spec.  The V-Spec added larger Brembo brakes, retuned suspension and ATTESA ET-S all-wheel-drive, and lightweight aluminum hood.  It also featured 225/45R17 tires.  February 1994 saw the addition of the V-Spec II, which, although the same as the V-Spec introduced in 1993, featured wider 245/45R17 tires.  Production of the R32 Skyline GT-R ceased in November 1994, and public sales ended in December that year.

When the R33 Skyline debuted, Kozo Watanabe was appointed as chief engineer of the Nissan Skyline.  Watanabe worked on both the R33 and R34 Skylines.  When it released for the public in January 1995, the R33 GT-R was notably longer, wider, taller, and had a longer wheelbase than its predecessor.  It kept relatively the same drivetrain as the R32 GT-R, with exception to improved air intake and oil circulation.  Nissan Motorsports (NISMO) built a racing version of the GT-R, called NISMO GT-R LM, for competition in 24 Hours of Le Mans.  This vehicle featured a body kit unique all to itself, such as a bulkier rocker panel side skirt.  Only one roadgoing homologation special was ever produced, making it extraordinarily rare.  In May 1996, the V-Spec LM Limited debuted in the GT-R lineup.  This model should not be confused with the one-off NISMO GT-R LM which was entered for Le Mans competition.  The 1996 LM Limited was a commemorative car which featured Champion Blue as its only available exterior paint color, unique carbon front splitter with air intakes, and a carbon fiber rear wing blade.  This model was available for sale for two months only.  Also that year, Nismo built a special model called 400R.  The 400R was undoubtedly very unique in its own right, as it featured a heavily modified version of the Nissan RB engine, named RB-X GT2.  Because it was bored out to 2.8 liters, a similar engine called RB28DET was produced.  This modified engine with reinforced block and heads, along with forged crankshaft and connecting rods, had the potential to throw out 400 horsepower.  Loosing even more weight, a lightweight driveshaft and exhaust muffler were installed.  Nismo planned to produce 100 examples of the 400R, although a rumoured 44 units were built.

Autech, another in-house tuning firm, also modified the coupe-only GT-R and made a rare 4-door sedan variant in 1998.  The Autech version 40th Anniversary merged the designs of the 4-door GTS sedan and GT-R models, keeping the power train of the GT-R intact.  Some Autech GT-R sedans were converted to highway patrol use and ordered by and/or delivered to the Saitama Prefectural Police and Kanagawa Prefectural Police departments.  The R33 GT-R ceased production in November 1998, with sales ending in December that year.

The R34 Skyline GT-R released for the public in January 1999.  The new model had a shorter overhang when compared to the outgoing generation.  Inside, the R34 Skyline featured a 5.8-inch infotainment screen with such features as engine and turbocharger pressure and temperature, as well as GPS navigation.  Midnight Purple II was a limited color option available only at the time of the R34 GT-R’s launch in January of 1999.  In 2000, Midnight Purple III was made available as a sequel to the discontinued Midnight Purple II exterior color option.  Also, the V-Spec trim was discontinued and replaced with V-Spec II.  In addition, 18 variants of the V-Spec II were given an upgraded N1 package.  In May 2001, the M-Spec was introduced to the lineup.  The M-Spec was a performance package quite similar to the V-Spec II; however, it was the only model to feature aluminum construction for the hood.  By 2002, the R34 Skyline had reached the end of its production cycle.  To commemorate, a final special edition called GT-R V-Spec II Nür was introduced.  The “Nür” was a reference to the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany.  This package made the N1 performance upgrade standard, which brought power up from the advertised 276 horsepower to an admirable 330.  Auto tuning enthusiasts may upgrade this engine to above 400 horsepower if they want.  The Nür featured different interior stitching, gold valve covers, and gold VIN plates.  Production of the Skyline GT-R ended in August 2002.

When the GT-R discontinued in 2002, the rest of the Skyline range continued production without an ultra-high performance model.  In the works were two prototypes based on the Skyline, but officially distinguished as a model lineup separate from the Skyline.  These were the aptly named GT-R concepts which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2001 and 2005.  When Nissan Motor Co announced GT-R production would begin in 2007, the production variant would be based more on the refined 2005 prototype.  Also, unlike past Skylines, this model wouldn’t be exclusive to Japan.  This was an international rollout.  In essence, the GT-R, although a model separate from the Skyline lineup, proved a worthy successor to carry on the legacy of past Skylines.

Pontiac Firebird

Although John Z DeLorean had a hard time getting the 1964 Pontiac Banshee concept (codenamed XP-833) greenlit for production, a joint effort on the “F-body” platform for both the Chevrolet and Pontiac divisions made it abundantly clear to GM that they would need a pony car lineup to compete in production and sales against the Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar.  Thus, 1967 marked the beginning of GM’s endeavour into producing four generations of both the Camaro and Firebird over the next 35 years.

1968 Firebird convertible

The first generation Firebird entered production in February of 1967.  The wheelbase sat at 108.1 inches (2746 mm) and exterior length at 189 inches.  This made the Firebird dimensionally similar to the Camaro, down to the same 108-inch wheelbase.  Power for the standard model came from a 230 CI (3.8L) inline-6.  This engine was similar to Chevrolet’s inline-6, but featured a unique cast iron block and aluminum valve cover.  With a single barrel carburetor, this engine developed 165 horsepower.  A four-barrel “Sprint” model developed 215 horsepower.  Detroit’s performance specials for the Firebird were four V8 engine options: the 326 (5.3L) Pontiac V8, a 326 “high output” (HO), a 400 (6.6L) Pontiac V8, and the 400 Ram Air V8.  The 326 was capable of 250 horsepower and its “high output” counterpart developed 285 horses.  Although both versions of the 400 V8 developed 325 horsepower, the Ram Air gave the Firebird functional hood scoops, low-end torque and high redline.  In 1968, the 230 engine was replaced by a 250 CI (4.1L) engine for both the standard and Sprint models.  A new 350 CI (5.7L) V8 replaced the 326 and power ratings for the 400 went up.  The base 400 jumped up to 330 horsepower, and the Ram Air and High Output developed 335 horsepower.  Soon though, Pontiac decided to axe the Ram Air engine option, only to return it to the lineup and give it more power.  The revised “Ram Air II” now made 340 horsepower.  In 1969, an appearance and handling package called Trans Am was introduced.  The Trans Am’s power was delivered via a 400 CI Ram Air V8; good for 335 to 345 horsepower.  That year, a total of 689 Trans Am coupes and 8 Trans Am convertibles were produced.

The second generation Firebird was met with design and production delays, meaning there would be no 1970 model per se.  Thus, the “1970 1/2” debuted in February 1970.  Production started off well, with 48,739 units in 1970, and 53,125 for 1971.  New was the 455 (7.5L) V8, which packed 325 horsepower.  A high-output Ram Air IV packed 335 horses.  A labour strike in 1972 resulted in vastly reduced production of the Firebird.  1972 production remained mainly unchanged from 1971, with the exception of a slight restyle.  The 455 engine was upgraded in 1973, and was called “Super Duty 455”.  This SD-455 featured a strengthened cylinder block, forged crankshaft, forged rods, and forged aluminum pistons.  The Firebird was facelifted in 1974 to feature a “shovel-nose” front-end and crash safety components.  The addition of mandated safety features also added curb weight.  A wrap-around rear windshield was implemented into the 1975 model.  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pontiac brand, the Firebird for 1976 gained some “Limited Edition” anniversary models.  This was the first time a Trans Am would feature black with gold accents as a livery option.

1978 Firebird

1977 saw a restyle to the Firebird; mainly, a restyled front end which now featured rectangular headlights.  Although the front fascia was similar for both the 1977 and 1978 models, they featured slightly different grille designs.  The 1977 had a honeycomb design and the 1978 had a crosshatch.  The most popular Firebird trim for both these years was the Trans Am, which got power from a 400 CI (6.6L) V8.  Power output for 1977 was 200 horsepower, but increased to 220 in 1978.

1980 Trans Am 4.9

The Firebird was redesigned again in 1979.  This was the last year a Trans Am featured a 6.6-liter as its engine.  For 1980, the 400 was replaced by a 301 CI (4.9L) unit.  Although the T/A did feature either a naturally aspirated 4.9-liter or a turbocharged variant, some models were supplied with a 305 CI (5.0L) Chevy V8.  The naturally aspirated T/A drew 155 horsepower and turbocharged models could develop 210 to 220 horsepower.  Models with the Chevy engine developed 150 horsepower.  The 1979 redesign was kept intact until the end of the second generation’s run in 1981.

The third generation Firebird debuted in model year 1982.  Like the Chevrolet Camaro, its wheelbase was shortened to 101 inches.  The bodywork resembled that of the then-new third generation Camaro.  The trim levels for the Firebird were Base, S/E, and Trans Am.  The base model was powered by a 90 horsepower 151 CI (2.5L) “Iron Duke“; the S/E got the 173 CI (2.8L) Chevy V6; and the Trans Am got the 305 CI (5.0L) V8.  Depending on setup, the Trans Am could develop either 145 or 165 horsepower.  The first option, codenamed LG4, was the 4-barrel carb variant.  The LU5 option added 20 horsepower to the 305 V8, replacing the 4-barrel carburetor with Cross-Fire Injection; a system also seen in the Corvette that year.  In 1983, the S/E came available with a “high output” 2.8L.  This unit now made 125 horsepower.  As for the Trans Am, power went up to 150 horsepower.  The 25th Anniversary Daytona 500 Limited Edition amped that power up to 175 horsepower.  In 1984, the Trans Am was also available with a “high output” version of its 5.0L V8.  This engine produced 190 horsepower.  In 1986, the base model transitioned to V6 power and the Trans Am got tuned-port fuel injection (TPI).

1987 Trans Am
1988 Trans Am GTA

In 1987, the S/E was dropped from the lineup and replaced with the Formula.  The Formula model got power from a 5.0L V8, a feature on past Trans Ams.  This 5.0-liter developed 155 horsepower.  The Trans Am could throw out 165 horsepower from the same 305 V8.  New for 1987 was the Trans Am GTA (Gran Turismo Americano).  The GTA utilized a 350 Ci (5.7L) V8 with tuned port injection, which developed 225 horsepower.  1989 saw the addition of a Corvette-sourced 5.7L TPI and a Buick-sourced 3.8L V6 in the Trans Am models.  The TPI threw 230 – 240 horsepower, and the Buick V6 developed 250 horsepower.  In 1991 the Firebird lineup was given a facelift.  The new design made the vehicle look more rounded and aerodynamic.  Convertible versions of the V6 and V8 base and Trans Am were available.  The third gen Firebird soldiered on until 1992.

The fourth generation Firebird reflected styling cues from the 1988 Banshee IV concept.  This meant the new-for-1993 Firebird had a more aerodynamic contour, in leu of the Camaro’s redesign that year.  Also, the production facility relocated to Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec (Canada).  The base model got power from the 3.4L L32 V6, developing 160 horsepower.  This was the base engine for the Firebird across the board, except for California.  California models were installed with the Series II 3.8L Buick V6.  A new-generation LT1 (also referred to as LT1 350) was the sole power for the Trans Am.  Following tradition, the LT1 was a 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) V8; also installed in the Corvette.  Power ratings for the LT1 were detuned from the Corvette variant, making 200 horsepower for the Trans Am.  Depending on the model, the transmission options ranged from 4-speed automatic, 5-speed manual, and 6-speed manual.  The Turbo-Hydramatic 4L60/4L60E was the automatic transmission available in the Firebird for its entire generational production.  The Borg-Warner T-5 was the 5-speed manual that was available in some V6 models, and the T56 6-speed manual was installed in the Trans Am.  For 1994 only, a special version of the Trans Am, called Trans Am GT, was produced.  The GT retained the look of its base counterpart, and some GT models could be had with an “uplevel spoiler”, coupe, targa, and convertible tops.  While these weren’t official Trans Am GT packages, but were installed anyway.  The majority of the available equipment on the 1994 GT would become standard on subsequent Trans Ams.  In 1996, OBD-II (onboard diagnostics) became standard on all vehicles.  This included the Pontiac Firebird.  The Series II Buick V6 previously available only in California models were now the base engine for the Firebird.  In 1997, all models got air conditioning, daytime running lights, digital odometer, and compact disc (CD) players as standard equipment.  In conjunction with SLP Engineering, Pontiac produced 29 examples of the LT4-powered Firehawk.  The Firehawk was named after the Firestone Firehawk tires installed on the car, and the LT4 was a 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) Small-Block V8.

In 1998, the Firebird received a mid-cycle refresh.  Notable changes included a more aggressive body kit with wide air intakes and circular fog lights inserted into the front splitter.  The Formula and Trans Am switched to the all-aluminum LS1 engine.  Although the Corvette-sourced units produced nearly 350 horsepower, the Trans Am produced 325 horsepower.  2002 was the Firebird’s final model year.  To celebrate, a “Collector Edition” Trans Am was produced.  Features included special exterior paint colors, pin-striping, decals, and a WS6 performance package.  Power mirrors and power antenna were standard equipment for the Firebird in 2002.

In the wake of the 2008-2009 economic recession, General Motors began to consider phasing out some brands, including Pontiac.  After chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed, Pontiac’s fate was sealed.  Pontiac manufactured its last ever vehicle (a G6 sedan) in January of 2010.  The Pontiac brand was officially defunct in October of that year.  Although the Chevrolet division had announced a comeback of the Camaro after an 8-year hiatus, Pontiac couldn’t afford to bring the Firebird back – not even for 2010.  Thus, it can be said that the Firebird/Trans Am lives on in spirit in the form of its former platform cousin the Chevrolet Camaro.

Chevrolet Corvette Part One: Harley Earl, Duntov, and Stingray

The Chevrolet Corvette is a sports car produced by General Motors (GM) since 1953.  In its first generation from 1953 to 1962, the Corvette was a convertible, and since 1963 has been available also as a coupe.

The first generation Corvette, dubbed C1, debuted as the EX-122 at the GM Motorama in New York in January 1953.  Chevrolet’s amateur reputation at the time gave them little guarantee that they would ever build an all-American sports car for cheap, as the sports car market in the 50’s was comprised of expensive high-end Alfas, Jaguars, and Healeys.  However, the presence of 45,000 attendees at the GM Motorama and their fascination with the EX-122 prototype convinced GM that they should start production of the Corvette right away.  The Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan in June of 1953.  Cosmetically, the production vehicle differed very little from the prototype; its wheelbase at 102 inches (2600 mm), and exterior length at 167 inches (4250 mm).  Power came from a 235 CI (3.9L) Blue Flame inline-6, which produced 150 horsepower.  Due to the Corvette’s rushed production and poor decisions on discount parts, only 300 units were built for 1953.  In 1954, Corvette production moved to St. Louis, Missouri, with the hope that Corvette production would total at least 10,000 units annually.  Unfortunately, only 3640 Corvettes were produced for the 1954 model year.  Even more abysmal was the 700-unit turnout in 1955.  These poor production figures almost killed the Corvette project.

It was the then chief engineer Ed Cole who revived the Corvette and kept the ideal image of the “sports car” in the public mind.  In order to retain the flair it had when it debuted at the 1953 Motorama, it needed more finesse.  The Belgian-born engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov had the idea of installing the 265 CI (4.3L) Small-Block V8 into the 1955 Corvette.  Low production numbers aside, the Corvette was an improvement from the two years before: not only did it have the original Blue Flame inline-6, but the new V8 was much more powerful.  In fact, more Corvettes had the V8 rather than the inline-6.  The Corvette was redesigned for 1956, and the six-cylinder was dropped from the engine lineup.  The Small-Block V8 was upgraded to deliver 210 to 240 horsepower.  Exterior length was increased to 168 inches (4300 mm).  The Corvette was little changed for 1957, except for the updated 283 CI (4.6L) V8, which produced 283 horsepower.  This made the Corvette to be the first vehicle to feature an engine with “one HP per cubic inch”.

1958 Corvette
1959 Corvette

The Corvette was given a dramatic facelift in 1958.  It featured a wealth of chrome – all the rage that year – and a four-headlight design.  This was a predominant design feature on GM’s 1958 passenger vehicles.  Exterior length was increased to 177 inches (4500 mm).  The 283 V8 was rated for 290 horsepower.  The 1959 Corvette, although largely unchanged, featured less chrome.  The chrome was removed from the louvers and the rear trunk.  This gave the Corvette a smoother and sleeker look.  This design was kept until 1960.

1961 – 1962 Corvette

In 1961, the Corvette received a fine-mesh grille and a  “boat-tail” rear end with quad-taillights.  The 283 Small-Block was fuel injected to deliver up to 315 horsepower.  In the C1 Corvette’s final year, the Small-Block V8 was enlarged to 327 cubic inches (5.4L), and rated between 250 and 360 horsepower.  More than 69,000 Corvettes were produced in the first generation.

The second generation “C2” Corvette began production for 1963.  Seemingly overnight, the Corvette received some radical changes, such as more rigid structural steel and independent rear suspension.  The “Sting Ray” was designed as a sleek fastback with a split rear windshield; however, the split rear design proved controversial, and was changed to a singular piece in 1964.

The wheelbase was shorter, at 98 inches (2500 mm); and exterior length measured 179.3 inches (4554 mm).  Power came from the carried-over 327 V8, which produced 250, 300, 340, or 360 horsepower, depending on the engine compression ratio.  Chevy produced 199 race-oriented models called Z06, an option priced at $1818.  These cars were nicknamed “Big Tanks” or “tankers” due to their enormous 36.5 gallon (138 liter) fuel capacity.  For 1964, the Corvette was slightly restyled.  The hood louvers and split rear windshield were deleted, and the engine produced 365 horsepower (up 5 horses) in stock form.  The options price was jacked up to $538 for a fuel-injected version, which produced 375 horsepower.  New for 1965 was a “Turbo Jet” 396 CI Big-Block V8.  This unit was carbureted, and capable of 425 horsepower.

1966 Corvette coupe

1966 saw a slight change yet again to the Corvette.  The front grille gained an egg-crate design, and coupes gained simplified rear pillars.  With 10.25:1 compression, the Big-Block could develop 390 horsepower; and 11:1 compression gave 425 horses.  With more Big-Blocks selling, demand for the Small-Block 327 waned.  The Small-Block in the 1966 Corvette developed either 300 or 350 horsepower.  GM’s Corvette engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, held next-generation production at bay.  The C3 Corvette was originally planned as a 1967 model, but the C2 stayed for a year longer.  Although little changed from the year before, the wildest Corvette employed a “Tri-Power” Big-Block, which could throw out 435 horsepower with 11:1 compression.  Throughout its entire production run, the C2 Corvette totaled 117,964 units.

The third generation “C3” Corvette was introduced for 1968, and it featured exterior styling much like the 1965 Mako Shark II concept.  Other than that, the Corvette kept pretty much all else the same with the chassis, still sitting on a 98-inch wheelbase.  The base engine to power the Corvette was a 327 (5.4L) Small-Block V8, distributing 300 to 350 horsepower.  However, the big guns to really put down lots of power were the various forms of the 427 (7.0L) Big-Block: a 390 horsepower 4-barrel; a 400 horsepower Tri-Power; a 430 horsepower 4-barrel carb; and a 435 horsepower 3X2 barrel carb.  For 1969, the Small-Block was bored out to 350 CI (5.7L).  Although the displacement went up, power remained the same at 300 and 350 horsepower.  The “Sting Ray” model had “Stingray” written as one word for the front fender emblems.  It should be noted that the “Stingray” name would be limited to this generation before it went on hiatus for several generations.  Also, 1969 saw the first sales ratio in favour of coupes: 22,129 coupes versus 16,633 convertibles.

1971 Stingray

“Four-barrel carburetor” was the name of the game in 1970, when the redesigned Corvette gained a 4-barrel-carb version of the 350 Small-Block, and two Big-Blocks (LS5 and LS7).  A two-month labour strike in 1969 caused Corvette production to decrease by half: only 17,316 were produced for 1970.  Also putting a damper into Corvette production was the recently passed “Clean Air Bill” which required all vehicles produced to meet emissions requirements.  The new 4-barrel carb Small-Block was codenamed “LT-1“, and it developed 370 horsepower.  The Big-Block was bored out to 454 CI (7.4L), and it produced 390 horsepower.  Although a 460 horsepower LS7 Big-Block was rumoured to be in the lineup, it proved environmentally unfriendly; none are known to be produced for sale.  Thus, the LS7 was not offered again.  All engines were detuned in 1971.  The 350 Small-Block dished out 270 horsepower for the base, and 330 for the LT-1.  The 454 Big-Block came in two forms: the 365 horsepower LS5 and the LS6.  The LS6 was a detuned LS7 which produced 425 horsepower.  This helped Corvette sales to recover somewhat.

1972 Stingray

Power ratings for 1972 transitioned to the SAE net system.  The LS6 was discontinued, leaving only the base Small-Block, the LT-1 and the LS5.  With a “net” power rating, the LS5 was vastly detuned, now producing only 270 horsepower.  The LS5 Corvette was not available in California.  Despite all this, Corvette sales for 1972 saw a rise to 27,000 units.  The Corvette gained a new “soft” fascia in 1973.  Now equipped with body-color urethane bumpers, it adhered to federally mandated crash safety standards.  Also a sign of the times, the Corvette’s engines were detuned to meet emissions and fuel economy standards in the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo.  For 1973, the 454 Big-Block threw out 275 horsepower, but detuned to 270 for 1974.

1975 Stingray

The Corvette was transformed into an “economy car” for 1975.  Such updates included slightly newer fascia and further detuning of its engines.  The 454 was dropped, leaving only two 350s.  The base engine developed only 165 horsepower, and the L-82 option threw out 205 horsepower.  Having worked at General Motors for over two decades, Zora Arkus-Duntov resigned from his position as chief engineer.  Replacing him was Munising, Michigan born Dave McLellan.  Despite his retirement from GM, Duntov was not indifferent towards the Corvette.  In fact, for the rest of his life he was passionate about his project.  The Corvette was altered again in 1976, this time gaining a steel floorpan in place of fiberglass.  This achieved weight reduction and reduced interior road noise.  Due to decreasing popularity and sales, the convertible was discontinued, leaving only the coupe.  The engine lineup for ’76 and ’77 saw more healthy power output figures: The base L-48 developed 180 horsepower, and the L-82 developed 210 horsepower.  The “Stingray” moniker was discontinued in 1977.

1979 Corvette

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Corvette, a Silver Anniversary edition was produced for 1978.  The Corvette benefited from an aerodynamic redesign including a fixed-glass fastback and an aircraft-inspired interior center console.  The optional L-82 engine was tuned for 220 horsepower.  The Corvette was slightly restyled again in 1979.  Aesthetic enhancements included blacked-out rocker panels and window trim.  Some models gained a front and rear aero kit much like from the 1978 Corvette pace car.  Brand new hardware included halogen high-beam headlights, AM/FM radio, and an anti-theft alarm system.  The L-82 engine developed 225 horsepower.  1979 was the year of highest sales figures of the Corvette: 53,807 units; a record that’s yet to be beat.

1980 Corvette t-top

For 1980, the Corvette was radically transformed – in favor of gas mileage.  It was aerodynamically redesigned and lightened in several parts, such as doors, hood and glass.  A shocker when it comes to straight-line performance is the federally-mandated 85 mph (136 km/h) maximum speed speedometer.  1980 was the last year for the L-82, and this year it produced 230 horsepower.  Corvette sales dropped to 40,614 units.  In 1981, the lone engine option, the L-48, was renamed L81.  This motor threw out 190 horsepower.  The L81 had magnesium rocker covers and a stainless-steel exhaust manifold.  This drivetrain was paired up to a Computer Command Control engine management system.  Corvettes had always been produced in St. Louis, but in mid-1981 the production line moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  By means of Cross-Fire Injection, the engine in the 1982 Corvette developed 10 more horsepower.  GM built many “Collector Edition” models as well.  The Collector Edition featured unique two-tone silver/beige exterior paint, bronze-tint glass T-top, and a lift-up rear glass hatchback.  It also had turbine wheels like on 60’s Vettes.  With a ludicrous base price of $22,357 resulting in a decade-low sales figure, the time was soon coming for a new generation of Corvette.

Datsun 510

The Datsun 510 was a compact vehicle produced from 1968 to 1973.  Hence the name (or number), the 510 was based on the 510 series Datsun Bluebird sold in Japan.  The 510 came in two forms: the PL510 sedan and WPL510 wagon, and had a wheelbase of 95.3 inches (2420 mm).  Exterior length for the sedan was 163 inches (4128 mm).  Despite its compact characteristics, the 510 had “more fine car fitness than any car in its class” according to a 1968 promotional brochure.  The 510 was designed to resemble the BMW “New Class”, and specifically the 1600/2002 series in the BMW lineup.  Like the BMWs, the 510 had an FR (front engine, rear-wheel-drive) layout.  This gave the 510 the nickname “poor man’s BMW”.

1968 Datsun 510

In keeping with compact-car fashion, the engine to power the 510 was the 96 horsepower 1.6-liter L16.  This engine was equipped with a 2-barrel Hitachi-SU carburettor.  In Japan, the base engine was the 1.3-liter L13.  Because of the easy parts interchangeability with early Datsuns, the 510 became a very popular car among auto enthusiasts.  This even applies to swapping engines, if the desired outcome is to develop more power by substituting a 1.8-liter for a 1.6-liter, for example.

1972 Datsun 510

The Datsun 510 was also a renowned vehicle in the world of motorsports.  Datsun registered some for rally racing and SCCA Trans Am under 2.5-liters.  For instance, Edgar Herrmann and Hans Schüller drove the Datsun 1600 SSS to an 18th-place finish in the 1970 East African Safari Rally, and American driver John Morton won the 1972 Trans Am Championship in the under 2.5-liter class.

After the 510 discontinued production in 1973, it was superseded by the 610 series.  However, the 510 made a return to the Datsun brand in North America in 1977 based on the Nissan Stanza.  This other model was discontinued in 1981.  In 2013, Nissan Motor Co recalled the olden days of the Datsun 510 and debuted the IDx and IDx NISMO concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show.  They featured front-engine, rear-wheel-drive like the 510s of the past (and also much like the BMWs of the present).  Because of the 510’s success in the past, there has been critical reception and petition for Nissan to enter the IDx into production.  As of yet, there is no indication of it actually doing so, but the enthusiast community still much admires the Datsun 510 as a sports legend as much as any classic BMW sedan.

Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a successfully mass-produced compact vehicle in production since 1966.  Upon its debut in Japan, the Corolla was sold at Toyota Corolla Store locations, formerly Toyota Publica Store.  In Latin etymology, the word “corolla” loosely translates to “small crown”.  The first four generations were rear-wheel-drive, but transitioned to a front-drive design in the fifth generation.

Production of the Corolla commenced with the E10 series from November 1966, assembled at the Takaoka Plant in Toyota City, Japan.  Public sales of the Corolla took place in the former Publica Store dealership chain, then renamed Toyota Corolla Store.  The Corolla’s wheelbase measured 90 inches (2286 mm), and exterior length at 151.5 inches and 58.7 inches in width.  The base engine option was a 1077cc (1.1L) inline-4 producing 60 horsepower.  An unusual feature for its class was a floor-mounted manual transmission (4-speed), which was then seen as a type of mechanical setup reserved only for trucks.

In March of 1968, Toyota Auto Store locations in Japan began rolling out fastback versions of the Corolla, called Sprinter.  The Sprinter was the 2-door coupe model in the Corolla lineup, leaving the official Corolla models to be available as 2- or 4-door sedans and 2-door station wagons.  1968 was also the year exports to North America started.  American Corollas were available with the same 1.1L inline-4 engine.  In 1969, both the Corolla and Sprinter got updated with a larger engine, the 1.2L 3K.  This engine pushed 65 horsepower.  The first generation Corolla was produced until 1970.

1974 Corolla coupe (TE27)

May 1970 saw the debut of the E20 series.  Wheelbase for this generation was amped up slightly, to 2335 mm (91.9 in).  Besides the sedan, coupe, and wagon, a van was added to the Corolla lineup.  North America did not get the van model.  Also, the engine lineup was more limited than the vast array that was available in Japan.  American Corollas got either a 1.2L 3K-C or a 1.6L 2T-C.  In 1972, two sporty models called S5 and SR5 were introduced, both with the 102 horsepower 1.6-liter engine.  The chassis code for the USDM SR5 coupe, TE27, is the same as the JDM Levin model.  Production for the second generation Corolla ceased in 1974.

In April 1974, the E30 generation debuted.  The wheelbase was extended to 2370 mm (93 inches).  “E30” is a common designation for this generation overall, as there were different models with different chassis codes.  For example, E30 and E31 denoted the two- and four-door sedan models, and the E37 was the hardtop coupe.  The only chassis North America did not get was the van, or “E36“.  Power for American Corollas came from either a 1.2L 3K-C or a 1.6L 2T-C, although during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s the smaller 3K engine was a more popular engine.

1982 Corolla hardtop (E72)

Although the E30 generation hadn’t finished production yet, in March of 1979, the E70 generation debuted.  The difference between it and the E30 was the wheelbase; it was extended to 2400 mm (94 inches).  It was also more powerful.  All-new were the 1.6L 4A-C and 1.8L 3T-C engines for North America.  However, Japan got the Corolla Levin with the 1.6L 2T-GEU, producing 115 horsepower.  The new design for the Corolla reflected a trend towards being more economical, aerodynamic, and aesthetically pleasing.  Trim levels ranged from Standard, DX, DLX (wagon), and SR5.  In 1982, a rectangular two-headlight front end design was implemented as the mid-cycle facelift.

1985 Corolla GT-S (AE88)
1986 Corolla (AE86/88)

May 1983 saw the debut of the fifth generation (E80) Corolla, and to that end, the first generation to feature front-wheel-drive.  This generation retained the 2400 mm wheelbase from the previous generation.  Most notable about the E80 generation was the “go-fast” AE85 and AE86 variants, nicknamed “hachi-roku” (“86” in Japanese).  Unlike the base lineup, these were rear-wheel-drive; the last Corollas in history to be rear-wheel-drive.  The Japanese-market Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno got power from a 1.6L “red top” 4A-GE throwing 128 horsepower at 6600 rpm.  The North American models in the “AE86” range each got different VIN codes and less power than the Japanese version.  The three trim levels were DX, SR5, and GT-S, and power to each of these came from as follows: both the DX (AE85) and SR5 (AE86) got 87 horsepower at 4800 rpm, and the AE88 GT-S threw 112 horsepower at 6600 rpm.  Undoubtedly, the power figures of the GT-S are much closer to those of the Japanese version.  Transmission options for the “AE86” were either the T50 5-speed manual or the A42DL 4-speed automatic.  This AE86 series was produced until 1987, coinciding with the end of the production run for the E80 Corolla overall.

The sixth generation E90 Corolla made its debut in May of 1987.  In addition to the Japanese production in Toyota City, as well as worldwide production of the Corolla lineup, there were other production locations for different markets.  For example, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) built Canadian-market models in Cambridge, Ontario; and New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) built US-market Corollas and the GM-Toyota joint-venture Geo/Chevrolet Prizm in Fremont, California.  Likewise, in Australia, the Holden-Toyota alliance built the Holden Nova in Dandenong, in the state of Victoria.

Out of five body styles available for Japan, North America got the sedan, coupe, hatchback, and wagon.  North American Corollas did not come in the hatchback; however the captive-import Geo Prizm model was available as a hatchback.  The AE92 sedan came in Standard, DX, and LE trims.  There also was a 4WD sedan with the AE94 VIN code.  The coupe was available in SR5 (AE96) and GT-S (AE98); however they remained front-wheel-drive along with the rest of the Corolla lineup.  These were virtually the same with the Japanese-market AE92 Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno coupes.  Besides the front-wheel-drive DX wagon (AE94), there was also a 4WD version (AE95) called All-Trac, or simply “4WD“.  This model was equivalent to Japan’s Sprinter Carib model.  The engine lineup for North America consisted of variations of the 1.6L 4A, with power ranging from 95 to 135 horsepower.

June 1991 saw the debut of the E100 series in Japan.  The base model in the lineup was the Corolla FX, available in 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon, and van.  Coded AE101, a two-door coupe called Corolla Levin returned to the lineup, and new for 1992, two “pillared-hardtop” sedans called Sprinter Marino and Corolla Ceres debuted.

In model year 1993, the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California started production of both the US-market E100 Corolla and the second generation Geo Prizm.  The Corolla was available in four trims: Standard, CE, DX, and LE.  Both a 4-door sedan (AE101/AE102) and 5-door station wagon (AE102) were available across the lineup.  The Geo Prizm was available only as a sedan.  Motive power for the Corolla came from the 1.6L 4A-FE and 1.8L 7A-FE.  The 4A-FE turned out between 100 and 105 horsepower, and the 7A-FE between 105 and 115 horsepower.  In 1996, the Corolla gained a refresh, featuring clear turn signal lights in the taillight cluster.  In 1997, the DX wagon was dropped, and in June 1998 in Japan, both the Sprinter Marino and Corolla Ceres hardtops discontinued production.  Also, the Detroit-based Geo brand was defunct.

May 1995 saw the debut of the E110 series in Japan.  Body styles included the E110 and E111 sedan, wagon, FWD Sprinter Carib, and 2-door Levin coupe.  Also available in the lineup were the 4WD Sprinter Carib and 4WD sedan.  The engine lineup consisted of a 1.3L 4E-FE, 1.5L 5A-FE, 1.6L 4A-FE and 4A-GE, 2.0L 2C-III, and a 2.2L 3C-E.

In 1998, the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California and TMMC plant in Cambridge, Ontario started production of the North American market E110.  This vehicle was available only as a 4-door sedan.  Available trim levels were the VE, CE, and LE.  To make this car lighter than the previous generation, an all-aluminum 1.8L 1ZZ-FE engine was installed with a timing chain.  This yielded higher fuel economy and power ratings.  From 1998 to 1999, the 1ZZ-FE turned out 120 horsepower.  Very similar in regard to this model, the third generation Prizm debuted; albeit this time a Chevrolet model.

In 2000, the Corolla was facelifted and given an upgraded engine.  The 1.8L 1ZZ-FE was now fitted with Toyota’s Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which brought power up to 125 horsepower.  The VE was dropped and replaced by the S model, and the CE shared its “base” designation in the lineup.  In Japan, the Sprinter model was discontinued; and in 2002, the Chevrolet Prizm ended production.

August 2000 saw the debut of the ninth-generation E120 Corolla in Japan.  This model was based on Toyota’s global “MC” platform, used for compact and mid-size front-wheel-drive vehicles.  The Corolla came available in four body styles: 4-door sedan, 3- and 5-door hatchback (Corolla RunX), and a 5-door station wagon called Corolla Fielder.  Filling in the segment gap left by the discontinued Sprinter was a new model called Toyota Allex.  The Allex was significantly similar to the Corolla RunX, but was considered more upscale and in its own lineup.  The highest trim level on the Corolla RunX was the RunX Z Aero, which, hence the name, featured a notable aero kit on the exterior, and the 1.8L 2ZZ-GE engine as its power source.  This was the same motor to be employed in the second generation Lotus Elise sports car, making 190 horsepower.

The E120 generation made its debut in North America in early 2002 for the 2003 model year.  Although it was available only as a 4-door sedan in CE, LE, S, and XRS trims, Toyota in partnership with GM developed both the Corolla-based Matrix and Pontiac Vibe 5-door hatchbacks.  Both shared the same 102-inch wheelbase, and engine options.  The Pontiac Vibe was produced by New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) in Fremont, California as a successor to the long-discontinued Chevrolet Prizm; whereas the Toyota Matrix, although heavily sharing much architecture with the Pontiac, was a niche vehicle all its own in the North American Toyota lineup.

Throughout its entire production run, the North American E120 Corolla had the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE as its base engine for the CE, LE, and S models.  This unit turned out 130 horsepower.  For the 2005 model year, a sporty model trim called XRS was introduced.  The XRS added a more potent 170 horsepower 1.8L 2ZZ-GE engine, a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and an aggressive body kit.  The XRS was a corresponding model to the Matrix XRS and Vibe GT.  The Corolla XRS was produced for only two years.  Production for the E120 Corolla ended production in 2007 in Japan, and in 2008 in North America.

October 2006 saw the debut of the tenth-generation (E140) Corolla in Japan.  It was available in both the Corolla Axio sedan and the Corolla Fielder wagon.  The RunX hatchback was discontinued, and replaced by a new model all its own lineup, called Toyota Auris.  Also based on the Auris, a replacement for the Allex, called Blade, debuted in the Japanese Toyota lineup.  Both the Auris and Blade rode on Toyota’s “New MC” platform, which was an updated version of the existing MC platform.  This Japanese lineup is considered the “narrow-body” in the tenth generation Corolla lineup, as it was narrower than its international counterparts.  The JDM Corolla measured 1695 mm (66.7 in) wide, versus the international Corollas’ 1760 mm (69.3 in).

The North American “wide-body” E140 debuted for the 2009 model year.  It featured significantly larger Camry-like styling, and came available in 5 trim levels in the US, and 4 trim levels in Canada.  The top-of-the-line for both markets was the XRS, which, like the previous generation XRS, featured an aggressive body kit.  Power came from a 2.4L 2AZ-FE producing 158 horsepower and 162 lb/ft of torque.  The rest of the lineup was powered by a 1.8L 2ZR-FE.  Also that year, the second generation Matrix and Pontiac Vibe debuted, both featuring the same powertrain options (1.8L 2ZR-FE in the base models; 2.4L 2AR-FE in the Matrix XRS and Vibe GT).  In April 2009, General Motors filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the failing Pontiac brand.  Although marketed as a 2010 model, the second year of the second generation Vibe ended production in August 2009.  The Pontiac brand was shuttered in October of 2010.

After the discontinuation of the Pontiac Vibe and the Pontiac brand altogether, the lineup was left only with the Corolla and Matrix.  2011 saw a cosmetic update to both.  In the US, the XLE and XRS were discontinued, but the XRS continued in Canada.  In 2013, the Matrix discontinued American production, with Canadian models still selling into the 2014 model year.

The eleventh generation Corolla debuted differently in Japan and internationally.  Japan got the “narrow-body” E160 in Axio sedan and Fielder wagon forms.  The international wide-body (including those sold in North America) had the chassis code E170.  The JDM E160 rode on Toyota’s subcompact B platform, while the E170 rode on the New MC platform.

The Japanese-market E160 Corolla debuted in May 2012, rolling off production lines in Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures.  In 2013, a hybrid system much like what was found in the Prius c (called “Toyota Aqua” in Japan) was introduced to the Corolla lineup.  Although continuously variable transmissions (CVT) were commonplace throughout the lineup, the Hybrid model featured an E-CVT to assist its 72 horsepower 1.5L 1NZ-FXE engine.  An August 2013 article by Green Car Congress states that the Corolla Hybrid could achieve a fuel economy rating of 3.0L/100 km (77.6 mpg US) under the JC08 test cycle of MLIT (Japan’s ministry of transportation).  In April 2015, the Axio and Fielder received a facelift, as well as a new collision safety system called “Toyota Safety Sense”.

2016 Corolla sedan (E170)

January 2013 saw the debut of the Corolla Furia concept at the North American International Auto Show.  It featured notably aggressive exterior styling and larger stance.  In August 2013, the production version based on the Furia concept debuted for the public.  Initially available only as a 4-door sedan, the Corolla came in four trims: L, LE, LE Eco, and S.  All models except the LE Eco got Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) with the 1.8L engine.  This produced 132 horsepower.  The S model got a CVTi-S, which simulated a sporty shift-feel.  Other features available on the Corolla included a smart key/push-button start, power moonroof, and a backup monitor.

2016 Scion iM (North America)

The production version of the Scion iM hatchback, based on the Toyota Auris, made its North American debut at the New York Auto Show in April 2015.  It was intended partially as a replacement model for the discontinued Scion xB, but probably more to the likes of the Toyota Matrix.  Power came from a 1.8L 2ZR-FAE, producing 137 horsepower – 5 more horsepower than the Corolla.  Unfortunately, for the iM, both the hatchback and the Scion brand were not very successful.  Toyota’s February 2016 announcement concerning Scion’s fate came true in August that year, with some 2017 models transitioning into the Toyota lineup.  After the iM’s 2016 season, it became the Corolla iM in the Toyota lineup.

2017 Corolla sedan
2017 Corolla iM

2017 saw a huge update to the Corolla lineup: it was given restyled front and rear fascias, Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P), and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.  Also featured in the lineup were the upgraded Eco LE and a limited-run 50th Anniversary Special Edition.  The Eco Le now produced 140 horsepower from its 1.8L hybrid engine system.

Chevrolet Chevelle

In 1964, General Motors debuted its new mid-size version of the A-platform.  Included in the A-body family besides the El Camino and Malibu SS was the Chevelle.  This vehicle was designed to compete in sales against other compacts and mid-sizers like the AMC Rambler, Ford Falcon, and Ford Fairlane.  Throughout its entire production run, the Chevelle would see a variety of body styles, even including a 4-door sedan and station wagon.

The first generation Chevelle had a wheelbase of 115 inches (2921 mm).  In its initial season, the Chevelle was available in three trims: Chevelle 300, Chevelle Malibu, and Chevelle Malibu Super Sport (SS).  The base Chevelle (the 300) could be had with a 194 CI (3.2L) inline-6, good for 120 horsepower @ 4400 rpm.  The Chevelle was updated in 1965, with a “Deluxe” model added to the 300 lineup.  The Chevelle Super Sport (SS) debuted with a Malibu SS badge.  Thus, this car is also called Chevelle Malibu SS.  A 327 (5.4L) Small-Block V8 was a regular production option (RPO) on the 1965 SS.  This Small-Block turned out 350 horsepower.

1966 Chevelle SS 396

1966 saw an update to the Chevelle and Malibu SS.  In the United States, the Chevelle and Chevelle SS became their own lineup, while the Malibu SS remained in the Canadian lineup.  The SS396 was equipped with a 396 CI (6.5L) Big-Block V8, which produced 325 horsepower, or an upgrade option which saw power amped up to 360 horsepower.  Another option above that, still using the 396 Big-Block V8, was the L78, which threw out 375 horsepower @ 5600 rpm.  The 300, 300 Deluxe, and Malibu remained in the lineup for 1967.  Included in the lineup, other than in the SS, was the 396 Big-Block V8.  This turned out the same 325, 350, and 375 horsepower levels as in the SS.

1969 Chevelle SS 396

1968 saw the introduction of the second generation Chevelle.  The wheelbase for the coupe now sat at 112 inches (2845 mm), and the sedan and wagon sat at 116 inches (2946 mm).  The base models were the 300 and 300 Deluxe.  The latter was available as a 2-door hardtop.  1969 saw a slight cosmetic restyling to the Chevelle lineup.  The lineup consisted of the Nomad, 300 Deluxe, Greenbrier, Malibu, Concours, and Concours Estate.  The base 300 was dropped from the lineup.  The SS 396 still turned out 325 to 375 horsepower from its 396 Big-Block.

1970 saw a more rectangular profile to the Chevelle, as opposed to the “coke-bottle” styling it had in the 60’s.  The SS came with two options: the SS 396 with the 402 CI engine, and a new 454 model.  The optional LS6 added an 800 CFM Holley carburetor to the 7.4L Big-Block, turning out 450 horsepower and 500 lb/ft of torque.  1971 saw a cosmetic redesign to the Chevelle lineup.  It was rectangular like the 1970 model, but the lights had changed.  The front fascia was designed to have two headlights flush with the grille, whereas earlier Chevelles had four headlights.  The 454 Big-Block was exclusive to the SS.  Because of the low-octane gas mandate, all engines produced lower amounts of power.  For 1971, the 454 Big-Block in the Chevelle SS turned out an advertised 365 horsepower.  That figure was dropped to 270 horsepower in 1972, the last year of the cowl induction 454.

1977 Chevrolet Chevelle

1973 saw a dramatic redesign to the Chevelle lineup.  The convertible and 4-door hardtop was discontinued, leaving the 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and station wagon in the lineup.  The coupe was referred to as “Colonnade Hardtop”, and it had a shorter wheelbase than the sedan and wagon.  Only the latter two shared the same 116-inch wheelbase with the Monte Carlo, with which the Chevelle shared the A-body chassis.  The base engine for the Deluxe and Malibu models was a 250 inline-6.  The Deluxe model was dropped in 1974, leaving the Malibu as the new base.  In 1976, the headlights on the Chevelle models were redesigned: more rectangular accents outlining the round lights like brackets, flush with the redesigned grille.  The two coupes (formerly Colonnades) were now the Malibu Classic Landau, with the vinyl roof; and the Malibu SS, the “hardtop”.  The top-of-the-line was a 350 V8.  The Chevelle ended production in 1977, except for the Malibu model, which remained in production as a downsized model many years after that.

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is a compact car in production since model year 1973.  Upon its introduction in July 1972, it was intended to be an economy car much like the N600/Z600 subcompacts and the short-lived 1300 sedan/coupe it slotted in between in the Honda lineup in Japan.  The Civic debuted at the right time during the automotive industry’s history: 1973 had wrought a very sufferable energy crisis.  This placed heavy demand on automakers to develop efficient economy vehicles, many of them being compact hatchbacks with options kept to a minimum.  Thus, the Civic was Honda’s answer to this energy crisis, and proved to be a popular seller for many years since its launch.

1977 Civic

The first generation Civic was available as a 2- or 4-door sedan, 3- or 5-door hatchback, and a 5-door station wagon.  The initial engine offering was an 1169cc (1.2L) inline-4.  A 4-speed manual transmission was standard, but the Civic could also be had with the 2-speed Hondamatic, Honda’s first ever automatic transmission.  To further ensure utmost compact-car economy, the Civic’s wheelbase was at 2200 mm (86.6 in); and its exterior length was kept to 3551 mm (139.8 in).  Curb weight was at a very light 680 kilograms (1500 lb or 3/4 tons).  1974 saw a slight upgrade to the US-market Civic: a slightly larger 1.2-liter inline-4 and 5-mph safety bumpers.  The bumpers increased the Civic’s exterior length to 3731 mm (146.9 in).  A new emissions-reducing technology called CVCC debuted in the 1975 Civic.  CVCC stood for “Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion”, and it later found its way into the Honda Accord.

1979 Civic wagon

Before the debut of the second generation Civic for model year 1980, the Civic got a cosmetic upgrade for 1978 – 1979.  It retained the standard 1.2-liter and 1.5-liter CVCC engines as before; albeit with added power.

1982 Civic hatchback

The second generation Civic debuted in July 1979 as a 1980 model.  Motive power came from either a “1300” 1.3-liter or a “1500” (1.5L) CVCC.  1982 saw an upgrade; namely, an addition of larger black plastic bumpers and more rectangular lights.  The Civic kept this Prelude-esque look until 1983.

September 1983 saw the introduction of the third generation Civic.  The Civic lineup now consisted of a 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan, and a 5-door wagon now called Shuttle.  In the US, the Shuttle was called Wagovan.  The wheelbase of the hatchback measured at 2388 mm, while the sedan measured at 2438 mm.  Model year 1984 saw the debut of the Honda Ballade-based “Ballade Sports CR-X“.  This was a 3-door hatchback, which launched in North America as the “Civic CRX“.  This special model had either an economy or sport variant.  The economy variant, hence the name, had an emphasis more on economy: it was equipped with a 1.3-liter CVCC engine.  This unit threw out 60 horsepower.  The sport model had a 1.5-liter engine.  1985 saw an update to the sports model, which included a trim level called Si (“sports, injected”).  The Si had a fuel-injected 1.5-liter, which gave 91 horsepower.

1986 saw a facelift to both the standard Civic and CRX models.  The headlights were changed from the recessed type to flush mounted.  The Civic/CRX would be little changed for 1987.

1989 Civic hatchback

September 1987 saw the debut of the fourth generation Civic.  The wheelbase had been extended to 2,500 mm (98.4 in).  Likewise in 1988, the second generation CRX debuted, its wheelbase over 2,300 mm, making it 100 mm longer than the first gen CRX, but 200 mm shorter than the standard Civic.

1990 CRX
1991 Civic Si

Also that year, the sporty Civic Si hatchback debuted with a 1.6L D16A6 inline-4 as its power.  At first, it threw out 105 horsepower, but was increased at 108 horsepower a year after.  In general, the fourth generation Civic would last in production through August 1991.

September 1991 saw the introduction of the fifth generation Civic.  This generation could be had in 2-door coupe (EJ1/EJ2); 3-door hatchback (EH2/EH3); and 4-door sedan (EG8/EH9).  The EG8 line consisted of the USDM DX and LX, and the Canadian LX, LX “Special Edition” (1994-1995), and EX.  All these models were powered by a 102 horsepower 1.5-liter D15B7.  The EH9 was the USDM EX sedan, which was powered by a 125 horsepower 1.6-liter D16Z6.

The VIN codes for the Japanese hatchbacks were EG3 and EG6, but North American hatches were numbered EH2 and EH3.  The EH2 lineup consisted of the USDM CX, VX, and DX.  While both the American and Canadian CX got their own versions of the 1.5-liter D15 engine, the power output was different for each.  The USDM mill threw out 70 horsepower, while the Canadian CX was more powerful, at 102 horsepower.  The DX got the D15B7 with the same 102 horsepower in both markets, while the VX got the D15Z1 with VTEC-E.  The VX hatch could be had only with a manual transmission.  The EH3 was the Si hatchback, which could be had with a 1.6-liter D16Z6 VTEC engine good for 125 horsepower.  The Canadian Si hatch was produced 1992 to 1993 only.

The EJ1/EJ2 comprised the coupe lineup.  All DX models including the “Special Edition” got the same 102 horsepower 1.5-liter D15B7, while the USDM EX and EX-S got the 125 horsepower 1.6-liter D16Z6 VTEC.  The Canadian counterpart of the US-market EX was the Si (the sport model).

The fifth generation Civic would remain little changed until the end of its production run in 1995.

September 1995 saw the introduction of the sixth generation Civic.  This car came in coupe, hatchback, and sedan forms.  The EJ6 was the DX/LX sedan and coupe, as well as the CX hatchback; the EJ7 was the USDM HX coupe; the EJ8 was the EX sedan and coupe, as well as the Canadian Si coupe; the EJ9 was the 1.4L SOHC sedan; the EK1 was the 1.5L SOHC VTEC-E hatchback; the EK2 was the 1.3L hatchback; the EK3 was the 1.5L SOHC VTEC-E hatchback; the EK4 was the SiR/VTi hatchback; the EM1 was the 1999-2000 Si/SiR coupe; and the EN1 was the USDM GX sedan.

August 1997 saw the introduction of the Japanese-only Type-R (codenamed EK9).  Assembled in Suzuka, Japan, this was the hatchback model with 182 horsepower 1.6L B16B inline-4 paired to a 5-speed manual transmission.  The interior featured red racing seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.  For 1999, the Civic was cosmetically updated.  This was the year the Si and SiR models were introduced into the coupe lineup.  In 2000, Spoon Sports modified the Type-R to a “racing version” which had a higher engine-revving redline.

Model year 2001 saw the debut of the seventh generation Civic.  While this car came in sedan, hatchback, and coupe forms, the coupe was available only in North America.  December 2001 saw the debut of two Civic variants: the Civic Hybrid and the second generation Type-R hatchback.  The JDM Hybrid was assembled in Suzuka, Japan, while the EP3 Type-R was built in Swindon, England by Honda UK Manufacturing (HUM).  The Type-R was equipped with a 2.0L K20A producing 200 horsepower for the European version, and 212 horsepower for Japan.  The “Type-R” also found its way into North America in the form of the Si and SiR hatchbacks.  However, power was detuned to 160 hp from its K20A3 unit.  Spring 2002 saw the introduction of the Civic Hybrid in the US market.  The Hybrid was equipped with a 1.3L LDA inline-4 paired to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT.  Model year 2004 saw a facelift for the Civic lineup.  This time it had gained sharper headlights and differing style taillights.  This design was retained until September 2005, the end of its production run.

September 2005 saw the introduction of the 2006 model year Civic.  The wheelbase of the sedan was at 2700 mm (106.3 in), while the coupe sat at a shorter 2649 mm (104.3 in).  In addition to the standard Honda Civic model, Canada received a rebadged version of Japan’s Civic Sedan, the Acura CSX.  This model, which shared the same fascia with the Japanese Civic, remained in production for the length of the production of the eighth generation Civic itself (that is, until 2011).  The Hybrid model remained in the lineup also.  It retained the 1.3L LDA inline-4 engine found in the prior Hybrid model, but this time paired to a more powerful electric motor for better mileage.  It won 4 awards in 2006.

For North America, the Civic Si remained as the top-of-the-line performance model.  It was available as a coupe (FG2) and sedan (FA5).  Motive power came from a 2.0L K20Z3 i-VTEC throwing out 197 horsepower, and was paired to a 6-speed manual transmission.  In 2007, Canada got the identical Acura CSX Type-S, employing the same 2.0L K20Z3 powertrain.  Both the Acura CSX (for Canada only) and the Civic Si were assembled in Alliston, Ontario by Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM).  Model year 2009 saw a mid-cycle refresh for the entire Civic lineup, including the Canadian-market Acura CSX.  The eight generation Civic ended production in 2011.

The ninth generation Civic debuted at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January 2011 and went on sale that spring as a 2012 model.  The wheelbase for the sedan sat at 2670 mm (105.1 in), and the coupe sat at 2620 mm (103.1 in).  Exterior length for the sedan was 4525 mm (178.1 in), and the coupe at 4472 mm (176.1 in).

The Civic Si (FB6 sedan and FG4 coupe) gained a new motor.  A 205 horsepower 2.4L K24Z7 powered the car, and was paired to a 6-speed manual transmission.  The Hybrid also gained an upgrade: its powertrain now consisted of a water-cooled 1.5-liter i-VTEC with Integrated Motor Assist (IMA).  Rowing the gears in the Hybrid was done by a CVT automatic.  2012 saw a facelift to the North American Civic lineup, and again in 2014.

In 2015, Honda UK Manufacturing (HUKM) in Swindon, England started production on the European-market Type R hatchback, codenamed FK2.  This model was powered by a 2.0L K20C1 (turbocharged) throwing out 306 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque.  Japan received approximately only 750 such models.

2015 saw the end of production for the ninth generation Civic, and the end of the Civic Hybrid lineup.  Following this year, 2016 would see no production of a Civic Hybrid.

2016 Civic coupe
2017 Civic hatchback

Honda Motor Co debuted a Civic coupe concept previewing the tenth generation model at the New York Auto Show in April 2015.  The sedan was previewed in September 2015, and the production coupe debuted at Los Angeles in November.  Both the sedan and coupe started production and sales in model year 2016.  The hatchback joined the lineup for 2017.  Exterior length for the hatchback was 4519 mm, and width at 1799 mm.

In 2017, Honda of Canada debuted the Civic Si, based on the sedan and coupe.  Production took place in Alliston, Ontario, and power came from a 1.5L L15B7 (turbocharged) good for 205 horsepower.

2017 Honda Civic Type R

The fifth generation Type R debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2017.  This model was built by Honda UK in Swindon, England, and got power from a 2.0L K20C1 turbo.  In Europe and Japan, power was at 316 horsepower, while the North American Type R threw out 306 horsepower.  The exterior dimensions for the Type R compared to the base hatchback were radical: the Type R was 4557 mm in length (compared to the base’s 4519), and 1877 mm in width (versus the base 1799mm).

Chevrolet Camaro

In June of 1966, General Motors held a press conference regarding their upcoming Ford Mustang beating muscle car, borne out of the 1964 XP-836 prototype.  This car was codenamed “Panther”, but eventually, the name “Camaro” was chosen.  This car would be based on the GM F-body platform shared with the Pontiac Firebird.

1967 Camaro SS

The first generation Camaro started production in September 1966 for the 1967 model year.  Dimensionally, the Camaro was very similar to the Ford Mustang: the wheelbase for both cars was the same, at 108 inches (2743 mm); but the Camaro was longer and wider (184.7 in vs. the Mustang’s 183.6; and 72.5 in wide vs. the Mustang’s 70.9 in width).  It was available in two body styles: hardtop and convertible.  Besides the base model, the Camaro came available with SS and RS packages; a combination of both was also available as the SS/RS.  Engine choices included the 350 (5.7L) small block V8 and the 396 (6.5L) big block V8.  A Trans-Am racing spec Z/28 debuted with a 302 CI (4.9L) V8.  Trans Am dictates that the participating race cars must not have engines larger than 305 CI (5.0L).  The mill in the Z/28 was good for 290 horsepower.  That year, 220,906 Camaros were produced, 64,842 of which were RS models.  Only 602 Z/28s were produced.

1968 Camaro SS

1968 saw a slight update to the Camaro.  The SS gained the 396 big block V8, which threw out 350 horsepower.  The Z/28 became a regular option in the Camaro lineup.  Despite that, the Z/28 was again outsold by the SS and RS that year.

1969 Camaro

The Camaro was refreshed again for 1969.  Although initially the front end featured a hideaway headlight design like on prior models, the circular light models were redesigned to have the lights more recessed into the air intake.  The delayed introduction of the then-new second generation 1970 Camaro meant that the 1969 Camaro would continue production into November that year, 243,085 units total.

1970 Camaro

When the second generation Camaro entered production in February 1970, it had started a false rumour that it was a “1970 1/2”.  But with production starting early in 1970, that made it still a fully “1970” model.  Model years for North American market automobiles begin the fourth quarter of the preceding year (usually the earliest on October 1st), and go on until September of the advertised year.  That is why continued production of the 1969 Camaro into November 1969 caused public confusion as to if that model was a 1970, and the second generation being a 1970 1/2.  This model retained its “egg-crate” grille front end design through 1973.

1973 Camaro Z28

In 1972, Camaro production would suffer vastly due to a United Automobile Workers strike at the Norwood assembly plant in Ohio, and failure to meet federally mandated bumper safety regulations.  This had forced the engineers to redesign the Camaro for 1974.

1977 Camaro

And redesign they did.  It was given a sloped front end and protruding aluminum safety bumpers to meet federal 5-mph crash standards.  Also, 1974 was the final year for the Z28, 13,802 produced out of 150,000 Camaros for 1974.  1975 would see a drastic change to the Camaro lineup.  The energy crisis of the 1970s had caused the downsizing and/or discontinuation of many American sports and muscle cars.  The Camaro did not change much, save for the addition of a catalytic converter, which reduced emissions.  Catalytic converters were added to all GM vehicles, and electronic ignition was also introduced.  Camaro sales for 1975 was at 145,770 units.  Although not a regular production option, the 1977 Camaro saw the return of the Z28 package as a 1977 1/2.  This model featured a 350 V8 producing 185 horsepower.  Although a Borg-Warner Super T-10 4-speed manual transmission was available, most cars were equipped with a 3-speed automatic.

1981 Camaro

1978 saw a redesign which added body-color urethane bumpers in place of the aluminum bumpers, giving it a distinctly sportier look.  A T-Top was added to the lineup, and the 1979 model saw an introduction of the Berlinetta.  1979 saw record sales of the Camaro: 282,571 units that year.  The 1981 Camaro came with an emissions reducing unit called “Computer Command Control” (CCC).  Canadian ’81 Camaros did not get CCC.

The third generation Camaro began production in October 1981 for the 1982 model year.  Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 1982 saw three variants in its lineup: Sport Coupe, Berlinetta, and Z28.  The Sport Coupe would be available with a 2.5L 4-cylinder, 2.8L LC1 V6, or a 5.0L LG4 V8.  The Berlinetta also came with these same engine options, save the base 2.5-liter.

1982 Camaro Z28 Pace Car
1982 Camaro Z28 Pace Car (rear view)

The Z28 in the 1982 lineup was notably underpowered; its 5.0L LG4 V8 threw out 145 horsepower.  The Z28 was a pace car for the 1982 Indianapolis 500, and 6,360 pace car replicas were produced for the public.  In addition to the “Z28” badging, the car had a distinct two-tone livery, and the door panels had the 1982 Indianapolis 500 logo plastered on them, with “The Sixty-Six – May 30th, 1982” as the smaller-print tagline underneath.

1983 Camaro Z28

The Z28 was updated in 1983, featuring a 5.0L “High-Output” V8.  This engine produced 190 horsepower, and could be coupled up to either a Borg-Warner 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.

1985 saw a refresh to the Camaro.  The IROC-Z was a new model which featured low ride height and Tuned Port Injection.  This brought increased power to the Camaro, with either a 215 horsepower 5.0L LB9 or a 4-barrel High Output 305 L69 good for 190 horsepower.  Fewer than 2,500 IROC-Z’s were produced for 1985.  In 1987, the Berlinetta was dropped from the lineup, replaced with the LT, and Camaro production in Norwood, Ohio was coming to an end.  The new Camaro production facility had moved to Van Nuys, California.

1988 Camaro

In 1988, the Z28 was dropped, and replaced by the more popular IROC-Z.  All models had fuel injection.  The 1990 model year proved to be exceptionally short – not 30,000 or more made it off the assembly line before December 1989 had ended.  This was because of the early introduction of the refreshed ’91 models.  The IROC-Z was dropped from the lineup that year.

1991 Camaro Convertible

February 1990 saw the early introduction of the 1991 Camaro.  This would be the year the B4C “Special Service” option was introduced.  The B4C was a performance-boosting law enforcement package much like what was used in the Ford Mustang SSP highway patrol car.  From 1991 to 1992, fewer than 1,200 B4C police Camaros were produced.  The Van Nuys assembly plant in California ended production of the third-gen Camaro in August 1992, and Camaro production moved to another plant.

The fourth generation Camaro began production at the new assembly plant in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, Canada in November 1992, and sold to the public starting January 1993.  This new rounded Camaro, designed by Ken Okuyama of Ken Okuyama Design, had the same 101 inch wheelbase as the previous Camaro, but was longer (193.2 in) and wider (74.1 in), and featured an optional T-Top and 2+2 seating.  The 1993 Camaro came in two trims: base and Z28.  The Z28 featured the same 5.7L LT1 small-block V8 as in the Corvette.  This threw out 275 horsepower and 325 lb/ft of torque, and was coupled to a Borg-Warner 6-speed manual transmission.

1996 Camaro

In 1995, the 3800 Series II V6 was introduced as the engine option for base Camaros sold in California.  This same engine would replace the 3.4L L32 as the base engine in 1996.  The Z28 saw a power boost to 285 horsepower.  Returning to the lineup that year were the RS and SS.  In 1997, the Camaro turned 30, and to celebrate, a “30th Anniversary Limited Edition” debuted which featured a unique white and orange stripe exterior paint livery.  A total of 979 “30th Anniversary” Camaro SS models were produced for 1997, with 108 additional models available with the modified LT4 small-block which produced 330 horsepower.

1998 saw a refresh to the Camaro, which featured a front-end redesign and a new engine.  The 5.7L LS1 replaced the LT1 found in earlier Z28s of this generation.  The LS1 (also found in the Corvette) threw out 345 horsepower.  The Camaro remained largely unchanged throughout its production run for the next few years.  However, 2001 would see the lowest production volume for this generation, as preparation for its 35th Anniversary Edition for 2002 was already underway.  The new engine option for the SS and Z28 models were the LS6, replacing the LS1.  This unit was good for 310 to 325 horsepower.  Production for 2001 barely made it past 29,000 units, and the 2002 models totaled 42,098.  The final F-body Camaros ended production in Boisbrand, Quebec, Canada in August of 2002.

General Motors had proposed a rebirth of the Camaro in the form of the 2006 Camaro concept shown at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January that year.  The concept featured a retro body style that resembled early Camaros of the 60’s, and it rode on GM’s Zeta platform shared with the Australian Holden Commodore full-size sports sedan.  After teasing several more concept Camaros (including a convertible version), General Motors announced in March 2008 that they would begin production of the long-awaited Camaro.

The long-anticipated fifth generation Camaro entered production at the Oshawa plant in Ontario, Canada in March 2009, exactly one year after GM’s Camaro production announcement.  Like the 2006 concept, this car rode on the Zeta platform, and somewhat retained the concept’s retro outfit.  Measured against the previous generation produced from 1993 to 2002, the new Camaro had a wheelbase longer by 11 inches (112.3 in versus the previous gen’s 101.1 in).  It was shorter (190.4 in) but wider (75.5 in) than the 4th-gen model.  Measured against the first-gen 1969 model, its wheelbase was longer, with the ’69’s being at 108 inches (2,743 mm).  The 2010 was nearly 4 1/2 inches longer than the 1969, and 1 1/2 inch wider.

At its introduction, the 2010 Camaro was available only as a coupe with LS, LT, and SS trim levels.  For engine options, the LS and LT got the 3.6L LLT V6 throwing 304 horsepower @ 6400 rpm, and the SS got either the LS3 or L99 V8.  While both measured at 6.2 liters, the L99 was the lesser V8, throwing 400 horsepower while the LS3 produced 426 horsepower.  While the same Hydra-Matic 6-speed automatic transmission was available for all models, the 6-speed manual transmissions were different for each.  The LS/LT got an Aisin unit, while the SS complimented its V8 with a Tremec TR-6060 unit.  Model year 2011 saw the introduction of the convertible.  It could utilize the 3.6L V6 like the LS/LT models, and the 6.2L V8 as in the SS.  The 2012 Camaro ZL1 debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2011.  This model featured a supercharged 6.2L LSA V8, making a great 580 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, and 556 lb/ft of torque @ 4200 rpm.  The high performance of this ultra Camaro was complimented further with a MagneRide suspension and six-piston Brembo brake calipers.  The Camaro was given a cosmetic update in 2014, which made the Camaro’s headlights thinner, as well as revised taillights.  These were one-piece strips, as opposed to the 2010-2013 block type lights.  Hardly much had changed for the 2015 model due to the upcoming debut of the sixth generation 2016 model.

2016 Camaro Convertible

The sixth generation Camaro was introduced to the public in May 2015 as a 2016 model.  This time, it rode on the Alpha platform shared with the Cadillac ATS and CTS.  The LS/LT trims were equipped with the 2.0L LTG Ecotec and 3.6L LGX V6.  The latter was available only for the LT.  The 1SS/2SS got the 6.2L LT1 V8 shared with the Corvette.  This engine threw out 455 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, and 650 lb/ft of torque @ 4400 rpm.  2017 saw the introduction of the revised ZL1 model.  This time, it threw out 650 horsepower from its 6.2L LT4 V8.  From here, the Camaro would be little changed, save the 2019 model year cosmetic update.