Ford Mustang [Part 3]

In 1993, Ford debuted a rounded jellybean-style sports concept called the Mustang Mach III. This concept, based on Patrick Schiavone’s 1990 sketch, previewed the radical restyling of future Mustangs. This fourth-generation Mustang, which had the Fox-platform (SN-95) all to itself, launched for the public in December 1993 for the 1994 model year. This generation of Mustang increased in size. Wheelbase was extended from 100 inches in 1993 to 101.3 inches; exterior length was increased by 2 inches to 181 inches; and exterior width was increased to 71 inches.

Upon release, the 1994 Mustang gained two performance variants: the GT and SVT Cobra. The former carried over the ’93 GT’s 4.9L V8, producing 215 horsepower 285 ft/lbs of torque. Other features included a 3.08:1 ratio rear axle, 16-inch upgraded wheels, and a firmer suspension package for refined handling. The SVT Cobra got the 5.0L Windsor V8 producing 240 horsepower and 285 ft/lbs. For 1995, SVT debuted the Cobra R, employing a more vigorous 5.8L V8. This model turned out 300 horsepower (60 more than the standard Cobra). Both the GT and Cobra got the Tremec T-5 5-speed manual transmission.

1996 saw the revision of the Mustang’s dated drivetrain. Gone was the Windsor V8, replaced by the 4.6L Modular engine. In the GT, this engine produced 215 horsepower – considerably less than the ’94-’95 GTs. Torque stayed the same at 285 ft/lbs. As for the SVT Cobra, power got an upgrade: 305 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs. The transmissions in both the GT and Cobra remained 5-speeds. While the GT kept the Tremec T-5 unit, the Cobra transitioned to the T-45. Model year 1997 was relatively quiet: the GT retained its 1996 specifications, as did the Cobra. For 1998, the GT got an upgraded powertain control module (PCM). This allowed the engine to produce more power; specifically, a power-bump up to 225 horsepower and 290 ft/lbs of torque. Between 1994 and 1998, 644,250 Mustangs were sold.

While the Ford Mustang enjoyed a relative sales success, its jellybean styling wouldn’t be enough to seriously sustain its reputation as an all-American muscle car. Former Vice President of Design for Ford, Jack Telnack, as well as then-chief designer Claude Lobo, implemented a new design language for European-market Fords, called “New Edge“. This design language used more modern crisp body lines and edges. For 1999, the SN-95 Fox-body Mustang gained this New Edge design. Also changed was the 4.6L Modular V8 engine. With a revised head, the GT could turn 260 horsepower and 302 ft/lbs. A special model package, the 35th Anniversary Limited Edition, gave the Mustang GT some blacked-out body panels (such as in front of the hood scoop and side mirrors), special 5-spoke aluminum wheels, and vinyl interior. The “New Edge” SVT Cobra was also revised: it produced 320 horsepower and 317 ft/lbs of torque. For 1999, Mustang sales rose to 167,000 units, with 215,500 more for model year 2000. After the 2001 model year, production of the SVT Cobra went on a brief hiatus.

2003 Ford Mustang

After the successful 2000 model year, Mustang sales started their slow decline. 2001 saw over 169,000 Mustangs produced, with 2002 output at 138,500 units. From here onward, Mustang sales would hover around the 130- to 140-thousand average. In 2003, the base, GT, and Cobra were joined by another special edition not seen since the last Mustang II of the 1970s: Mach 1. The Mach 1 was a modest mid-field entry in the Mustang lineup. Still employing the 4.6L Modular V8, it developed 305 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. Paired up to it was the Tremec TR-3650 5-speed manual transmission shared with the contemporary GT and the 2001 Cobra. It also featured a solid rear axle whereas other models employed independent rear suspensions. Exterior styling of the Mach 1 was somewhat conservative, but recalling of the Mach 1’s of the past.

SVT amped up the power of the top-line Cobra via the means of supercharging. Compared to the prior Cobra, it gained a 70 horsepower bump, good for 390 horsepower; and torque was also raised to 390 ft/lbs. The 5-speed TR-3650 transmission was dropped and replaced by the 6-speed T-56 unit. This transmission was installed in other Australian Fords like the Falcon XR6 and Ford Performance Vehicles’ F6 Typhoon super sedan. This generation of Cobra would be nicknamed “Terminator”. The Cobra’s exterior was given a significant “beefed” look: a front integrated spoiler and large air dams completed the aggressive “Cobra” styling. Also added were the special 17-inch machined aluminum/chrome wheels and imposing dual exhausts at the end. The rear fascia consisted also of the debossed “COBRA” script stamped on the bumper just below the license plate bezel. Mustang production for 2004 notched in at 130,000 sales.

Model year 2005 saw the release of the much-anticipated retro-styled fifth generation Mustang (codenamed S197). Its wheelbase increased by 8 inches to 107 inches; and exterior length was increased by 4 inches to 187 inches. Exterior width remained relatively the same at 73 inches. Production of the Mustang moved from the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, to the former Mazda Motor Manufacturing plant in Flat Rock (which eventually was renamed Flat Rock Assembly Plant). Initial offerings consisted of the V6 and the V8-engined GT. The V6 Mustang was fitted with a 210-horsepower 4.0L Cologne V6, paired either to a Tremec T-5 5-speed manual or Ford’s own 5-speed automatic. The GT pushed the performance bar by utilizing the 4.6L Modular V8. Power sat at a respectable 300 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs. Transferring this power to the wheels was the higher-up 5-speed manual, the Tremec TR-3650. In a straight line, the V8 Mustang GT could accelerate to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.6 seconds, doing the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 99 mph (158 km/h).

2007 Shelby GT500

In 2006, the Shelby made its triumphant return to the Mustang lineup. The first Shelby Mustangs to be produced were the GT-H models, for use at Hertz car-rental locations. These models got a slightly tuned 4.6L Modular V8 (same as in the GT), paired to a 5-speed automatic. 500 such models were ever produced.

Shelby amped up its performance with the GT500, which launched for 2007. In performance goodies, it gained a much more potent supercharged 5.4L V8 throwing 500 horsepower and 480 ft/lbs of torque, and a 6-speed Tremec TR-6060 transmission. In front, an independent MacPherson strut suspension was installed, and the rear consisted of a solid axle setup. The Shelby GT500 also got front and rear vented disc brakes (14-inch front/11.8 rear) and 18-inch tires. Cosmetically, the Shelby GT500 benefited from hood scoops, different front fascia, and Cobra identifying badges on the front fenders and front grille. 2008 saw the release of the more powerful GT500KR. Power was sourced from the same supercharged Modular V8, although pushing 540 horsepower (40 more than the GT500) and 510 ft/lbs of torque (30 more).

The facelifted 2010 Mustang, devised by design director Doug Gaffka, launched for the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 2008; and went on sale in spring of 2009. Although the exterior fascia were refreshed, the hardware was quite outdated: the V6 Mustang retained the 4.0L 210 horsepower Cologne V6, and the GT still got the same power as before from the Modular V8. For 2011, however, these outdated drivetrains were replaced by their respective counterparts: the V6 got the new 3.7L Duratec (Cyclone) V6 also used in the Mazda CX-9 and Ford F-150. In the Mustang, this engine produced a more healthier 305 horsepower and 280 ft/lbs of torque. The GT benefited from a more potent 412 horsepower and 390 ft/lbs from the updated Modular engine. Into its second model year, the facelift S197 Mustang was off to a good start.

For 2012 only, Shelby produced 100 examples of its 50th Anniversary Edition Shelby GTS. These models commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Shelby brand, and included features such as a fibreglass hood, 14-inch front brakes, unique VIN plates, gold exterior stripes, and two exterior color options: white and black. The Shelby GTS 50th Anniversary package was available as an extra-cost option on both the V6 and GT Mustangs.

2014 Mustang

For 2013, all Mustangs were given a mid-cycle cosmetic refresh. The look of the headlamps was rearranged, as well as the tail-lamp bezels. This was the S197’s final facelift. The GT models gained 8 more horsepower for a total of 420 horsepower, thanks to extensive use of aluminum construction in the Modular V8. Torque stayed the same at 390 ft/lbs. These same specifications were carried over into the 2014 model year.

2016 Shelby GT350

Model year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the Mustang lineup, as well as the debut of the 6th-generation “S550” chassis. The exterior design of the S550 was directed by German designer Kemal Curić. Curić had been working at Ford since 2004. Upon launch, the 2015 Mustang was available in three variants: V6, EcoBoost, and GT. The EcoBoost was a new 4-cylinder addition to the Mustang lineup: it developed 310 horsepower and 320 ft/lbs of torque. The GT gained 15 horsepower and 10 ft/lbs for a total of 435 horsepower and 400 ft/lbs. Also new for 2015 was the track-focused Shelby GT350, which featured extra flared-out styling and ultra-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It was the first production Ford to feature the MagneRide suspension. The Shelby featured a specialized version of the Modular V8 all to itself: a 5.2L unit nicknamed “Voodoo“. Thanks to a flat-plane crankshaft and a very high compression ratio of 12:1, the Voodoo V8 developed 526 horsepower and 429 ft/lbs of torque.

Model year 2018 saw a refresh to the entire lineup. The Mustang benefited from a “shaved” look which helped define its characteristics. Gone was the V6 engine, leaving the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, GT, and the Shelby GT350/GT350R. Power for the GT was raised to a healthy (and stealthy) 460 horsepower. Torque was also raised to 420 ft/lbs. For 2019, Ford debuted the specialty Bullitt model, which came equipped with custom interior stitching, instrumentation, and Recaro seats.

Of course, being a Bullitt Mustang, it was offered with a Dark Highland Green exterior color option. The Bullitt shared some hardware with the Shelby GT350; for instance, the throttle body and air intake were integrated onto a specially modified 5.0L Coyote V8. This raised power to 475 horsepower, which was 15 more horsepower than the Mustang GT. Meanwhile, Shelby devised a more ultra-powerful Mustang for the 2020 model year: the GT500. With a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2L V8, it is proclaimed to be the most powerful production Ford produced. Power is speculated to be at 760 horsepower. Another option to be expected of the GT500 will be the MagneRide suspension system.

Ford Mustang [Part 2]

In its initial 9 years, the Mustang amassed significant popularity in the automotive scene. It brought forth a new innovation and niche: the American muscle car. In all those years, Ford managed to scrape almost 3 million Mustang sales. Truly it was an extraordinary status-symbol vehicle.

But most of that changed in the early 1970’s, when the Oil Crisis dealt a severe blow to the automotive industry, and, ultimately, Big Oil. Ford Motor Company, in an effort to conserve fuel consumption and meet strict government-mandated emissions standards, transitioned Mustang production to be based on the downsized Ford Pinto platform. It was model year 1974 when the “Mustang II” debuted for the public. It was Ford’s belief that customers were seeking rather smaller cars in this era, instead of the “intermediate-size” vehicles of which many were wary of. A television commercial for the then-new 1974 Mustang stated that they “made luxury standard in a small personal car. Maybe that’s why [it was] already outselling [the] Camaro, Firebird, Barracuda, Challenger, and Javelin combined.” The commercial continued: “Mustang II gives you a gas-saving four-cylinder engine and gas-saving steel-belted radial-ply tires standard. The Camaro doesn’t even offer a four-cylinder engine, and you have to pay extra for their radials.” In other words, Ford put the emphasis on “gas-saving”, not only for the Pinto, but the Mustang as well.

Ford decreased the wheelbase from the past Falcon-based 108 inches to the Pinto-spec 96 inches. Exterior length measured 175 inches. As said television commercial stated, the Mustang II got power from a 4-cylinder engine; the same 140 cubic-inch (2.3L) unit found in the Pinto. This engine was unofficially nicknamed the “Ford Pinto engine“, and it produced 85 horsepower. Ford subsequently introduced larger V6 and V8 engines for the Mustang.

1978 King Cobra

One year earlier, Ford ditched the convertible body-style, leaving a 2-door hardtop coupe and hatchback. This re-designated “economy car” competed against the likes of import economy sports cars like the Toyota Celica, Datsun 240Z, and Mazda RX-3. Ford introduced four trim levels for the Mustang: the standard hardtop, 2-plus-2 hatchback, a vinyl roof “Ghia”, and Mach 1. There were no V8 offerings for 1974. Only the standard 4-cylinder and the 171 CID (2.8L) V6 were offered. That year, Mustang sales amassed 386,000 units. The following year, in 1975, Ford eased up to the idea of reintroducing a V8 engine into the Mustang lineup. Thus, the top-of-the-line V8 was a 302 CID (4.9L) Windsor unit, which was also colloquially referred to as a “5.0L” engine. Although it produced only 140 horsepower, it firmly bolstered the Mustang’s performance image once again. 1976 through 1978 saw the release of some Ford in-house performance variants. Ford put the small-block Windsor V8 to good use: for 1978, they produced the King Cobra, in which sat the V8. Other features included an air-intake dam, body-side stripes, and a large snake decal on the hood.

1982 Mustang

Ford’s economy conscious continued for model year 1979. At this point, they based it on the compact Fox-platform, which was in development since late 1973 under the supervision of Lee Iacocca. The first vehicles to use the Ford Fox-platform were the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr, which both debuted a year earlier, in 1978. In an attempt to maintain itself as a worldwide economy-car, the Mustang’s exterior dimensions followed suit with those of the Fairmont and Zephyr: a wheelbase of 100 inches (2553 mm) and an exterior length of 179.6 inches (4562 mm). Besides the base 140 CID (2.3L) inline-4 shared with the Fairmont, the Mustang also came available with the top-of-the-line Cobra variant, which came optional with a 122-horsepower 4.2L V8 in addition to the standard 2.3L unit. 1982 saw the introduction of the GT lineup, which replaced the Cobra. The main feature of the 1982 Mustang GT was the 157 horsepower 4.9L V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. For more fuel-efficiency, it came with a larger-diameter exhaust system. Cosmetic goodies included a revised body-color front fascia and a front air dam from the 1979-1981 Cobras. America’s law-enforcement ordered some Mustang SSP (Special Service Package) models for highway patrol use.

The Mustang was re-engineered in late 1982. Notable cosmetic changes included a slightly more rounded profile, front grille redesign, and placement of Ford’s blue oval badge in front and behind the vehicle. The convertible made a comeback to the lineup. Power for the GT changed over to the 2.3L engine, making 175 horsepower and 210 ft/lbs of torque. Ford introduced a turbocharged variant of the same model, called Turbo GT, with 145 horsepower at its disposal. 1984 saw the release of the limited-edition Mustang SVO (Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations Department). This special model was supposed to fill the gap left by the then-discontinued Shelby variants, and it featured an upped 2.3L turbo engine. It produced roughly the same 175 horsepower as a lesser GT, but kicked that power up to 205 horsepower in mid-1985.

The 1985 Mustang GT was slightly facelifted along with the rest of the Mustang lineup that year. Power came from the 4-barrel carbureted 4.9L V8, which produced 210 horsepower and 270 ft/lbs of torque. This was the Mustang’s last-ever carbureted engine. For 1986, this engine would be replaced by an electronically fuel-injected (EFI) 4.9L V8, producing 200 horsepower and 240 ft/lbs of torque. The SVO was discontinued.

Model year 1987 saw the second refresh of the Ford Mustang. Front and rear fascia were rounded out to resemble the aerodynamic styling of the discontinued SVO model and came available as either the LX or GT. The 4.9L V8 was refreshed with a revised header and forged aluminum pistons, good for developing 225 horsepower and 300 ft/lbs of torque. Very little of this final iteration of the Fox-body Mustang was changed over the next few years, save for some cosmetic tweaks. 1989 saw the addition of a mass airflow system (MAF) for optimized engine efficiency. In 1990, the Mustang gained a steering-column-mounted airbag and interior door pockets standard. 1987 sales topped 170,000 units, with 1988 sales beating that with over 211,000 units. In 1989, Ford managed to sell 210,000 Mustangs, with 1990 sales sharply falling to 128,000 units. With the fourth-generation Mustang on the horizon, the ageing Fox-body Mustang seemed no longer a priority in terms of sales figures; which it didn’t: sales of the Mustang kept falling until 1993.

1991 Mustang 5.0

The ageing Fox-body Mustang would be holding onto its last ropes throughout its production run in the early 1990s. In 1991, the 2.3L engine gained dual ignition, upping its power from 85 to 105 horsepower. For the Mustang’s footwear, 16-inch five-spoke wheels were thrown into the mix, and P255/55ZR16 all-season tires were made standard on the LX 5.0 models. For 1993, the LX 5.0 and GT models were given a different power rating: 205 horsepower and 275 ft/lbs of torque. Ford’s recently started performance arm, Special Vehicle Team (SVT), produced limited copies of the top-of-the-line Cobra and Cobra R variants, which utilized the same 5.0L V8 to SVT’s advantage. Power sat at 230 horsepower and 285 ft/lbs of torque, pushing out 25 more horsepower and 10 more ft/lbs of torque than the LX and GT. Upgrades to the Cobra included upgraded cast-iron engine heads, tuned exhaust system and a Cobra-specific modified Borg-Warner T-5 transmission. The Cobra R was closely related to the ordinary Cobra, except for the deletion of a radio, A/C, fog-lamps, and rear seats. Mustang production between 1991 and 1992 fell from 99,000 to 79,250, but rose to 114,250 units for 1993. These sales figures – and the introduction of the Cobra – reflected the hype for the upcoming all-new fourth-gen Mustang for 1994.

Ford Mustang [Part 1]

In 1962, dedicated engineers John Najjar and Philip T. Clark, both working for Ford Motor Company, set out to develop a low-cost sports car prototype. This vehicle, the “Mustang I” concept was mid-engined and retained compact proportions. If Ford’s sports car was to beat the Chevrolet Corvette in the sales race, it would need an exciting name. Of course, focus groups agreed on that the name “Mustang” chosen out of other proposed names such as “Cougar” or “Torino” suited the concept car the most. Upon its debut at Watkins Glen, New York on October 7th, 1962, the Mustang I concept was met with high public acclaim. Then vice-president of Ford, Lee Iacocca, was keen on starting production of a Mustang-named sports car.

The first generation Ford Mustang rolled off the production line at Ford Motor Company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and its San Jose Assembly Plant in Milpitas, California in spring of 1964. Although it had larger exterior dimensions than the 1962 Mustang I concept, it was still compact. The mid-engine configuration was dropped in favor of a more conventional front-engine design. Ford used the compact Falcon model as the base for the Mustang, making the Mustang measure relatively the same: a wheelbase of 108 inches and an exterior length of 181.6 inches. Ford optioned base Mustangs with either a Falcon-derived 170 CID (2.8L) inline 6 or a 200 CID (3.3L) inline 6. The 170 engine developed 101 horsepower, and the 200 got 120 horses. Although the Mustang was initially produced as a “1964 1/2”, the vehicle was officially a 1965 model.

Although in 1965 Ford offered a sportier fastback Mustang and an available GT option package, which added a 4-barrel 289 V8 with up to 271 horsepower, it seemed to Carroll Shelby of Shelby American that the performance potential of the Mustang could be vastly tweaked for more panache and fun. Familiar with building sports-car racing winning Cobras, he invented the iconic Shelby GT350 and GT350R, race-ready Mustangs that looked and felt the part of an SCCA champion. These Mustangs employed a high-power variant of the 289 cubic inch Windsor (“K-code“) V8, which in the most basic GT350, developed 306 horsepower and 330 ft/lbs of torque. All this was mated to a 4-speed Borg-Warner transmission, which sent that power to the rear wheels. The “Blue Dot” Goodyear tires were up to the task of hauling the Shelby Mustang to a top speed north of 130 miles per hour (210 km/h). The Shelby did away with the rear seats found in conventional Mustangs, and relegated that rear cabin room to a spare-tire space.

Little was changed for the 1966 Mustang, save for a grille design revision. Whereas past Mustangs had honeycomb grilles, the ’66s gained a slotted grille. The “rally-light” configuration on the grille remained on the GT model. American rental-car company Hertz bought 1000 Shelby Mustangs, rebranding them as Shelby GT350-H. Mostly these rental variant Mustangs wore a black and gold-stripe livery, and proved to be popular rental race cars for the track. The “Hertz Sports Car Club” entered a few “rent-a-racer” vehicles in some SCCA events. The initial few Hertz Shelby Mustangs were manual transmission, but later production shifted to producing automatics only. Sales for 1964 1/2 through 1966 were tremendous: 126,500 Mustangs were sold in 1964, followed by another 559,500 Mustangs in 1965. 1966 saw the highest Mustang sales numbers for this generation: 607,500 overall.

Ford beefed up its Mustang in 1967, lengthening it by 2 inches to 183.6 inches. However, it still retained its Falcon-based 108-inch wheelbase. To further enhance its stance, the ’67 Mustang’s width was increased to 70.9 inches (1800 mm). A new addition to the Mustang’s engine lineup was the 4-barrel carb 390 CID (6.4L) V8, which threw 320 horsepower and 427 ft/lbs of torque. 1968 saw a facelift to the Mustang lineup. The chrome accents on the front grille were toned down, giving the impression of a larger air intake. The GT model still retained its grille-mounted lights. An iconic green Mustang GT fastback was made for Steve McQueen’s action movie Bullitt.

1968 Shelby GT500 KR

Shelby also followed suit with their 1967 model year refresh. Included in the refresh were the addition of the more powerful “Cobra” variants and the “K-code” 289 (4.7L) small-block engine. A new model, the GT500, featured a potent 7.0L 428 Cobra Jet V8 engine. Paxton Automotive supplied Shelby with a few superchargers for some ’67 to ’68 GT350s, upping their power to 390 horsepower. The GT500’s power output for 1967 was 355 horsepower, and increased to 360 horsepower for 1968. Another version of the GT500, named GT500KR, started production in spring of 1968. Although it retained the same 428 Cobra Jet engine as its counterparts, power output was considerably lower, sitting at 335 horsepower and 440 ft/lbs of torque. After 1966, Mustang sales began their steady decline. 1967 saw 472,000 Mustangs sold, and 317,500 Mustangs for 1968.

1969 Mustang Mach 1

The Mustang was again beefed up for 1969. Exterior length was increased to 187.5 inches (4762 mm). A new high-performance variant called Mach 1 came available only as a “sportsroof” (fastback). Engine options for the Mach 1 included the 351 (5.8L) Windsor V8 (250 to 290 hp), 390 (6.4L) FE (320 hp; 1969 only), and the 428 Cobra Jet V8. The 428 engine came in a few different variants, which were the non-Ram Air Cobra Jet, Ram Air Cobra Jet, and Super Cobra Jet. However, they all produced the same 335 horsepower and 440 ft/lbs of torque. The Mach 1’s grip on the road was provided with Goodyear Polyglas tires and exterior treatment came in the form of optional (but very popular) thin side-stripe livery and front and rear spoilers. The Mustang was facelifted for 1970, and the 6.4-liter FE was dropped from the engine lineup. The 5.8-liter lineup saw the Windsor V8s being replaced by the Cleveland V8s. The 4-barrel M-code was slightly more powerful than 1969’s 4-barrel Windsor: the Cleveland engine made 300 horsepower and 385 ft/lbs of torque, thanks to its 11:1 compression.

Mustang sales continued to decline in the next few years, especially with the upcoming Energy Crisis. 1969 saw 300,000 Mustangs sold, with 1970 sales barely scraping past 190,000 units.

1972 Mustang hardtop

Former General Motors executive Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, now president of Ford Motor Company, oversaw production of the Mustang from model years 1971 through 1973. He was credited for making the Mustang a much larger vehicle. The wheelbase was increased to 109 inches and the exterior length to 189.5 inches. Three body styles were made available: base/Grande hardtop, base/Mach 1 sportsroof, and convertible. While the base and Grande Mustangs produced between 1971 and 1972 had chrome bumper covers, the Mach 1 gained body-color urethane bumpers. 1973 saw the transition to urethane bumper covers for all Mustang variants. A special Mustang variant called Boss 351 came equipped with the last true V8: the 351 CID (5.8L) Cleveland “R-code” for 1971 and the Cleveland HO (high-output) for 1972. 1971’s Cleveland R-code made 330 horsepower and the “high-output” R-code for 1972 made 275 horsepower. The 4-barrel Cleveland V8 was dropped in 1973.

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.

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.

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.

Plymouth Barracuda

The Plymouth Barracuda (called “Plymouth Valiant Barracuda” in Canada) was a muscle car produced by Chrysler Corporation from 1964 to 1974.

1966 Barracuda


When Chrysler Corp developed the first generation Barracuda from 1964 to 1966, they based it heavily on the Valiant model in the Plymouth lineup, sharing the same A-body platform.  Thus, the Canadian version of this car was named “Valiant Barracuda”.  The base engine choices for the United States and Canada were different: the Canadian Barracuda got the 170 CI (2.8L) Slant-6, while the American base had the 225 CI (3.7L) version.  An amped-up version of the Barracuda could have the 273 CI (4.5L) 90-degree V8 (codenamed “LA“).  The 273 in the 1964 Barracuda produced 180 horsepower, and could also be had with the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission.  In 1965, Plymouth introduced the “Formula S” package to the Barracuda, which included an upgraded version of the 273 V8, nicknamed Commando.  The Commando was capable of producing 235 horsepower, thanks to its 10.5:1 compression ratio and strengthened camshaft.  The Barracuda was restyled in 1966 before the debut of the second generation model.

1967 Barracuda


In 1967, Plymouth debuted the restyled second generation Barracuda, still based on the Valiant model, like the previous model.  A notable cosmetic feature on the ’67 model was a larger front-end air intake (grille) and a much curvier shape.  The chrome bumpers were also revised.  From this generation onward, a convertible was available in the lineup.  The 225 Slant-6 engine remained as the base engine, and in 1968, the 273 V8 was ditched and replaced with a larger 318 CI (5.2L) V8.  This 318 was also an “LA” engine, like the smaller 273 it replaced as the base V8.  Among one of the most powerful V8s produced for this generation was the 426 CI (7.0L) Hemi V8, developed for Super Stock drag racing cars assembled by Hurst Performance.  1969 saw the final year of production of the A-body Valiant-based Barracuda.

1970 Cuda

1971 Cuda convertible

Plymouth’s ultra muscle car was about the get more ultra: the 1970 edition of the Barracuda abandoned the tradition of being based on the Valiant (A-body) and instead shared the E-body platform with the Dodge Challenger.  Thus, this created a much larger vehicle than the previous compact size Valiant-based Barracudas.  Very often, this generation of Barracudas is nicknamed to a shortened “Cuda“.  The two base Slant-6 engines for the 1970 Barracuda were the then-new 198 CI (3.2L) and the 225 CI engines.  The “LA” V8 engines were 318 CI, 340, and 360.  The top-of-the-line V8 was the 426 CI Hemi, throwing 425 horsepower.  1971 saw a slight update to the Barracuda; namely, a cosmetic update which featured a four-headlight design for the front end.  The V8 engine options (including the 426 V8) remained the same from the year before.

The oil crisis of the early 1970s had inflicted upon the Plymouth Barracuda lineup (as well as other popular sports and muscle cars) a drop in engine and transmission options and power output.  The 1972 ‘Cuda went back to the two-headlight front end design like the 1970 model.  The diluted versions of the previously famous and powerful ‘Cudas had only three engine options for 1972, a 225 6-cylinder and two V8s: the 318 and a detuned version of the 340.  The 1973 Barracuda was available only with the 318 and 340 V8s, as that year, the 225 six was dropped.  Due to dropping sales, as well as the devastating effects of the oil crisis, the ‘Cuda ended production in April 1974.


In 1966, American Motors introduced two prototype vehicles dubbed “AMX” and “AMX II”.  “AMX” stood for “American Motors experimental”, and in mid-year 1968, started production on the high performance AMX sports hatchback. The AMX was intended to be a cash-in for the popular muscle car market in the late 1960s, sporting high-power four-barrel V8 engines, a “four on the floor” 4-speed manual transmission, and a drivetrain configuration of front engine, rear wheel drive.  The first two years of this model would see the same fascia; however, 1970 saw a drastic redesign.

The engine choices for 1970 were the 360 CI (5.9L) four-barrel V8 and the 390 CI (6.4L) four-barrel V8.  The 360 was the smallest engine option for 1970, as it replaced the 343 (5.6 L) available years prior.  A December 1969 road test by Motor Trend saw a 390 AMX start to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 6.56 seconds and reach a quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 92 mph (148 km/h).  The top speed is 110 mph (177 km/h).

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) named the AMX “best engineered car of the year” for both the 1969 and 1970 model years.  Counting all engine and transmission options, AMC had produced 4116 AMXs for 1970, and 19,134 units for the overall 3-year run.  The AMX lived on in 1971 as a Javelin model.