The Best Chevy Camaros of All Time
by Kirby Garlitos
Very few cars in the history of the American car industry are as famous as the Chevrolet Camaro. The Ford Mustang can give the Camaro a run for its money, and so too can models like the Dodge Challenger and the Camaro’s own cousin, the Chevrolet Corvette. As iconic as those models are, the Camaro is no less important. It’s one of the first American-made performance cars to capture the hearts and pockets of Americans, and while the Camaro did have an almost decade-long sabbatical in the 2000s, the nameplate still stands as one of the most famous nameplates, not just in the U.S., but all over the world. The Camaro has been around since 1966, and in that time, Chevrolet has rolled out more than its share of memorable Camaro models. Here are the 10 best Camaros of all time, at least as far as we’re concerned.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro
It’s only right to start with one of the models that started it all. The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro set the standard for all future Camaro models, giving us a sign of what to expect out of the nameplate moving forward. The ’67 Camaro was renowned for all the choices you could have with it. It came with a variety of engine options, including a V-8 unit that could produce 295 horsepower.
You could also choose between a three- or four-speed transmission depending on the kind of ride you wanted to get out of the pony car. Make no mistake, the ’67 Camaro could lay the smackdown on a lot of cars from that era. It stands to reason that this model is arguably one of the most beloved Camaros of all time.
1967 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro
Chevrolet has released a lot of special Camaros over the years, but like everything else, there’s a genesis to this story. One of the first special edition Camaros ever sold was the 1967 Camaro Yenko that was named after the Yenko Chevrolet dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Yenko dealership made its bones as one of the preeminent muscle car dealerships in the U.S. in its time. That distinction paved the way for the Camaro Yenko’s creation. As far as special edition models go, the Yenko was unique for its Granada Gold exterior with black racing stripes and an all-black vinyl interior. It helped, too, that it also came with a massive 7.0-liter V-8 engine that produced a whopping 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque.
Only 54 units of the 1967 Yenko Camaro were built, and if you happen to have one of the 54 models, you’d be in possession of a car that sold for $550,000 at Mecum’s Indianapolis 2019 auction.
Read our full review on the 1967 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro
1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaro arrived in 1993, and it immediately became a hot ticket item. The Camaro Z28, in particular, caught the attention of a lot of people, in part because of its 5.7-liter V-8 engine that produced 275 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.
The fourth-generation Camaro Z28 not only possessed the highest horsepower rating for a Camaro since 1971, but it was also distinguished for its standard 4L60 automatic transmission. If you didn’t want that gearbox, you could opt for a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual transmission to enjoy the full fury of the pony car. The Z28’s streamlined look also made people go crazy over it to the point that its release was anxiously awaited by fans of the nameplate. Throw in all the packages that Chevrolet offered for the model and, in a lot of ways, the fourth-generation Camaro Z28 became a dream car for a lot of people in the early ’90s.
2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
When you’re talking about the 10 best Chevrolet Camaros of all time, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 deserves a spot on that list. Based on the fifth-generation Camaro, the two-door coupe looked about as stunning as any Camaro that came before.
A V-6 engine came standard in the ZL1, but if you really wanted to experience the full scope of its capabilities, the 6.2-liter V-8 engine, which was available as an option, was the way to go. The latter produced 580 horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers helped the ZL1 accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just four seconds on its way to a scintillating top speed of 184 mph.
Remember, too, that the fifth-generation Camaro was the comeback generation of the nameplate after being absent from the market for the better part of the 2000s. With that high-powered V-8 engine and the muscle-clad body, the 2012 Camaro ZL1 was, in many ways, a return to form for the nameplate.
Read our full review on the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
If the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a return to form for the Camaro nameplate, the 2010 Camaro SS was the nameplate’s resurrection. The SS arrived in the first year of the fifth-generation model’s run, and, at that time, fans and enthusiasts alike were starved to see a high-performance Camaro for the first time in almost a decade.
You can imagine the elation when the 2010 Camaro SS arrived with some serious heat behind it. The high-powered variant was powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that produced 422 horsepower and 408 pound-feet of torque. It was capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before peaking at a capped top speed of 155 mph.
The 2010 Camaro SS wasn’t just defined by its power and performance numbers. It was also the first Camaro to look like a proper Camaro since the second-generation model retired in 1981.
Read our full review on the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS
Not a lot of people were enamored with the fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, but there were just as many people who were smitten by the model when it first came out in 1993. One of the most popular versions of the fourth-gen Camaro was the fourth-generation Z28, which was also tagged as a Super Sport (SS) version. Yes, one name variant wasn’t enough for this Camaro.
At that time, Chevrolet’s decision to delay the arrival of the Z28 SS was met with a lot of frustration, but when it arrived, it made the wait worth it. It wasn’t an over-the-top powerful model — the Z28 SS came with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that produced 320 horsepower — but it was capable of hitting a top speed of 160 mph, a figure that was more than enough for heavy-footed drivers. Combine that with the Camaro’s Pontiac Firebird-like styling and it’s easy to see why the fourth-generation Camaro Z28 SS became so popular back in its heyday.
2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is the first of two 2019 Camaros to make in this list. Call it recency bias, but we prefer to call it high-quality. The 2019 Camaro ZL1 was that in a lot of ways. It carried a lot of the design hallmarks of the sixth- and current-generation Camaro, but since this was the ZL1, it was also designed with ridiculous aerodynamics in mind.
You only need to take one look at the ZL1 to see how much extra aero it’s carrying. From the massive front splitter to the boomerang fins to the unmistakable rear wing, the ZL1 was prepared to be a monster. Of course, that billing wouldn’t have worked if the Camaro didn’t have a proper engine to back it up. In this case, the ZL1 carried a 6.2-liter V-8 unit that produced a whopping 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. It only took the ZL1 3.5 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph before peaking at a top speed of 202 mph. Those figures helped make the 2019 Camaro ZL1 the fastest and most powerful factory-built Camaro ever.
Read our full review on the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
There are a plethora of reasons why fans of the Chevrolet Camaro regard the 1968 Camaro Z28 as one of the nameplate’s true founding fathers. This model belonged in the first-generation family of the Camaro nameplate, and it was released just as the Camaro was turning two years old.
It wasn’t just the novelty of being a high-performance version of the Camaro that made the OG Z28 stand out. This was the model that clearly identified the Camaro as a performance model. With its V-8 engine producing 290 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, the 1968 Camaro Z28 was one of the most powerful cars of its day. Not only that, but the model was also capable of hitting 60 mph from an idle position in 6.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 131 mph. Those figures don’t sound impressive today, but over 50 years ago? Those were eye-popping.
Read our full review on the 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z
If you grew up between the 1980s and the 1990s, you probably had a Matchbox or Hot Wheels version of the 1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z. Named after the International Race of Champions, the Camaro IROC-Z was an options package for the third-generation Camaro Z28.
But the Camaro IROC-Z really was more than just an options package. It was a statement from Chevrolet, the kind that turned Camaro snobs into fans overnight. The fancy decal package captured the imaginations of children from that era, but the adults who knew what the Camaro IROC-Z was understood that it was more than just a trophy Camaro. From the upgraded suspension to the lowered ride height to the specially valved Delco-Bilstein shocks, the Camaro IROC-Z lived up to its moniker as a true muscle car.
1971 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Between the gorgeous body that screamed “muscle car” and the “SS” badge that identified this model as a high-performance Camaro, the 1971 Chevrolet Camaro SS stands tall as one of the best Camaros of all time.
I think it’s the best of the best, but I still recognize other contenders for that spot. The ’71 Camaro SS takes the cake for me, though. It’s hard to argue against a car with a design that’s as iconic today as it was dynamic almost 40 years ago. The SS variant also utilized a massive 6.4-liter V-8 engine that produced 300 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It only took 6.6 seconds for the SS to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, making it one of the fastest cars of its era to cover that ground. Not everyone is as enamored with the 1971 Camaro SS as much as I am, but rest assured, the SS can more than hold its own against any version of the Camaro that it competes against.
Which Camaro is best?
It depends on who you ask, but a lot of people favor the 1971 Chevrolet Camaro SS as the best of all Camaro models. Its timeless design combined with the ability to lay waste to its rivals made the ’71 Camaro SS one of the most iconic models to wear the “Camaro” nameplate.
What is the best Camaro?
The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has redefined the way we think about muscle cars. The Camaro ZL1, in particular, holds the distinction of being the most powerful Camaro ever built.
What is the best Camaro Model
The Camaro SS is the best Camaro model. It’s more powerful than base versions of the nameplate, but it’s not as specialized as some of the higher-spec models like the Z28 and ZL1. The Camaro SS hits the right sweet spot among all these models.
What is the best classic Camaro?
The 1971 Chevrolet Camaro SS is the best classic Camaro.
Is the Camaro better than the Mustang?
It depends on who you ask. Both muscle cars have established fan bases that swear to their loyalties to either the Camaro or the Mustang.
Why don’t Camaros crash as much as Mustangs?
Mustang drivers typically drive their muscle cars harder than Camaro drivers. That doesn’t entirely explain why Camaros crash less frequently than Mustangs, but it could be one of the reasons.