Chevrolet’s cross-town rivals, Ford may have been the first into the pony car war but the bow-tie boys were not about to be outdone. Three years after the pony car paraded on to the scene the Camaro came out to dethrone the king. Not only in sales but also in performance, on and off the track. See, Ford had not only created a sports car sales success but also had given up on a gentleman’s agreement to not race their cars – Chevy was eager to get back in the fray.
First Generation: 1967-1970
1969 Camaro ZL-1 COPO
While the Z/28 that came out in 1968 was bearing the flag of Chevy at Trans Am races, the unspoken star of the first generation was the ZL-1. It was unspoken because only 69 of them were made for several reasons, the foremost being the price. At almost $7,000, the Camaro ZL-1 was absurdly expensive for the era. The other reason is because Chevy kept the option very low key and for good reasons.
The ZL-1 had an all-aluminum, 427 V8 that was derived from their Can Am racing cars; so the price increase wasn’t truly unwarranted. The block weighed 160 lbs (72.5 kg) less than the regular V8’s and produced 430 horsepower. That made it quick enough to hit 13 second quarter-miles.