In 1967 Chevrolet was looking for a muscle car that could challenge the all-conquering ford Mustang in the trans –AM race series to be eligible, the car would have to be a based on a production vehicle with at least 1,000 street legal examples sold and its engine would have to be restricted to no more than 305 cu in capacity. Chevvy already had 5,359 cc and 4,638 cc B8s and by putting a 283 crankshaft into th 5,359 cc block created a 4,949 cc unit, well within the Trans-Am regulations. But to make up for the power lost in reducing the capacity, Chevrolet’s engineers then specified a Holley four-barrel carburettor specially tuned inlet manifold, a reprofiled camshaft and other mosifications to give the new engine an official output of 290 bhp at 5800 rpm and 393 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. In fact, the power output was considerably more and could have been close to 400 bhp, depending on which inlet and exhaust manifolds were used.
The Camaro, a new model that shared the G M F-Body platform with the Pontiac Firebird, was chosen as the production model, but bizarrely, Chevrolet never advertised what became known as the Z28 version. Those in the know had to go to a dealership and order a base Camaro and then specify the Z28 package from a long list of options. This then transformed a fairly ordinary vehicle into one of the great muscle cars of the 1960s, I gained not only the 4,949 cc engine but also wider tires on lightweight Corvette alloy wheels, disc brakes, a quicker ratio steering rack, upgraded radiator and what was described as the F-41 suspension package – basically firmer coil springs and upgraded shock absorbers. There was no choice over the transmission, as only a four-speed Muncie manual was available.
The total cost of the 228 package was $2,966 – just $500 more than the base six-cylinder Camaro, For this, buyers didn’t even get ,any Z28 badges (they were first introduced in 1968), merely Wide racing stripes on the bonnet and bootlid. A rear bootlid Spoiler was available as an option for those wanting to make more of a Visual statement A further popular options was theRS package which included hidden headlamps and revised taillamps. Although the Camaro was offeres as both a coupe and a convertible, the Z28 package was only ever made available on the coupe. The small print, 602 of the 20,000 Camaros sold in 1967 w r prim examples of America latest muscle car. It seems that Chevrolet got round the Trans-Am 1,000 homologating number by homologating the 350 cu in Camaro under FIA Group I rules and then qualifying the base vehicle with Z28 option under Group II rules.
The following year, some changes were made to the specification. These later Z28 car are recognizable by their raised cowl induction hoods. Gradually more people got to hear of the availability of the Z28, and 7,199 were sold in 1968 and 20,302 in 1968. Amazingly, GM applied the same warranty to the Z28 as it did to the rest of the Camaro range – two years and 24,000 miles for the car as a whole and five years and 50,000 miles for the powertrain.
On the Trans-Am scene, the Camaro was a near-instant success. GM didn’t have an official factory team but instead lent its support to Roger Penske’s semi-official team. Driving for Penske, Mark Donohue took the title in both 1968 and 1969 and his successes on the track substantially drove up sales of the Camaro in showrooms right across the USA.
CHEVROLET CAMARO Z28 1967
ENGINE: 4958 cc V8
MAXIMUM POWER: 290 bhp at 5800 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE: 393 Nm at 4,200 rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED: 140 mph / 241 km/h
0-60 MPH ACCELERATION: 6.9 seconds
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
LENGTH: 185in / 4700 mm
WIDTH: 721/2in / 1840 mm
HEIGHT: 541/4in / 1300 mm
WHEELBASE: 108in / 2746 mm
MANUFACTURE DATE: 1967-69
BRAKES: discs and drums (f and r)
SUSPENSION: independent A-arm(F) , semi-elliptic leaf spring(r)
WHEELS: steel, 14 in
TIRES: 7.35*14(f and r)