Goodbye, Camaro

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Sixty years ago, Ford unveiled the Mustang – and it changed everything. Prior to 1964 – the year of the first Mustang’s debut – there was no such thing as a “pony car.” Soon, there were so many of them it was hard to keep track of them.

One of them was the Chevy Camaro, which appeared just in time for the 1967 model year. Its time has just run out because GM has pulled the plug – because GM knows a Camaro with a plug is as oxymoronic as Elvis without the voice (and the presence).

In a backhanded compliment way, this is to GM’s credit.

Camaro will retire from the field with its dignity intact rather than be made into a mockery of itself, as Stellantis (which owns the Dodge brand) has done with the Challenger, another of the pony cars that was inspired by the Mustang. Dodge retired it once before – after the 1974 model year – because Dodge didn’t want to make a Challenger that was a mockery of itself. It was no longer feasible to offer Challengers with 440s and 426s (engines were once identified by their displacement in cubic inches rather than their liters, which served to differentiate them from other engines of the same displacement) or even 360s and 340s, on account of the government, which had imposed emissions standards that – at the time – could not be complied with without single exhaust and catalytic converters and other such devices that did to powerful engines what a naked picture of Hillary Clinton does to the libido of a heterosexual man.

But Chevy – almost miraculously – kept the Camaro (and its sister car, the Pontiac Firebird) in production after 1974, without making it a mockery of itself. The Z28 – which was the high-performance version of Camaro – was retired for a couple of years (1975 and 1976) which is how Chevy kept the Camaro from becoming a mockery of itself.

That and the fact that the non-Z28 Camaro was still a Camaro and there was still plenty of interest in a good-looking pony car, even if it wasn’t especially powerful or fast.

By 1977, Chevy was feeling better about Camaro and brought back the Z28. It wasn’t especially powerful or fast, but it had the potential to be both. Its 175 horsepower 350 cubic inch V8 was still a Chevy small block V8 with a four barrel carb and that engine could be fixed in a weekend’s time with a cam swap and headers and some tuning to equal the power of a 1974 Z28. And the car it was in was still a Camaro – and so still looked good. It had all the essentials that made the 1974 and prior Camaros so appealing.

You just had to make a few adjustments – to get around the government.

The Z28 improved as time passed – and Camaro got much more powerful and faster than it had ever been before. Fast forward to our time and the standard 2024 Camaro with a V6 has more power – and is faster – than the most powerful/fastest Camaro you could buy back in 1970 – the apotheosis of power/performance – before the government tried (and succeeded) in taking it away, the first time.

Now we are at the second time – and the government has succeeded, again. This time, finally. The 2024 Camaro will be the last Camaro – and this time, forever. There will be no temporary hiatus followed by a resurrection – as happened when GM cancelled Camaro back in 2002 and then brought it back, again, for 2010. The reason being the reasons for this cancellation are very different than the reasons for the cancellation last time.

That time – back in 2002 – the Camaro got culled because the Camaro of that generation was not especially popular, especially with female buyers. The fourth generation bodystyle was not like the previous ones that appealed to more than just young guys who liked powerful and fast cars. (The Ford Mustang has always appealed to both sexes as well as most demographics and that’s why the Mustang has been popular with enough people to keep it going for 60 years.)

Chevy realized there was still a market for Camaro – just not the one they were selling at the time. So Chevy stopped selling it. But only for a brief time. During that absence, Chevy – and Dodge – realized they had abandoned their market and thereby given it (the whole thing) to Ford, which by 2003 was the only American car company still selling a pony car.

And Ford was selling lots of them.

So GM – which was not yet run by someone such as Mary Barra, a political appointee who took over shortly after Obama took over – brought back a Camaro (in 2010) that people did want. Just as Dodge brought back a Challenger (in 2008) that people really wanted.

Both prospered – until their time ran out.

That time was last year for the Challenger, which is now no more. The device that Stellantis is going to try to sell as its replacement for displacement is likely to sell as well as a Beyond Meat “hamburger.”

And now the time has come for Camaro, which at least retires from the field with dignity, a casualty of changed times – and changed management.

That leaves the field to Mustang, the last of the Mohicans. And for similar reasons.

“The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the red man of the wilderness forests in front of it. Until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more.”

. . .

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Eric

    Just picked up a sweet older frame off restoration

    1958 Dodge C-series D100

    After 30 some years it’s back to car shows

    The hose clamps aren’t correct

    That’s any easy fix

  2. I’d rather the Camaro go away than turn into something like the 1978 Dodge “Challenger” which was a Mitsubishi Starion rebranded as a Dodge “Challenger.”

    To its credit, that car wasn’t that bad—it handled a lot better than the real Challengers of 1970-1974.

    But it wasn’t really a Dodge Challenger, and a lot of people saw what was going on, hence few were sold.

    But for all its faults, the “pretend Dodge Challenger” was a dang sight better than these iPads on wheels they keep making.

  3. Unfortunately GM will undoubtedly paste the Camaro name on an electric crossover in the near future. I just know it, it’s how far that company has fallen.

  4. You people don’t even know what you’re talking about. A pony car only has half a frame. A full size car has a full frame. The Mustangs and Camaros had a half frame and the Dodges have a full frame. The Challenger is a full size Mercedes E Class sedan. Even though it’s only a two door.

    • Hi Daniel,

      All cars have frames – just differing types. My ’76 Trans-Am (like every 1967-1981 Firebird/Camaro) has a unitized (integrated/unibody) rear frame and a bolt-on front subframe that holds the engine and front suspension.

      The original Challenger and Barracuda were indeed pony cars meant to compete against Mustang, Camaro/Firebird. The Charger was a larger car and a muscle car that went up against other muscle cars like the GTO, which were intermediate (by the standards of the time) coupes. Pony cars were smaller cars.

    • I don’t think you know what you are talking about. The Challenger has always been a unibody, in the ’70s and from ’09 forward. They had never had a full frame. The last frame car Mopar at all was the Imperial in 1966. (The Viper and Prowler are the only exceptions.) All the Mopar cars were not body on frame cars. The C Body (Large cars) did have from sub-frames and Mopars did have a removable K Member engine cradle but no full frames.

    • I owned a 1964 Mustang it’s frame rails ran from bumper to bumper just like every other car at the time and Pick up truck as well. I think it is you who really doesn’t know what they’re talking about! Later on I also owned a 1972 Mustang Rag-top DITTO! FULL FRAME!

      • oy vey. Really? I’d like to see this full frame you speak of. Considering all Mustangs are UNIBODY!

    • lol – funny when the trolls & bots get on a car guy site and proceed to act like they know something and make a fool out of themselves in a single post.

  5. The labor rates in the USSofA are insane. Has anyone priced roofing shingle replacement! I’m getting estimates of $18,000 to $26,500 for a roughly 3,000 sq ft area roof (itz a high pitch). I bought my place back in 1987 for $108,000. The dollar devaluation keeps on going.
    If it wasn’t for the Chinese and Koreans making our TV’s and other nicknacks I would hate to see what our dollar could buy. The only thing saving us now is the relatively inexpensive food sold in grocery stores. But to keep those prices inexpensive USA has to import and hire a shit load of third world peoples. So many that the White people who basically created this country will be a minority (under 50%). School age children are already under 50%.
    Getting back to cars like the pony cars. I keep one (2001 Mustang SVT) around for entertainment purposes. For me it beats going to Great America.

    • What did you expect?

      When you can get paid $17/hr (soon more in CA) to flip burgers in air conditioning how much do you have to pay a guy with a strong back and a willingness to get on a steep roof?

      Not one man in a thousand understands that inflation and how it will impoverish him.

      • Bud .. you are Frightening accurate….I witnessed the “Decline and Fall of 2 currencies”….ON THE WINNING SIDE…taking advantage of both circumstance….
        I had a GREAT economical vacation….The Natives, not so much.

        Good Luck.

  6. That leaves the field to Mustang

    Ford is doing its damnedest to taint the Mustang nameplate, though, by slapping it on the abomination that is the Mach(werk)-E. Not exactly the epitome of dignity…

  7. You woke idiots are the reason for all the muscle cars failures. Instead of challenging the epa’s authority for it disastrous demands you are drinking their kool aide of earth worship nonsense and climate propaganda. Give us the consumer what we want instead of what some know nothing pinhead in a bureaucratic office that needs shut down. Mark my words the muscle cars WILL be back one day after these know nothing self righteous nuts cases running the show.

    • Rex – I can only speak for myself, but I worked at the periphery of things in the passenger school bus industry. I distinctly remember a meeting where a couple of sales people and applications engineers from Caterpillar were by to describe the upcoming engine changes ahead to comply with the 2004-2007 EPA restrictions on diesel engines. After basically stating that the engine costs would go up and that it would require modifications to our engine compartment to comply with the new specifications, I told the group that it would be better if they would hire some paid mouth to lobby congress and the EPA to get rid of the regulations instead of complying. It was by then that I knew that the EPA could never be satisfied.

      The entire room stared at me and said that they were directed to comply. I retorted that they would not be in business long as it would cost too much money.

      By 2009, Caterpillar was out of the on highway diesel market entirely.

      The entire industry is full of intractable skulls of jello.

      Its despicable.

    • Indeed, Al –

      Women are many things, many of them very appealing. But women do not – as a rule – regard cars the way men do. Women – as a rule – esteem “safety” over swagger. And so we end up with devices (EV) that have all the swagger of a smartphone.

      • Eric I need to go read your latest BMW review. I want to see if you mention the latest most insane “safety feature” I discovered the other day. I inadvertently pressed a button on the steering column labeled “lim”. Hmm lim as in limit? You probably already know what is limited. Your speed! That was a unpleasant surprise. I immediately checked out the reason for the sudden lack of acceleration. Now why in heck would anyone want to engage such a feature? BMW drivers are not generally known to be so afraid of speeding they need to have their control over their car externally limited.
        But…since the car already gets hysterical when it is exceeding the posted speed limit, a creepy feature that can still be switched off….and there is a speed limiting feature built in…..
        It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to guess what is going to happen at some point.
        Joe or Jane driver will suddenly find their car will not move no matter how hard their foot pushes down the accelerator. Hopefully they will not be trying to get around hitting something that suddenly appeared in the roadway like a car sticking halfway out of the left turn lane. Thank you Safety Ken and Karen!

    • That’s what happens when you let someone from HR “run” a company. That’s where they used to put people who were incompetent but for whatever reason couldn’t be fired.

      • Either a “Diversity Hire” or a flea-male creature that was no longer fuckable, but had too much on the “boys” to just be canned.

  8. There are Camaros at Classic Cars, a 1967 model year for sale for 195,000 dollars is a high dollar price for one.

    Prices start at 70,000 USD.

    Classic Cars

    If GM was smart, they’d build brand new 1967 model year Camaros.

    Ford’s Farley will be living in a van down by the river smoking doobies.

    Goodbye to new cars.

    • Hi Drump,

      I wishI’d kept my 1980 Z28 – which I bought for something like $2,000 back in the late 1980s. It’s almost surreal that there was a time when a college kid could buy a used Z28 (or Trans-Am) for next to nothing… a few years later, I bought the ’76 TA I still have for $5,200. Today, it would take prolly $30k to buy one in similar condition.

      • Eric, it is downright amazing and even shocking to know and feel what is available for humans to live and survive against all odds.

        There are machines available that can ‘mow the lawn’, in the Jewish parlance of our times. if that is what you want, shazam, it’s what can be done.

        Mow down a rave concert then after that, it’s time to rock and roll.

        Might be obtuse, but the entelechy speaks for itself.

        All right, we’ll take the Camaros, and the Mustangs, and even the Javelins, but we don’t want the Barracudas

        Have to lampoon Blazing Saddles.

    • People forget that these cars were normal peoples daily drivers. Not garage queens, or weekend only drives. They drove them to work, the grocery store, church etc. They weren’t just for upper income guys in their 60’s.

  9. Let it go. Better to hold the pillow over the name than to keep it going with whatever abomination it is attached to. Most people aren’t going to know the heritage of the name any more than they’d know the Buick Riviera.

    Besides, it’s just lazy marketing. Play to the nostalgic gene. Worked great for Harley Davidson, until the average hog rider hit 75 and traded it in for a rascal.

    The choice is to either try to appeal to millennials (who outnumber everyone else) with millennial appealing cars (vans?) or keep pushing to older demographics. Too bad all the institutions have gone after the millennial demo and saddled them with debt and prescription drugs since childhood -hook ’em early I guess, so they’re already tapped out before they even get their first full-time gig.

    • Hi RK,

      Yup. Millennials would probably love to have a Camaro . . . if they could afford one. The current car’s base price is nearly $33k! Not counting the exorbitant insurance one pays to “cover” a car like this, if you’re in your 20s or 30s. Forget about it!

      • I have hope for Gen Z’s (97 to 12). I know lots of them and they seem to get it, at least a lot better than Millennials (81-96).
        My daughter is a Z and drives a Challenger, but V6. Not a day goes by she says, ‘I want the V8!’. haha…… guess she’ll have to buy used.

        • $1000 gilded case device in a hemi ticket magnet using 20% more fuel. Girls will be girls.

          Daughter and two grand daughters. . .

  10. Great article Eric.

    Speaking of the pony car lunacy – Dodge is launching the new Challenger as a BEV to start. Turbo I6 comes later – for 26MY.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49V3KXzuYuE

    This is rich – especially at the 3:08 mark. He goes on about “16 inch brakes and 6 piston calipers. These are the biggest brakes Dodge has ever put on a car.”

    No Shit. It takes a lot of thermal capacity to reduce the kinetic energy of this nearly 5,900 lb. BEV “pony car.” They are not there for “performance.” They are there to stop this morbidly obese abomination. I’m sure that brake job will be cheap.

    He says 5,900 pounds as if this is something impressive. Impressively absurd perhaps.

    Our company is supplying parts for this BEV. They are expecting to sell 50k per year. Call me skeptical about that volume

  11. Industry + government. It’s akin to the new Coke that nobody wanted but with Roberto Goizueta having the strong arm & guns of the appartchik to force consumers to buy it.

  12. ‘the reasons for this [Camaro] cancellation are very different than the last time.’ — eric

    If only GM’s board published its minutes after five years, as the Fed’s counterfeiters do, so automotive historians (a small but learned lot) could read word for word what they were ‘thinking’ [sic].

    We might suppose that Camaro was considered superfluous in the recession-bound economy of 2002. Whereas this time round, Red Guard Regan’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) ukase dictates that two-thirds of ICE vehicles be taken out and shot by 2032. As we speak, a blindfolded Camaro already is being frog-marched to the killing field.

    Yet with Breshnev … excuse me, ‘Biden’ … visibly tottering, a new usurper regime looms by year-end. In our wildest dreams, GHG regs go out the window on Day One, as a new energy ‘secretary’ exhorts, ‘Drill, baby, drill!

    But what of the eclownomy, Camaro’s nemesis in 2002? For an incredible fourteen years since Camaro’s return in 2010, it has been held aloft by various aberrant combinations of QE (quantitative easing; i.e., money printing), zero interest rates, and (now) a fresh trillion dollars of fedgov debt every 100 days. Incredibly, in those 14 years, it spent but two (2) months in recession (Mar-Apr 2020). But this long-spinning top is visibly wobbling. Even the pro-‘Biden’ Lügenpresse admits it:

    High Interest Rates Are Hitting Poorer Americans the Hardest

    ‘The economy as a whole has proved resilient. But beneath the surface, many low and moderate-income families are struggling.’ — New York Slimes, this morning

    At the Red Lobster across the Hudson on NJ-17, people used to stand in hour-long lines to get in. Now the chain is shutting down dozens of restaurants and considering bankruptcy. Fish has become unaffordable, and it ain’t worth waiting in line just to gorge on spicy biscuits like hunger-stricken hillbillies.

    Madison kvetched, ‘the sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils.’ I’m not gonna pose as ‘sober people,’ but I get Jim’s sentiment. Shit’s gettin’ real, as the modern locution goes — and EeeVee Mary and Lightning Jim Farley are facing executive extinction along with their neighing pony cars.

    Flow river flow
    Let your waters wash down
    Take me from this road
    To some other town

    — The Byrds, Ballad of Easy Rider

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