The first Camaro was thrown together to give Chevy something that could compete with the hugely successful Ford Mustang. It lasted just three years, but not before dominating the new Trans Am racing series and becoming a favorite among drag racers. The second generation Camaro had the benefit of a full development cycle when it reached showrooms in February of 1970, adding refinement to the winning formula. However, it was never able to achieve the greatness of its predecessor.
1970 Chevrolet Camaro – A Better Car?
The Ferrari-inspired design was far cleaner than its contemporaries, but overall, it was similar to its predecessor, using the same basic construction based on the Nova. A “high effort” steering ratio eliminated the floatiness endemic to early power steering racks but still lacked in feel. It had little body roll for the time, but heavy understeer drew the ire of contemporary reviewers. Front disc brakes became standard, and the brake booster was retuned to be less grabby. The cabin was also quieted down, rounding out a package that was statistically better but less fun to drive than earlier Camaros.
Many Engine Options
Engine choices ranged from a 250 c.i. straight 6 with 155 hp for the base model on up to a 396 c.i. V8 with 375 hp in the SS. However, the real star was the Z/28’s LT-1 350. It replaced the high-revving 302 from the previous Z/28, providing 360 hp and more low-end torque for usable in-town driving. Paired with the model’s heavy duty suspension, it was a good starting point for racers. Unfortunately, while the nearly identical Pontiac Trans Am got a big block, the Camaro’s planned 454 option was never produced.
On the plus side, transmission choices included a four speed manual or three speed turbo-hydramatic automatic for the V8s along with several available axle ratios and an optional limited slip differential, giving buyers a turn-key solution for everything from daily commutes to track days.
1970 Chevrolet Camaro – The End of the Era
The Z/28 fell behind Ford and AMC’s efforts in Trans Am, while the lack of a big block kept the car from being a serious drag race competitor. Those issues could have been addressed in the following years, but as emissions requirements became tougher and the public grew more weary of gas guzzlers after the oil crisis, interest in performance plummeted. Sales were kept alive by a new focus on luxury, but power fell every year: the 1979 Z/28 had just 175 hp.
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