America’s love affair with the Chevrolet Camaro was created when a press release, dated Wednesday, June 29, 1966, announced the emergence of an icon. Little did the folks at Chevrolet realize the monster they had unleashed.
DETROIT – Chevrolet will introduce a new personal-size car named “Camaro” with its 1967 models, E.M. Estes, general manager, announced today.
Estes called Chevrolet’s newest car “afour-passenger package of excitement.” He said it will be offered in both convertible and a coupe body styles.
All Images Credited To: General Motors 2017
With that announcement from the Chevrolet Motor Division in 1966, a new era dawned. Reading that today, 50-years later, might give you a little taste of what it was like to learn about Chevy’s newest addition to their lineup back in 1966. Fast-forward 50 years, and the Camaro continues to push the bounds of both style and performance.
The new Camaro, although a completely different beast, does a great job living up to its reputation.
Since Chevrolet’s Pony car turned 50-years-old this year, we’re taking a look at some of the differences and similarities in the original, 1967 models, and the Camaro of today. We’ll take a look at the different ways the two cars were advertised, compare the performance options, look at the way safety was addressed in 1967 as compared to 2017, and finally, we’ll also take a look at the production and pricing for both model years. In addition to the look back, we’ll also be hearing a little from the folks at Chevrolet who gave us their input on performance and pricing. So, without further delay, let’s take a look at the way Chevy shows off their favorite musclecar.
The advertising used for the first-year 1967 Camaro was all sixties and all new. Remember, this was the start of an iconic brand name for GM, and their competition to Ford’s highly successful Mustang. They wanted to make sure the world knew the car was all new.
This is the lead image for the 1967 advertisement brochure.
Now, it’s 2017, and the Camaro as a name is old news. But, the new advertising model is bold and is designed to show off the meaner side of the Camaro. The pictures have highly contrasted lighting, dramatically angled shots, and mostly staged studio imagery. The headlights or driving lights are almost always on, and the contours of the body are exaggerated as much as possible.
This is the lead image for the 2017 advertisement brochure.
Let’s take a look at two images in particular. We’ll use the lead images shown above, one from the catalog in 1967, and one from the catalog for 2017. They are more or less a straight forward comparison, and both do a great job setting the stage for the overall advertising style of the model year they represent.
Starting with the classic 1967 Camaro, it is shown in a striking yellow color with the RS/SS 350 trim packages, black nose stripe, and red-lined tires with black wheels. One thing you’ll notice right away is the lack of headlights as the RS headlight doors are shut and the grill appears to be one single continuous piece. It’s also important to note that you can clearly see the smiling face of the driver.
Here is how the 2017 model advertises the different color options compared to the 1967 advertising color options. It's definitely much more effective to see the actual car dressed in the color in question.
A very different picture is painted by the lead photo for the 2017 model year. The image shows a black 2017 Camaro racing down the highway. It’s also an action shot, the headlights and driving lights are on, but you can barely see the drivers face. We’re certain he has a serious look of focus. This ad wants you to feel like the 2017 Camaro is tough, fast, and all business, but wrapped in a shell that is still just as attractive as ever.
Both shots clearly show the grill, the side of the body, and the driver, but the 1967 ad intentionally lights the face with a smile, while the 2017 ad hides the eyes and only shows the serious lower half of the face. The next page on both advertisements does a great job of continuing with the same theme. The 1967 ad shows the bright yellow Camaro straight on and well lit, while the 2017 ad shows the SS Camaro in high-contrast studio lighting with the parking lights on and the windows darkened.
The different in advertising sets the tone for two completely different cars from two completely different eras. The 1967 Camaro was Chevrolet introducing something new and unique to the market, while the 2017 Camaro is working hard to live up to its reputation.
All trim levels of Camaro are high performance vehicles – Chevrolet
“All trim levels of Camaro are high-performance vehicles, with each trim created to suit every Camaro enthusiast’s wants and needs.” Explained the folks at Chevrolet. “In 1967, the Camaro with the most horsepower would have been in the Camaro SS with a 375 hp engine option. Today, the ZL1 is the most capable Camaro, with 650 hp.” The 375 horsepower Camaro they were referring to for the 1967 model year features the 396 cubic-inch big-block engine.
The 1967 Camaro came with seven engine options: a 230 cubic-inch or 250 cubic-inch six-cylinder, a 302 cubic-inch, 327 cubic-inch, or 350 cubic-inch small-block V8 engine, or a 396 cubic-inch big-block engine. The specs on all options according to GM are as follows:
These are some of the performance options available on the new Camaro.
There is something to be said about the raw power of a big-block Chevy back in 1967, but the refined power of the modern drivetrain will win every nearly every time. If you put an SS 396 cubic-inch 1967 Camaro against the 2.0-liter turbo or even 3.6-liter V6 2017 Camaro, the ’67 will almost certainly win in a straight-line drag race every time.
Further than just the engine, the 2017 Camaro has much more impressive transmissions at its disposal. In 1967 you could get a three or four-speed manual transmission or a two-speed Powerglide automatic. Today, you can get six-speed manual transmission, eight-speed paddle-shifted automatic, or even a ten-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission. That’s two additional manual gears when compared to the four-speed, and five-times the number of gears for an automatic when compared to the Powerglide.
Of course, the suspension and drivetrain have been beefed up and modernized over the last 50-years. The 2017 includes disc brakes on all corners of all models, superior ride control from a modern suspension, aluminum wheels for lighter weight, and wider tires for better grip. We love the classic, but if you’re looking for stock performance, the 2017 Camaro takes the cake.
Safety between the two models is obviously worlds apart. The ’67 Camaro was built with 1967 safety standards in mind and doesn’t offer much in the area of protection. The 1967 advertising information says: “Camaro hosts all of the 1967 standard safety features including dual master cylinder brake system, GM-developed energy absorbing steering column, and passenger guard door locks.” It also lists a padded instrument panel, low profile window control knobs, padded sun visors, dual-speed windshield wiper motor, and an outside review mirror—some really cutting edge stuff at the time.
Today, the 2017 Camaro conforms to all of the modern day safety requirements and features like crumple zones for passenger safety, air bags all around, four-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock braking system, a rearview camera, and the list just keeps going.
Back in 1967, a padded dash was listed as one of the most notable safety features. This was also one of GMs earliest uses of a steering column that collapsed on impact if in a collision.
While our beloved classic Camaro might not be the safest car around, it does feature an early energy-absorbing steering column as mentioned above, which was a huge step forward in preventing the driver from being impaled by the steering column in a front-end collision. The 2017 Camaro is a perfect example of what modern vehicle safety means.
The modern, 2017 Camaro is a perfect example of what it means to have a "safe" car in 2017.
Production and Pricing:
Here is something interesting that surprised us, and will likely surprise you as well: the 1967 Camaro far outsold the 2016 Camaro. We don’t have the numbers for 2017 Camaro sales since the year isn’t over yet, but the 1967 Camaro sold more than double the number of cars sold in 2016. Overall, there were 220,906 Camaros sold in the first year, and only 72,705 sold for the 2016 model year.
Can you believe how good that car looks? This image is absolutely stunning.
The 1967 Camaros arrived in dealerships in September of 1966 with a base MSRP of $2,466 – Chevrolet
We were curious about the difference in price for someone buying a new Camaro today, as compared to 50-years ago. It’s obvious that a dollar is worth far less today than it was back then, but the folks at Chevrolet used a U.S. Government inflation calendar and adjusted the price so we could do a straight across comparison.
“The 1967 Camaro arrived in dealerships in September of 1966 with a base MSRP of $2,466,” explained the folks at Chevrolet. “Taking inflation into account, that would equate to $18,460.01 in 2017.” If we look at the base price in 1966 at $18,460 (adjusted for inflation) it is $8,440 lower than the base price for a 2017 Camaro at $26,900. For the 2017 Camaro with all of its new features, options, safety, and performance upgrades, an $8,440 price difference is not that bad. Think about how much someone in 1966 would have paid for a car packed with all of the technology offered by a 2017 Camaro—it would have been priceless.
When we assembled this little comparison article, we got all of our information pertaining to the 2017 Camaro from the current GM advertising and information material that can be found in this online brochure. The rest of the information, including all information on the 1967 Camaro was provided by General Motors and Chevrolet.