The second generation Chevy Camaro was introduced in February 1970 and did The Hustle through 1981, with cosmetic changes made in both 1974 and 1978 model years. “The 1974 Camaro is such a gorgeous machine, that even watching its paint dry evokes a nostalgic exhilaration. (The second generation received) an exterior facelift that featured new bumpers, front grille and tail lamps,” said Chevrolet.
Same Camaro Soul
The disco-era Camaro resembled its predecessor at the core. Right down to the F-body platform, unibody structure, front sub-frame, A-arm front suspension and leaf springs to control the solid rear axle. But the appearance evolved into a distant cousin from its first-gen ancestry. Significantly restyled, larger and wider, “the second generation Camaro was inspired by Ferrari and was also bigger, heavier and no longer available as a convertible,” said Edmunds.
To add insult to injury, the RS/SS package was dropped in 1972 and not reintroduced until 1996. A saving grace, the 1978 Camaro LT debuted a rock star T-Top in the lineup. And with its distinct look, it became an iconic feature spanning several generations. The 1971 SS350 was named one of the 10 best cars in the world by Road & Track. “But as the 1970s progressed, it would grow less powerful, succumbing to the pressures of tightening emissions regulations and a fuel crisis,” said Edmunds.
“After ‘74/’75, the gas crunch tightened the noose and power simply dropped off. You couldn’t get the big block anymore,” added Dave Burke, Speed & Performance Category Manager at Keystone.
A Fav of Industry Professionals
There are quite a few second generation fans despite a tank in horsepower during those few lackluster years. Matt Hauffe, owner of Tune Time Performance in NJ, has been a fan his entire life. Sales associate Scott Luff and Speed & Performance Category Manager Keith Evanosky at Keystone consider the second generation a personal favorite as well.
“Mainly because that’s what was accessible to me when I was growing up; it was affordable horsepower,” said Evanosky. “My first three cars were second generation Chevy Camaros. And that had a lot to do with my career path,” added Hauffe. After all, it was the working man’s muscle car. “You could rob parts from anything. Power plants were all interchangeable, motor applications, trannys. Parts were plentiful and affordable,” said Burke.
Enthusiasts sat tight and in 1977, the Z/28 returned with invigorating performance components like a Chevy Camaro 350 cubic-inch V8. It quickly became a favorite with its four-barrel carburetor and upgraded chassis. Most importantly, it looked like a beast but handled like a sport car.
“Endless blood, sweat and tears go into the making of a performance legend like Z/28, down to its distinctive badging. This iconic logo has seen a number of iterations, but power and performance have been a mainstay (through future generations),” said Edmunds. “And now the second generation Chevy Camaro is becoming a highly sought after collectible,” added Evanosky.
Edelbrock’s Love of Camaros
Fortunate for Camee Edelbrock, growing up around muscle cars was a way of life. Her first car displayed the infamous Blue Oval badge. It was a bright red ‘65 Mustang with a black vinyl top, Edelbrock Performance manifold and camshaft, along with spiffy Cragar wheels. But during college, she began switch hitching with a boisterous behemoth. A cherry red ‘74 Camaro that displayed every Edelbrock Performance part available at the time.
“It had white pin striping and an automatic tranny with a shift kit. I went to the University of Southern California, joined the Alpha Phi sorority and lived on the infamous Row where most kids had BMWs and Mercedes. The Camaro made quite a statement with its throaty exhaust and second gear chirps. It had no A/C, but I didn’t care. It was a blast to drive,” said Edelbrock.
“Around 1980, Edelbrock Performance developed an electronic fuel injection system (way before its time) and my Camaro was the test car. Today, the ‘74 Camaro is still a test vehicle and has served its purpose in helping develop hundreds of parts. My Dad always loved Camaros. After counting on the ‘74 Camaro as my daily driver during college and driving the Smokey Camaro in the vintage road races for several years, I can understand why,” she added.
So remember to stay tuned with us each week as we explore a new generation of the Camaro to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Learn interesting facts, watch videos and gain insight from industry professionals.