The Chevrolet Camaro had five different body styles during its 1967 to 2002 and 2010 to at least 2012 production runs. Chevrolet conceived the Camaro to compete against the Ford Mustang and adopted the Mustang's body characteristics of a long hood and short deck with 2+2 seating. The Camaro always set the tone with each generational body change for sporty coupe styling, although Chevrolet tended to keep the styling too long and risked becoming outdated.
Most automakers preferred to make significant body style changes about every five years. Chevrolet usually kept the Camaro body style for about a decade. The only exception was the first generation, which in the minds of the stylists at Chevrolet was a rush job to carve a niche into the Mustang's sales. The first generation 1967 to 1969 Camaro featured an ultra-long front hood that packed the new 350-cubic-inch V-8 underneath. The shortened rear deck allowed for better airflow off the roofline. The truncated deck created less drag. These were styling cues from the Mustang, but the Camaro had a more raked windshield and rear window, and the fenders bulged to give the car a more muscled look.
Chevrolet stylists were never completely satisfied with the first generation Camaro and immediately planned the second generation. The 1970 to 1981 model was all new and nothing like its older sibling. Gone was the convertible and only the hardtop coupe was available. It was longer, heavier and sat lower to the ground. The doors alone measured 8 inches longer than the first generation Camaro. The body was rounder with softer lines and the roofline was now a fastback that flowed straight into the deck. The horizontal grille disappeared and in its place was a larger grille that bisected two small chrome bumpers. In 1974, Chevrolet restyled the nose and tail to accommodate new bumpers to comply with the 5 mph federal safety standards.
Chevrolet dropped the front subframe that gave the first- and second-generation Camaros a softer and quieter ride. Instead, Chevy used a new version of the F-body frame that gave the car a lighter and tighter feel on the road. It was the first of the hatch-style Camaros that had its trunk space under a wide rear window hatch. Automotive journalists characterized the third generation models as "futuristic." Chevy brought back the clean, crisp lines, although they were more angular than the first generation. The nose sloped downward and the headlamps were set deep into pockets, which featured accent colors contrasting against the body color.
Chevrolet returned the convertible to the Camaro in 1994. The fourth-generation model made its debut in 1993 and remained until Camaro ceased production in 2002. The 1993 and later models were sleeker with a thinner nose and a more swept-back look. The hatch remained, but the car took a few styling tips from the Corvette.
Chevrolet offered no excuses when it launched the retro-styled 2010 Camaro that took the 1969 Camaro's body and put it on steroids. Hulking and aggressive with huge hood and demonic grinning grille, the new Camaro offered every baby boomer the muscle car they never got the chance to own in the 1960s.
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