Hooniverse Asks: Which Generation of Camaro is the Best, and Why?

Camaros
Unlike the Mustang which has been satisfying the needs of the pony crowd steady since 1964.5, Chevy’s competing Camaro took a breather there for a few years, so as to get its bearings and decide what exactly it wanted to be.
Chevy’s pony (man, that’s got to burn them up) hasn’t strayed from the original recipe all that much over the years, but each generation has become a unique and iconic example of the marque. Today we’re interested in which of those you think was the most Camaro-licious. Which generation of Camaro is—in your mind—the best? And remember to show your work!
Image: LS1Tech Forums

28 Comments

    1. Concur 100%, but is it the best because of it?
      It seems to me that the first gen is best to enjoy cruising and keeping shiny. Gens 2-4 make for inexpensive drag strip cars. 5 & 6 are probably the best bet at being track cars.
      For me, and even though it’s a dog in stock configuration it’d have to be a manual converted IROC with some light power adders. Why? It’s very affordable, they look different from cars of today, without being vintage enough to be pricey, and more importantly, I could get one manufactured on my birthday, which has long been something I have wanted in a car.

      1. Yes, that makes it best. Except for some early second generation cars, all the others topped out with some form of SBC under the hood. Easily transplantable to first gen, and depending on the year of the recipient, maybe not enough to raise eyebrows from the smog people. There are early Camaros that run 200 mph, wicked fast quarter miles, and don’t overheat in traffic. What remains at that point is appearance.

  1. I have yet to ride in a new-generation Camaro so my point of view is somewhat limited. Having said that, I’d say the best generation Camaro is the 1993-2003 version, particularly in later years. They handled pretty well, they looked good without being cartoonishly retro, V8 models were fast for the time, they were fairly well put together compared to previous generations, and they didn’t weigh as much as the current porky models.

  2. 1: sixth
    2: first (still, my favorite, but the new one’s are objectively better)
    3: fifth
    4: third (really only a sentimental favorite – they were pretty bad)
    5: second
    6: fourth

  3. Money-no-object, the sixth generation kills them all.
    If you’ve got $5k to spend and want to get into the low 10s (or high 9s, depending on how good your junkyard finds are), the third generation cannot be beaten.
    For a boulevard cruiser that can light ’em up for the crowds or your own stupid grins, first or second generation, probably depending mostly upon your age and what looks best to you.
    The weakest links, then, are the fourth and fifth generations. The fourth generation doesn’t have anything over the third in terms of 1/4 mile ability, and looks like a stretched contemporary Cavalier. The fifth generation has a superior chassis, but isn’t yet cheap enough to justify buying it to build a weekend track rat over other cars.

  4. Having owned a 3rd and 4th gen Camaro, I’m a bit partial, but I’m going to say the 4th gens are the best, and here’s why in terms of looks, performance, price, and fuel mileage:
    Many may disagree, but I think the 4th gens are actually pretty good looking cars. While not as good looking as the 1st gens are, I think they best all the other generations, especially the (in my opinion) portly, large, ugly 5th and 6th gens. Oh, and they have T-Tops, which the 1st, 5th, and 6th generations don’t have.
    In terms of performance AND price, the 4th gens are a huge bargain. There has been at least one person who has dipped into the 12s with a stock 4th gen on drag radials (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkXFFrpVgRQ), they almost match the handling specs of most of the 5th and 6th gens, they’re lighter, more aerodynamic, and have a huge aftermarket available to them. I maxed the 155 MPH speedo out on my [pretty much stock] 1995 Z28, so they’re not exactly slow either
    I pulled over 30 MPG on the highway with my Z28 with a six speed, and I’ve known several other people who get similar MPG with their 4th gen Firebirds and Camaros with the T56 transmission.

    1. The 4th gen was the last one to have it’s own styling – before being ‘retro’ was the in-thing. As such it’s unique and the shape is polarizing in a good way, definitely the little brother to the Corvette. If I could get past the mullet demographic of Camaros I’d probably buy one. Hell I might just buy one anyway to confuse everyone.

    1. This is my answer. Best objectively? Nope, but best looking by far in my book. (and I’m sorry, Batshitbox, absolutely better looking than the Firebirds too.)

  5. The Gen 5 1LE was interesting which means the Z/28 may be the best. Even overpriced, it was the Boss 302 which forced GMs hand.

  6. I never liked Camaros or Mustangs, only because they seemed to be unimaginative guys’ default choices. That being said, I have a personal affection for Gen2s because 1) I had just turned 13 when Gumball Rally came out, and 2) later in life I dated a girl who drove a ’77 Z-28.

    1. I currently own a 2014 Mustang GT and a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, so I suppose it’s all a matter of what in particular captures your imagination. Stereotypes exist for a reason though, but that’s baggage I can carry.

  7. For a hoon, the Camaro is currently your 31 flavors model. You can go from dirt cheap thrills to the absolute best sub-$50k performance and everywhere in between. Whatever your favorite flavor of the hobby might be, you can probably find a Camaro that suits you, unless you’re really in to the whole lightness thing. I have owned ’91 and ’94 Z28’s.

  8. Smaller is generally better. Simplicity over fussiness. Some pretense of efficient utilization of space, at least. I prefer the first generation, particularly the earlier iteration without the character line at the top of the wheel wells … and especially those ’67’s with the blacked out grille.

  9. I’ve always had a soft spot for the 2003-2009 Camaro. Just something about it makes me smile, you know, as a Ford guy.

  10. I’m going to go against the grain with my favourite, which is the post-facelift 2nd generation, especially the 1978-81 Zed28s.

    I realize they are some of the worst in terms of performance and build quality, but I still lust after them, with their “of-the-period” completely-over-the-top looks.

    I would love one of these with a modern crate engine (nothing crazy, just 300-400hp) and a five speed,

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4076/4779256627_c3df458a4a_o.jpg

      1. Mmmmm… Those colour-coded wheels are so seventies/eighties-tastic, and are also a necessary addition to my fantasy ride.

  11. I’m reading the question not as “which of the Camaros is best?” but as “which is the best (at being a) Camaro?”
    Moreso than any other, the second gen captures the essence of Camaro.
    First gens are too caught up in Baby Boomer nostalgia to be anything meaningful (TransAm examples excepted)
    Third gens are just kinda boring (but are rapidly heading to “classic” status)
    Fourth gens are best reserved as LS1 + T56 donors for more interesting projects
    Fifth gens are impossible to see out of and built for fat guys
    I’m not convinced the sixth gens aren’t more of the same

  12. I owned a first gen back in the mid 1970 s and without a doubt in my mind the 6th gen is my favorite,

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