Detroit — More than 1,000 people flocked to Detroit’s Belle Isle over the weekend to see the debut of the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. Before the covers came off the new car, however, enthusiasts from far and wide brought more than 350 Camaros from all five previous generations to a giant car show. We spotted license plates from regions as diverse as California, Idaho, New York, and Quebec, and saw everything from track-rat fifth-gen Camaros to fabulously preserved first-generation models.
“We don’t usually get to invite so many fans to see the world debut of a new car. But as you know, this is very different,” Chevrolet global brand chief Alan Batey told Camaro fans on Saturday. “Camaro, without doubt, is a legendary name. And we knew that you simply had to be part of this legendary event.”
Here are the 10 coolest Chevrolet Camaros we saw ahead of the new car’s reveal this weekend.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro, VIN #100001
As its VIN suggests, this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was the first one ever built. It was one of 49 hand-assembly cars built to test the Norwood, Ohio, assembly line in mid-1966. Despite its historic provenance, the car was at one point turned into a drag racer. In 2009, the car’s new owner noticed something was unusual when he read the VIN to his insurance agent. A few weeks later, he sold the car to Corey Lawson, who spent four years painstakingly restoring the car to new with new-old-stock parts, and documenting the car’s history.
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Convertible
Chevrolet did not offer a 1968 Camaro Z/28 convertible; the high-performance model was available only on Camaro coupes. This one-off was built for Chevrolet’s then-general manager, Pete Estes, and it featured several features and components that wouldn’t officially be offered until the 1969 Camaro. Back in 1991, it set a record at auction as the first vintage muscle car to crack the $100,000 sale barrier.
1967 Penske/Sunoco racing car and 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Roger Penske took the Chevrolet Camaro racing in the Trans-Am racing series; this car won the Trans-Am class at Sebring in 1968 and finished the race third overall. But to meet Trans-Am rules, Chevrolet had to homologate street models, hence the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 road car parked alongside the racing machine. Upgraded chassis and suspension parts went hand-in-hand with a 302-cubic-inch (5.0 liter) V-8. This car is one of the rarer Camaro models ever produced, as just 602 Z/28s were built in 1967.
First-generation Chevrolet Camaro RS
Whereas the Chevrolet Corvette sported hidden headlights for much of its life, the Camaro only offered “hideaway” headlights for the 1967, 1968, and 1969 model years, and then only on Rally Sport models. This well-preserved Camaro Rally Sport has its headlights tucked away, but otherwise looked like the day it came off the assembly line 46-plus years ago.
Yellow Second-Generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and Green Second-Generation “StreetMaster” Drag Camaro
We didn’t get the full story on either of these second-generation cars from their owners, but these two brightly colored examples reminded us how different this model was than the first-generation Camaro. The yellow Camaro Z/28 has those quintessential 1970s graphics on the side, and the aggressive-looking aerodynamic modifications really show off the iconic shape of the second-generation car. The green car, dubbed “StreetMaster” looks like it’s been prepared for drag racing, with a huge hood scoop, awesome chrome side exhausts, and extra-wide rear tires.
Yenko 427 S/C Camaro
This ZL1-based, high-powered Camaro made by SLP Specialty Vehicles commemorates the legendary first-generation Yenko Camaro that was created by Don Yenko, the area of a Pittsburgh-area Chevrolet dealership. To try and recreate the glory days, SLP outfitted the fifth-gen car with a custom-built 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 with a TVS supercharger to take power output to a heady 700 hp. The Yenko 427 S/C Camaro coupe that showed up to Belle Isle is truly a rare bird, as only 50 of these cars were produced.
Hot Wheels Camaros
The Camaro is one of the most popular Hot Wheels cars of all time, and these two Camaros, a first-gen and a fifth-gen, commemorate the original 1967 Camaro Hot Wheels toy. The first-generation Hot Wheels 1967 Camaro was a one-off restoration created for the 2012 SEMA show with special blue paint, a 430-hp LS3 V-8 crate motor, four-wheel disc brakes, and adjustable dampers. The fifth-gen Hot Wheels Camaro was a little less exclusive, as Chevrolet briefly sold a Camaro Hot Wheels special edition in 2013 with Kinetic Blue paint, a red leather interior, a few Hot Wheels logos, and special wheels.
The fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro’s starring role as Bumblebee in the 2007 “Transformers” movie was a big moment for the musclecar, and three different Bumblebee Camaros were out at Belle Isle, to no one’s surprise. Along with two examples of the fifth-gen car outfitted in full Transformers kit, the specially outfitted 2014 Chevrolet Camaro that starred in “Transformers 4” was present. This concept Camaro was said to be a preview of the sixth-gen car when it was first shown in 2013, and now that we’ve seen the first car, we can definitely see the evolution.
2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE Track Car
Matt Jensen was considering buying a Ford Mustang Boss 302 as his next track car, but, “as soon as GM announced the 1LE, I know it was what I wanted.” Jensen uses his Camaro 1LE to instruct at track-day events around Michigan, and has added a few subtle tweaks to the car over the years. Upgraded brakes come from the outgoing Cadillac CTS-V, and the black wheels and bolstered driver’s seat are from the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Chevrolet won’t officially sell Z/28 parts to any other Camaro owners; Jensen is mum on how he obtained his.