Camaro Forty Years

Overview

On the eve of the introduction of the first Camaro of the twenty-first century, this big book chronicles the rich history of an American muscle-car era icon. Here, accompanied by fabulous photographs of the models that made history, is the full story of Camaro’s forty years. Beginning with Chevrolet's race in the Sixties to capture the emerging youth market, the book follows Chevrolet’s efforts to come up with a car that could out-muscle the Mustang.

The Camaro was that car, and...

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Overview

On the eve of the introduction of the first Camaro of the twenty-first century, this big book chronicles the rich history of an American muscle-car era icon. Here, accompanied by fabulous photographs of the models that made history, is the full story of Camaro’s forty years. Beginning with Chevrolet's race in the Sixties to capture the emerging youth market, the book follows Chevrolet’s efforts to come up with a car that could out-muscle the Mustang.

The Camaro was that car, and in the years after its introduction in 1967, it set some of the most important performance marks in American automotive history. The classics of the muscle-car era are here—the RS, SS, Z/28, and IROC-Z—along with the models that jumpstarted a new era of American performance in the 1980s. In flashing color and fine detail, Camaro Forty Years captures the innovations and fierce competition, the changes in style and technology that make the story of this legendary car a part of the American automotive story—now opening a new chapter.

See Motorbooks author David Newhardt interviewed by Jay Leno on JayLenosGarage.com: http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/video/jays-book-club-david-newhardt/1174466/

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Car Collector Magazine, December 2007

“Of all the Camaro books written, and there are many, this one stands out as an insightful, well written history framed by some of the finest photographs ever taken of Camaros. When you combine the literary talents of a seasoned author like Darwin with the eye of one of America’s top automotive photographers, David Newhardt (and an author of note in his own right), you have the recipe for something exceptional. The reaction by GM to the Mustang plays out so well in this book, that even if you know the story by rote, you will enjoy reading it again as well as revel in Newhardt’s sumptuous imagery – large color spreads, detailed close-ups, and driving shots that’ll make you long for the open road. That’s what a good book can do. Buy this one for the photography, keep it for the story.”

PittsburghPost-Gazette (PA) & Website, Sept. 27, 2007

“Lavish … Countless close-ups of emblems, wheels, engine detail and other items make this book invaluable for the person who is restoring a Camaro. The artwork in ‘Camaro’ is stunning. Huge, glorious two-page color photos abound, and you’re sure to see every conceivable angle of your favorite Camaro covered … A terrific investment for the Camaro aficionado.”

“It is a combination coffee table book with wonderful David Newhardt photos with great historical info on the Camaro. Although most of us will want to focus on the early 1967-1969 years of the Camaro the book does a thorough review of all years of Camaro including the smog sleds and the new Camaro that hasn’t even been sold yet. I usually spend most of my time with such books looking at the photos and reading the captions. This was still a highlight of this book for me but the text has a way of sucking you in. I thought I knew a lot about these cars until I read this book. It is both entertaining and informative. Holmstrom even gets into the rare cars and engines often overlooked in such books.” - legendarycollectorcars.com

Izoom.com, Oct. 26, 2007

“Since reading Holmstrom’s book I’ve read three other Camaro histories, none of which is as well done as this new book … Holmstrom tells the details of the car’s history in a series of nicely written and sub-headed, vignette-style sections within each chapter, and his words are enhanced by David Newhardt’s lush and detailed photographs.”

Virginian Pilot, Dec. 14, 2007

“This ‘official’ history comes at an odd time in Chevrolet Camaro history. Born as a wanna-be Ford Mustang, the Camaro eventually found its own identity, only to be killed by bean counters in 2002. But the success of the 2005 Mustang gave GM second thoughts, and a new Camaro is a year away from hitting showrooms. This is very much ‘the official anniversary book’ … for the Camaro fan, it will be hard to resist.”

Closefinishes.com, Oct. 10, 2007

“This exquisitely crafted volume is an engaging read and a visual treat for anyone interested in the history of the Camaro.”

From the Publisher
PittsburghPost-Gazette (PA) & Website, Sept. 27, 2007

“Lavish … Countless close-ups of emblems, wheels, engine detail and other items make this book invaluable for the person who is restoring a Camaro. The artwork in ‘Camaro’ is stunning. Huge, glorious two-page color photos abound, and you’re sure to see every conceivable angle of your favorite Camaro covered … A terrific investment for the Camaro aficionado.”

Car Collector Magazine, December 2007

“Of all the Camaro books written, and there are many, this one stands out as an insightful, well written history framed by some of the finest photographs ever taken of Camaros. When you combine the literary talents of a seasoned author like Darwin with the eye of one of America’s top automotive photographers, David Newhardt (and an author of note in his own right), you have the recipe for something exceptional. The reaction by GM to the Mustang plays out so well in this book, that even if you know the story by rote, you will enjoy reading it again as well as revel in Newhardt’s sumptuous imagery – large color spreads, detailed close-ups, and driving shots that’ll make you long for the open road. That’s what a good book can do. Buy this one for the photography, keep it for the story.”

Izoom.com, Oct. 26, 2007

“Since reading Holmstrom’s book I’ve read three other Camaro histories, none of which is as well done as this new book … Holmstrom tells the details of the car’s history in a series of nicely written and sub-headed, vignette-style sections within each chapter, and his words are enhanced by David Newhardt’s lush and detailed photographs.”

Virginian Pilot, Dec. 14, 2007

“This ‘official’ history comes at an odd time in Chevrolet Camaro history. Born as a wanna-be Ford Mustang, the Camaro eventually found its own identity, only to be killed by bean counters in 2002. But the success of the 2005 Mustang gave GM second thoughts, and a new Camaro is a year away from hitting showrooms. This is very much ‘the official anniversary book’ … for the Camaro fan, it will be hard to resist.”

Closefinishes.com, Oct. 10, 2007

“This exquisitely crafted volume is an engaging read and a visual treat for anyone interested in the history of the Camaro.”

“It is a combination coffee table book with wonderful David Newhardt photos with great historical info on the Camaro. Although most of us will want to focus on the early 1967-1969 years of the Camaro the book does a thorough review of all years of Camaro including the smog sleds and the new Camaro that hasn’t even been sold yet. I usually spend most of my time with such books looking at the photos and reading the captions. This was still a highlight of this book for me but the text has a way of sucking you in. I thought I knew a lot about these cars until I read this book. It is both entertaining and informative. Holmstrom even gets into the rare cars and engines often overlooked in such books.” - legendarycollectorcars.com

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760328163
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 9/15/2007
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Darwin Holmstrom is the author or co-author of numerous car and motorcycle books, including the best-selling Camaro: Forty Years, Muscle: America’s Legendary Performance Cars, and Top Muscle. He lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, metro area.

Larry Edsall was snatched away from a career as a daily newspaper sports editor to become motorsports editor at AutoWeek magazine. Before long, he was automotive industry news and motorsports editor, and for most of his 12 years served as the magazine's managing editor. While at AutoWeek, he drove nearly half a million miles evaluating vehicles on four continents. He left Detroit for Phoenix late in 1999 to help modernize one automotive website, then launched another, iZoom.com. He also writes as a freelance contributor to several automotive and lifestyle publications.

David Newhardt is one of the best automobile photographers working today and has provided photography for best-selling Motorbooks titles Muscle: America’s Legendary Performance Cars, Corvette: Fifty Years, Mustang: Forty Years, Mopar Muscle: Fifty Years, and Shelby Mustang: Racer for the Street. He lives in Walworth, Wisconsin.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword: 
Introduction: Birth of the Pony Car

Chapter 1: General Motors Reacts

Chapter 2: Giving the Camaro Some Berries

Chapter 3: The European Camaro

Chapter 4: The Best-Handling Car in America

Chapter 5: The Last Camaro?

Epilogue: The Resurrected Camaro

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Introduction

On rare occasion, a car comes along that shapes its time; it defines the era in which it existed. More often than not, however, the times define the car. This is especially true of the cars built by a gigantic corporation like General Motors; an organization's willingness to take risks tends be inversely proportionate to its size, and General Motors has long been the world's largest automaker. A business organization averse to taking risks seldom produces trend-setting products. There have been exceptions-cars like Pontiac's ground-breaking GTO-but such cars have not been the rule. They've been the work of mavericks within GM's corporate bureaucracy, men like Pete Estes, Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen, John Z. DeLorean, and Vince Piggins.

In the early 1960s, General Motors' future could not have looked brighter. In fact, GM had the federal government breathing down its corporate neck for being too successful. The U.S. Department of Justice believed that GM was getting too large a share of the U.S. auto market. General Motors controlled nearly 57 percent of the new car market, which brought it dangerously close to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the antitrust law designed to prevent one company from monopolizing an entire industry. The Department of Justice warned GM that if it ever got to 60 percent of the market, it would break up the company just as it had done earlier in the century with Standard Oil.

But the auto industry is a volatile business, and by the mid-1960s, a small car from rival Ford Motor Company had astute members of GM management genuinely worried. That car was the Mustang. Not only was the car selling in unheard-of numbers, it was selling to themarket that everyone wanted to tap: the baby boomers.

Between the years 1946 and 1964, Americans had approximately 76 million children. By 1962, this population had begun to earn drivers' licenses. By the middle of the decade, they were graduating from high school, getting jobs, and buying lots and lots of cars. Every automaker in America, with the possible exception of poor, clueless American Motors, coveted the baby-boom market. It didn't take Nostradamus to see the profit potential in exploiting this huge population explosion.

In the early years of the decade, the corporate management at Chrysler, GM, and Ford didn't quite understand how to capitalize on this market. For the most part, they continued to produce the same family-friendly sedans they had always produced, but as this vast swell of young people entered the market, it became clear that the same old-same old held limited appeal for a new generation with new tastes.

This new breed of auto buyer wanted power, a commodity that America's V-8 in abundance, but the young consumers entering the auto market in the mid-1960s wanted more than just power. They wanted style. They wanted cars that turned heads when they cruised down the Main Streets of America's towns and cities. They wanted cars that did not look like their parents' cars, the cars in which Detroit manufacturers mounted their powerful V-8 engines. They wanted smaller, sportier cars.

Smaller, Sportier, Sexier

For the most part, the committees designing cars for the American auto industry seemed to be staffed by members who failed to grasp the demands of young buyers, but a few savvy marketers in the U.S. auto industry understood that they could exploit the desires of the baby-boom generation to sell cars.

Ford was the first major U.S. automaker to develop a new small car for the 1960s. On October 8, 1959, Ford introduced the Falcon, a shrunken version of its larger sedans. A thoroughly conventional and uninspiring 144-inch inline six-cylinder engine powered the Falcon, but the little car broke new technological ground by using unitized-body construction, which incorporated an integrated frame and body instead of placing a separate body on top of a ladder-type frame

The Falcon sold extremely well and earned a profit for Ford, but it failed to ignite the passion of younger buyers. The only way the Falcon could be less sexy would have been if it had been renamed the "Carbuncle." Ford achieved record sales with the Falcon, but the car was not a hit with the kids.

Now for Something Completely Different

Chevrolet took a completely different approach when it introduced its new small car for the 1960 model year, offering a compact that used technology never before seen on an American-made automobile. Like Ford, Chevrolet had the smaller part of the smaller, sexier equation mastered; standing only 51.3 inches tall and measuring just 66.9 inches wide, the Corvair took up less garage space than any other car rolling out of Detroit at that time.

The Corvair was the smallest American-made car of its day, and it was also the most technologically different. Its engine-an air-cooled opposed six-cylinder-sat in the rear of the car, where it drove the rear wheels through a transaxle transmission.

The Corvair's drivetrain layout may not have followed the pattern set by other cars from Detroit, but when compared to the cars being imported from Europe, it seemed less strange. The Corvair used technology very similar to the German-built Volkswagen Beetle, the most popular import of the period. The Beetle featured the same rear-mounted, air-cooled engine design as the Corvair. In 1960, Volkswagen sold nearly 160,000 of its odd little sedans.

The Corvair sold well enough in its first year-250,000 units-but compared to the nearly half-million Falcons Ford sold in 1960, it could hardly be considered a sales success.
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