A muscle car revolution
The Ford Mustang was built to do battle against the Chevrolet Corvette and the Corvair Monza Spider, the Mustang came out in 1964, at first with a straight six, but by 1965 Ford decided that the car actually needed some kind of power.
A straight six could never make the kind power Ford needed, so in 1965 the 225 HP 289 CID V8 was introduced to the Mustang, and this was a brilliant idea for Ford that skyrocketed the Mustang's sales, it was the introduction of the pony car. Basically the idea was to use a smaller mid sized car with a larger engine, thereby producing a much better power to weight ratio, and making the car more exciting to drive.
This would make the car a lot more interesting to the babe boomers, the younger people from the 1960's time era, these were the kids that were in their late teens and early 20's, this would be so appealing to the younger people of that time era, that it would set sales records that it would hold for years to come.
It would sell 500,000 units it's very first year, and this was an unbelievable feat for any car during those times, and had never been done before, and this had thought Ford a lesson, they learned that they could produce cars at this rate.
Ford would keep generating interest in the Mustang by adding grundles of new higher performance models, they created a large stable of these pony cars, during 1965 Ford would release the Mustang GT, yet more power, to make the motorheads go nuts.
The Mustang had already become a desirable commodity. It's standard equipment included, bucket seats. It had the immediately popular long hood , short deck look. At first it came as a sports coupe (two door hardtop), and a sporty looking convert able.
In the fall of 1964 the model the 2+2 was added to the lineup. From the outset, the option list was important in the making of the Mustang. Buyers could add appearance and convenience extras, plus some bolt on high performance hardware. However being based on a compact low priced Falcon, there was some room for improvement in the go fast department.
Combining available mechanical features with new visual pieces made the GT package a fairly thorough upgrade. First the buyer had to order an optional V-8 engine, which at the time included the 225 HP Challenger Special 289 at $157, or the high performance 271 HP 289 CID engine for $430.
The Mustang never did come up against the likes of an L88 Corvette or a ZL1 Camaro or Corvette, it would lose horribly, as the ZL1 Camaro was running in the 10's for the 1/4 mile with a 0-60 of 3.8 seconds, and the ZL1 Vette was even faster, and the L88 wasn't far behind these cars at all.
Now I know what you Mustang and Ford nuts are going to say, what about the GT350, what about the GT500, what about the Boss 429 mustang, and most of all what about the Cobra, well even the almighty Cobra never beat the ZL1 Corvette down, this is always what you Ford nuts fall back on.
The 289 and 302 Mustangs never beat down the 302 DZ Camaro's, and moreover I have driven them all, except the Cobra and I know the truth,
It;s true I am a Chevy lover, but I have owned or at least driven most of the Ford and Chevy model that were ever really considered to be the mean one's and I speak for knowledge, and not just as a Chevy or Ford lover.
And never did the Mustang or the Cobra even come close to doing battle with the L88 Corvette or the ZL1 Corvette, and still to this day hasn't done it.
In 1966 Chevrolet would begin to make plans to release it's secret weapon against the Mustang, this secret weapon would be called the Camaro, this car without a doubt would live up to Chevrolet's expectations of what it could do.
Just like the Mustang, the Camaro came from the factory with a modest straight six engine, and was not capable of any really impressive performance, but Chevy would not wait to add the performance to it's secret weapon, up on it's release in 1967, the Camaro would be a heavily optioned cars.
Camaro owners didn't have to wait for the next generation of cars to get what they wanted, the Chevrolet would offer the Camaro in a lot of different versions it's very first year, you could get a Z/28 Camaro which would come from the factory with a 290 HP 302 CID engine, a Muncy M-21 or M-22 Rock crusher transmission, bucket seats, front disc brakes, a heavy duty 12 bolt posi traction rear end, a center consol with a fuel gage, water temp gage, amp gage and oil pressure gage.
You could also order the SS option which came with two different engines, you could order the big block version with the 396 CID 375 HP engine, or you could order the L34 had 325 HP & the L78 had 375 HP. The SS was also available with the L48 V8 350 CID 295 HP package.
You also had the choice of rear end gearing ratios of 2.73:1, 3.07:1, 3.31:1, 3.55:1, 3.73:1, 4.10:1, 4.56:1 and 4.88:1. You could also get and RS version of the Camaro, or and RS/SS version, Chevrolet did go to extents to give the gearhead what they wanted, the RS version only came with a small block 350 CID, and an option for the 327 CID small block.
As you can imagine the RS/SS came with a 350 CID, 327 CID and a big block 396 CID, and had all the RS & SS suspension and steering upgrades.
Even that first year the Camaro was optioned heavily enough to make you lose your mind, and you wallet right behind that, but it was giving the gearhead's what they wanted, a lot of ways to set their cars up, with out buying it and tearing it down to build up the engine and suspension.
The Z/28 was first designed to go scca racing, and in it's first year in dominated the scca racing circuit, it was a tremendous success for Chevrolet and their de singers and high performance teams. By playing with high performance parts like a giant four barrel carburetor, an aluminum intake manifold and L79 Corvette heads, they got this motor to crank out about 350 HP @ 6200 RPM.. However to play it safe the advertised HP was 290@5800 R. P.M. The basic Z/28 package listed for $358.
Camaro lovers had a lot to look forward to for the next couple of years, that first generation of Camaro's was awesome, and that showed in how popular the Camaro got over the years. In 1968 the 4 bolt main block got introduced to the Z/28 it had the rpo code of MO, so you'd know if the rpo number had an MO in it then you more then likely had a 4 bolt main 302 CID 290 HP engine.
In 1968 there were 602 Z/28's built, and although it was a small number, it impressed the muscle car community, the Z/28 would leave a mark on motoring history forever, the Z/28 was crated primarily as a road race car, and it did very well in what it was intended for.
In 1969 the Z/28 would have a standard four bolt main 302 CID engine in it, and have the option of adding a 350 CID and 4 wheel disc brakes.
Now during those first three years, Don Yenko from Yenko Chevrolet, would have the idea to modify a standard Camaro, and add a 450 HP 427 CID engine, this car would be called the sYc or "super Yenko camaro" this car would hit the streets doing 11.30's in the 1/4 mile, and that is mean, to get the car you's order a copo "central office production order" copo 9561.
Now you could also take a step up to the Zl1 Camaro, in which case you'd order the copo 9560, with this option the big difference is the all aluminum 427 CID 450 HP engine, this made the big block weigh about the same as a small block, and of course you see the advantage there "right".
Both the Yenko and the ZL1 Camaro had a very modest Hp rating, when dynoed they were actually around 650 to 680 HP, these were not your basic Camaro's, these bad boys were only for a real man, a man that could handle having his neck snapped, and his back cracked.
About the author:
I'm a 41 year old man, who eats sleeps and breathes muscle cars, and the restoration of them, I own a restoration shop here in Salt Lake, and I build computers and web sites.
Written by: David C. Atkin