GM global design VP Ed Welburn suggests the first-generation car “should not have been a design success,” as it was hurried to market and based on existing architecture, however it is now regarded as one of the best-looking cars of the era — particularly, for him, the 1969 model.
“It was very lean and muscular, with comparatively minor embellishments for high-performance models,” he adds. “That was in contrast to some of the brasher competitors during the muscle car era, and it has helped the first-generation Camaro maintain timeless good looks.”
Chevy trucks design director Ken Parkinson owns a ’68 Camaro, but he is partial to the second-generation model that lasted from 1970-1981.
“For the first time, it was built on its own dedicated architecture, which gave the design team the freedom to create a pure expression,” Parkinson says. “What that team created was a powerful expression of American muscle, influenced by a European grand-touring aesthetic. There was simply nothing else like it.”
Chevrolet car design director John Cafaro owns a Camaro of the third generation, described as a “cultural symbol of the 1980s” that marked the transition to a period of high-tech cultural trends.
“This was a uniquely American design with a form developed for function – and its aggressive front-end styling was deemed almost too aggressive by some in the company,” he adds.
Camaro exterior design manager Kirk Bennion still owns a fourth-generation Z28 that “still looks as sleek as anything on showroom floors today,” thank to its sculptural form.
“Having a low front end was important to the design,” Bennion observes. “It really worked with the high deck lid rear spoiler to enhance the appearance of motion.”
Camaro exterior design director Tom Peters suggests “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as exemplified by enthusiasm for the fifth and current generation that arrived for the 2010 model year after an eight-year absence.
“Distilling the timeless essence of the design and translating into a fresh, contemporary Camaro was a challenge,” he says. “The final design perfectly straddled that razor-sharp line between heritage and retro – and with five straight years at the top of the segment, clearly the fifth-generation Camaro connected with a whole new group of enthusiasts.”
The world now awaits the sixth-generation Camaro, which may have been teased at the Detroit auto show. An evolutionary design transition is expected, keeping the same general form as the current model, but full details are not expected to be revealed until later this year.