(first posted 4/3/2014) I’ve seen this Camaro running around town for a couple of months, and last week I caught up with it in the parking lot of a local community service organization (Kiwanis as I recall). Based on my earlier sightings, I wanted to get a better look at this pony car. As you can see, it carries a working man’s patina, with a clean body and original parts.
But more than that, it’s true to the original pony car vision. It’s stylish, the right size, and has sufficient power, but has not given way to excesses in styling, power or features. Toss in the fact that the top retracts, and this car resides in my automotive sweet spot.
Most of the Camaros running around town nowadays look more like this fancy model, with a high horsepower four-barrel V-8 engine (the SS Package) and hidden headlights (the RS package). Chevy preferred to sell these upgraded models with high priced options, but in 1967 almost 75% of all Camaros came with straight sixes or the base two-barrel V8.
This advertisement for a base model convertible helps explain why. This convertible shares most options with our Curbside Classic, including the paint color and the bottom rung V-8 (in 1967, 327 cubic inches). The only noticeable upgrades over our car are the white nose stripe and the full wheel covers. It even shares a round rear view mirror with the Chevy Nova. We frequently apply pejoratives such as “stripper,” “poverty trim” or “loss leader” to this type of car, but not in this case–I think it’s a damn fine looking ride.
By the way, be sure to read the advertising text. It includes a reference to “road hugging weight.” I’m amazed Chevy still used such language to sell a sporty car in 1967, but there it is…
Some have criticized this grille, saying it looks cheap or that it lacks character. I can see their point, but perhaps the rest of the body helps explain why the grille gathers so much criticism. Chevy got so much right on this car, that any fault is magnified by its contrast.
That simple point defined by the hood and bumper, combined with the smooth lines defining the grille opening give us a dramatic image. Inside that grille opening, we’re looking for something equally dramatic and interesting. Two round headlights flanking a pair of small turn signals and a one piece plastic insert just doesn’t do it. I just want to get in there and add a pair of headlights, or darken the silver frame around the grille, or paint the grille body color, or something!
Despite that, I definitely have an interest in this Camaro. The 327 V-8 was the most common engine displacement, mostly because 5.4 liters is all the engine this car needs. Most 327s came with a two barrel carburetor making all of 210 horsepower, but if you really needed power, this small block delivered 275 horses when ordered with the four barrel, which also included larger valves and a more aggressive camshaft, helping to explain the 30% jump in horsepower. Based this car’s trim, I’m assuming it’s equipped with the base two bbl V-8.
What wasn’t available was a third cog in your small box automatic, as the two-speed Powerglide was the only automatic transmission available. While I’d like to see a clutch pedal in this cockpit, it would most likely engage the standard three-speed manual, which had a column-shifter. A four speed manual, with floor shifter, was optional with all engines, even the standard 230 cubic inch six with 140 hp. The four-speed would have been the ideal choice to go with that (imagined) 275 HP four barrel engine.
While the front view has that cheap grille, I think this back view is very solid. Continuing the theme from up front, the sheet metal provides context, while the bumper and tail lights perform their functions without distracting the eye. Look carefully, and you can spot dual exhaust pipes, promising a subtle rumble to match the V-8’s power output. Those skinny little tires deliver the only sour note to this composition. They may be the stock width, but I’d want a bit more tire patch on the pavement; something to bite the ground when I unfetter that classic 327.
To close, let’s view the complete package. This car has the right size, the right engine and the right features. If you remember a Camaro from your youth, it probably looked a lot like this. Let’s send out thanks to the original owner who choose the typical options of the day, and to the current driver for proudly displaying this car’s forty six years of use, leaving it with the perfect patina. Enjoy!