Vintage CL Road Test: Two 1967 Camaros, 250 Six and SS350 – “Both Have Virtue And Plenty Of Performance”

Car Life’s main intent with their 1967 Camaro road test is clearly stated in their first paragraph: “The dilemma facing a potential Camaro buyer is a natural one for this time and place in the automotive firmament… The problem is not whether to buy the Camaro, but what kind of Camaro, for the Camaro probably wears more faces than any other single car now made.”

For gearheads, the drivetrain options offered throughout the ’60s and early ’70s are a matter of wonder. In the Camaro, they were indeed plentiful; the choice of engines, transmissions, and gear ratios available offered countless combinations and possibilities. It made sense; arriving late to the Ponycar segment, mighty GM clearly wanted to take over everyone by offering more than anyone.

Lots have been written on the Camaro since its inception, and I won’t elaborate much on this particular review. I prefer to showcase it as a window to the period it reflects. A moment where drivetrain options almost seem to have run amok. As per the CL article, seven engines and nine transmissions were available for the 1967 Camaro, from adequate to wild, covering “virtually every imaginable automotive purpose, including all-out road racing and dragstrip competition.”

True to form, CL’s text goes back and forth on the many ways the Camaro could do with available Chevrolet hardware. As was the norm with such ‘choice’ tests of the period, CL’s test cars were a lightly equipped six, low on retail cost, and an SS 350 loaded with options and carrying a pricetag $1000 higher.

The Camaro’s base engine was Chevrolet’s 230CID 140 HP six cyl. For the test, CL opted for the upgrade 250CID Big Six, a $26.35 option with 155 HP that measurably increased the car’s driveability.

In such a guise, the Camaro acquitted itself quite well. With its 3-speed synchromesh transmission, it delivered “surprising fuel economy,” and its 11 secs 0-60 MPH time was comparable to that of moderate V8s of the period (one wonders what it could have done with a 4-speed manual). Under driving, all this added to a car that had a balanced feel and offered fairly good cornering and handling characteristics.

Meanwhile, the SS 350 V8 “really blossoms as a personal/luxury/HP sort of car, though some penalties must be paid in both cost and handling… However, the SS 350 is likely to be more popular, simply because it moves with spirit and authority when the throttle pedal is depressed.”

True that. As history has proven and CL’s own review states towards the end: “The editor of another automotive magazine… bought an SS 350 for his own personal use. The reason? ‘Because it’s fun to drive.'”

Being new for 1967, a good deal of the article is devoted to the Camaro’s creation. Infant computer technology was applied to the Camaro’s development to a greater extent than any other car in GM’s history up to that point. Computer calculations were used for suspension components, cabin isolation, and even the vehicle’s shape. Meanwhile, its unique unitized body/sub-chassis body combination was a growth of earlier tests done on Chevy II mock-ups.

Regardless of computer use, other reviews found the ‘67 Firebird rear suspension a better choice than the Camaro’s.

Some quibbles regarding fit and finish appear towards the end, finding fault with exterior panels that were slightly wavy and paint finish that had ‘orange peel’ in some areas. That, plus other minor complaints in ergonomics.

But overall, reviewers felt the Camaro had a high degree of “Fun Factor.”

1976 brochure.


The dilemma facing a potential Camaro buyer is a natural one for this time and place in the automotive firmament…

Indeed. In hindsight, reviewers probably didn’t need a crystal ball to figure that such variety was not feasible in the long run. Stocking parts and supplies, and keeping choices open to a minor segment of buyers didn’t do wonders for Chevrolet’s operational costs. By the mid-’70s, the division had gone through quite a bit of operational streamlining and the choice menu had been considerably curtailed, as can be seen in the ’76 Camaro brochure above. And well, market tendencies and production realities were just changing in general.

Still, it was quite a time to experience and a good moment to reminisce and fantasize (What would I’ve ordered?). Then again, those in love with machinery have kept playing with such choices ever since on their own, with or without factory support.


Further reading:

Automotive History: The Birth Of The Camaro

Curbside Classic: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro – The Last Unmolested ’69 Camaro Six Daily Driver In The World?