We Review the History of the Fourth-Generation Camaro
By 1992, the extremely popular and iconic 3rd-Generation Chevy Camaro had played the final act of its decade-long production run. With the road now open to a worthy successor, the Camaro faithful yearned for improved technology, better quality, and above all, more power. With EFI and computer controls now mastering federal emissions, high-tech horsepower had arrived and Camaro fans prayers were about to be answered… big time.
For 1993, Chevrolet introduced its 4th-Gen Camaro, with the front engine, rear-drive, two-door sports coupe sporting a completely fresh design. Surging-forward with our guides to late model GM machines, GM-EFI will examine the 1993-2002, 4th-Gen Chevy Camaro, it’s features and options, performance numbers, special and limited variants and production totals.
Like it’s F-body Pontiac Firebird cousin, the 4th-Gen Camaro comprised two iterations, with revised fascias and upgraded engines differentiating the 1993-’97 from ’98-’02 models, we will rundown both.
Conceived at GM’s Advanced Concepts Center in Los Angeles, the California Camaro was a highly futuristic design that presented a realistic portrayal of the Chevy pony car that would cruise into the new millennium.
Displayed at the 1989 LA International Auto Show, it featured a nose-down stance (emphasizing the pony car staple of a long hood/short deck) a slick bullet shape, scissor-hinge doors, flush mounted head/taillights, staggered size front/rear wheels with meaty tires, center-mount dual exhaust tips and a fighter plane-like cockpit with swivel mounted drivers seat and moveable pedals/steering wheel.
Of course the California Camaro depicted the advanced conceptual vision of its 50-strong design team, but most styling cues were within range of a tone-down and made it to production. It only takes a quick glance at the California Camaro and a street going ’93-’02 model to see that they really nailed it.
HOT, RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE: 1993
Unlike its predecessor, the 4th-Gen Camaro was packed with power/performance upon its release, definitely raising eyebrows and quickening “heartbeats.” Chevy’s new F-body had two guises; base coupe and high-performance Z28, both available in hardtop with T-tops format.
Now making full use of rust proof/dent resistant materials developed by GM’s Fisher Body Division, sheet molded compound (SMC) was used for the roof, doors, hatchback panel and integrated rear deck lid spoiler, while Reaction Injection Molded (RIM) panels were used for the front fenders and fascia. The rear fascia was reinforced and flexible polyurethane, while the rear quarters and hood utilized two-sided galvanized steel.
The new Camaro weighed more at 3,250-lbs. (up from the previous RS’s 3060-lbs.), and was slightly taller, wider and longer than the 3rd-Gen cars, but viewing its wind-cheating shape and 68-degree raked windshield (shared with it’s Pontiac Firebird cousin), you’d never know it.
Retaining many of the styling cues seen on the ’89 Concept, the new Camaro displayed a shark-nosed front fascia with body shape-integrated side mirrors/rear deck lid spoiler and ample use of glass on the top portion of the car. The flush headlights were axed, for now, with the 3rd-Gen’s recessed quad light set-up (raccoon eyes) updated and retained. Present on the production cars, was a sloped hood with two non-functional intake slots at its back edge.
Replacing the 3rd-Gen’s dated interior was more user-friendly and comfortable cockpit, featuring rounder, sculpted edges, new analog gauges, cleaner controls and high-back seats with side bolsters — all presenting an aesthetically pleasing and thoroughly modern driving experience.
Both the Coupe and Z28 got new features as standard equipment including:
- Four-wheel Antilock Brakes (ABS)
- Brake/transmission interlock feature with automatic
- Dual front airbags (the first Chevrolet to be so-equipped)
- New PASS-Key II theft deterrent system
- State-of-the-art sound system
- Solar-Ray tinted glass
- Cowl panel windshield wiper shield, (designed to reduce turbulence, retaining aerodynamics)
- 4-way manually adjustable front reclining seats with full folding rear seat backs
- Scotchguarded cloth seat and door panel protection
- Use of R-134a non-ozone-depleting CFC-substitute AC refrigerant, (Camaro and Chevrolet first)
Base Camaros were powered by the L32 3.4L SFI (Sequential Fuel-Injected) V6 making a healthy 160hp and 200lb-ft, mated to a five-speed manual (standard), or optional four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the V-6 Camaro was rated at 19mpg/city and 28mpg/highway, for both stick/auto.
Improving upon the 3rd-Gen’s platform, the suspension/chassis was tweaked to provide a 23% stiffer structure and a new rack-and-pinion steering system was employed, providing vastly superior handling.
The new suspension consisted of:
- Front: (SLA) short/long control arms, coil-over monotube de Carbon gas-charged shock absorbers and tubular stabilizer bar with links and computer-selected springs
- Rear: Solid axle with torque arm and trailing arm, track bar and coil springs over monotube gas-charged shock absorbers and stabilizer bar with links, (Firm Ride & Handling suspension/Coupes only)
Camaro coupes came with 4-wheel Antilock power front disc/rear drum brakes, 16-inch wheels with bolt-on wheel covers and 215/60R16 tires as standard equipment.
The ’93 Z28 would offer a level of performance rivaling all 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-Gen models from the get-go.
Taking advantage of family ties, new age grunt was supplied in the form of the Corvette’s Gen-II 5.7L 350ci MFI LT1 V8. Putting out 275hp and 325lb-ft, Chevy’s slick new pony could gallop to 60mph in 6.3-seconds, finish the 1320′ in 14.5 at 97mph and achieve a 150mph top speed. Standard with the LT1 lump, was a lovely Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual, with the 4L60 four-speed automatic optional.
Basically the same as the Corvette’s LT1, Camaro mills differed somewhat in the way of exhaust routing/configuration, lack of covering shield on injector nozzles, two-bolt mains (instead of the Vette’s 4-bolts), stamped-steel valvecovers (instead of composite on Vette) and the Camaro did not require synthetic oil (although everyone on the GM EFI staff recommends it personally –Ed.).
Other standard Z28 performance features included:
- Serpentine belt accessory drive system
- Platinum-tip spark plugs
- Limited-slip rear axle
- 4-wheel power disc brakes
- Stainless steel single muffler exhaust system with dual rectangular tips
- Performance Ride & Handling suspension, with beefier front 30mm/rear 19mm stabilizer bars and computer-selected springs
- 16×8-inch cast-aluminum wheels (split-spoke spinning blade design) and standard 235/55R16 tires with 115mph speedometer, optional (QLC) 245/50ZR16 Goodyear Eagle tires with 150mph speedometer, (Z28 only)
All Z28s came with black-painted roofs, as did all Camaros with option (CC1) Removable glass roof panels-T-tops, (non T-top cars had body-color roofs) and all models got black-painted side mirrors.
The Camaros pallet included seven available colors:
- 10 Arctic White
- 18 Dark Green-Gray Metallic
- 41 Black
- 71 Medium Patriot Red Metallic
- 81 Bright Red
- 91 Purple Pearl Metallic
Base Camaro coupes had a retail asking price of $13,399, while the Z28 fetched $16,779 to start.
INDY 500 PACE CAR
Just like when the new for ’82 3rd-Gen Z28 paced the Indianapolis 500 11-years earlier, its 4th-Gen successor was called to duty for the 77th running of the great race. Following a proven formula, Chevy provided a limited run of 1993 Z28 Indy 500 Pace Car replicas to commemorate the race and the new Camaros staring role.
Each special car was a hardtop or T-top Z28 equipped with either the T-56 six-speed manual or 4L60 four-speed automatic and could be ordered with the standard tire package or the (QLC) 245/50/ZR16s with 150mph speedo.
Unique features included:
- Special two-tone exterior paint, black over arctic white, code “01U/O1L” special paint with multi-colored body stripes, official “Indy 500” call-out door graphics, badges and “Camaro” windshield stencil
- Two-tone interior color scheme/pin striping on seats/door panels
- Unique white-painted 16×8-inch Z28 aluminum wheels
With an option cost of $995, a total of 663 Z28 Indy 500 Pace Car replicas were made, with one going free of charge to race champion Emerson Fittipaldi as part of the spoils of victory.
Track-Tested and Police Approved: 1LE/B4C
Continuing it’s dark existence, the 1LE performance package, now touted as the Special Performance Suspension option, was applied to only 19 Z28s for ’93. 1LE now included:
- Larger diameter 32mm front and 21mm rear stabilizer bars
- Stiffer front/rear shock absorber valving
- Harder durometer stabilizer bar and upper/lower control arm bushings
- Baffled radiator (for additional cooling)
A/C was still a no-no with 1LE, and the performance rear axle with engine oil cooler was required, however, an aluminum driveshaft was no longer part of the package. Not to forget our nation’s finest, the (B4C) police package returned, equipping 135 base Camaro Coupes.
B4C equipment included:
- 5.7L 350ci LT1 V8 with automatic or six-speed manual transmission
- Z28 performance suspension
- 16X8-inch Aluminum wheels with (QLC) 245/50ZR16 high-performance tires with 150mph speedo
- Four-wheel disc brakes
- Limited-slip rear axle with 3.23s/automatic and 3.42s/six-speed stick
- Engine oil cooler
- Automatic trans cooler (for cars so equipped)
- 140-amp alternator
- Available air conditioning
At almost $4,000 on top of the price of a base Camaro coupe, it was understandable why the B4C cars didn’t start as the pricier Z28.
Total Camaro production for 1993 was a low 39,103 units, mainly because of start-up issues at the new Ste. Therese, Quebec assembly plant and a late-January release. Even with the small inaugural sales numbers, there was no doubting the 4th-Gen Camaro had launched off the line and was headed for hell of a pass.
HIGH-TECH IMROVEMNETS AND A RAGTOP: 1994
Along with open-air cruising now available for both Coupe and Z28, 1994 was marked by upgrades to the engine/transmission and computer controls.
Built on the same line as the solid-roof cars, convertibles became available midyear. Adding almost $5k to the price of either a coupe or Z28, the power-operated ragtops came with a full headliner, heated glass rear window and a three-piece hard tonnaeu cover. Topless Camaros also came with extra structural reinforcements to the unibody, providing a solid ride even with the top down. Standard and optional packages in both base coupe and Z28 rags made for pretty high-end rides.
Operational upgrades were many and significant, remaining through the end of production, they included:
- 5.7L 350ci LT1 V8 now gets Sequential Fuel Injection, replacing first year MFI (Multi Port Fuel-Injection) system. (SFI would improve idle, drivability, fuel economy and overall performance)
- Borg-Warner T-56 six-speed transmission gets Computer Aided Gear selection (CAGS). Known as the “skip shift,” under light throttle conditions, the computer would up-shift from 1st-to-4th gear to improve fuel consumption. Under heavy throttle, the computer-controlled solenoid would disengage, allowing a full rowing-through the gears. An instrument gauge light shown when (CAGS) was active
- 4L60 four-speed automatic now upgraded to 4L60-E, with electronic controls and four solenoids connected to the Power Control Module (PCM) providing for smoother, controlled shift points, with altitude compensation as an added feature
- Onboard vehicle computer upgraded to monitor operation of engine and transmission
- Replacing Speed Density, which measured engine speed/load to calculate airflow/fueling requirements for driving conditions, was a new Mass Airflow system that operated via a Mass Air sensor located in the throttle body that measured airflow to the engine
Most importantly, 1994 marked the advent of computer tuning as opposed to inserting a preprogrammed “chip” or PROM to the vehicle’s computer. Now equipped with a non-removable/reflashable chip from the factory, custom tuning could be done by connecting a Laptop or tuning device to the Assembly Line Diagnostic Link (ALDL) under the driver’s side dash.
Other notables for 1994:
- Redesigned front brake calipers provided improved pad wear and performance
- Gray interior knobs and yellow instrument gauge graphics-‘93 are replaced by black knobs and white graphics
- Both sun visors get elastic storage bands
- Improved night lighting on door controls and switches
- New options include Graphite or Beige leather seating surfaces
- Keyless entry system available
Three new exterior colors became available in ’94:
- 37 Bright Teal Metallic
- 48 Polo Green Metallic
- 80 Medium Quasar Blue Metallic
Back in the zone, 135 1LE cars were delivered, now offering new Koni double-adjustable shocks, while law enforcement increased their requests for high-performance service vehicles, with 668 B4C Camaros answering the call.
In just two short model years the new Camaro had become a strong seller and one of the top performance cars in the U.S. and it was only the beginning. Total North American production for 1994 was 125,244 units.
Finding its production stride in ’94, changes to the Camaro line for ’95 were few but continued the trend of increased technology/efficiency and options.
Available for the first time on Chevy’s Pony car was Acceleration Slip Regulation (RPO NW9), more commonly referred to as “Traction Control.” For $450, Z28 coupes/convertibles could offset their tire-spinning ways with the new interactive engine/brake system. A new all-season performance tire option (RPO QFC) was available to compliment ASR.
First equipping base Coupes/convertibles slated for the highly emissions controlled California market a new engine (RPO L36) became available late in the model year. Set to replace the 160-horse (L32) 3.4L SFI V6, the new Buick-sourced 3800 Series II 3.8L SFI V6 made 200hp/225lb-ft, mated only to the 4-speed automatic. Because of the late availability, only 4,787 examples were so equipped for ’95. Further increasing the base Camaros performance acumen was an 115mph electronic speed limiter (aka, governor), up from 105mph the previous year as a result of new speed-rated tires.
Also new for ’95 was option (D82) monochromatic roof paint color, which provided body-color to the roof bar, side mirrors and door handles on Z28s and base coupes with T-tops-previously black-only on ’93-’94 models. Welcome improvements were made to the Opti-Spark distributor in ’95, now including a vent to remove moisture from the unit and an updated cam drive.
New hues for ’95 included:
- 05 Dark Purple Metallic
- 13 Sebring Silver Metallic
- 71 Med Patriot Red Metallic
- 79 Mystic Teal Metallic
Still ripping it up on the track and street was the obscurely famous 1LE option that found it’s way into 106 Camaros and in the never ending pursuit of law & order and clueless speeders, the nations best and bravest ordered-up another 310 B4C-equipped cars.
Total production for 1995 was 122,738 units including 38,358 Z28 coupes/convertibles.
Even with the 4th-Gen Camaro dominating its “Blue Oval” rival in every performance category, Mustang sales for ’95 were 185,986. As the Camaro grew more powerful, it’s sale numbers declined, this trend would continue until the end of production in 2002.
STREET LEGAL: 1996
Returning to the Camaro line after nearly a quarter-century absence was Chevrolet’s famed SS (Super Sport) designation. Technically a package (RPO R7T) for the Z28, the SS was the ultimate Camaro of its day.
Following the success of their “Firehawk” program, in which Pontiac Firebird Formulas were outfitted with high-performance goodies, SLP (Street Legal Performance) out of Red Bank N.J. was graced with another “Tier-1” contract, now working with Chevrolet Motor Division on the Camaro SS performance package.
Although the SS option was ordered at the dealer’s desk by wide-eyed, salivating Camaro customers like other RPOs, the process of transformation was anything but usual. After recording the dealer’s request and the $3,999 list price, a new Z28 would leave the Ste. Therese Quebec assembly plant and travel by truck, south of the border to SLP’s Troy Michigan facility.
All Z28/SS Camaros were fitted with SLP performance enhancements including:
- Composite SS hood with functional center-mounted scoop and forced induction air cleaner assembly
- S/S low-restriction exhaust
- Unique re-styled up-turned rear deck lid spoiler
- Specially-tuned suspension (Coupes/T-tops), SS convertibles retained stock Z28 suspension and had 16×8-inch wheels
- 17×9-inch ZR1-style five-spoke aluminum wheels with 275/40ZR17 performance tires
- Unique SS badging
- Quaker State Synquest synthetic engine oil
- SS interior plaque
Additional SLP SS options included:
- Stainless steel drivers-side exit performance exhaust system
- Level II Bilstein sport suspension
- Torsen limited-slip differential including performance lubricant package
- Hurst short throw shifter
- Engine oil cooler
First year SS Camaros exterior colors were limited to Black, Arctic White, Red and Polo Green.
Weighing almost 3,500-lbs., the SS was hefty, but could put it to the ground. Power output was 305hp and 325lb-ft — or 310hp with the optional SLP performance exhaust. This was the first Camaro to brake 300 ponies since 1970.
Manufacturers numbers had the Super Sport Camaro sprinting to 60mph in 5.3-seconds, blasting through the traps in 13.8-seconds at 101mph and topping-out at 159mph.
Handling-wise, it recorded 0.88 Gs in lateral acceleration testing and could stop on a dime from 60mph in 117-ft.
Reversing a bit alphabetically, the RS (Rally Sport) Camaro was back, slated in between the base Coupe and Hi-Po Z28 and SS. Rally Sport Camaros were available in hardtop, T-Top and convertible, and featured:
- L36 3.8L 200hp V6 mated to five-speed stick or four-speed automatic
- Full ground effects package
- 16-inch aluminum wheels with 235/55R/16 tires
- Unique three-piece rear deck lid spoiler
- Standard AC
Further increasing the performance potential of the V-6 powered RS, was the optional (Y87) Performance Handling Package that included:
- Four-wheel disc brakes
- Limited-slip rear axle with performance gear ratio
- Quicker ratio steering
- Dual muffler outlet exhaust
Also available on automatic-equipped V-6 Camaros, was the new second-gear select switch, which allowed for quicker launches.
The ’96 model year saw all LT1-powered cars get a 10-hp bump to 285hp, resulting from the new (OBDII) on-board-diagnostic system, which now used two catalytic converters/heated oxygen sensors.
On the color chart, replacing code 71 Medium Patriot Red Metallic was Code 96 Cayenne Red Metallic.
Hardcore racers and narcissistic personalities could still get the vaunted 1LE package, but would now have to cough-up an additional $1,175 for the beefy suspension equipment. Unlike it’s strict beginnings, ’96 marks the first year that 1LE components could be ordered on Z28s with AC. With the new SS stealing the headlines and available with many comparable SLP goodies, only 55 1LE cars were sold in ’96.
The long arm of the law continued to order B4C “Police Package” Camaros, with 228 delivered for highway pursuit and interceptor duty.
1996 BRICKYARD 400 Z28 PACE CAR:
On August 3, ’96, the Chevrolet Z28 once again paced the field at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now for NASCAR’s “Brickyard 400” instead of the great Indy race. Three 1996 Z28s took the duty and offered a sneak peak at the 30th-Anniversary Camaro coming for ’97.
All were T-Top equipped, shod in white, with white-painted five-spoke wheels and wearing “Hugger orange” body-length stripes. Another nod to it’s fabled past was houndstooth upholstery, just like the 1st-Gen ’69 Indy 500 Pace Car.
Total Camaro production for 1996 was 61,362 units, only half the total number from the previous year.
Even though the Camaro, especially it’s high-performance V-8 variants, were doing exactly what they were designed to do, declining sales had many GM insiders pissing and moaning about the Camaros future, or if there should even be one. Unfortunately for the 4th-Gen Camaro, it had become to good a pony car and not enough of a daily driver like its archrival Mustang.
THIRTY YEARS YOUNG: 1997
Celebrating 30-years of production, the 4th-Gen Chevy Camaro offered many refinements/options and an anniversary edition for 1997.
Upgrades to ’97 Camaros included:
- Standard four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes on all models (mid year)
- New automatic daytime running lights
- Redesigned tri-color taillights
- A reinforced steel safety cage with steel side door reinforcing beams and front/rear crush zones
- Interiors featured new instrument panels/consoles with multiple cup holders and revised seat contours offering improved comfort and lateral support
- New Premium Delco “Monsoon” sound system (available remote 12-disc CD changer (Coupes got new 200-watt system)
- New 16-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels (standard on Z28/RS, available in silver-painted or chrome)
Code 31 Bright Green Metallic was added to the color pallet.
1997 30th-Anniversary Edition Camaro:
Following its visual debut as pace car for the ’96 Brickyard 400, the 30th-Anniversary Edition package (RPO Z4C) was offered on Camaro Z28/SS models for 1997.
Along with the aforementioned Arctic White exterior with Hugger Orange stripes running nose to rear deck lid, the $575 Z4C package added:
- White-painted 16-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels
- White door handles
- White lower front fascia air intake
- White leather seats with black/white “houndstooth” inserts (all white leather seats optional), with unique 30th-Anniversary logo embroidery on head rests and floor mats
A total of 4,533 30th-Anniversary Camaro Z28s were built in ’97, with 225 of them shipped to Canada. Also Included in this number, are 957 hardtop/T-top/convertible SS versions, all highly sought by collectors.
Additional features for 30th-Anniversary Package RPO Z4C on Z28/SS RPO R7T included:
- White-painted 17-inch ZR1-style SS wheels
- Two key fobs
- Unique car cover with locking cable and tote bag
- SS emblems and interior Commemorative dash plaque
Once more benefiting from it’s Corvette bloodlines, 108 30th-Anniversary SS Camaros were fitted with the 1996 Corvette Grand Sport’s LT4 engine. All were hardtop/six-speed-equipped, with two serving as pilot cars and six going to Canada.
Each special motor was balanced and blueprinted by the high-performance masters at SLP, providing 330hp and 340lb-ft, identical to the GS Vette’s numbers and making for the fastest Camaro available at that time. Because of the requirements of the LT4 conversion, many LT4-equipped SS’ came fitted with multiple SLP options, further adding to their rarity.
Still costing $1,175, only 48 road warriors opted for the 1LE suspension package in ’97, while “Smokey” ordered-up another 223 B4C Camaros. Total Camaro production for 1997 was 60,202 units, a third being Z28/SS cars.
With Mustang sales more than double Chevy’s F-body and evil whispers circulating amongst GM’s bean counters, the Camaro’s future seemed bleak. However, despite the naysayers and rising sales of your daughter’s first car (Mustang), one alphanumeric title would sum-up the coming model year- LS1.
A VERY GOOD THING JUST GOT EVEN BETTER: 1998
Without beating around the bush, 1998 marks the arrival of the all aluminum, Gen III, 5.7L 346ci, LS1 motor to the Z28/SS. Debuting the year earlier in the new for ’97 C5 Corvette, this state of the art pushrod power plant was soon to become a performance legend.
Not to upstage America’s sports car, the slightly detuned F-body version for Camaro/Firebird, was rated at 305hp/335lb-ft. — 40-horses less than the Vette– yet, 20-more than the iron block/ aluminum head 5.7L LT1 it replaced. The new powerplant was now available with either the 4L60-E automatic or six-speed stick as a no cost option. Automatic-equipped examples were paired with 2.73 or the optional 3.23 “performance” axle gears, while the six-speed versions received 3.42s.
Retailing for a hair under $21-grand ($20,995), bone stock Z28s were putting-down impressive performance numbers, with most auto-publication test results showing mid 5-second 0-60s, high 13-second 1/4-mile times and 160mph top speeds.
For those not easily satisfied, the SS now coded as RPO WU8, offered more power, grip and bragging rights with the addition of the LS1, making 315hp or 320 with SLPs optional performance exhaust.
No longer an SLP exclusive build, many SS components were installed at the Ste. Therese factory, with the Z28 then being shipped to SLPs LaSalle Quebec facility to receive it’s composite (SMC) hood, spoiler and optional SLP components. Now with much of the SS conversion done “in-house,” the price dropped to a bargain $3,500, luring 3,025 buyers to the hook.
Also for ’98, all Camaros received a refreshed front clip, including hood, fenders, front fascia and new flush-mounted halogen composite headlamps with optional fog lights.
The here today gone tomorrow RS (Rally Sport) model was the latter in ’98, now replaced by RPO Y3F Sport Appearance package, available on Coupes $1,755 and Z28s $1,480 (not SS). The package featured ground effects, front fascia extension, rear spoiler extensions 16-inch wheels and 235/55R16 tires
Other 1998 notables include:
- New Bosch four-wheel disc brake system standard on all models
- New one-piece welded exhaust system
- Body-color roofs/mirrors on Coupes, black roofs/mirrors on Z28/SS
- SS Camaros now fitted with 275/40ZR17 Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires
New exterior colors were:
- 11 Light Pewter Metallic (slated as a 1999 color, 63 ‘98s wore code 11)
- 28 Navy Blue Metallic
- 63 Sport Gold Metallic
Still attracting the fast and the dedicated, 99 1LE Z28s were built with the same suspension upgrades/power steering cooler from the previous year. For the first time, three of the road
Now the same retail price as a Z28, 228 B4C Police Camaros joined the academy, now equipped with the new LS1, 245/50ZR16 tires, power steering cooler, body-color roof, 1LE rear control arms and Z28 emblem delete.
Total Camaro production for 1998 was 54,026, down a bit from ‘97s unimpressive numbers.
With the LS1 staking it’s claim at top of the performance heap, it was evident that the 4th-Gen Camaro’s appeal was directed at the enthusiast. With that said, as 0-60mph and 1/4-mile times dropped, so did sales. Unfortunately for F-body fans, the LS1’s new beginning also spelled the beginning of the end.
THE PONY CAR BLUES: 1999
Not much changed for the Camaro in 1999, including it’s downward spiral in sales.
Upgrades and additions were:
- V6-equipped cars now utilized electronic throttle control and got available traction control
- Z28/SS models receive new heavy duty Zexel Torsen limited-slip rear axle
- A new plastic 16.8-gallon gas tank was fitted to all Camaros, replacing metal 15.5-gallon unit
- New oil life monitoring light added to instrument gauges
- All SS Camaros get low-restriction exhaust system and 320hp rating
New colors included:
- 20 Bright Blue Metallic
- 44 Monterey Maroon Metallic (actually a 2000 color, 45 were built in ’99 to create availability for the 2000 model year)
- 99 Hugger Orange (last offered in 1970)
Making its final appearance, 74 Camaro Z28s were factory-fitted with the 1LE Special Performance Components Package with a final asking price of $1,200. Of that number, 8 were SS models, all being six-speeds except one “Hugger Orange” automatic car.
From this point on, factory installation was out, but SLP continued to offer many 1LE suspension components/packages for those still wanting hardcore handling. The B4C “police package” stayed on patrol with 196 seeing service across the nation.
Total 1999 Camaro production was a frightfully low 42,098 cars, down 12-thousand units from ’98.
With almost half of the Camaros built being Z28s and almost a third of those the ultra high-performance SS model, it was clear who was buying these cars and why. As the whispers at GM grew into loud drones, it was obvious the Camaros days were numbered, it would however, still be around to usher in the new century.
BORN FROM THE PAST, DRIVING INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM: 2000
Despite the winds of cancellation slowly whipping and churning the near future of Chevy’s F-body, a new Camaro would smoke the tires into the new millennium. Staying true to its 1st-Gen ancestors, the Y2K Camaro was a pure pony car, exuding style, presence and raw power.
Changes/upgrades for the 2000 models added some refinement and included:
- New design (N96) 16-inch ten-spoke silver-painted aluminum wheels (standard on Z28 — optional in high-polished/chrome (N98) late year)
- New design ten-spoke17-inch SS aluminum wheels
- New upgraded seat/door panel fabrics
- Interior colors revised with Ebony (true black) replacing Dark Gray, Medium Gray replacing White leather and Accent trim replacing Red accent
- Integrated child seat tether anchors (all models)
- Available redundant steering wheel radio controls
- Side rearview mirrors now body-color on Z28/SS replacing black
- Available option RPO (BBS) Hurst shifter w/six-speed
A new RPO (Y2Y) was designated for “second sticker content” and necessary to order certain SLP options
Also Included in the stats for 2000-’02, are breakdowns of interior surfaces/colors in Camaros bound for Europe and Russia. However small the numbers, the appeal of Chevy’s pony car, was worldwide. Performance figures remained the same for 2000, and that’s a good thing, with the Z28/SS putting out 305/320-horses from the factory, few comparable machines could offer a challenge
Still in demand was the B4C police package, with 254 such equipped Z28s poised to pursue in 2000.
Total Camaro production for Y2K was 45,461 of which 20,419 were Z28s and a new high of 8,913 wore the prestigious SS badge.
Even with prices and sales up a bit from ’99, the trend was steady and the threat imminent. The Chevy Camaro may not have been long for this world, but it still ruled the streets.
SHORT BUT SWEET: 2001
Production for 2001 would be the lowest in Camaro history with just 29,009 units built. Mainly due to a shortened build period, Chevy figured correctly, that many would want the last year models in their garages/driveways, thus commencing ’02 production early.
With the negative out of the way, ’01 would see more power/performance bestowed upon V8-powered Camaros, again borrowing some tasty bits from the C5 Corvette.
Now fitted with the LS6 (Corvette Z06 ’01-’04) intake manifold, a revised camshaft and EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system delete, Z28s put out 310-horses while the SS cranked-out 325hp. Also added to the SS, as standard equipment was a power steering cooler and the LS6 clutch found its way into all six-speed cars.
For 2001, SLP would dip into it’s bag of tricks (and take-off parts from the SS conversion program) offering an RS Camaro of it’s own.
The RPO Y3B (Rally Sport) package was adorned to V6-powered coupes/convertibles and included:
- Dual black or silver Heritage stripes
- Unique grille with Chevrolet “bow tie” logo
- RS interior plaque/exterior badging
- Dual outlet Z28-style exhaust (boosting 3800 V6 to 205hp)
Specific SLP/RS options include:
- 16×8-inch SS-style wheels
- Beefier suspension components
With the end near and the Z28/SS ever more potent, only 398 buyers opted for the $850+ V6/RS package.
There were some changes to the color chart in ’01, with Hugger Orange long gone and Sebring Silver on hiatus, Sunset Orange Metallic became available, in the opinion of many, one of the coolest colors to drape a 4th-Gen Camaro. As for the law of the land being enforced on American highways, 288 B4C Camaro Z28s left the factory in hot pursuit of perpetrators.
On Sept, 26 2001, the long feared yet expected announcement came from GM, stating that after the 2002 model year, the F-body Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird would be no more. As anticipation grew for what was to be the last of Chevy’s 35-year old pony car, anniversary celebrations were being prepared.
NO TEARS, JUST STRIPES: 2002
As the ‘02 model year progressed, the melancholy feelings surrounding it’s dark significance shifted slightly to the array of powerful Camaros available and the fact that time was of the essence. Commemorating it’s 35th year of production, Chevrolet offered The 35th-Anniversary Edition Camaro SS.
Known officially as RPO Z4C, the unique package donned 3,369 special cars in total, split between 1,971 T-top-equipped coupes and 1,398 convertibles (with black soft tops). 369 Anniversary Camaros went north to puck paradise, while 3000 stayed home.
The $2500 Z4C 35th-Anniversary package could only be applied to the $3,625 WU8/SS and included:
- Bright Red exterior paint with dual silver stripes fading to checkered flags over hood/rear deck lid, (Red roof pillar on Anniversary coupes, still black on Z28 and non-Z4C SS)
- Black-accented hood air scoop
- Unique 17-inch ten-spoke machine-faced SS wheels with black inserts and black anodized brake calipers
- Unique front grille and rear panel between taillights receive silver-embossed “Camaro” lettering
- Unique 35th-Anniversary SS body badging
- Ebony leather seats with Pewter leather inserts and custom 35th-Anniversary embroidery on headrests, front floor mats and rear hatch trophy mat- (coupes only)
- 35th-Anniversary instrument panel badging and special owners portfolio
Despite being it’s farewell year, the Anniversary SS created much fanfare, with 45 convertible versions used as festival cars for the “Brickyard 400” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Another 57 non-Z4C SS ragtops were ordered in Sebring Silver to act as public relations vehicles for the Indy 500, chauffeuring parade officials and waving the flag for Chevrolet.
Also of note, the first and last Z4C Convertibles built were retained for GM’s own collection.
Few changes were made to the Camaro line for it’s final year, but most of the 41,776 models built, were chock full of standard/optional features.
- All V6 coupes/convertibles got 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels with 235/55R16 tires as standard
- Front/rear carpeted mats standard in all models
- AM/FM stereo/CD standard in base coupe, Premium Monsoon stereo system included in base convertibles and all Z28/SS models
Also available in ’02, were some very enticing SLP (Y2Y) options like the ever-famous center mount exhaust system as part of SLPs 345-horse package for Camaro Z28 and SS. Total production tallies for 2002 tell a familiar tale, with more than half of all units being Z28s (24,805) and a 4th-Gen high, 11,191 of those SS models, the allure to enthusiasts was a clear as crystal. Also taking the news to heart were those hot-rodders wearing a badge, as the highest number ever, 708 B4C Camaro Z28s were commandeered for police duty.
As the deadline of Sept, 1, 2002 loomed and the reality that the F-body Camaro no longer met federal head-impact standards, (among other things), August 27, would see the last 4th-Generation Camaro, a Red Ragtop Z28, roll down the assembly line and into the history books.
Before the ink was even dry on the registration papers, the Ste. Therese Plant was shut down the next day, further cementing the extinction of the F-body Chevrolet Camaro and it’s Pontiac Firebird cousin.
Without the powers of clairvoyance, the Camaros return was doubtful to say the very least; only time and wishes would prove otherwise.
THE BEST OF THE LAST: SPECIAL EDITION 4th-GEN CAMAROS
The supreme testament to the Camaro’s status as a potent performer is the array of awesome special/limited edition variants available during its production life.
1993-2002 Callaway Camaro C8:
From 1993-‘96, Corvette high-performance tuner, Callaway Cars of Old Lyme Connecticut offered the Callaway C8. A stylistic homage and body-kit for the new F-body Camaro and Firebird, the C8 “CamAerobody” version was for the Camaro only. Besides the $4,500 aero-body panel kit, available upgrades included a 383ci LT1 “Supernatural” engine with performance-tuned suspension, brakes and wheel/tires. Callaway claimed the C8 Supernatural equaled Ferrari 355 and Viper performance, with a 4.7-second 0-60mph and 13-second 1/4-mile times.
1993 DRM Camaro:
Plymouth Minnesota based tuner house DRM (Doug Rippie Motorsports), takes it’s name and reputation from owner/founder Doug Rippie, who made his bones building SCCA championship winning Corvettes and 3rd-Gen Camaros. Now with the new 4th-Gen Camaro unleashed, DRM would offer track-proven engine/suspension upgrades in three high-performance packages.
Starting with the DRM/375, intake/exhaust upgrades bumped the LT1s output to 375hp. The next step up was the DRM/400, with more power and trick suspension/chassis pieces, and then big dog DRM/430 with a “serious as $&!#” bored and stroked 383ci LT1 containing all forged internals and ported heads. Aggressive aero body kit, upgraded wheels and tires, and big brakes were available as well.
1994 CAMARO ZL1 BY JON MOSS:
Soon after its highly touted debut, the potential of the LS1-powered Camaro was evident, but questioned by some automotive journalists who longed for the days of the big block engine.
Then head of GMs Specialty Vehicle Group and performance car legend Jon Moss, decided to bring the gripe to reality by emulating the 1969 427ci ZL1 and stuffing a monstrous 572ci aluminum motor into a new 4th-Gen Camaro.
The new age ZL1s tall-deck motor was fitted with a custom–fabricated cross-ram intake manifold, feeding twin LT1 throttle bodies, mated to a five-speed transmission and Dana 60 rear end putting out a tire-melting 636hp and 670lb-ft.
Moss beefed-up the chassis with polyurethane body/suspension bushings, reinforced suspension-mounting points and installed race-ready 4-wheel disc brakes.
Appearance mods were subtle yet aggressive, with a Corvette-style hood scoop, ground effects and 17-inch aluminum five-spoke wheels with Goodyear GS-C rubber. The ZL1 has since had an appropriate 1998-’02 front fascia added. Retaining A/C and its stereo system, the ZL1 was capable of 200mph.
GMMG, Inc: 2000-02
Without a doubt, the most prolific purveyor of ultra high-performance 4th-Gen Camaros was Marietta, Georgia-based tuner GMMG. Founded by former SLP Engineer/Regional manager Matt Murphy, GMMG teamed with the General and multiple dealerships in building awesome limited edition Camaros/*Firebirds.
Like the dealer-supplied super cars from the ‘60s/’70s, GMMG combined mild-to-radical performance upgrades and appearance modifications, with a full factory warranty.
Most GMMG- enhanced Camaros were 350hp-380hp LS1-powered versions, however, in tribute to the great 1969 ZL1 COPO Camaros, a limited run of 69 2002 ZL1 “Super Cars” were offered in three stages and fitted with either the 400hp C5 Z06 Corvette’s LS6 mill, or a version of the C5R 427ci racing block, making 600-630-horses.
Specific performance/appearance upgrades varied according to model/stage and included:
- GMMG custom-tuned PCM calibration
- ASP under-drive pulley
- Carbon fiber air box lid/K&N air filter
- GMMG S/S chambered cat back exhaust system
- Long-tube headers (stage 2, 3 427ci)
- 3.73 rear axle ratio gears (stage 2,3 x)
- Eibach front/rear lowering springs
- Specific wheels, American Racing Torque Thrust II/S200 Cragar SS, Fikse, Corvette Z06 (painted/chrome)
- Upgraded drilled/slotted front/rear brake rotors
- Unique white or gray-colored gauges with GMMG logos, custom two-tone upholstery/embroidery
- GMMG interior/exterior badging
- Custom-painted hood scoop accents, rear (between taillights) center panel and applied “Hockey stick-style” side decals
The GMMG 4th-gen Camaros were built for Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids Michigan, (‘00-02 Berger SS, ’02 Hot Rod Camaro), Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet in Newton, Connecticut (’01 Intimidator SS), Tom Henry Chevrolet in Bakerstown, Pennsylvania, (Tom Henry SS, 35th-Anniversary Performance Edition SS) and a dozen dealerships received an allotment of ZL1s.
A total of 375 GMMG Camaros were built, comprising some of the most powerful and rare iterations ever. Often mentioned in the same breath with names like Baldwin-Motion and Yenko, GMMG cars are becoming highly sought after by collectors and rightfully so.
The 4th-Gen Camaro is unique in a way that it’s predecessors and successors are not. Slated to be the last of it’s kind, the 1993-02 Camaros provided a template for the future while counting down to it’s demise.
Presenting high water marks in every performance category, the 4th-Gen Camaro became the ultimate enthusiast draw during their time and in the opinion of many Camaro aficionados, some of the best Chevy pony cars ever. With the Zeta platform 5th-Gen’s run already in the books and the ultra high-tech Alpha platform 6th-Gens waging a campaign of dominance over the worlds finest- we must all remember, it was the 4th-Gen Camaro that got us to this great place.
Here’s to the future.
Since obtaining his driver’s license way back in 1987, Andrew’s automotive interests have revolved around late-model, GM EFI iron. Predominantly a Pontiac guy, he had grown-up driving and experiencing many EFI cars from the ’80s to the present. Since 2008, he’s been a freelance writer/photographer for multiple niche auto enthusiast magazines and websites. Andrew claims to have a short yet definitve list of passions, in which late-model performance cars, hold a top spot.