Sometimes in life, regardless of how well we have it or how entrenched in habit we have become, we find ourselves with wandering eyes and a yearning to try new things. As many of you know, I have always been (and will likely always be) a Mustang man. The first car I noticed as budding adolescent was the 1967 Mustang G.T.500 in a comic book I read – well before the car was featured in the movie Gone in 60 Seconds and the world went crazy for Eleanor. If I ever get the privilege of owning one of these classic cars, I will not hesitate to correct with extreme prejudice anyone who dares call my lady “Eleanor”. So why all of a sudden am I so obsessed with Camaros?
If I think about it, it’s not too unusual. Firstly is the fact that, as a Mustang guy, the Camaro is supposed to be my forbidden fruit. I won’t go so far as to say that a Camaro is the Juliet to my Romeo, but there is a certain draw associated with coveting that which ought to be shunned.
More significant than this however, Chevy’s pony car is the only car I can think of that I discovered in sequence of its generations. What I mean by this is that my awareness of cars at the time I was introduced to a Camaro was not very high. It was the mid 1990s and the 12 year old version of me wouldn’t have been able to point out a 4th generation Z28 if its driver pulled up and asked for directions. However, the more I learned about cars the more I was able to identify different makes and models, regardless of the version I was looking at. I just happened to notice Camaros in order. Also, they all were discovered within blocks of my house.
The first Camaro I ever noticed was a 1969 example that lived a few streets down from my old home in Tillsonburg. I would pass it almost every day on my walk to and from school. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. It lived shrouded under a car cover and my lack of automotive knowledge at the time left me guessing as to what alluring creature was moulding the canvas into such an attractive sloped roof shape. Eventually I would find out.
It was a sunny summer’s day. I was on my way to a friend’s house when I saw the car in the flesh for the first time. It was green and it was beautiful. I just didn’t know what it was. It certainly wasn’t a Mustang, but it was similar. The owner happened to be on his front yard doing some gardening, so overcoming some initial anxiety – I typically like to keep to myself at that age – I asked the man what kind of car he had. He responded with the facts, but in a tone of astonishment that hinted of disgust towards my ignorance: “It’s a ’69 Camaro.” “Oh,” I said.
The second Camaro I ever realized I had seen was discovered in a similar fashion. The position of my house relative to my school meant that there were a number of routes I could take on my daily commute. The route with the ’69 on it was through the middle of a residential area. I could also walk down the other main street in town, Tillson Ave.
At the end of the road I lived on was a parking lot for the shipping company that was across from it. One of the cars that was always parked there was a late 1970s-early 1980s Z28. It was white and had very distinctive blue stripes and multi-coloured taillights. This example was not in good shape compared to the green first generation example that lived around the corner. It was a car that was driven every day to work and that was its job. It seems strange now, but at the time the car was only about 15 years old. It would be the same as driving a ’99 model today.
The next Camaro that lived near me was a 3rd generation example in that burnt red-orange colour that screams 1980s at about the same volume as big hair, shoulder pads and puffy acid wash jean jackets. I had seen it plenty of times around my neighbourhood, but I didn’t notice it was a Camaro until I had come to realize that the taillight colours on that car were pretty much the same as the car parked in the lot at the end of my road.
I have a special fondness for 3rd generation Camaros. For some reason the new wave futurist angular design hits my eye in a way that sends a signal to the nostalgic pleasure centre of my brain. For better (and worse), to me that car is the physical embodiment of the 1980s. It might as well have a power mullet.
The first 4th generation car was essentially right under my nose. My house was on a corner lot, and if I had looked down the street from our side yard, I would pretty much be staring at it. It was white and I have no idea if a V6 or V8 lurked under its hood because whoever owned it would always back into their driveway, hiding the exhaust. I know now that I could have looked for badges on the front fenders, but I was dumb then (a different kind of dumb than I am now).
And like most everyone else, I was first made aware of the current generation of Camaros by Michael Bay’s first Transformers movie. Thanks to that cinematic wonder, the yellow with black stripes colour combo is now synonymous with the character Bumblebee. Despite this, I still admire the current car for its modern pony car prowess that includes stout engine options and wicked cool good looks.
Below is a video I found on YouTube that provides some cool visual aid to my story. It's pretty well shot and has a seriously epic sounding backing track.
Well, that’s about it for my trip down Camaro memory lane. I’m still waiting to add to my experience with this car by actually driving one. So if anyone out there wants to hook me up, I would be happy to cover my experience in an upcoming post of my blog and maybe capture some cool moments on video to share on the Automophiliac YouTube account.