Introduced to the public in the fall of 1966, the Chevrolet Camaro was a late entry into the pony car sales arena. It’s a territory that had been enjoyed by the Plymouth Barracuda and dominated by the Ford Mustang for the previous two years, and it had been a long wait for Chevrolet buyers, hungry for their own model.
Unlike the competition who based their designs on their compact model chassis, Chevrolet designed the Camaro as its own model and could be ordered as the owner wished. All engines from the economical six-cylinder, to the big-block V-8s were available, as well as Chevrolet’s full lineup of optional equipment.
The first-generation Camaro also had style going for it. Simple flowing curves that gave the car that hint of motion even while standing still, was coupled with an interior that was fashionable yet functional.
With General Motors’ ample, optional equipment list, buyers were free to choose from many different packages or select individual features as their wants and pocketbooks allowed. While we look at special edition packages offered today, yesteryear buyers had that and more, as few of these vehicles ever left the factory equipped the same.
Chevrolet truly covered the spectrum of buyers wants. The base Camaro provided sporty looks, with a low-cost six-cylinder or V-8 engine, or buyers could open the door to performance and opt for the Super Sport package, with many roadworthy upgrades.
Another option was the Rally Sport option. More of an appearance package it could be paired with the base model or added to the SS package, for a blend of performance and style.
Today, the first-generation ’67 to ’69 Camaro is a solid collectible. The ’69 being the most plentiful due to an extended production schedule, it leaves enthusiasts with more of a challenge to seek out those pristine examples of the earlier models.
For Mike Saunders of East Selkirk, finding his 1967 Camaro SS was a long row to hoe.
“In my younger years, I had a ’67 Chevelle until I sold it in my 20s and it was always something I regretted,” Saunders says. A decade later and he was on the lookout for a classic to replace what he missed the most. “An evening drive down the highway, with the windows down and the radio playing, it’s a feeling hard to explain,” Saunders says.
After many years of looking online and checking the market, which only saw prices rise, he found his treasure in August 2016. A seller in Winnipeg was offering a nicely equipped, recently restored 1967 Camaro SS coupe. An original Los Angeles car, it was brought up to Canada through Minneapolis in 2010.
The RPO L48 Super Sport option, came equipped with the new-for-’67, 295-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine, coupled to a Muncie four-speed manual transmission and 3.31 geared rear axle. The engine features a polished aluminum Edelbrock intake manifold and four-barrel carburetor, as well as Crane electronic ignition, MSD spark-plug wires and chrome alternator. Exhaust is handled by a set of Hooker headers leading to a 2.5-inch-diameter custom dual-exhaust system with Magnaflow mufflers.
Finished in Butternut Yellow with a black SS fender stripe, simulated louvered hood and rally wheels turning BFG T/A radials, it screams pony car.
The RPO Z22 Rally Sport option added concealed headlamps, lower body mouldings, specific black tail lamp bezels and back-up lamps below the rear bumper. When both packages were ordered, the SS badging took precedence over the RS grille, fender and gas cap emblems.
Inside there’s a black vinyl bucket seat interior, with centre console and floor shift.
Added options include the special instrumentation package, comprising a dash-mounted tachometer, and console pod containing an electric clock, ammeter, oil pressure, engine temperature and fuel gauge. Also from the factory was tinted windshield, front and rear spoilers and push-button AM radio that has since been replaced with a Custom Autosound AM/FM unit.
Since purchasing the Camaro, Saunders has fixed a few engine oil leaks and rebuilt the rear suspension, including new axles, bearings, springs, bushings and shackles. Future plans may include the addition of power steering and power brakes for driver comfort and possibly a rebuild to freshen up the engine.
Over the past year, Saunders and his wife, Darcelle, have been able to take in several local shows and show-and-shine events with the Camaro. His son, Garrett, is currently in the automotive program in Selkirk, and although he’s mostly into imports, he’s starting to appreciate the Camaro.
From family cruises to show-and-shine events and just plain rollin’ down the highway, this ’67 Camaro SS just maxes out the collector car score card.
Cruiser note: The final Sunday Night Cruise at the Grant Park Pony Corral takes place Sunday, beginning at 4 p.m. Stop by with your classic or special-interest vehicle for a chance to win a variety of great prizes.