As the arrival of the sixth-generation Camaro approaches, Chevrolet has decided to reflect on the previous five generations of its iconic pony car. The bowtie gathered up five General Motors designers who had contributed to Camaro design at some point and had them each breakdown the styling of one Camaro generation, giving us a more detailed perspective on each Camaro’s outward appearance.
Chevrolet called on vice president of global design at GM, Ed Welburn, to analyze the styling of the first-generation Camaro for us. Welburn explains how Chevrolet was surprised at the success of the first-gen Camaro, as its arrival was fast-tracked due to the demand for personal coupes at the time, a trend sparked by the Ford Mustang.
“The Camaro should not have been a design success, as it was based on an existing architecture and admittedly hurried to market to address the personal coupe revolution occurring with Baby Boomer customers,” Welburn explains. “However, the first-generation Camaro delivered a pure, classic proportion that will forever be regarded as one of the best-looking cars of its time. It was very lean and muscular, with comparatively minor embellishments for high-performance models. That was in contrast to some of the brasher competitors during the muscle car era, and it has helped the first-generation Camaro maintain timeless good looks.”
Welburn says Chevrolet made every effort to make the first-gen Camaro appear wider, sleeker and more muscular. To do this they flared out the rear fenders and used wide, elongated taillight and grille designs. The character lines which run from the front wheel openings to the rear gave the car an additional aura of speed, Welburn says, while the “cowl induction” bulge in the hood signified the car’s muscly nature.
“The 1969 model is the iconic Camaro to me,” he explains. “From the dual-plane grille design and speed lines stamped into the fenders and doors, it was original and distinctive. It didn’t borrow from any other design and all these years later, it still looks fresh.”