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How the Chevrolet Camaro evolved through the years

As the fifth-generation Camaro prepares to bow out, Chevrolet is tracing its evolution from 1967 to 2015 and asked five designers to reflect on every generation of the iconic muscle car.

Ed Welburn, vice president of global design at GM, says the original Camaro (1967-1969) 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. Yet, it will forever be regarded as one of the best-looking cars of its time.

The second generation (1970-1981), as recalled by Ken Parkinson, executive director of design at Chevrolet Trucks and Global Architecture, was built on its own dedicated architecture, which gave the design team the freedom to create a powerful expression of American muscle, influenced by European grand-touring aesthetics.

John Cafaro, executive director of global design at Chevrolet, claims the third-generation Camaro (1982-1992) will always be a cultural symbol of the 1980s. More American in design than the previous model, it was also the first high-volume domestic car to incorporate aero-enhancing, racing-inspired ground effects. Sales jumped 50% for 1982, and the Camaro Z28 was named the 1982 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

The fourth generation of the Camaro (1993-2002) was a very aggressive design intended to evolve the proportion from the third-generation car with a provocative exterior and greater aerodynamic performance, explains Kirk Bennion, exterior design manager of the Camaro. Having a low front end was important to the design. It really worked with the high deck lid rear spoiler to enhance the appearance of motion. All these years later, it still looks contemporary – and fast!

While the iconic 1969 Camaro was the unmistakable inspiration for the fifth-generation Camaro (2010-2015), its design had to be more than simply a 21st century update, according to Tom Peters, exterior design director of the Camaro. Distilling the timeless essence of the design and translating into a fresh, contemporary Camaro was a challenge, he says.