1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible

Yesterday saw the launch of the all-new, sixth-generation 2016 Chevrolet Camaro which, incidentally, falls just over a year shy of the pony car’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, Chevrolet has re-released a whole bunch of press photos depicting the Camaro as it grew into the retro-futuristic sharp suit we all recognise today.

The Camaro was unveiled in September 1966 as a last-minute response to the successful Ford Mustang. Available as either a coupe or a convertible (just like the Mustang, except the latter also received a fastback), the iconic first-gen model featured a variety of straight-six and V8 engine choices throughout its short three-year life, including a 290 hp 4.9 litre small-block V8 in the Z/28 and a 375 hp 6.5 litre big-block V8 in the SS.

With the ’70s came the arrival of the more distinctive second gen, billed as a more serious performance car than what came before – there’s no convertible this time around, for example. Initial engine choices included a 360 hp 5.7 litre LT-1 V8 in the Z/28, but the Suez fuel crisis and tightening emissions regulations forced maximum output ratings downwards as the decade progressed, petering out at a paltry 155 hp in 1975.

Despite this, the elimination of competitors such as the Mustang (downsized and sitting on the same platform as the infamous Pinto) and the Dodge Challenger (discontinued altogether) meant that the Camaro – and its stablemate the Pontiac Firebird – dominated the pony car market, and sales of the Chevy soared to a record 282,571 units in 1979. It was a long production run for this car – sales only seized in 1981.

Following in its footsteps, the boxy ’80s-tastic third gen added an optional T-top roof to the coupé and reintroduced the convertible body style for the first time since 1969. It featured modern technology such as multi-point fuel injection and a driver’s airbag; the former helped push power outputs up from the lows in the ’70s, culminating in 245 hp from a 5.7 litre L98 V8.

This generation also saw the introduction of the legendary IROC-Z, which, apart from the performance boost from the “Tuned Port Injection,” also featured a retuned suspension for better handling.

In 1993, the more rounded fourth gen came into being, with more creature comforts and power than before – outputs surged past the 300 hp mark for the first time since 1970, hitting a peak of 325 hp on the SS model’s 5.7 litre LS1 V8. Sadly, slow sales, a shrinking market and strong competition from the Mustang led Chevrolet to end production in 2002, with no successor in sight. The Camaro nameplate, it seemed, was dead.

That was, until Chevrolet revealed a new retro-styled concept at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show; and after a starring role in the first Transformers movie, the fifth generation went into production in 2009 to take the fight anew to the Mustang. The most powerful Camaro in history, it received a 580 hp 6.2 litre supercharged LSA V8 in the ZL1 in 2012, while the Z/28 nameplate returned as a track-biased variant with a 7.0 litre naturally-aspirated LS7 V8 pushing out 505 hp.

The latest in the line, the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is lighter and stiffer than before, and comes with either a 310 hp 2.0 litre turbo four-pot, a 335 hp 3.6 litre V6 or the Corvette Stingray‘s 455 hp 6.2 litre LT1 (no relation to the second-gen’s LT-1) V8 in the SS. It’s said to be the best Camaro ever; looks like the nameplate is riding into its 50th birthday healthier than ever, isn’t it?

1967-1969 first-gen Chevrolet Camaro

1970-1981 second-gen Chevrolet Camaro
1982-1992 third-gen Chevrolet Camaro
1993-2002 fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro
2010-2015 fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro
2016 sixth-gen Chevrolet Camaro