Camaro Design through the Years

Chevrolet designers reflect on five generations of iconic style

As the Camaro rolls through the final year of its fifth generation, Chevrolet asked five designers who have contributed to the sporty car’s design to reflect on the styling legacy that helped create an icon.

“While Camaro has evolved with cultural and design trends, it has consistently represented the approachable, attainable sports car with an emphasis on fun that’s evident in its styling,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. “As a result, each generation of Camaro has evoked an emotional connection with enthusiasts – connections spanning 48 years, and five generations.” 

First Generation – 1967-69

“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,” said Welburn. “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.”

The Camaro’s first generation lasted only three model years, but one stands out for Welburn: “The 1969 model is the iconic Camaro to me. 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.”

Welburn’s design analysis highlights for the 1969 Camaro include:

  1. Every effort was made to make it appear wider, sleeker and more muscular
  2. Character lines that trailed the wheel openings gave the car an aura of speed
  3. The rear fenders were pulled out, giving the car a wider, more muscular flair
  4. Dual-plane grille added visual interest to the nose and became a trademark of Camaro design
  5. Wide taillights, with body-color sheet metal between them, exaggerated the car’s width
  6. Simulated grilles forward of the rear fenders provided accent detail and became one of the 1969 Camaro’s focal styling cues
  7. Chevrolet-signature “cowl induction” power bulge hood signified the muscle beneath it, from high-revving Small Block V-8 to high-torque Big Block V-8 engines.