GM spotted Ford more than two years and 1.3 million Mustangs before answering the pony-car challenge. When it did, the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 had instant muscle car credibility.
From the start, Camaro featured a Super Sport edition as an authoritative counterpunch to the Mustang GT. It added $211 to the $2,572 Camaro Sport Coupe or the $2,809 convertible. Included were firmer springs and shocks, wide-oval tires, a special hood with die-cast simulated louvers, and a bumblebee stripe around the car's nose. Many buyers combined it with the $105 Rally Sport package, which included hidden headlamps.
A new 295-bhp four-barrel 350-cid V-8 was the standard SS engine. With a four-speed and 3.31:1 gears, Motor Trend's SS 350 ran 0-60 in 8 seconds and the quarter in 15.4 at 90 mph. That was directly comparable to a 335-bhp 390-cid Mustang GT.
Then, a few months into the model year, Chevy unleashed the SS 396. It initially came in 325-bhp tune and tacked $263 onto the SS group. Still later in the year, the 375-bhp L78 variant was offered for $500. Since the L78 violated GM's rule against any car except the Corvette exceeding 10-pounds-per horsepower, it technically was listed as a dealer-installed option. (A few high-performance dealers also would install a 400-hp-plus 427-cid V-8.) SS 396 Camaros came standard with a four-speed manual; the three-speed automatic was a $226 option.
With inadequate single-leaf rear springs and a near-vertical mounting of the rear shock absorbers, all V-8 Camaros were handicapped by severe rear-wheel hop in hard acceleration. With more weight over the nose and additional torque, the 396s suffered even more. But no rival was quicker.
First-year Camaro sales trailed those racked up by Mustang by a wide margin, but of the 220,917 sold, more than 34,000 were Super Sports. Chevy's pony car was off and running.
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