Car Disgust--1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Wait, Car Disgust? Say again?
Yes. The Chevrolet Camaro, one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, is a car I loathe. In fact, it's one of my all time least favorite cars.
Sure, it has a prominent place in muscle-car history. Yes, it has quite attractive proportions, and classy yet aggressive styling. And yes, it can be quite the performer, depending on what lurks under the hood. All of these qualities made it huge success for Chevrolet, and to this day it remains as one of the most popular sporty cars in history ... which is why I can't stand the thing.
Growing up in the 1980s, I attended many car shows with my father and friends. I remember Camaros absolutely captivating me during that time period, with crazy paint jobs, massive wings, huge wheel tubs framing steamroller-like rear tires, dechromed bumpers, wheelie bars and all the other trimmings of the pro street era. I was brainwashed with Camaro after Camaro; they outnumbered any other model by a landslide.
Between the shows and car magazine subscriptions, I was exposed to literally thousands of first-generation Camaros by the time I turned 10 years old. Pro street, sleepers, survivors, road racers, drag monsters, and barnyard finds; every variety of Camaro was consistently covered by every source of automotive culture I knew. Car Craft was more like Camaro Craft; it featured at least one Camaro in every other issue. Towards the back of the magazine, almost any muscle car ad involved a '69 Camaro. Other magazines didn't offer much more variety.
When I turned 16, I had been working two jobs as a dishwasher and cashier the entire summer to save up enough money for a car. The rational side of my brain, already weakened by growing up with The Dukes of Hazzard, quickly surrendered to the insane. I wound up purchasing a 1968 Dodge Charger with a 383 big block V-8 and a Hurst 4-speeed shifter. I did my best to restore it, and I spent any dollar I made on restoration and speed parts.
It was at this point I started noticing something. You can practically build a brand new 1969 Camaro with the parts available in the aftermarket. All it takes is money. Want reproduction visors? No problem. Reproduction hoods? Sure. Reproduction consoles, reproduction seatbelts, reproduction gauges; almost every single part on the entire car, even the glass, is currently being produced today.
Where is the skill, devotion, or work necessary to restore a 1969 Camaro? With a huge credit limit, one could simply order every part in the catalog and have a stunning example.
Making things worse were the attitudes of Camaro owners. No, I'm not referring their predisposition towards certain haircuts. I'm referring to how they treated people who owned muscle cars from other manufacturers.
Ugh. I just couldn't stand it. I'd go to muscle car shows, and instead of seeing a wide variety of cool vehicles, I'd see lines upon lines of perfect Camaros with very little variation.
To me, the Camaro is now just utterly boring. The 1969 Camaro is the Tyrannosaurus Rex of musclecars. Every kid who likes dinosaurs knows what the T-Rex is, and almost every kid calls the T-Rex their favorite. But, at some point in life, everyone should have some personal growth and realize there's more to life than only what they knew first. They should start to realize it's a bigger world with a beautiful amount of variety, and honestly, it's really just boring when everybody has the same "favorite."
This is one of the reasons I like Car Lust. Every few weeks, I learn about a new car that I have never even heard of before, which is strange and wonderful in a way any '69 Camaro could never be. Or, for that matter, a 1957 Chevy, a 1970 Chevy Chevelle, or a 1964 Ford Mustang.
--Rob the SVX/Audi Guy