The 5 Best Chevy Camaros Ever Made, Ranked

The Chevrolet Camaro is a classic racer that's turned heads for decades. It was introduced as a direct competitor to the Ford Mustang. Since it first hit the market in 1966, the Camaro has remained a favorite among track specialists and daily drivers alike in all its trim levels and build iterations. Camaros bring a timeless and muscular body shape to the fore, and owners have continued to flock to an increasingly potent lineup that has only gotten better with time.

Whether you're a big fan of the classics or love the newer additions to the range, there's a Camaro out there that can satisfy any type of driver and car lover. With a pedigree as fabled as the Camaro, it can be a difficult task to select just five examples that set the bar at its pinnacle. Yet, these five offer something special to even the most discerning car enthusiast.

5. 2022 Camaro SS 1LE

The modern SS 1LE Camaros are a work of pure beauty. Producing 455 horsepower and 455 ft-lb of torque through a naturally aspirated V8 engine, it's a born track star (although putting out noticeably less power than others in recent years). This model gets the nod at number five on the list of all-time greats because it blends the racing DNA of the Camaro seamlessly with the needs of the contemporary driver. 

When tested, the 2022 Camaro SS 1LE received a 5-star crash safety rating, making it a uniquely versatile vehicle capable of blistering speed and the rush of roadway maneuverability while ensuring that passengers remain safe and secure throughout the commute or speedway drag race. The car comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission installed.

The newer Camaros — this model included — utilize a revamped front-end design that takes its cue from the classic visuals of the Camaro name but puts a unique spin on the finished product. There's a much smaller grille sandwiched between the hood ridge and the lower spoiler section. Yet, the same vintage point remains intact, meeting right at the center of the Chevrolet badge. The angular ridges of the car resemble the vintage ride, too, but offer a more aggressive layering throughout the vehicle's body.

4. The 1969 Yenko Camaros

The Yenko Camaros are a fascinating piece of Chevy history. In the early days of the Camaro range, Chevrolet sought to build a compact racing body rather than a true muscle machine. As a result, the Camaros that rolled off the production line incorporated engines with a maximum displacement of 400 cubic inches, or 6.6L. 

With the perfect clarity of hindsight, it's evident that this limitation stripped the Camaro of its full potential. Don Yenko, a Pittsburgh area Chevy dealership owner, saw this expanded potential and custom-ordered Camaros with a larger 7.0L engine (measuring a displacement of 427 cubic inches). He was able to game the system and order the cars with options that normally weren't available, and the result was a run of 201 1969 SC Camaros that have taken on the moniker of the "Yenko Camaro."

The upgraded engine (an L72 engine that produces 425 horsepower) wasn't the only enhancement Yenko could squeeze out of his customization efforts, though. In addition to a larger powerplant, the Yenko/SC Camaros benefits from improved cooling systems, buffered suspensions, and dual exhaust fittings. They also ooze style, considering the base vehicle remains a 1969 Chevy Camaro. With the classic chevron grille point and round headlights beneath the center hood ridge, Yenko Camaros are a sight to behold. With the rarity and story behind their creation thrown into the mix, it's easy to see why these Camaros remain some of the best examples ever built.

3. 2010 Camaro SS (the Bumblebee Camaro)

The Chevy Camaro left the market briefly, with the 2002 Camaro SS marking the brand's "last Camaros." Yet this hiatus proved to be short-lived. In 2009, Chevrolet brought the Camaro back from the dead with a revamped chassis in what would become the fifth generation of the athletic vehicle. The new Camaro was informed by the aesthetics of the '69 model and most prominently featured in the "Transformers" movie series as one of the Autobots, Bumblebee. 

The car itself started the first movie as a '77 model. It later incorporated enhancements that resulted in a new concept model that would eventually appear as the 2010 Camaro SS on real-world streets. These vehicles are stunningly designed (and four models used in filming the saga were put up for auction in 2019).

The Bumblebee Camaro SS is notably painted in yellow and black, but under its hood rests a 6.2L V8 engine that produces 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The car could be purchased with the standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission.

2. 1969 Camaro ZL-1

1969 was an excellent year for the Camaro. The ZL-1s from this year broke the earlier mold of engine construction. They utilized an aluminum 7.0L (427 cubic inches) V8 engine inspired by the racing DNA of the Chevy/Chaparral Can-Am race partnership. The new engine weighed 160 pounds less than a standard iron 427 engine, giving the Camaro a significant performance boost. Matched with the 430 horsepower that it could produce, the 1969 ZL-1 was a potent competitor on the racing grid. 

In total, just 69 of these fascinating examples were ordered, partly due to the engine upgrade that cost more than the car itself. Still, this gave another dealer the backing he required to use the vehicle in drag racing (at least 50 had to be produced for use on the track).

Fred Gibb utilized the same trick as Don Yenko above to build this specialized Camaro that was purpose-built for dedicated racers. The ZL-1 (COPO 9560) saw enhancements to the suspension, cowl-induction hood, front-end springs, and brake installations. Gibb only ended up selling 13 of the cars at his dealership, and the rest of the specialized order Camaros made their way into the public through various other dealerships in the Chevy community.

[Featured image by Sicnag via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0]

1. 1968 Camaro Z/28

The final installment in the quest to find the best Camaros ever built lands on the 1968 Z/28 model. The build wasn't a special order or custom construction, making it a typical sight at a Chevrolet dealership rather than a unicorn that had to be chased down. The vehicle was powered by Chevy's 5.0L V8 with a displacement measuring 302 cubic inches. The V8 produced 350 brake horsepower and 320 ft-lb of torque and could reach a top speed of 132 miles per hour. 

In 1968, Chevrolet produced 7,199 Camaro Z/28s, making them a limited species, to be sure, but nowhere near as rare (and therefore hard to restore or maintain today) as some other specialty Camaros that the company built over the years. The Z/28 was initially destined to become a pure racer, but the powers that be eventually decided to release it for public consumption, sharing the riches with the world.

Z/28s are some of the most dominant Camaros that ever raced, and the 1968 examples truly brought Chevy's racing prowess to a new level of achievement. It's perhaps this vehicle that put the Camaro on the map for the average driver looking to purchase something with a little more punch and excitement while out on the road. This history gives the 1968 Z/28 the edge as the best Camaro to wear the Chevy emblem.

[Featured image by Sicnag via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0]