Five GM Designers Reflect on Five Generations of the Chevrolet Camaro

Second Generation Camaro – 1970-81
Ken Parkinson, executive director of design, Chevrolet Trucks and Global Architecture (Currently owns: 1968 Camaro)
“I’ve always loved the ‘68 Camaro, but for some reason it was the second–gen car I’d find myself sketching during high school math,” says Parkinson.

“It was a radical departure from the first-gen. For the first time, it was built on its own dedicated architecture, which gave the design team the freedom to create a pure expression,” Parkinson highlights. “What that team created was a powerful expression of American muscle, influenced by a European grand-touring aesthetic. There was simply nothing else like it.”

As with the first-generation, clean lines and distinctive character traits contribute to the second-generation Camaro’s design legacy: “The second-gen car is pure Camaro, with a dramatic proportion and lean, muscular form,” Parkinson says. “You won’t confuse it with the first generation, but it is unmistakably a Camaro from every angle.”

Chevrolet Camaro Z28 — 2nd Generation (1970)
Chevrolet Camaro Z28 — 2nd Generation (1970)

The second-generation Camaro’s design evolved during its 12 model years, including the change to soft, body-color fascias and a wraparound rear window. For his design analysis highlights, Parkinson focused on the early models, circa 1970-73, for their pure expression of the original design:

“The strong horizontal crease running the length of the body sides creates strong tension and forward motion in the body. Below this horizontal crease, the body tucks in dramatically, exposing the tires for a more muscular appearance and great stance.

“The bold split-bumper design on RS models was a signature feature that gave the car an aggressive and more contemporary design, arguably one of the greatest fronts on any car. [It also had a] great hood design with lots of form exaggerating the power of the V8 underneath.

“The upper portion of the design is placed rearward on the body, giving it a significant amount of dash to axle – a key to the car’s dramatic proportion,” Parkinson notes. “The sail panel at first glance is a clean, simple statement, but on closer look is also a sophisticated complex shape that flows into the rear quarter of the car, cradling the backlight.

“The Chevrolet-signature dual taillights are simple and beautiful,” Parkinson concludes.


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