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1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - When It Was New Review

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SEE ALSO:Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SEE ALSO: 20 Years of Chevrolet Reviews

The traditional American sports car has always been big and brawny, hence the term "muscle car". Like race cars of old, today's made- in-the-USA sports cars, are designed with the front engine rear drive layout, and powered by a high-output V6 or V8 powerplants. No matter the economic or political climate there are always owners and drivers who desire horsepower and performance, and a sizable segment of the automotive industry has been devoted in supplying these preferences.

The Camero has been Chevrolet's sports car for almost 28 years. During that time it has developed a performance reputation, which has been enhanced by its selection as the Indy 500 pace car four times, the most recent appearance being this year. It has also been a star performer in the Trans-Am racing series, as well as in Sports Car Club of America class competitions. Since 1967, through four generations, the Z28 has been the muscle car of the Camero marque. This latest version is powered by Chevrolets time-proven 350 cubic inch short-block, 275 horsepower V8, LT1 engine that is a variation of the one use in the Corvette. Besides having the traditional power and powertrain, it is quite civilized and fitted with many creature comforts and conveniences.

Some demonstration laps around Road America in Wisconsin, and Sears Point in California, plus normal street and highway driving left me with these impressions:

APPEARANCE: While the styling of the new fourth generation Camaro Z28 is aggressive, it is also smooth, subtle and curvaceous. Its dramatic appearance is possible through the use of plastic compound material that allows the construction of complex shapes which would not be possible with steel. Only the hood and rear quarter panels are made of steel, the rest is produced from dent resistant compounds. From its low hoodline, steep windshield, smooth roofline, back to its integral spoiler, and abetted by stylish alloy wheels and Goodyear Eagle Touring tires it states performance!

COMFORT: The Camero's cockpit has been ergonomically designed to insure that all controls and instruments are visible and comfortably at hand. Large, adjustable seats in front provide support for comfortable all- day driving, and the small contoured ones in back allow seating for four. When more storage space is needed, folding down the rear seats almost doubles the trunk space, plus there are several small storage areas. The radio and climate control systems are easy to operate and fill the cabin with clear sound and pleasant temperature. Solar-Ray glass all-around reduces glare, while the unique aerodynamically designed windshield wipers are designed to operate efficiently at high speeds. Another aerodynamic exercise is the design treatment in the side view mirror areas that improves the appearance as it smooths out the airflow and reduces wind noise.

ROADABILITY: Camero's development engineers designed a base suspension system that is sporting without being unduly harsh. The new more rigid chassis practically eliminates body flex and insures a poised, balanced and supple ride. While the rear driveline received improvements, a solid rear axle rather than an independent rear suspension has been retained. It may not be as sophisticated, but its installation significantly keeps the cost down without adversely effecting its overall handling. Handling and safety have been improved by adopting a rack-and-pinion power steering unit, as well as four wheel disc brakes with anti lock and dual front airbags. Insulation and soundproofing and smooth surfaces practically eliminate wind noise, but the engine projects the V8 sound of power.

PERFORMANCE: The Z28 has the ability to be a serious performance car. Its 350 cid LT1 V8 is a modified version of the one used in the Corvette, and with 325 pound feet of torque available at only 2000 rpm, it has plenty of acceleration capability for high speed performance and maneuverability. To improve fuel economy a Borg-Warner T56 6-speed manual transmission with computer aided gear selection device has been added for 1994. In normal starting the transmission will shift from 1st to 4th gear, but when power shifting each gear can be manually selected.

ECONOMY: EPA ratings are 17 city/25 highway. Off the track I averaged 20.1 mph.

CONCLUSIONS: The new fourth generation Camaro is more than a muscle car. Now it exudes style, finesse and fun, and, not to forget, safety. With its powerful V8 the Z28 is top performer, but for those who prefer appearance more than power there is a V6 model which will be reviewed later.


BASE PRICE: $ 16,779 in base Z28 configuration.


           Base Price              $  16,779
           Price As Tested         $  19,164
           Engine Type             V-8, ohv - pushrod - 16v, smpfi
           Engine Size             5.7 liter/350 cid
           Horsepower              275 @ 5000
           Torque (ft/lbs)         325 @ 2000
           Wheelbase/Length        101"/193"
           Transmission            six-speed manual w/od
           Curb Weight             3440
           Pounds per Horsepower   12
           Fuel Capacity           15
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (91 oct)
           Tires                   Goodyear Eagle GA P235/55R16 M+S
           Brakes                  anti-lock standard  disc/disc
           Drive Train             front engine/rear drive
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
             city/highway/observed      17/25/20.1
           0 to 60 mph                  6.5 sec
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                14.9 sec
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)    .34