The gap between the first-generation and the fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro, introduced 26 years apart, is huge when it comes to technology and comfort. However, these cars are actually similar in terms of performance. That’s because the first-gen Camaro was born in the golden muscle car era, whereas the fourth-gen version arrived in the 1990s when pony cars were barely recovering after the Malaise era.
If you’re a fan of numbers, the base first-gen Camaro features a 3.8-liter inline-six rated at 140 horsepower, while the V8 coupes fitted with a 6.5-liter V8 came with up to 375 horses. Then there were the 7.0-liter COPO models with 430 horsepower. The fourth-gen Camaro, on the other hand, came with engine options ranging from a 160-horsepower V6 to a 330-horsepower V8. If we ignore the COPOs, the gap isn’t big.
But these figures become useless when we move the entire discussion to the race track. Drag-prepped muscle cars don’t have much in common with their street-spec siblings beyond the bodywork and often hide monstrous powerplants under the hood. For instance, the drag race you’re about to see below brings together a couple of turbocharged Camaros, both featuring engines that you couldn’t get from the factory in the 1960s and 1990s.
And this makes things that much more interesting since you can’t predict the outcome based on factory specs. We don’t even know how powerful they are, so it’s all a guessing game until the lights go green. But once that happens, it becomes obvious that the first-gen Camaro is no match for its younger sibling. Both are impressively fast, but the 1990s Chevy seems to pack the most potent mill and crosses the line almost two seconds quicker than the 1969 muscle car.
The fourth-gen Camaro proves its incredible capability at the drag strip against a fourth-gen Ford Mustang too, before it goes against the old Camaro for a second duel. The 1969 coupe runs a lot quicker this time around, besting its previous run by 1.5 seconds, but the fourth-gen Camaro obliterates it with a 7.47-second sprint at a whopping 193 mph (311 kph).
That’s a huge gap that has nothing to do with their respective generations, but it’s more related to the powerplants pushing oomph toward the rear wheels. Needless to say, this fourth-gen Camaro is one of the quickest of its kind, but I still favor the 1969 version. Simply because I like how old-school muscle cars look. And besides, an eight-second quarter-mile run is far from slow.