1970 saw major changes to the
F-body platform, and the changes proved successful, since the second generation
Camaro lasted a full 12 years. The changes spanned the entire car, from styling
to suspension to drivetrain.
When the new Camaro premiered on February 26th, 1970, critics, enthusiasts and
buyers alike were astonished. The styling was almost Ferrari-like (at the time)
and yet it remained the inexpensive performance car, with muscle under the hood.
The 2nd-gen Camaro still retained the same basic front sub-frame bolted to the
unibody, with a leaf-suspended rear axle. The chassis however was vastly
improved, with wider tracks both front and rear, and taller front spindles, as
well as larger swaybars (1" front & 11/16" rear). Newly styled
15x7 wheels surrounded with F60x15 bias-ply white-letter tires finished off the
handling package. The 1970 Camaro was wider and lower to help it hug the corners
even better than before.
The new styling was purely striking. Available only in the coupe body style (the
convertible was removed from the lineup until 16 years later), the new Camaro
used 4 round tail lights similar to the Corvette, and a totally redesigned nose.
The most impressive change to styling came in the nose, with the RS and Z28
packages receiving the now legendary split bumper with the Endura Grille
between, and circular marker lamps above the bumperettes. Earlier Z28 models
also featured a one-piece rear spoiler, only to be replaced by the common
three-piece unit that remained for the rest of the 2nd-gen line.
Available engines ranged from the 6-cylinder all the way up to the SS Camaro,
still featuring the 375hp L78 396 big block. However the major news was in the
form of the Z28's new small block option... just as in 67-69 with the DZ code
302, it was the all-new LT-1 350 small block that stole the show. This famed
engine sported 11.0:1 compression and 2.02/1.60 valves with screw-in rocker-arm
studs and pushrod guide plates. A slightly lower-duration dual pattern
mechanical camshaft made it more daily-drivable compared to the 302. The small block
was topped off with a high-rise single plane aluminum intake and 780-cfm Holley
4-bbl carb. This combination cranked out an astounding 360 hp (actually 370
like the 'Vette, but underrated to keep the 'Vette advertised higher) at 6000
RPM, and 380 ft lbs torque at 4000 RPM, which still remains today as the highest
horsepower (advertised) carbureted small block ever built.
This potent power plant mated to the M-21 four-speed transmission (the Turbo-Hydromatic
was the only other tranny available, the first automatic in a Z28) and 12-bolt
rear axle allowed Car Craft to run the 1/4 mile down in 14.11 seconds.
It was obvious traction was a problem since it hit the traps at almost 103
mph. Bolting on a set of slicks and headers, the editors rocketed the F-body
to 12.93 @ 108.76 mph. Once again, a test like this proves that the only
thing really holding back ANY performance car in the muscle car era was tire
The 1970 Z28, like its previous incarnation, was not built primarily for the
strip, of course. Mechanix Illustrated wrote:
"...The big thing about the Z28, besides its excellent underplayed
styling for a semi-race car, is its road ability and handling properties. This
squirrel handles hard bends so flat that at first it's a little scary because if
it ever let go, it would be like a blast from a shotgun--but it didn't let
The Camaro was on a slight decline in 1970, with 124,901 models sold. Thanks to
the government and tree-huggers around the world, things were looking down for
the F-body and, indeed, the entire performance world...
Baldwin Motion reportedly produced special Camaro's for 1970 as well, but only
one of these cars is still known to exist.
A Ray of Sunshine...
Hurst Performance purchased three Z28s in 1970, and built them as the Hurst
Sunshine Special. These cars received special badging on the fenders and glove
box, a special fabric sunroof, the patented Hurst automatic shifter, a
customized steering wheel, and a wild front spoiler. Only one is currently known
to exist today.