Any vehicle model around for a while, no matter the form factor, has one thing in common with its peers: Model Bloat. Take the Camaro — 37 model years after inception, it's 827 pounds heavier.
Over the years and decades, most car and truck models tend to get heavier and heavier. Some of the weight gain comes from safety enhancements such as big brakes, side impact beams, airbags, and the like, and many models just get wider and longer with each successive generation. Consumer demand has made once-optional features such as air conditioning, power windows, thumpin' sound systems, etc. into necessities, and that adds even more weight — all of which affects performance and fuel economy.
We'll be looking at the effects of Model Bloat on such perennial best-sellers as the Honda Civic, Ford F-150, and Volkswagen Golf in the near future… but today it's time to put the legendary Camaro on the scales!
In the graph above, we see the inexorable progress of Model Bloat within each generation of the GM F-Body. The very first Camaro, in 1967, weighed just 2,920 pounds (we're using weights for V8 cars, as stated in the Standard Catalog Of American Cars), and that was the first and only time you could get a V8 Camaro that weighed under the ton-and-a-half mark.
The first-generation Camaro, made during the 1967-69 model years, was mechanically quite similar to the compact Chevrolet Nova. It had a simple leaf-spring rear suspension and (in most cases) four-wheel-drum brakes, handled in true 60s door-handle-scraping style, and had an interior that would be considered intolerably spartan in even the cheapest entry-level GM car today.
The second generation Camaro (1970-1981) kept the same basic chassis setup as its predecessor, but was a bit larger in all dimensions, with more sound-deadening insulation and other comfort enhancements. Weight was up a couple of hundred pounds at first, but then federally-mandated 5 MPH crash bumpers and side-impact protection showed up in 1974; by 1975, a V8 Camaro scaled in a 3,532 pounds, more than a quarter-ton above the weight of the first-gen car.
Then GM totally redesigned the F-Body, and the third-generation (1982-1992) Camaro dropped 367 pounds. Sure, the new lightweight unibody was a little flimsy (don't open the doors when you've got one end up on jackstands!), but it had coil springs in the rear and- as the Malaise Era wound down- fuel injection up front. Still, Model Bloat had its way with the third-gen Camaro; by its final year, it punished the pavement with a porcine 3,384 pounds.
The General wasn't too worried about weight for the fourth-generation Camaro (1993-2002), and even with plastic body panels it still debuted at pretty much the same weight as the third-gen car. Power was way up, though, and buyers could roar out of the showroom in a genuine 13-second quarter-miler for dirt cheap. Weight continued to creep up, peaking at 3,577 pounds in '02 and finally eclipsing the mark set by the 1975 model. (Photo source: CarPW.com)
And now the Camaro is back, and it's a bruiser at 3,737 pounds. It's loaded to the gunwales with luxury features that would leave a time-traveling '67 Camaro driver in awe, engine power makes even the hairiest 60s big-blocks look weak, it's got the slab sides and small windows that make focus-group participants feel safe from street crime… and it weighs 132 pounds more than the 1967 Chevrolet Caprice hardtop. Such is Model Bloat.