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7 Ways a 2016 V6 Chevy Camaro is Way Better Than a ’69 Z/28

The term iconic has become overused but it’s difficult not to apply the term to the ’69 Z/28 Camaro. Let’s see how the legend compares to a ’16 V6 Camaro.

Before we start, the 1969 Z/28 is a timeless classic. It still turns heads wherever it goes and backed up its aggressive looks with real performance. The goal here isn’t to pick a winner, but rather to demonstrate how far cars, particularly performance cars, have come.

The Z/28 package of the Chevrolet Camaro was originally developed for competitors in the SCCA Trans-Am Championship where engine were limited to 305 CID. As a result, Chevy built a motor that produced its power at high revs. Trans-Am races began with rolling starts and the tracks had few low speed corners, so power up high was critical (which is where the engine gets it’s reputation as a bit of an under-performer in drag racing). Other race-related bits included optional four-wheel disc brakes and the close-ratio Muncie M-22 transmission.

Horsepower

The 2016 Camaro LFX V6 is a 3.6 L all-aluminum DOHC engine. Compression ratio is 11.5:1 with a  maximum engine speed of 7200 rpm. It produces 335 hp (SAE Net) at 6800 rpm and 284 lb-ft of torque at 5300 rpm.

The 1969 Camaro Z/28 V8 is a 5.0 L all-iron OHV pushrod engine. Compression ratio is 11.0:1. It produces 290 hp* (SAE Gross) at 5800 rpm and 290 ft. lbs. of torque at 4200 rpm.

*There’s been much dispute over the years as to the actual output of different muscle car engines of the 1960s. We explored this in an article about some exhaustive research done on the topic. Most likely the horsepower of the ’69 was closer to 340 – 360 hp SAE Gross. When adjusted to Net horsepower, it’s back to around 290 hp, 45 hp less than the 2016 V6.

1969-Chevrolet-Camaro-Z28-engine

Acceleration 0 – 60 mph

In recent tests, using modern tires as close to original size as possible, the ’69 Camaro Z/28 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 8.0 seconds.

The ’16 V6 Camaro managed to accelerate from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds with the base (not upgraded) tire and wheel package, a nearly three seconds faster than the older model.

Acceleration 1/4 Mile

Again, using modern tires as close to original size as possible, the ’69 Camaro Z/28 ran the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds.

The ’16 Camaro V6 covered the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds fitted with the base tire and wheel package.

z28-camaro

Braking

When it came to brake tests, the ’69 Camaro (fitted with modern friction material and tires) came to a stop from 60 mph in a very impressive 156 feet, much shorter than many cars of its time.

The 2016 V6 Camaro managed to pull to a stop from 60 in 124 feet, about 32 feet or two car lengths shorter than the 1969 model.

Grip

There was some difficluty in tracking down skid pad test data on he ’69 Z/28 so we were forced to extrapolate. We know that the Penske Trans-Am Championship winning Z/28 race car, with heavily modified suspension and race tires could corner at about 1.0g. We examined a cross section of other widely divergent skid pad data from that era and concluded the ’69 Z/28 could pull between 0.75 and 0.80g.

By contrast the 2016 V6 Camaro is reported by GM as capable of generating 0.85g on its all-season base tires. The car has capabilities much greater than the tires and simply upgrading the tires could easily raise cornering powering to 0.90g or more. But that’s not the point. The ’69 Z/28 was a race car for the street and sounded and rode like it. The 2016 V6 Camaro is a quiet, smooth riding street cars with even greater capabilities.

Price

In 1969, if you went to the local Chevrolet dealer to purchase a Z/28 Camaro, the sticker price was was $3443 (about $22,000 in today’s money).

The 2016 V6 Camaro has a sticker price of $27, 195. Although the new car is $5,000 more expensive, it’s a considerably better vehicle across the board (performance, comfort, safety, accessories), not including collectability or appreciation, of course.

Safety

There’s no question here. 1969 was just the start of movement to make cars safer (believe it or not, seat belts were offered as options in the 1950s but customers didn’t buy them because it made them feel “less safe”). With crumple zones and multiple air bags for each occupant your odds of surviving a collision on the highway are far great in just about any 2016 car than one built in 1969.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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