There’s an implied truth to the Chevy Camaro that applies to any example across its six generations. An honesty about what it is, along with just a touch of I-can-back-up-my-looks self-assuredness, endears the Camaro to legions. As new cars, Camaros have always offered an excellent performance entry point. As collector cars, most still offer affordable access to fun from eras gone by. We’ve noticed some value trends lately across a few of the Camaro’s generations, and decided to share them through a buy/sell/hold perspective.
Of course, this is all in fun. We fill our garages with the sounds and looks and feels that stir us, and we know you do, too. It never hurts to have an idea about what the market’s doing, though.
The Gold Standard of Camaros—the first generation—escapes judgment here, and while the most recent two generations offer the best of old and new, their places on the late model depreciation curve make things a bit too murky. Let’s see where the other three generations of Camaro fit in our assessment.
Buy: 4th gen SS and Z/28
The T-top F-body at its most evolved, the fourth-gen Camaro offers a unique middle ground: modern power and 90s styling with quintessential Camaro character. The distinctive hood scoop, rear wing, and extra performance goodies added by SLP engineering help the SS stand out further. “They represent good value for the performance, especially later cars with the LS1,” notes Hagerty Price Guide Editor Greg Ingold.
Values for the Camaro SS in #2 and #3 condition stayed fairly flat for years, and like many vehicles saw a pandemic bump in early 2021. There's definite room for growth, and it's not just because an LS1 engine and available T-56 six speed manual are a blast to drive. The fourth-gen SS and Z/28 feel a bit ahead of the curve: they have yet to take off in value like third-gen IROC-Zs, and 1990s performance cars continue to rise in popularity. "I don't see a world where these don't do well," said Ingold.
Sell: late 2nd Gen Z/28 (1978-81)
The Z/28s from the end of the second generation have experienced a heroic upward trajectory, likely thanks to a substitution effect related to the Bandit Trans Am's exploding value. There are only so many flashy Pontiac F-bodies from the malaise era to go around, after all. Though the Z/28 made do with a 350-cubic inch engine instead of the 400 (or Olds 403 in automatic-equipped models) found in the Trans Am, that matters less these days. V-8 rumble, aggressive looks, and assertive stickers make the Z stand out in its own right.
Values in the last few years reflect the late '70s Z/28's increased popularity. 2023 has seen a noticeable downturn, however—a result of several months of mixed public sales. "Often, vehicles that appreciate this rapidly are among the first to reset values as part of a market correction," notes Ingold. That in and of itself is not a reason to unload—you did buy your collector Z/28 to enjoy, right? Just the same, the market has softened on these, and if you are considering selling, now be the best time to maximize your return on your F-body investment rather than waiting toward the end of this year's driving season.
Hold: 3rd gen IROC-Z and Z/28
The third-gen IROC and Z/28 Camaros are represent a more stable play from a valuation perspective. After a healthy 50+ percent increase for #2 Condition cars over the last few years, values have settled somewhat. The 305-cubic inch examples have taken a 5% loss recently, but IROC values are strong when equipped with the iconic 350 powerplant. These don't benefit from a substitution effect—the third gens are sought after for what they are.
"Third-gens are still relatively affordable in comparison to other generations of Camaro," said Ingold. "Given their age, and the fact that Gen-X and older Millennials are steadily growing as the dominant force in the collector market, there is still potential for these to go up."
We've made our choices—which Camaro would you add to your stable? Which would you unload? Which would you keep? Let us know in the comments.
Choose based on use. If you want to stare at it, get a first gen. If you want to enjoy driving it, get a second gen. If you want cheap performance, get a third gen. If you want ugly, heavy, and overpriced, get a fourth, fifth, or sixth generation. I’ve had 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. My next will be 2nd generation.
At 3411 lbs. per the SLP birth certificate my 2002 SS is definitely not heavy. Being black with dark tinted T-tops and SLP installed ZO6 wheels and lowered 1 inch it’s definitely not ugly. But my favorite car is my 1971 SS/RS with a big block and 6 speed. In my humble opinion the 70-73 with the RS option are the best looking Camaro’s ever made. Too bad they weren’t mentioned in the article.
I have a 2002 SS SLP. I had a 99 SS but when I heard they were going to discontinue the marque, I went to my local Chevy dealer, sat down with the salesman and checked off every box on the special order sheet. The salesman tld me that I might not get the car as it was May 2002 and that production was shutting down. I kept my fingers cross and a few month latter, the car came in exactly as I ordered it (Black on black with leather seats, 6 speed Tremac, SPL center exhaust with ram air). Still have the car and will never sell it. In black, it is a beautiful looking car. To me, it looks very Ferrari-esk. At 3400 pounds, it is far from heavy and certainly a 1000 pounds less than any late model Camaro of any flavor. Better looking too.
The 1969 has always been my favorite. I’m looking for a small block driver now.
Of the three generations reviewed, the 3rd is the only one with an original design, not yet mucked up by an overly aggressive, “look at me, I’m a metal head”, facelift dictated by marketing. The late 2nd gen is just the cartoonization of the original 2nd gen, just as the 4th gen is of the 3rd.
I’ve had a 69 Camaro and wish I had never let it go. I have a 2001 4th gen SS SLP convertible with the 6 speed manual. Only 37 were made in the orange color I have. I’m not sure how that stacks up in value, but I enjoy it.
My favorite in terms of looks is the third generation followed by the last years of the fourth generation. I considered a 4th generation when new but it was a little uncomfortable for me.
I am a bit Biased since I own a 2001 Camaro SS that I purchased new. That said, the 69 and 70 Camaro’s are still my favorites.
The 2013 Hot Wheet Camaro seems like a keeper. I’ve own a 1968 SS 396 and a 1969 Z 28 loved both vehicles but the Hot Wheels Camaro has the best handling and stock performance. Bow Tie owner for life!
I have had my 67 RS/SS since 1983 350 4speed
I’ve had a few z28, and I think that they are going to be worth a whole lot in the future.
As a owner of 3 2nd generation z28 I love the cars,and have a great appreciation for their style.
My fav is 1968. It has the best styling of the gen 1 and improves on the original 1967 design with Astroventilation and resolves the big block axle hop. The interior is a classic, before all the fed standards and onset of too much plastic from 1969 on.
I don’t get what’s all the hub-bub..bub? of the first gen. To me they look like a hurried response to the Mustang which is what they were. The second gen was an attractive car. With the lead in time the designers seemed to take an ‘in retrospect what we should have done’ approach and looked to Europe for it’s inspiration. I’d probably even go with the split bumper despite committing the sin of added weight. While I understand the need for GM to update, why they looked to the original Barracuda ( the bubble back Valiant ) for the Camaro and Corvette I haven’t a clue. Better rear visibility in this case wasn’t worth the trade off. Why they then called the Berlinetta version the Berlinetta is just as puzzling. The third gens are okay kinda and an improvement maybe. Gen 4? Sorry but no. With the right lighting at the right angle in the right color with the right background but. I frequently pass one nearby in turquoise, its ugly.
I have 2002 ss slp convertible 6 speed black with tan interior. Very rare combination
I am partial to all of the years, grew up with a Third Gen and liked the 2nd Gens Z-28 currently have one but looking to sell for someone who want a project.
One of my favorite I my 85 Berlinetta- it’s rare, not many had the 305 V-8 T-Top, or you just don’t see many that were restored.
my father and i picked a 2002 SLP up at auction back in 2018 with 4,300 miles. currently has 6,200 miles, hasnt seen a drop of rain in its lifetime. was stored off the ground in a climate controlled garage somewhere in new england. dark blue over black with the t-top, 6 speed tremec, SLP exhaust/hood, split 5 spoke wheels. fun car to drive, but way too little room in the driver seat