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.