As the Camaro rolls through the final year of its fifth generation, Chevrolet asked five of its designers who have contributed to the sporty car’s design over the years to reflect on the styling legacy that helped create an icon. In this blog we continue the series with Ken Parkinson’s thoughts on the 1970-1981 Second Generation Camaro.

Camaro Second Generation – 1970-1981
Design analysis: Ken Parkinson, Executive Director of Design, Chevrolet Trucks
Currently owns: 1968 Camaro

“I’ve always loved the ’68 Camaro, but for some reason it was the second-gen car that I’d find myself sketching during high school math,” said Parkinson. “It was a radical departure from the first-gen. For the first time, it was built on its own dedicated architecture, which gave the design team the freedom to create a pure expression. What that team created was a powerful expression of American muscle, influenced by a European grand-touring aesthetic. There was simply nothing else like it.”

As with the first-generation, clean lines and distinctive character traits contribute to the second-generation Camaro’s design legacy: “The second-gen car is pure Camaro, with a dramatic proportion and lean, muscular form,” Parkinson said. “You won’t confuse it with the first generation, but it is unmistakably a Camaro from every angle.”

The second-generation Camaro’s styling evolved during its 12 model years, including the change to soft, body-color fascias and a wraparound rear window. For his design analysis highlights, Parkinson focused on the early models, circa 1970-73, for their pure expression of the original design:

  • The strong horizontal crease running the length of the body sides creates strong tension and forward motion in the body
  • Below this horizontal crease, the body tucks in dramatically, exposing the tires for a more muscular appearance and great stance
  • The bold split-bumper design on RS models was a signature feature that gave the car an aggressive and more contemporary design, arguably one of the greatest fronts on any car
  • Great hood design with lots of form exaggerating the power of the V-8 underneath
  • The upper portion of the design is placed rearward on the body, giving it a significant amount of “dash to axle” – a key to the car’s dramatic proportion
  • The sail panel at first glance is a clean, simple statement, but on closer look is also a sophisticated complex shape that flows into the rear quarter of the car, cradling the backlight
  • The Chevrolet-signature dual taillights are simple and beautiful.

In future blogs other famous Chevrolet Designers will reflect on the model that they were the most involved with. In our next installment John Cafaro reminisces about the Third Generation 1982-1992 Camaros.

By Jim Luikens

Original Post: Berger Blog, March 26, 2015