1998 Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro, part of an American tradition of ‘pony cars’ which includes the Ford Mustang and Pontiac Firebird, offers enormous bang for your buck. Whereas its big brother, the Corvette, has always had critical acclaim in the UK, the Camaro has always been largely ignored. As a used purchase, a Camaro promises unrivalled performance per pound, but is there more to building a performance car than an ability to wheelspin in third gear? The 1998 Chevrolet Camaro? Find out here.
Models Covered: (2 dr coupe, convertible, 3.8, 5.7 petrol)
Launched in the UK in 1998 after basking in the reflected glory of the acclaimed Corvette C5, the Chevrolet Camaro was offered in three styles, Coupe and Convertible versions fitted with a 3.8-litre V6 and the V8-engined Z28 coupe. With the steering wheel on the left, appeal was always going to be minor, but a new list price of under £19,000 for the V6 coupe aimed to keep sales above a trickle. Treated to a savage mangling at the hands of the British motoring press, the Camaro suffered something of a culture shock. In America, the Camaro had a history to fall back on; a whole demographic group had grown up with it, the car and the culture meshed. Introduced in 1966, it was an instant hit, straight away generating 10% of Chevrolet’s total sales.
Camaros of the seventies had an ugly, gritty urban image, no-nonsense cars with a bad attitude and worse handling. In the eighties it all went awry and the Chevrolet’s pony car was emasculated and best forgotten. Going fresh into a market like the UK, where established buying patterns favoured small European and Japanese sports coupes, the Chevy looked like a fish out of water. It was reminiscent of the time baseball star Sammy Sosa stepped out for a photo opportunity at Lord’s cricket ground. No one was quite sure who he was or what he was doing there. The Camaro suffered a similar fate.
The Chevrolet Camaro originally debuted to counter the Ford Mustang. By 1998, the model has proven a capable competitor, even surpassing the Mustang in some areas. The 1998 Chevrolet Camaro pushes itself even further past the current Ford Mustang in the performance department while undergoing exterior changes. With the 3.8-liter V-6 and the manual transmission, the Camaro’s acceleration rivals the Ford Mustang GT. The Z28 and Z28 SS versions prove more than capable of out-powering and out-handling the Mustang GT.
More power provides the key to this year’s model changes, with a new engine in the Z28 and Z28 SS. The exterior has been redesigned with a great deal of attention paid to the front end.
Body Styles: convertible, coupe. Engines: 3.8-liter V-6, 5.7-liter V-8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual, six-speed manual
For the 1998 Chevrolet Camaro:
the biggest new feature is more power. The base model has not received any changes under the hood, but the Z28 and Z28 SS receive major horsepower upgrades. With a retuned version of the Corvette LS1 engine replacing the previous LT1, the output in the Z28 and Z28 SS increase by 20 horsepower, to 305 and 320 horsepower, respectively. The base model has finally received standard four-wheel disc brakes. All models now come equipped with the Pass-Key II theft deterrent system. On the exterior, the front end has been slimmed down and smoothed out, door handles now come in body color, and two new exterior colors join the lineup.
The rear half of the 1998 Camaro looks the same as the previous year, but the front half sees noticeable changes. The two pairs of square inset headlights have been replaced with two one-piece units that look flush with the body. The front fascia seems less pointed in the center and appears to take some cues from the Dodge Viper, with the headlight units sitting higher than the center of the grille. This gives the front end of the 1998 Chevrolet Camaro a more mature look that moves a step away from the styling of the third generation of Camaros.
While the exterior and performance seem to make the 1998 Chevrolet Camaro a bargain, the interior shows where the savings comes from. While the Camaro technically seats four, the rear seats do not suit grown adults. Folded down, they do allow for cargo space that is massive for a performance coupe. A long, low windshield and overall low cabin create some visibility problems. Interior materials seem quite inferior. Overall, the interior proves functional, but not attractive.
Performance & Handling
The 1998 Camaro provides an extremely powerful ride. Even the base model can reach 60 mph in less than six seconds. The Z28 and Z28 SS use the same engine as the Corvette, albeit not tuned to the point of the Corvette. The handling feels typical for an American muscle car, lacking in the turns and with a suspension built more for ride comfort than performance. Chevrolet offers a Performance Handling Package that can be used to give the base 1998 Chevrolet Camaro bigger tires and tighter steering.
All models of the 1998 Chevrolet Camaro now come with standard four-wheel anti-lock brakes as well as daytime running lights. Driver and passenger front airbags also come standard in all models. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration gives the Camaro slightly above average ratings.
EPA Fuel Economy
Chevrolet Camaro, 3.8-liter V-6, four-speed automatic: 17/26 mpg city/highway
Chevrolet Camaro, 3.8-liter V-6, five-speed manual: 17/28 mpg city/highway
Chevrolet Camaro, 5.7-liter V-8, four-speed automatic: 15/23 mpg city/highway
Chevrolet Camaro, 5.7-liter V-8, six-speed manual: 16/25 mpg city/highway
Great performance at a low cost
Pleasant exterior styling
Plenty of performance upgrades
You Won’t Like
Extremely high insurance rates on the Z28 and Z28 SS
Terrible fuel economy