It’s an age-old argument.
When the 1967 model year rolled around, General Motors finally had its answer to the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda. Actually, it had two answers, both on the F-Body platform but with different approaches to performance. While most people think about the Mustang vs Camaro rivalry, there’s another debate which might be a little friendlier but can still get heated when you start comparing the Pontiac Firebird to the Chevy Camaro.
If you think the classic Firebird is essentially a badge-engineered Camaro, you’re dead wrong. There are surprisingly few components shared between these muscle cars, like the glass, floors, rocker panels, bracing (but not all), and firewall. This is why you can get behind the wheel of a ’67 Camaro and then a ’67 Firebird and feel like you’re driving two very different vehicles.
Many will cite the fact the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 is considered about as close to perfection as possible for a launch-year car as evidence it’s superior to the Firebird. Not only does the Trans Am racing-inspired car look fantastic, it provides all-around balanced performance.
However, it’s important to note that the 1967 Pontiac Firebird wasn’t trying to scoop the same kind of customers as the Camaro. GM didn’t want to see these two cars cannibalize each other on the market, but instead wanted them to crowd out the competition. So, the Firebird like other Pontiacs was more upmarket, aimed at a different class of shoppers. While the Camaro was aimed directly at the Mustang, the Firebird was supposed to seduce people who were considering the Mercury Cougar and Plymouth Barracuda.
Even though the Firebird was loaded with more luxury features, it was still at its heart a performance car. That became especially apparent for 1968 when Pontiac introduced the Ram Air II Firebird. The luxuries had been stripped away, including factory AC. The car packed a serious punch with the 400ci HO Ram Air II V8, which was advertised with 340-horsepower and 430 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, outclassing the Camaro Z/28’s 290-hp.
Camaro fans will fire back that the ‘67 Camaro L78 SS 396 pushed 375-hp and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. But then Pontiac released the venerable Firebird Trans Am in 1969 with a Ram Air IV V8 available, while still managing to serve up quite a few comforts.
You probably already know that the battle for overall supremacy between the Camaro and Firebird continued for decades. Sadly, GM shuttered Pontiac and the Camaro has been without its sibling pushing it to do better, and perhaps that’s why so many feel like Chevrolet’s muscle car has lost its touch in recent years? After all, a little sibling rivalry can make one tougher, stronger, and ultimately better than the real competition.
Which do you prefer, the Camaro or Firebird?
See our comprehensive vehicle overview for the 1967 Chevrolet Camaroand 1967 Pontiac Firebird including production numbers, performance specs, factory colors, and OEM brochures. Also, check out additional model years or view other Makes and Models in our Research center.