What's New for 1998
Chevrolet dumps a 305-horsepower version of the Corvette's V8 engine under a new front end, adds standard four-wheel disc brakes on all models, adds a couple of new colors, makes second-generation airbags standard and revises trim levels. The midyear SS package makes 320 horsepower.
"From the country that invented rock n' roll," claimed the advertisements for this Quebec, Canada-built sport coupe when it was redesigned in 1993. A small technicality, we suppose, but there are no technicalities when it comes to the Camaro's performance abilities, particularly in Z28 or SS guise. These Camaros are blazingly quick, hold the road tenaciously, cost less than the average price of a new car in this country (Z28, at least), and get decent gas mileage when they're not being hammered along a twisty two-lane road.
For 1998, more power and speed are on tap. The Z28 gets a detuned Corvette LS1 engine that makes 305 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque. Base Camaros aren't ignored this year either. Bottom rung models have standard four-wheel disc brakes for 1998. All Camaros get a standard Pass-Key II theft deterrent system, new front styling, body-colored door handles, and two new color possibilities (Sport Gold and Navy Blue).
Trim levels and styling detail have been revised for 1998. For some unknown reason, the RS model disappears, but all of its Batmobile aero trickery is available on base and Z28 models equipped with the Sport Appearance Package. The SS model continues, but with interim availability during the model year. All Z28 models get a black roof treatment; base models have a body-colored roof. White leather is available inside all Camaros, and last year's Flame Red interior is now red accent only.
Continuing from last year is the base Camaro engine, a 3800 Series II V6 which makes 200 horsepower. That's 45 more ponies than Ford's Mustang V6 can produce. Phased in during the 1995 model year, the 3800 V6 can be mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. With a manual, this powerplant gets the Camaro to 60 mph nearly as quickly as a Ford Mustang GT. In fact, the existence of this motor makes a strong argument for avoiding the higher insurance rates and prices of the Z28. An optional Performance Handling Package puts bigger tires, alloy wheels, tighter steering, and a limited-slip differential on the V6 Camaro.
From a bang-for-the-buck standpoint, the Z28 is unbeatable. The SS version of the Z28 makes 320 horsepower (327 with the optional exhaust) thanks to a big air scoop on the hood that forces cool air into the engine, but we question the added cost of the SS package when the power gain is negligible. SLP Engineering, known for working magic with GM's F-bodies since the late '80s, does the conversion work for the Z28 SS. See your dealer for details.
The interior of the Camaro is functional, if not slightly garish. The Camaro holds a respectable amount of gear in the cargo hold (more than 33 cubic feet of space with the generally useless rear seats folded down), and airbags and antilock brakes are standard. More mature drivers can order traction control, but that option defeats some of the fun of Chevy's ponycar: smoky, adolescent burnouts that leave the drivers behind choking on charred Goodyears.