To commemorate Autotrader’s 20th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most-searched new cars on the site and compared the current versions to their 20-year-old former selves. Ironically, the only passenger cars to make the list are two high-performance coupes – the Mustang and the Camaro. Not a single sedan or hatchback making the cut.
Number 5: Chevrolet Camaro
Not long ago, critics were ready to write the American muscle car’s obituary. Thankfully, cars like the Chevrolet Camaro give credence to the old adage: “Those who can do; those who can’t criticize.” Not only is the American muscle car alive and well, but it’s also so wildly popular that the only two passenger cars to make our top 10 most-researched cars list are the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
The Camaro’s strong showing should really come as no surprise, as the car offers a tremendous dose of power, styling, handling and sex appeal, all at a price starting just under $28,000. As with the original Camaro, Chevrolet offers its slick hot rod in a variety of flavors, ranging from an entry-level model with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, to the top-of-the-line ZL1, featuring a 650-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8. In between these two extremes are the LT an SS trims, as well as the convertible variants. A 6-speed manual is standard on the LS, SS and ZL1 trims, with an 8-speed automatic optional for the LT and SS. The ZL1 offers a 10-speed automatic with active rev match. In its most extreme form, the Camaro ZL1 can rocket to 60 mph in a scant 3.5 seconds and complete the quarter-mile run in 11.4 seconds. When equipped with the track-ready 1LE package, the Camaro ZL1 is the most aggressive and athletic Camaro ever built, placing it on the same performance tier as some supercars that cost thousands more.
Whereas the original Camaro was a bit Spartan on features, the current car offers nearly every modern amenity available, including a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, touchscreen audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation and Bose audio. On the performance side, the Camaro offers a number of upgrades, including Recaro seats, launch control, magnetic ride control and the aforementioned 1LE track pack. Add the Camaro’s aggressive, all-American good looks, and you have a car that excites enthusiast drivers of all ages.
1997 Chevrolet Camaro
In 1997, Autotrader.com went live, Mario Lemieux was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, and the Chevrolet Camaro was celebrating its 30th Anniversary. At this time, the Camaro line included the V6-powered base and RS trims and V8-powered Z28. Body styles included a fixed hardtop, T-top or convertible. To celebrate its 30th birthday, Chevrolet created a limited run of 30th Anniversary Camaro SS models equipped with a revised version of the Corvette’s 330-hp LT4 5.7-liter V8 engine. The SS was distinguished by its Arctic White paint and bold dual Hugger Orange stripes running over the car’s hood, roof and rear deck lid. Performance enhancements included a Bilstein sport suspension, a performance exhaust and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential. With only 100 cars produced, the 30th Anniversary SS quickly sold out, prompting Chevrolet to offer a Z28 30th Anniversary model with a slightly less powerful 285-hp V8. All 1997 Camaros also received a revised interior with a new dash and center console.
Other Notable Accomplishments at GM in 1997
1997 saw the launch of Cadillac’s Catera. Based on the Opel Omega platform, the Catera was advertised as “the Caddy that zigs,” a reference to its European-inspired driving dynamics. Unfortunately, when saddled with the added amenities Cadillac owners had come to expect, the Catera didn’t really zig all that well and wasn’t very quick, either. Plagued with numerous build and mechanical troubles, sales peaked in 1997 at around 25,000 then fell off sharply, with the last Catera rolling off the showroom floor in 2001.
Read more about the 10 most-searched new cars on Autotrader: