Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 1972


Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 1972


Chevrolet Camaro SS 396 1972

  • Origin United States of America
  • Engine 6,588 cc, V8
  • Top speed 120 mph (193 km/h)

A 240 bhp V8 engine was a hot option on the SS. This Camaro, visually updated like the entire range in 1970, was too polluting to be sold in California. Chevrolet Motor Division had a great sales year for 1972, despite a strike at the General Motors assembly plants that wreaked havoc on many of the plans for the model year, and regained the top sales mark.

The GM mid-size range of cars (including Chevy Chevelle and Monte Carlo) had been slated for a redesign for this season, but because of the strike the new models would have to wait for the 1973 season, receiving only minor trim changes this year. The Camaro (and Pontiac Firebird) would nearly die because of this strike. The reasons are complex, but basically the Camaro plant was closed for nearly six months. In this time period, new government regulations on bumpers had taken effect, resulting in the disposal of over 1,000 Camaro bodies that had been idled on the assembly line. This expensive waste, coupled with sagging sales for all muscle car/pony cars, nearly cost the Camaro its life. Luckily, some prominent Chevrolet executives managed to save the car.

The Nova, which had been produced in the same facility as the Camaro, had its production transferred to other plants and survived into 1972 with spectacular sales, but only minor trim changes. The Corvette entered the new model year with only modest changes to the powertrain lineup, although the high-powered LS-6 454 CID V8 was gone. The Vega returned virtually unchanged. Full-size Chevrolet models, which had been totally new for 1971, returned with quite a few changes. The wheelbase on all cars was up by a half inch, and overall length was up by several inches. A new grille/bumper design, new interior patterns, new decklid (sans the louvers for flo-thru ventilation), and new hood design distinguished the '72 models visually. A Caprice 4-Door Sedan was introduced in January, along with a rather historic change.

Alas, by mid-year the 6-cylinder versions of the full-size Chevrolet (Biscayne, BelAir and Impala 4-Door Sedans, and the Impala Sport Coupe) were history. Poor sales of the sixes, along with weak performance resulting from conformance to government regulations, had resulted in what amounted to a repositioning of the entire full-size line. By January 1972, only about 3,900 full-size cars had been sold with a 6-cylinder engine, so at this time they were dropped, as was the Biscayne (and related Brookwood wagon), leaving the BelAir as the low-priced leader in the full-size Chevy range. This was the first time since 1928 that a 6-cylinder engine had not been available in a standard (i.e., full-size) Chevrolet. It would be a brief absence, though, as a six-cylinder would return for the 1977 model year. In the accompanying text, the prices and weights given on full-size Chevys are for V8 models. For reference, a 6-cylinder equipped car would cost approximately $334 less, and be about 188 pounds lighter.