Apr 9, 2021

Battle of The Muscle Cars: Camaro vs Mustang Edition


Mustang vs. Camaro: Who Reigns Supreme?

When you think of famous rivalries, surely some of these immediately come to mind: New York Yankees versus Boston Red Sox, Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers, Ohio State versus Michigan, so on and so forth. But, were you also aware of the top automotive rivalries?

There is a particular rivalry that also happens to be one of the most historic: the top car manufacturers in the American automotive industry, specifically two of the biggest in the world. It’s Ford versus General Motors. And, boy, it’s an intense rivalry, to say the least.

These two have been battling it out for over a century resulting in classic models that are the object of every car collector’s affection including the Galaxie 500, Bel Air, Thunderbird, Chevelle, Bronco, Impala, Falcon, and Corvette. Some of these can fetch upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in an auction. There are two models in particular, however, that have butted heads and engines throughout the years and they are the two vehicles that define America’s penchant for speed and power.

Buckle up your seatbelts for this one, folks. I give you the Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro.

When you think of muscle cars, it's likely the golden age Mustang & Camaro.

The Mustang


Editorial credit: David MG / Shutterstock.com

Let’s turn back the clocks to the year 1964. It was the true beginning of the muscle car era, also known as the golden era. Coincidentally, ‘64 was also the birth year of the Ford Mustang. Technically, the birth year was 1964 ½, which makes it one of the rarest muscle cars in the world. From the moment it hit the market, sales went through the roof with 318,000 sold in that year alone at an advertised price of $2,368 ($19,647.37 in today’s dollars). From that point on, the classic Mustang never looked back.

Engine sizes varied from the 170 cubic-inch Thriftpower Inline 6 to the 289 cubic-inch Windsor HiPo. You could choose from three different transmissions that included the 3-speed manual, 4-speed manual, or 3-speed automatic. It’s easy to see that the First Generation Mustangs were the cream of the Mustang crop. It was this generation that introduced iconic trim options including the convertible, 2+2 Fastback, GT, Mach 1, Boss 302, the ultra-rare “California Special”, and Shelby GT500. The Ford Mustang continues to dazzle car enthusiasts to this day and remains the only original model to maintain uninterrupted production since its inception. Not even the Camaro can say that.

The Camaro

Classic Camaro | Photo Source: Gateway Classic Cars

Photo source: Gateway Classic Cars

Speaking of the classic Camaro, let’s switch gears (pun intended). This beast of a machine was born into the automotive world in 1967. Though it was three years behind the Mustang, it was an instant hit once it rolled off the production line. By the end of 1969, the Camaro had sold 1 million total cars. Sales numbers for its first year were just a tick below the Mustang with 285,748 total units. If you were wanting to buy one of these beauties, it would set you back a little over $2,450 ($18, 867.05 in today’s dollars) for the base model.

Video Source: Gregs Automotive YouTube

I hate to break it to Ford purists, but GM’s engines packed a lot more punch. Engine choices ranged from the 230 cubic-inch Inline 6 to the torque-errific 427 cubic-inch V8. Trim options for the 1967 Camaro included the SS, RS, SS/RS, SS/RS convertible, Z/28, and Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. The Camaro was the most powerful muscle car GM ever built. Unlike the Mustang, the Camaro has not been continuously produced. It made its highly anticipated comeback in 2010 with audiences getting a first glimpse of the updated design in the film Transformers.

Mustang vs. Camaro: which is better?

I have a feeling I’m going to rustle some jimmies right about now. Of course, Camaro fans are going to say the Camaro is infinitely better while Mustang enthusiasts will scoff at any notion of the Camaro beating their precious pony. The proof is in the pudding, and that delicious pudding is the car’s speed and overall performance. Why else would you buy a muscle car except for its performance?

Note: an old Ford Mustang and old Chevrolet Camaro will not be used as examples to decide which muscle car reigns supreme. Mostly because A.) you don’t see them as much on the roads as newer models and B.) not everyone owns a car that’s 50 years old. So, let’s keep it current with 2019 models.

2019 Ford Mustang breakdown: The car has subtle retro styling, 10-speed automatic transmission or rev-matching 6-speed manual transmission, standard horsepower, an extremely comfortable ride, and attractive vehicle design. Some complaints involve a cramped rear seat, difficulty reading particular gauges, and hard interior plastics.

Video Source: Blood Moon Creative House YouTube

The overall consensus, according to Kelley Blue Book, is, “An affordable muscle car with subtle retro styling cues, plenty of horsepower and the latest in high tech infotainment and instrumentation. The Mustang is also a very livable daily driver.”

2019 Chevrolet Camaro breakdown: The car comes with track-ready packages, optional horsepower, a snug chassis that’s great for racing, aggressive styling, and a lower entry price than the Mustang.

A few below-average issues include poor rear and side visibility, a cramped cockpit with an overabundance of black plastic, and an extremely small backseat and trunk. Kelley Blue Book had this to say about the Camaro, “The king of horsepower and handling bragging rights but with a claustrophobic interior and sometimes over-the-top styling.”

Video Source: Official HSV YouTube

So, using each car’s pros and cons pitted against one another, which is better? Remember, the sole purpose of purchasing a muscle car is to flex its wings and put the power that’s under the hood to the test.

So. Who comes out on top?

Drumroll, please...

Rejoice, Camaro fans -- you’re the winner but by only the slightest of margins.

When it comes to horsepower and track credentials, the Camaro slightly bests the Mustang. The base 4-cylinder turbo in the Mustang beats the Camaro’s base engine, but the ZL1 and its 650 horsepower handily beat the GT 500’s 526 horsepower. If you’re looking for a ride that comfortable with a user-friendly interior, go with a Mustang. If you want bragging rights on the track and straight-line runs, the Camaro is your best bet.

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