With the introduction of the second generation Camaro in 1970, came an all new Z28 engine. The first gen. Z28 cars had the famous 302 engine to make them legal for Trans Am racing. For 1970, the rules allowed the production engine to be destroked to meet the 305 cu in limit for racing. Chevy decided to build the 1970 Z28 with a 350, since this engine would be more streetable, and could still be made legal for racing.
The 350-360hp Z28 Special Performance engine was then built. It was the same engine that was designated the LT1 in the Corvette that year. It came with a Holley 4 bbl, aluminum intake, 11 to 1 compression, a solid lifter cam, and all the high performance goodies from the shelves of the Chevy parts store. Also, included in the Z28 package was a HD radiator, dual exhausts, black painted grille with Z28 emblems on it, more Z28 emblems on the front fenders, and rear spoiler. Special rear bumper guards were added to the rear bumper, and special performance suspension consisting of larger swaybars (1" fr. & 11/16" rr.) and heavier springs made the car handle. Newly styled 15x7 wheels with F60x15 bias white lettered tires finished off the handling package. Hood insulation was standard, as was a rear spoiler and special paint stripes on hood and rear deck, The tach and gauge package, power brakes, and 12 bolt positraction were also included. Muncie 4-speed manual or turbo-hydramatic were the only transmission choices. (First year for an automatic in Z28).
1971 brought a drop in compression to 9 to 1. Horsepower dropped to 330 with this change. The 12 bolt rear end vanished from the Camaro forever. A front spoiler was added, and most cars got the larger three-piece rear spoiler.
1972 Z28 was very much like the 1971, but now Chevy chose to use net HP ratings instead of gross, so the Z28 received a 255hp rating.
1973 was the first year the Z28 could be ordered with air conditioning. The engine gave up its aluminum intake and Holley and received a cast iron intake and Quadrajet. The solid lifter camshaft was also gone. Horsepower was now at 245hp.
1974 had basically the same engine as 1973. Restyled bumpers gave the car an all new look, and bold Z28 graphics were put on the hood. There were no Z28s produced in 1975 or 1976.
In April, 1977, the Z28 returned. Its 350 now was rated at 170hp, so emphasis was placed on making it a handling machine for the open road. The 1977 had larger (1.125") front and smaller (.625) rear sway bars than the earlier Z28. Muncie 4-speeds were gone by this time, and the Borg-Warner took their place.
1978 saw the horsepower bumped up to 185, except in California, which saw 175hp engines. New front and rear urethane bumpers gave an all new look.
1979 350s in the Z28 were all rated at 175, and the new front spoiler and stripe scheme were the only outward changes from the 1978.
1980 Z28s received a 3 color stripe to replace the 2 color one used in 1979. A functional electric solenoid operated hood scoop and functional fender vents were added. As a result, the horse- power was up to 190hp for the 350. Shorter springs were added to lower the car for improved handling.
1981 was the dawn of the computer age for the Camaro. Z28 engines now were computer controlled. The traditional 350 was now available only with an automatic trans, and not available in California at all. The 350 was rated at 175hp, while the Calif. 305 had 165hp. Automatic transmissions now had a lockup torque converter.