A photo of a red 1990s Chevrolet.

Photo: Chevy

“I don’t think there will ever be a better factory car than the 1993-2002 Camaro Z28 and SS (and their Pontiac Formulas, Trans Ams and Firehawks siblings).

“They were big enough for three adults and had a huge hatch opening so you didn’t need to have a second car. They were reliable and fuel efficient enough that you could drive them on a daily basis. They were loud from the factory (’93-’97) so you didn’t need an aftermarket exhaust to wake them up. They were available as new cars with optional factory-guaranteed quick-fit equipment, including optional SLP exhausts to wake up the relatively quiet LS1s (’98-’02 SSes). The aftermarket was (and is) huge for fast parts.

“They may not compare in horsepower to late-model Camaros (and other cars like Hellcat Challengers), but they were affordable, fun, and good everyday drivers. You have to be wealthy and/or older (40-50) to have a late model factory hot rod these days, especially if you want more than just a base model with no options, and most options today can’t handle a Home Depot or the Sam’s Club trip (except the Challenger, but that’s because it’s not a car, it’s a CAR).

“Back then, if you could afford a Toyota Camry, you could afford a Camaro Z28, and that really can’t be said today. For comparison… ’97 Camry base price $24,018, ’97 Camaro Z28 base price $20,115… ’22 Camry LE base price $26,870 or ’22 Camry XLE base price 31,620 $, ’22 Camaro LT1 base price $35,195 or ’22 Camaro 1SS base price $38,695.

“I understand there’s inflation at play and it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but you won’t find a current hot rod on most 20 or 30 year old shopping lists because the most options still available only charge for empty nests in their 50s and most options available today don’t make particularly good daily drivers. You sacrifice a lot of storage.

“Some of you may not consider storage or a ‘good daily driver’ important to a hot rod, but in my mind, the ‘best hot rod’ can be ridden every day.”

Submitted by: Brandon Blaise Brown (Facebook)

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