Volume VI, Number 12

Mustang vs. Camaro in Small-Scale Trans Am
by Doug Breithaupt

A great rivalry is coming to an end. With the Chevrolet Camaro no longer in production, nearly four decades of head-to-head racing between Ford's Mustang and Chevy's Camaro are over. Trans-Am (began as the Trans-American Sedan Championship in 1966, visit; http://www.trans-amseries.com/ for a full history of the series), IMSA, SCCA and many more racing venues have provided the stage for the two best known pony cars to fight for bragging rights. Thousands of Mustang and Camaro owners have followed the fortunes of their favorites and cheered for victory over their classic rival.

Vintage racers are now continuing this rivalry with many of the same cars now used in classic Trans Am grid re-creations. Perhaps some day the Camaro will return to once again carry the Chevy flag in the pony car racing wars.

Toy car makers have offered examples of all the major body styles of Mustang and Camaro racers. Some have produced models of real race cars while others have done more generic racers. Here are the best four match-ups from my collection.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 (Parnelli Jones) - Hot Wheels

The 1970 Mustang Boss 302 is considered by many to be the one of the most attractive models of Ford's pony car. The cars campaigned by Bud Moore and driven by Parnelli Jones and others added brawn to go with the beauty. Hot Wheels has done a nice job with their stock Boss 302 casting to present one of these famous yellow Trans Am racers, series winner in 1970 .
1969 Chevrolet Camaro (Mark Donahue) - Hot Wheels

Before he became famous as an open-wheel racing team owner, Roger Penske ran a Trans Am team. The Sunoco Camaros were well known on the Trans Am, especially once Mark Donahue became the star driver. Donahue won the Trans Am series in 1969 but lost to Jones in 1970. The Hot Wheels Sunoco Camaro is a re-creation of Donahue's famous racer.
1976 Ford Mustang Cobra II - Johnny Lightning

While the Mustang II was a participant in Trans Am racing during the 1970's, these cars were not able to challenge the Porsches and Jaguars that dominated the series. Mustangs also ran in the IMSA racing series. Johnny Lightning has reproduced a Mustang II Cobra racer from this period.
1975 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 - Ertl

Like the Mustang, Camaros of the 1970's found it tough going against the European competition. It was not until 1983 that the Camaro once again won the Trans Am championship, driven by David Hobbs. Ertl produced the best example of the racing Camaro from this period. These cars were also used in the IROC series and proved that American Muscle could still be found.
1982 Ford Mustang Racer - Kenner (Universal)

Ford's Capri was the car of choice for Trans Am in the 1980's but Mustangs did run. It was not until 1989 that Mustang again won the series, driven by Dorsey Schroeder. Finding toy examples of racing Mustangs of this period is a challenge. The best was done by Kenner in it's Fast 111's series, a casting carried over to Matchbox, once Universal purchased the name.
1991 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (Scott Sharp) - Hot Wheels

In the mid 1980's, Camaros once again rose to the top of the Trans Am challengers. Wally Dallenbach won the title in 1986. Jack Baldwin and Scott Sharp were the Camaro hot shoes in the early 1990's, both winning championships. Hot Wheels did both cars in early collector's versions with Scott Sharp's Camaro shown here. Sharp won the championship in 1991 and 1993.
1998 Ford Mustang Trans-Am (Randy Ruhlman) - Johnny Lightning

From 1995-1997, Mustangs driven by Tommy Kendall were Trans Am winners. Paul Gentilozzi switched from Corvette to Mustang and won in 1999. Johnny Lightning produced a series of the Trans Am cars of this period and the car driven by Randy Ruhlman is shown here.
1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (Johnny Miller) - Johnny Lightning

The late 1990's proved to be kinder to Mustang although the Camaro was still a strong contender. The last Camaro championship would be 1994 with Scott Pruitt as driver. Johnny Lightning offers the colorful Camaro of Johnny Miller here. Since 2000, Jaguar, Mangusta and Panos have been the Trans-Am champions.