1997 SLP Camaro SS
When 1997 rolled around Chevrolet was set to do a special 30th anniversary edition of their Camaro brand. To do this Chevy decided to ship a select number of base Z28's and SS cars out to the New Jersey based, super muscle car engineering firm SLP for modification.
Many enthusiasts call all 1997 Camaros 30th Anniversary cars, but this is not the case. Only about 4,000 cars total were shipped off to SLP for modification, all the rest of the 1997 models remain stock SS or Z28 models.
GM considered promoting these models in 1997, since all the modified Camaros came with 30th anniversary logos embroidered on the seats and floor mats. These alone are not enough to identify the car however, as they can easily be transferred or forged. Even checking the VIN cannot confirm a true 1997 anniversary edition, as all of them were originally stock models from Chevy before they were modified.
SLP did a number of modifications on the car, including changing the drive train, engine, and seats, among other things.
What resulted was the eventual release of 3,352 30th Anniversary Z/28s, and 957 30th Anniversary SS cars.
Further solidifying its collector status, only about 100 30th anniversary 6 speed convertibles were built, and another 106 cars that were built with the specialized 330 HP LTR engine.
The 1997 Anniversary Camaro SS was the fastest factory built Camaro ever, and was also the most expensive Camaro available at the time ($40,000).
In order to confirm that the car is indeed a 30th Anniversary Camaro, you will want to look for the RPO code "Z4c" and "WU9" on the trim tag, and the "SLP" sticker on the door. Note that all 30th anniversary editions were originally white with orange stripes, so any non-white color is usually a clone. Also calling SLP with the VIN and confirming it is indeed an SS is not a bad idea.
While in subsequent years Chevy continued to improve the Camaro SS specs, the 1997 SLP model still holds a special place in our hearts. It is a rare sight to see, but definitely noticeable thanks to its unique orange on white striped design that streaks down the front hood and tailwind.
As years go by, these cars will only become more and more rare and will end up being a very unique collector's edition along with the eventual 50th anniversary edition of the Camaro.
Reports from drivers say that the car handles extremely well, and has quite a bit of acceleration. Many of the cars are still in use today and functioning well, even 15 years after initial release.
So far we have estimated from reports that about 15-20 of the rarest cars have been damaged or totaled in some way, so this brings the total number of genuine LT4 1997 SS anniversary editions down to less than 100.
There are other unique additions that were added to the 1997 SS that soon became customary on all future Camaros. One of these was the easily distinguishable "tri-colored taillights" that remained on all Camaro models until they were discontinued in 2002.
This is also the year that Chevy did away with the "salad shooter" 10-inch rims that adorned earlier Camaro models, and instead replaced them with the much more stylish 16-inch, 5-spoke wheels. The wheels were available in either white, polished, or chrome, and became a customary option for all future Camaro models.
The 1997 LT4 engine is also known for carrying the crown for the highest horsepower of any car in the fourth generation, and it would not be surpassed until more than 10 years later when the Camaro was rereleased in the 5th generation with a 400HP model.
There has been debate as to whether the SLP version of the 1997 Camaro was better than all the rest of the Chevy produced Camaros in 1998-2002. While there were certainly many improvements to the Camaro during this time, the 1997 anniversary edition still has a special place among Camaro enthusiasts to this day.
Whether the car drives better than other models is up for debate, and will have to weighed against its perceived value as a collector's item 15 years running after its release.
Most of the rarest 1997 models (the convertibles and those with the LT4 engine) sell for upwards of $14,000 dollars in today's market. Stock models that are not modified by SLP usually go for less than $6,000.
Overall, we love the car and think it would make a great addition to any true Camaro enthusiast's garage.
We want to hear from you
Have you ever driven a 1997 anniversary SLP Camaro? If so did it have an LT4 engine? Are you an expert on this brand?
If so let us know in the comments so other users can benefit from your experience.