How did the Chevy Camaro get its name?

on Aug14

When the Camaro hit showroom floors, there were nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer options and accessories available.

With Ford’s Mustang selling through the roof since going on sale in 1964, General Motors needed something new to compete with its rival’s pony car.

After reports surfaced that Chevrolet was planning a long-hooded, two-door car Mustang competitor in April 1965 — Codename: Panther — a lot of buzz surrounded the automotive world.

On June 28, 1966, Chevrolet Division General Manager Pete Estes held a live press conference in Detroit unveiling the new name for the planned car. Continuing Chevy’s usage of names that begin with “C” (Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette), Estes said the car would be called the Chevrolet “Camaro” and not “Panther” as many had speculated.

The name Camaro was reportedly derived from Heath’s French and English Dictionary as a term that translated to “friend” or “comrade.” Reporters were told by GM product managers that the term also meant “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” And the stage for the rivalry was set.

On Aug. 11, 1966, Chevrolet manufactured its first ever Camaro at its Norwood, Ohio, plant. The car would be unveiled to the press in Detroit on Sept. 12, 1966, before going on sale Sept. 29 for the 1967 model year.

The 1967 Camaro debuted on a rear-wheel-drive GM F-body platform, available in a coupe or convertible style with 2+2 seating. The car also flaunted a long hood and a short rear deck.

When the Camaro hit showroom floors, there were nearly 80 factory options and 40 dealer options and accessories available. It was available as a hardtop and convertible. Its base powertrain was the 140-hp 230ci L6 engine with a manual three-speed transmission. Almost any motor that Chevy made was available for the Camaro up to the 375-hp 396ci engine in the SS package.

The base price for the 1967 Camaro was $2,446. The total production run for the 1967 Camaro was 220,906, most of which were the base hardtop sport coupe. In the first production year, 104 Camaro Pace Cars were produced, as the Camaro graced the racetrack, pacing the 1967 Indianapolis 500 in the car’s first year of production.

Mustang sales certainly cooled off since selling nearly 550,000 models in 1966, and the Camaro outsold the Mustang for the first time in 1971, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Since then, the Camaro has outsold Ford’s pony car 12 other times including a five year stretch from 2010 through 2014.

General Motors eliminated the Camaro after the 2002 model, its fourth generation. In 2009, production started back up with the fifth generation Camaro that won World Car Design of the Year at the World Car of the Year Awards in 2010.

In 2016, Chevy rolled out the sixth-generation Camaro. Now, 51 years later, the base 2018 Camaro starts at $26,900, including shipping, with a 2.0-liter turbo SIDI engine with 275 hp. The top engine now available is the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 DI engine with 650 hp.

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