Camaro, without exaggeration, is a legend- a car whose history kept pace with the development of the Chevrolet brand itself. Since 1966, several generations had been produced, united by a powerful engine and “old school” design.
– “Camaro”? What does it mean?
– It’s a small, bloodthirsty beast that feeds on Mustangs …
Well, it’s generally accepted that the discussion above is just a legend, but many still believe the conversation took place in late September 1966 between the press and top management of the Chevrolet division of GM. Nevertheless, on this day, September 29, 1966, one of the most formidable and beautiful predators of the automotive world ever hunted on the freeways was presented. And its name was Camaro. With this short capacious word, General Motors answered to Ford, which since April 1964 has been freely driving herds of its Mustangs across the prairies of the American market. It was time to share the territory…
According to many analysts, the first response to the Ford Mustang was the elegant Super Nova concept car. It was shown in the spring of 1964 during an exhibition in New York. However, it was not even as closely cool as the wild Mustang. And then designers have gone to bat, and ideas boiled up.
This is the official version of the events. In fact, General Motors had been looking at this type of vehicle since 1958, involving Pontiac brand designer Bob Porter. In the 60s, four-seater sports cars that possessed similar dimensions and weight to the Mustang were very popular. Every designer dreamed of creating such a car, but at that time these projects did not meet the corporate interests of the US auto giants at all. However, when in 1966 Mustang sales almost hit half a million in a year, GM got seriously interested in what was going on and embarked on the journey to create a rival vehicle. All authority to combat the brood stallions was assigned to the Chevrolet Studio within the GM Design Center, led by Henry C Haga. The work on the interior was entrusted to George Engersbach, who created the salons of such remarkable machines as Corvette, Corvair, and Chevy II.
Meanwhile, the presentation date was approaching, and the car still did not have a name. The press and GM itself came up with many pilot names, including Nova, Panther, Chaparral, and even Wildcat (later used for Buick). In the end, the car came out with the name “Camaro”. Chevrolet interpreted its origin as the word borrowed from an old French explanatory dictionary, meaning a “friend”, “companion”. Ford, in turn, unearthed another meaning of the word, this time in an old Spanish dictionary – “small shrimp”. The press was having fun with might and main, adding fuel to the flames. A certain journalist discovered another meaning of this word – in slang, “make a Camaro” meant “to guts out” of an opponent. All the fun, however, ended the moment the world witnessed the stunning debut of the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro.
The 1968 model came in two body styles – a coupe and a convertible. Moreover, several were available, the most popular of which were the SS and Z28. The most powerful V-shaped eight engine was installed for this machine, with a working volume of 5.7 liters (255 hp). Interestingly, the Z28 modification never appeared in the advertisement, which did not make it less popular. The reason for such fame was the power disc brakes on the front wheels, the suspension prepared for competitions, the Muncie 4-speed gearbox, and, of course, the most powerful argument for buying this modification was the forced 5-liter engine. It was a modification of the 5.4-liter engine, installed on a 4.6-liter crankshaft. This design was a requirement for the Trans-Am race.
In 1968, some improvements were made to the design, and the exterior design was slightly changed. Following new US laws, side turn signal repeaters were installed. The protruding corner of the grille became sharper, and the taillights were divided in the middle by a vertical bar. The vents have disappeared from the doors. Shock absorbers with improved characteristics were installed. On some modifications, mono leaf rear springs were replaced with multi-leaf ones. Updated design in 1968 – rectangular fog lamps, pointed grille, turn signal. In total, 235,147 vehicles left the gates of GM factories in 1968.
Camaro was often used in drag racing. A 1968 model driven by famed Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins won the American National Drag Racing Championship in 1970.
For more classic cars, visit our website.