Code Name “Panther”
The Ford Mustang had an extraordinary impact on the automotive industry after its release in April of 1964.
As you might expect, the other major automobile manufacturers immediately got to work on their versions of a pony car so that they could garner their share of this burgeoning new market.
In 1965 rumors began to circulate about the Chevrolet division of General Motors developing a competitor under the code name “Panther”.
During the summer of 1966 the company held a press conference and they invited members of the automotive journalism community. At this conference they announced that everyone in attendance was automatically a member of the “Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World.”
The point was to let the intelligentsia know that the car was a reality but that it was not going to be called the Panther. In fact, it was going to be named the Camaro and it was purported to be a compact but capable animal that could “eat Mustangs.”
The Chevrolet Camaro was first offered to the buying public during September of 1966; of course this was the 1967 model year. The body styles that were offered during this first generation of the Chevrolet Camaro included a two-door coupe or convertible, with the most powerful engine available being a rather robust 396 cubic inch V-8.
The 1967 Camaro was the start of something big, and the vehicle remained in production continuously through the 2002 model year. If you were to ask serious fans of American muscle and pony cars to provide a list of the most important vehicles of the second half of the 20th century there is little doubt that the Camaro would be near the top of the list.
Chevrolet brought back the Camaro for the 2010 model year, and the latest models are really mind-boggling as well.
But to vintage muscle car fans there is truly nothing like a classic Camaro, and it all started with project Panther.