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The Chevrolet Camaro has been battling the Ford Mustang for over 55 years for bragging rights in the pony and muscle car space. However, the Chevy model’s incredible tenure boasts a few wild and noteworthy facts that many fans might not know about, like the origin of the Camaro’s name. Here are three things you probably didn’t know about fan-favorite Chevy Camaros, like the ZL1 1LE and the controversial “Catfish” Camaro. 

What was the Camaro originally called?

When Chevrolet was planning its automotive response to the Ford Mustang, the model’s moniker was Panther. However, by the time the Chevy model hit the streets in 1967, the automaker couldn’t resist an alliterative title, and the Camaro name was born. 

Moreover, unlike Mustang or newer Dodge Hellcat models, the Camaro’s moniker is a bit, well, nonsensical. Some GM executives claimed the title referred to French slang for “comrade” or “friend,” per Hagerty. However, it’s more likely that the model name is just a pleasing handle. 

Additionally, Pete Estes, then-Chevrolet general manager, jested that the name signified a “small vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” After all, the Camaro’s entire purpose was to challenge the Ford Mustang’s pony car popularity.  

A 1969 Chevrolet Camaro shows off its angular, old-school styling.
1969 Chevy Camaro | General Motors

The fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro shares an interesting fact with the modern Dodge Challenger

It’s a long shot to compare a fourth-gen Chevrolet Camaro (1993-2002) with a modern land yacht like an LA-platform Dodge Challenger. However, both cars share a country of origin that, surprise, isn’t the United States; both cars came from assembly plants in Canada.

A fourth-generation Chevy Camaro, like the Catfish Camaro, shows off its pace car colors with past models.
Camaro pace cars | General Motors

Specifically, “Catfish” Camaros, along with their GM sibling, the Pontiac Firebird, rolled off the line at a plant in St. Thérèse, Quebec. Moreover, the monstrous Mopar comes from Stellantis’ Brampton plant in Ontario. While the Catfish Camaro and Dodge Challenger are staples in muscle car (and pony car) culture, neither was born on American soil.  

What was the Camaro ZL1 1LE’s Nürburgring time?

While Chevrolet’s Camaro might be synonymous with lazy V8 torque and top-down coastal cruising, the model has hosted some serious track-day performers. In fact, the sixth-generation Camaro ZL1 1LE is on the list of the fastest American production cars ever to take on the notorious Nürburgring in Germany. 

A bright red and black Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE takes on the Nürburgring.
A Camaro ZL1 1LE at the Nürburgring | General Motors

Specifically, the razor-sharp 2017 Camaro ZL1 1LE lapped the “Green Hell” in 7:16.04. That’s less than three seconds off the pace of the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and under four seconds behind a Dodge Viper ACR. Of course, the track-ready Camaro likely won’t hold up against a newer Bow Tie brute, like a 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Unfortunately, Chevrolet is sunsetting its long-running pony car after six generations of gas-powered goodness. Barring some hybridized or electrified reboot, the Camaro won’t follow the Mustang into a seventh generation. Still, the Camaro’s life has been interesting, and we’ll miss it. Tell us about your Camaro thoughts and experiences in the comments below!


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