Chevy Camaro History: How Did the Camaro Get Its Name?

The Chevy Camaro’s history is probably more interesting than you think. Do you know how the Camaro got its name? Chevrolet created the Camaro sports car to challenge the ever-popular Ford Mustang, which it did. But there’s more to it than that.

The Chevy Camaro history and how the sports car got its name

The Chevy Camaro history
A 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS 350 | Steven Kelly/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images

The 1960s were an interesting time for car sales. When the Ford Mustang hit the market in 1964, GM was lagging behind in ideas. Chevrolet wanted something to compete with the Mustang, Automotive News said. Not long after, rumors started buzzing about some competition with the codename “Panther.”

In 1966, a division manager for Chevy by the name of Pete Estes unveiled the new car at a press conference in Detroit. Chevy was big on using alliteration at the time with names like the Chevy Corvair, Chevy Chevelle, and the Chevrolet Corvette. So, Estes announced the Mustang competition would be called the Chevy Camaro.

Now that Chevrolet has released the name, how exactly did it come to fruition?

The Chevy Camaro name is a combination of two words

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Spokespeople for Chevrolet told reporters that the word Camaro was from two words in Heath’s French and English Dictionary. The terms translated to “friend” or “comrade,” whilthe automaker threw another definitionwn around. That meant  “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” Well, would you look at that? Thus, the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro rivalry was official.

The first Camaro rolled off the production line on August 11, 1966, in Norwood, Ohio. Chevrolet would show it off for the first time on September 12, 1966, before going sale a year later.

“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.”

Automotive News

The sports car would come with more than 80 different options from the factory and another 40 from the dealer. It had accessories, the option of a hard or soft top, and it came with 140 hp. Buyers could opt for any of the Chevy engines at that time, with the SS package offering 375 hp.

The Camaro was a pace car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500

The 1967 Chevy Camaro was priced at $2,446 for the base model. The automaker produced 220,906 units for that year, most configured with the hardtop sport coupe option. Also, in its first year, 104 Camaro Pace Cars for the 1967 Indianapolis 500 were ordered. That’s some pretty cool Camaro history!

The Camaro outsold the Mustang for the first time in 1971 and was on top from 2010 to 2014. But the rivalry between the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro lives on. Just this year, the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger outsold the Chevy Camaro by double.

The creation of the Chevy Camaro name came straight out of an old-school automaker rivalry, which is probably the story of many more vehicles like it. For now, this feud has been going on for more than 55 years at this point. Talk about holding a grudge!

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