Panther society

The June 28, 1966, announcement of the Camaro’s name was a tongue-in-cheek press conference hosted by Chevrolet general manager Pete Estes, who announced everyone in attendance – including reporters from 14 cities on the line in a first-of-its kind teleconference – were charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World. He said it was the first and last meeting of the group, before revealing the name Camaro.

The Panther reference had floated in the news for the previous two years, when word got out Chevrolet was working on the Camaro. The project was code-named Panther, but Chevrolet had always intended to give the car a “C” name to follow the convention of its other car models such as Chevelle and Corvette. The “Panther society” press conference playfully put to rest the speculated name for the new car.

The public got its first look at the all-new Camaro in September 1966. In its first model year, the Camaro achieved 220,906 sales.

FAST FACT: When asked about the meaning of Camaro upon its introduction, some Chevrolet managers reportedly said it was a small, vicious animal that ate Mustangs.

First Generation: 1967-69

 

The Camaro’s first generation was born into the era’s raging muscle car and drag racing wars – as well as road racing, which spawned the original Z/28 in 1967.

First-generation Camaros also served twice as the Indy 500 pace car: first in 1967 and again in 1969 (shown).