August 11, 1966 – The Camaro is born

The first production Chevrolet Camaro was born on this day in 1966 at Chevrolet’s Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant and officially went on sale September 29 as a 1967 model. The vehicle was announced at a live press conference held by GM at  Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. Chevrolet general manager Pete Estes started the news conference stating that all attendees of the conference were charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World and that this would be the first and last meeting of SEPAW. This is because the press was under impression that Chevrolet had code named their Mustang competition project “Panther.”  Estes then announced a new car line, project designation XP-836, with a name that Chevrolet chose in keeping with other car names beginning with the letter C such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II, and Corvette. He claimed the name, suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner and that to us, the name means just what we think the car will do… go. The Camaro name was then unveiled. Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, what is a Camaro? and were told it was a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.  Unfortunately the name came, apparently, from a misreading of a French-English dictionary. According to “The Complete Book of Camaro” the name Camaro was conceived by Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett, while they were reading the book Heath’s French and English Dictionary by James Boïelle and by de V. Payen-Payne printed in 1936. The pair found the word in the book with a definition of friend, pal, or comrade. In truth, Camaro is not a recognized word in French at all and it is likely it was a simple mistake in the book for the translation of English comrade and French camarade.  Nonetheless the vehicle was widely successful after going on sale and saw four distinct generations go to market before the line was cut in 2002. Fortunately for lovers of things both new and old the Camaro was reborn in 2009 and continues to be a major part of the Chevrolet lineup as it continues to contest against the car it was born to beat, the Ford Mustang.  PhotosA first generation 1967 Camaro SS, slightly modified. – By dave_7 Chevrolet Camaro SS, CCSecond gen 1971 Camaro SS – By cars cars cars Florida – DSC00118, CC BY 2.0,Third gen 1983 z/28 – By Dennis Elzinga – Chevrolet Camaro Z28, CC BY 2.0,Fourth gen 1997 z/28 By Mindlessmaggots – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,Fifth gen 2013 RS model – By order_242 from Chile – Chevrolet Camaro RS 2013, CC BY-SA

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