10 Obscure First-Generation Chevrolet Camaro Facts for True Gearheads

In the beginning of the ’60s, car manufacturers knew that the youth no longer wanted to drive the same old boring cars that their parents did. Youngsters now wanted their first cars to reflect their enthusiasm, freedom, and zeal. Chevrolet responded to this market need with cars like the Chevelle, the Nova, and especially the Impala. However, the Ford Motor Company blew them all out of the waters with the Ford Mustang. Chevy now needed to raise the bar and come up with something that was as enticing as Ford’s pony car. Thus, the Chevrolet Camaro was born.

Every gearhead who knows their automotive history will always swear by the first generation of the Chevy Camaro. Introduced in 1967, the Camaro was built to be as fast, as sexy, and as affordable as the Mustang. History witnessed the birth of a true American icon from its very first year, where the Camaro sold 220,906 units. Over 55 years and six generations, the Chevrolet Camaro has remained General Motors’ quintessential pony car, always taking the fight to its Blue Oval rival. While the Camaro has impressed decade after decade with its iterations, there is something about the spirit of the very first generation of the car that remain, to this day, unbeatable.

In that vein, let’s take a well-deserved look at the first-gen Chevrolet Camaro, and ten obscure facts that you might not know about it.

10 The Chevy Camaro Almost Had A Different Name

Yellow 1967 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro SS parked outside

Now a household name across the world, the Chevy Camaro almost had a different name back in 1967. Designers originally wanted to call the car the Chevrolet Panther. In fact, they had even drawn up emblems for the ‘Panther’ in the form of a leaping cat. Thankfully, G.M. vetoed the idea, calling the ‘Panther’ moniker too aggressive.

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Red

While we’re grateful for the Camaro name that came to be, the name is probably made up. Chevy was known for making their cars start with the letter ‘C’, their own initial (think Cavalier, Corvette, Cheyenne, Chevelle). That’s why the name Chevrolet ‘Chaparral’ was also thrown around, before being thrown out.

The First-Gen Chevy Camaro Wasn’t Produced In Just USA

1969 Camaro ZL1 Cropped

The American icon that the Chevrolet Camaro became, it might come as a surprise to many that the first generation of the Camaro wasn’t produced in just the U.S. While GM did employ their manufacturing plants in Van Nuys, Ohio, and Norwood, they also produced the Camaros overseas.

Green 1969 Chevy Camaro COPO On Driveway

These included destination countries like the Philippines, Venezuela, Belgium, and Switzerland. These nations required certain vehicles, the Camaro included, to be manufactured locally. It was the only way the Chevy Camaro could have operated on the roads of these countries.

Only One ’68 Chevy Camaro Z28 Convertible Was Ever Made

1968-Chevrolet-Camaro-Z28-Convertible

In 1968, GM built a one-off Chevy Camaro Z28 convertible. This was the only model open-top model they produced in ’68, in an attempt to appease Pete Estes, the President of the Chevrolet Division. Built specifically for Estes, the ’68 Camaro Z28 Convertible needed to convince Estes to keep the Z28 package in production for the subsequent year, and it succeeded.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z:28 Convertible

The team put together every Z28 options along with all possible Camaro upgrades for Estes and threw it on the ultra-exclusive Camaro, since Estes was known to love convertibles. This was how the Z28 was born.

Chevy’s ‘Super Nova’ Concept From 1964 Birthed The Camaro

1964 Chevrolet Chevy II Super Nova Concept

At the 1964 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet had unveiled the Super Nova concept car. It was built on the same chassis as the 1964 Chevy II Nova, and had unique styling cues that eventually found their way into the first-generation Camaros. This included the windshield rake, the roofline, the shape of the trunk lid, and the subtly pronounced rear fender bulges, which became a hallmark of the first-gen Camaros.

1969-Chevy-Camaro-ZL1-1

The Super Nova ‘Shark’ Concept never got the attention it deserved back in ’64, since the Mustang took over the hearts and eyes of the entire country. Of course, it found resurgence in the Camaro just three years later.

1967 Chevy Camaro SS

Chevy knew they needed to pull out all the stops in order to go up against a car as well-established and loved as the Ford Mustang. Thus, the brand introduced their ’67 pony car amidst a media blitz that they created. This included many steps that the brand did, including a half-hour movie they produced about the development of the car.

Chevy even hired Milton Caniff, a popular cartoonist from the time, to narrate the movie, which they titled ‘The Camaro’. The movie was shown on TV as well as in movie theaters. Safe to say, the tactic worked.

There Was Also A Touring Stage Play To Generate Hype For The First Chevy Camaros

1967 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z28 In Mountain Green Paint

A short movie playing on television and in theaters wasn’t all General Motors did to promote the Chevy Camaro. Another event that they orchestrated in order to generate hype for the new Camaro was to commission a stage play called ‘Camaro!’. This was a musical stage play, and debuted in September 1966.

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible (First Generation)

The Camaro! musical stage play toured 25 cities in the USA and Canada, featuring dancers, a chorus, an orchestra, and of course, a ’67 Camaro in both coupe and convertible forms. Four different acting troupes were involved in the play, showing just how much GM had riding on the success of the Camaro.

1968-Chevrolet-Camaro-Z28-RS

If you thought a play and a short movie were enough promotion to guarantee the success of the Camaro, you thought wrong. GM certainly didn’t think so, as they had another promotional tie-in to promote the launch of the Chevy Camaro. The manufacturer teamed up with New York fashion designer David Crystal to bring forth a line of women’s fashions.

Blue with white stripes 1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro (First Generation)

This clothing line was inspired by the Camaro, and dubbed ‘The Camaro Collection’. The tagline that these six dresses had was ‘Fashion Goes Motoring’, and anyone who bought from this collection in any of the 450 stores across the country automatically registered for a lucky draw to take home a free Camaro. Talk about marketing!

A Particular Sequence Of Selected Options Unlocked The Chance To Buy The Secret ’67 Z28 Chevy Camaro

1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Now one of the most famous models of the Camaro, the 1967 Z28 Camaro was actually a ‘secret’ optional package. The RPO Z28 Special Performance Package could be had as a factory-built race car, but only if you somehow knew exactly what sequence of options to request.

1967-Chevrolet-Camaro-Z28-1

This sequence included power disc brakes and the Muncie 4-speed close-ratio manual transmission, thus triggering the construction of the ’67 Z28 Camaro. GM built this car to compete in Trans Am Series racing with a few race modifications. Only 602 1967 Z28 models were built, making it quite the collector’s dream today.

The 1969 Chevy Camaro Was The First Camaro To Cross The 400 Horsepower Threshold

1969-chevrolet-camaro-z-28-exterior-front

In the last year of its first generation, the Chevy Camaro finally crossed the 400 horsepower threshold. The RPO L78 model of the Camaro gave the standard 375 horsepower. However, those with the need for speed could select the ZL-1 COPO 9560, which churned out 430 horsepower, or the L72 427 model, which made 425 horsepower.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL-1

In fact, these ’69 models were all the more special because they would be the last Camaros to ever come with 400+ hp for 41 years, until the LS3-powered 2010 Camaro came with its 426 horses

Chevy Built The Camaro’s First All-Aluminum Engine in 1969 Itself

Chevrolet Camaro 1969 COPO 9560

Sure, every V8 Camaro today coming with an all-aluminum engine might not sound like anything special to anyone today. However, back in 1969, this was a purely exotic option. Dubbed the COPO (Central Office Production Order) 9560, the all-aluminum engine of the ’69 Camaro almost doubled the price of the base Camaro.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO 9560

At $4,160, the all-aluminum ZL1 427 big-block V8 made a fantastic 430 horsepower, making it one of the first two Camaro models to make north of 400hp. Understandably, Chevy only made 69 units of COPO 9560, which makes the value of one of these babies nearly $200,000 today

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