For much of its development period, the Camaro was actually called "Panther", following the 'animal' naming trend of the car it was designed to beat, the Ford Mustang.
The name for Chevy's ponycar actually proved to be a real dilemma. After also flirting with Wildcat, Chaparral and even Gemini (!) throughout its rushed development period, there was still no official name for Chevy's new car as its showroom debut rapidly approached. When it was finally announced in June, 1966, Camaro followed the 'C' naming standard for Chevys of the era (Chevelle, Corvair, Corvette, etc.), but it was "out there" enough for Chevrolet to feel an explanation was required. According to PR of the period, Camaro meant "comrade" or "pal" in French. However, critics found far less complimentary definitions using other foreign languages!
While the name may have been a moot point, there was no arguing the Camaro's styling. The Mustang had proven that looks were an important sales factor, so the Camaro had to offer an even more attractive package in order to be successful. Altogether more curvaceous than the Mustang, first generation ('67 - '69) Camaros like our feature car were popular from the start and still good look today. The debut Camaro was, arguably, a better engineered car than the Mustang, too. ('Stang owners - send your disagreements to the usual address!).
Although more than half a dozen different engines were available on debut, most buyers chose from the performance end of the scale. V8s outsold the basic 230ci 6 cylinder by 3 to 1 in 1967. By 1968, this ratio was closer to 4 to 1. Camaro and Corvette were regularly advertised together as "(road)hugging cousins". This added to the Camaro's performance credentials, as well as highlighting its affordability (on average, the Camaro was US$1,000 to $1,500 cheaper than an equivalent Corvette).
Improvements learned through Trans Am and drag strip racing (like the rear spoiler, multileaf rear springs and staggered rear shocks) were engineered into production models, so by 1968, the Camaro was a bona fide muscle car.
The muscle under the hood of our feature car is a factory 396ci big block V8. Edelbrock alloy heads, a 750cfm DP Holley carby and other trick parts kick power up to 450hp - the very pointy end of the performance scale. Transmission is a rebuilt T350 auto mated to a 12 bolt 308 diff. An aftermarket BeCool alloy radiator with twin thermo fans has been fitted and the disc front/ drum rear brakes are power-boosted.
Even though it's a black & white car, the images shown here don't do justice to the finish of the duco.
Repainted four years ago as part of a comprehensive nut-and-bolt restoration in the US, the triple black (black vinyl hood, black interior and immaculate black paint) treatment looks great, and is accented by original Rally wheels (with correct dress trims & center caps), RS grille and SS trim. The combination of RS (Rally Sport) and SS (Super Sport) option packages was a popular choice when new, and is particularly effective on this example.
Vendors, Dave's Cool Cars, reckon this is one of the best Camaros in the country. From what we've seen of it, it's hard to disagree.
This car was already a trophy winner (at the George Barris Culver City Show in 2006), before it arrived here. The new owner will undoubtedly pick up more trophys on the show circuit, although we suspect there's more satisfaction to be had in letting this "panther" loose on the open road.
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN & HOW MUCH
Model:Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS
Dealer:Dave's Cool Cars
Unit 5/76 Township Dve,
West Burleigh, QLD, 4219
Inspections by appointment
Ph: 0414 966 688
0-100 kph: About 6.5 seconds
Best point:Too good not to drive!
Worst point:Almost too good to drive!
Recommendation:This RS/SS is A-OK!
Trivia:Dealer specials abounded during the first generation Camaro era. In addition to the well known Yenko Camaros, Berger, Dana, Nickey, Dick Harrel, Gorries and Fred Gibb Chevrolet dealerships all turned out their own, higher-performance versions of the Camaro.