The first production 1967 Chevrolet Camaro rolled off the assembly line on August 11th, 1966 as a competitor to the revolutionary Ford Mustang that hit the market just a few years prior. The introduction of the Camaro set off what would be some of the fiercest competition between the two brands, and started one of the greatest ongoing rivalries that we still see in the market today.
On September 21, 1966, the first Camaro went on sale. The first 49 examples were hand-assembled by workers at the Norwood, Ohio plant, but production would eventually move to Van Nuys, California, starting with the second-generation model.
Interestingly, the Camaro didn’t even have a name until just a few weeks before it was set to be unveiled. Referred to as the Panther by the automotive press and GM executives, the name “Camaro” came to Chevrolet General Manager Pete Estes when, as reported by Automotive News, he “went into a closet, shut the door, and came out with the name.” Apparently, Camaro is French for a pal, chum, or comrade, although during the presentation the audience was told that it was “A small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs”.
Chevrolet currently owns the very first one, a Grenada Gold coupe with a six-cylinder engine and a three-speed manual transmission. Now restored to original specification and sitting in GM’s heritage collection, at one point serial number N100001 was completely stripped and used for drag racing, although the owner kept all the parts to return it to its original specification.
Although not exactly a serious performer as a base model, the Camaro was available to order with more than 80 options to make it whatever the new owner wanted. Options obviously included bigger engines such as the venerable 350 cubic-inch V8, and RS packages which added various luxury and performance options. With an initial base price of $2,466, the price of a Camaro could exceed $3,500 if specced out with all the options.