12 July 2013

Secrets of the Camaro

One of America’s favorite pony cars, the Camaro has an interesting past with more than a few buried facts and secrets hiding just below the radar. Here are five of our favorites:

  1. The Camaro was almost called the Panther — It took a while for Chevrolet to come up with a final name for the Camaro. For quite some time it was referred to internally as the Chevrolet Panther. In end, Chevy’s preference for names beginning with a “C” won out, and the Panther name died as part of an elaborate PR campaign.
  2. The Camaro was actually a Canadian Import — Like William Shatner and Michael J. Fox, the seemingly All-American Camaro was actually stealth Canadian. From 1993-2002, the Camaro and its twin, the Pontiac Firebird, were built in St. Thérèse, Quebec, a Montreal suburb.
  3. “Camaro” means nothing — The name was actually a contrived moniker, much like “Camry” and “Corolla.” Although some claim that it is French slang for “friend,” neither the GM product people (nor most French-speakers, for that matter) are aware of this.
  4. “Outpaced” the Mustang — Although the Camaro came 2½ years after the Mustang and was often outsold by the Mustang, it has a healthy lead in the Indianapolis 500. The Camaro has been the official pace car at Indy six times, versus just three for the Mustang. Only the Corvette (12) has paced more 500s than the Camaro.
  5. Current Base V-6 Puts V-8s of old to shame — Amazing as it may seem, the 2013 base six-cylinder engine, at 323 hp, puts out more ponies than the most powerful small-block V-8 in the original car (295 hp). In fact, it probably makes nearly as much power as the fiercest big block V-8 of 1967, the 396 cubic inch, 375 hp. In modern “net horsepower” (measured with mufflers and accessories hooked up), the new six and the old big-block V-8 are probably just about even.

Hagerty's employees just recently finished a full restoration of a 1969 Camaro SS. To find out more about the restoration process or where the Camaro is now please visit our Comeback Camaro page.

28 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Bob Davis Fullerton CA July 24, 2013 at 17:48
    You have been my insurance company for my 69RS for many years and I am completely satisfied. The 69RS is the only model Chevy put out as far as I know that had a headlight washer system; My car has the system intact and used to work however the water container and the pump are broken and I have not been able to find a replacement anywhere, not Classic Camaro not the internet, any suggestions?
  • 2
    Steve Allen Seattle July 24, 2013 at 17:48
    I believe Camaros and Firebirds were also built in Van Nuys, CA until the plant was closed...70s and 80s?
  • 3
    Fred Ficarra Seabeck WA. July 24, 2013 at 20:16
    Hi guys, It's good to know that you've been in my corner since, what, 2004? But really now, my "375" 396 really put out 425 horses. It's the motor that went racing in the early 60's and then into the vette in '65. And my new 2013 SS/RS with 400hp can't touch my 69. Just IMHO. Well, no it's not. Ask around, especially original owners like me.
  • 4
    Jim Ham Holly Mi. July 24, 2013 at 20:58
    why do i see very few 1964-1967 elcomino's --- tv car show's or on the street -- are they not around or nobody wants them i pulled a 67 elcomino custom out of a barn june 2011 in holly mi. i had it painted * no new medal * and new carpet the rest is all 1967 chrome and glass i have Hagerty
  • 5
    Michel Lamoureux Montreal, Canada July 24, 2013 at 23:36
    Good stuff, Rob! Very interesting. Love the Canadian connection.Similarly, the (Plymouth) Road Runner was going to be called: "La Mancha" in 1968....
  • 6
    Lou Ratsos Michigan July 25, 2013 at 13:37
    Is it true that the nomenclature Z28 stems from the GM code for the line or plant that the Camero was built on?
  • 7
    John MD July 25, 2013 at 14:56
    I'll take the 396, 375hp and not because it's rare.
  • 8
    Tony San Jose Ca July 25, 2013 at 03:54
    I am the original owner of a 1969 Camaro that I purchase with the help of my parents co signing for me in 1969 in Cupertino Ca. I have restored it to it's original condition in 1998.
  • 9
    Kevin Cloutier North Fort Myers, FL 33903 July 25, 2013 at 16:58
    I have Hot Rod magazine 1967 introduction of Camaro and a finalist name being considerd was Phoenix.
  • 10
    Bob PA July 25, 2013 at 07:12
    As for no. 4, the only reason for this is because GM has a contract w Indy Motor Speedway. This is why, for years, one only sees GM products both pacing and on display.
  • 11
    Robert Harvey Bay Harbor, MI July 25, 2013 at 08:18
    Iteresting facts but more importantly you missed the fact that the Camaro was the first car with the 350. Most people think it went into the Corvette first.B
  • 12
    Paul Ravenna United States July 25, 2013 at 10:27
    You may want to research the Camaro name further. In an old issue of Corvette News there was a story about a gentleman named Bob Lund who was the marketing director for Chevrolet at that time. The name given to the prototype was, I believe, Diablo, which in Bob Lund's eyes, was a little bit too sinister. Also it didn't begin wit a "C". Story goes, he looked at a french dictionary under "C" and came up with Camaro, which means friend. Later Bob, Lund became president of Chevrolet, and broke sales records in the 70's which still stands today. When Bob Lund retired to Phoenix, he opened up Lund Cadillac in about 1986. I worked for him for about 12 years and I retired in 2011. Bob Lund died several years prier and his son John Lund took the reigns. I originally read this story in Corvette News and Bob Lund told me the same story himself. I'm sure you can verify this with his son John or look in the Corvette News archives. Bob Lund also was responsible (good or bad), because of the CAFE standards, for the birth of the the Cimmiron. Hope this helps
  • 13
    James Brown United States July 25, 2013 at 12:04
    I have been insured with Hagerty for along time now. My car is a 1966 Pontiac Beaumont. Does Hagerty ever select customer cars to do restorations on? I think this would be a great PR option for Hagerty to consider.
  • 14
    Don Falloon United States July 25, 2013 at 12:21
    The current Camaro is still built in Oshawa, Ontario. Production in the US won't begin until the next-gen Camaro in 2016. The Challenger is built in Brampton, Ontario. The Mustang is built in Flat Rock, MI, although the 5.0 engines are built in Windsor, Ontario. Still, that makes (in my addled mind, anyway) the Mustang the only American-made pony car.
  • 15
    Dennis Metamora MI. July 25, 2013 at 12:53
    Great article
  • 16
    Bill Russell Lakeland, Florida July 26, 2013 at 13:36
    Fact 5, about the current V-6 vs the 396/375 .......I doubt that on the drag strip there would a close race. I was there, I lived the 60's. Yes the new motors do put out more horsepower, but the big block HP ratings for the Camaros, Chevelles, GTO's, etc. was underrated for insurance purposes. Even the original Z-28 small block 302, was advertised at only 295 HP, I think, and that was almost a full blown race motor and highly underrated for the HP.
  • 17
    Edward gagliardo Staten Island New York July 26, 2013 at 23:27
    How can I find out if my 1968 Camaro ss is a true SS. It doesn't show it in the vin number, can someone help me thank you.
  • 18
    Harold Johnson San Francisco Bay Area July 29, 2013 at 14:45
    I suppose numbers tell the truth, but I'd like to see a head to head dragrace between a '67 375hp vs a '13 323hp Camaro ! I put a 4 bolt main, cast iron rectangular port 427 in a "74 LT camaro that roasted tires all day long at will, but would scream off the line if "clutched " right ! New engine technology, extra gears, better traction, etc etc, provides some advantages to todays Camaro's, BUT big inches and brute torque WITH simplicity can't be counted out completely !! I enjoy both these days, glad all can still be modified and enjoyed by new & old schoolers ! Current toy = STOCK LOPEY IDLING 350, '74 Z28 WITH A SUPER T10 THAT'S STILL SCARES ME, BUT I STILL HAVE --- "THAT" SAME 427 --- IN THE CORNER OF MY GARAGE, ALONG SIDE A "GEN 5" 496 ALSO DOIN' NUTHIN'. EITHER WOULD EASILY DROP IN & EASILY EAT VIPERS & SIMULIAR "REPTILES" !! Whatever, Rock On !!! Hal J
  • 19
    David Hoovler Pittsburgh, PA July 29, 2013 at 00:10
    It's a small nit to pick on #3, but there actually is meaning behind "Camry" and "Corolla." The former is an alternate transliteration of "Kanmuri," Japanese for "crown." The Corolla is the scientific term for the petals of the flower (collectively). Better examples of nonsense names might have been "Chevelle," keeping it in the Chevy family, or even the most vaguely pharmaceutical of nameplates, the Suzuki Grand Vitara.
  • 20
    Kevin Murphy TX July 31, 2013 at 14:59
    In my experience the only Camaro any Chevrolet fan wants is a 1969. Ford fans....ask them which Mustang, and you'll get all different year models.
  • 21
    Mike Belair md August 5, 2013 at 18:56
    I don't know about that last comment , about real camaro fans only want 1969's. I have a numbers matching 1967 l30 m20 camaro and I absolutely love it. And have no interest whatsoever in a 1969 ! Not that there is anything wrong with th'69 I will keep my '67 thank you!
  • 22
    Mike Belair md August 5, 2013 at 18:56
    I don't know about that last comment , about real camaro fans only want 1969's. I have a numbers matching 1967 l30 m20 camaro and I absolutely love it. And have no interest whatsoever in a 1969 ! Not that there is anything wrong with th'69 I will keep my '67 thank you!
  • 23
    dean marshall Clarkston, Mi August 22, 2013 at 21:17
    A cool test would be the '69 SS 396 375 HP (if you could find one) against the new Camaro V6 in a quarter mile race, bone stock (including the bias ply tires). I think the new Camaro would win. Then add headers, intake, carb, cam and a set of sticky tires to both, and try again. My guess is if you ran a 0 to 100 to 0 test, the new Camaro would win hands down. It takes mucho time and effort to make the old girls run good. The new stuff is fast right out of the box.
  • 24
    Skeeter dc September 29, 2013 at 12:20
    There was and is a Canadian Camaro plant in Ottowa but that was just one plant, I think another plant was in California. Also 2014 is the last year for the Canadian factory. All Camaros will be onus soil in 2015. Also the V6 hp may match the old v8s but the old v8s crush the v6 in torque which gets it off the line quicker, but the v6 makes up for it with a 6 speed trans and bigger stickier tires whereas the oldies only had 2, 3 and4 speed transmissions that could not efficiently put the available power to the ground. Not only that the stock tires were smaller and burned rubber all through 1st gear.
  • 25
    TC Canada November 25, 2013 at 09:04
    I still love my 1968 RS-SS Built in Canada. Has interesting Corvette style rocker panel treatment.
  • 26
    jr indiana April 3, 2015 at 20:01
    where all 67 Camaros built with single leaf springs and did not come with a rear spoiler option
  • 27
    noah alexandria March 31, 2016 at 15:06
    a camaro is my favorite car
  • 28
    maccrae rexburg ID March 27, 2017 at 13:38
    You guys are great my brothers friend is totally into cars and loves ford, I keep telling him that chevy is a good brand and dodge but he said the chevy just flat out sucks and so thanks to this great website I have proof that chevy beat the mustang in the Indianapolis. So thanks so much ;D

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