The higher ups at GM paid little heed to the Ford Mustang until, six months later following its release to the public in 1964, 100,000 cars were sold. It’s likely that there were a few grimaces at corporate once half a million Mustangs were sold in just a year.
Rumor has it that GM had already begun working on the design of a new concept, Code Name XP-836, in mid-1963 soon after the introduction of the Mustang but it would be three years, numerous names, untold rumors, several designs, and project code names before the Camaro, as we know it, made its debut on September 29, 1966. Oddly enough, the Mustang was designed to compete with the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, a sporty compact with the engine in the trunk. Sales for the Corvair had declined however, subsequent to the release of “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a publication dedicated to the negative reviews of car by author Ralph Nader.
Two body choices – whittled down from several models in the interest of costs – were available: the 2-door Coupe and the Convertible with 2+2 seating. Its internal corporate code name, the “F” car, was apparently based on the rear-wheel drive, F-body platform in which (1) the engine bay would hold a variety of engine sizes, (2) the cabin was roomier, (3) more luggage space was provided, and (4) it provided a quieter, smoother ride than full uni-body frames. Available engine choices were the 230 cu in (3.8 L); 250 cu in (4.1 L) inline-6 or 302 cu in (4.9 L); 307 cu in (5.0 L); 327 cu in (5.4 L); 350 cu in (5.7 L); 396 cu in (6.5 L) 427 cu in (7.0 L) V8s.
Three body trims were available: Standard; Super Sport with the SS emblem; and Rally Sport editions. One could customize the exterior with the nose-trim or hockey-stick stencil or the Z/28 stripes (introduced in 1967). The First Generation legend continues through the retro design of the 5th generation Camaro inspired by the 1969 model.