Rumors that General Motors had at last come up with something to steal sales from Ford’s hugely successful Mustang swept through the American auto industry in the spring of 1966. Code-named Panther, the Camaro was announced to newspaper reporters on June 29, 1966, touching down in showrooms on September 21.
The Pony Car building-block philosophy was simple: sell a basic machine and allow the customer to add their own extras. The trouble was that the Camaro had an options list as arcane and complicated as a lawyer’s library. From Strato-Ease headrests to Comfort-Tilt steering wheel, the Camaro buyer really was spoiled for choice. But it worked.
Buyers ordered the Rally Sport equipment package for their stock Camaros, and suddenly they were kings of the street. Go-faster, twin-lined body striping, hidden headlights, and matte black taillight bezels were all calculated to enhance the illusion of performance pedigree. Especially if he or she could not afford the real thing—the hot Camaro SS.
The market accepted the Camaro as a solid response to the Ford Mustang. Its styling was cleaner, more European, and less boxy, and it drove better than the Ford. Despite all this, Camaro sales were still considerably less than the Mustang.
The lengthened wheelbase created a big frontal overhang.
First-generation Camaros were mainly built in Norwood, Ohio, but some also came out of the Van Nuys plant in California.
GM liked to think that three passengers could be seated in the rear when in reality only two could be seated comfortably.
Stick-on pinstriping helped flatter the Camaro’s curves.
For a car this big, the trunk was incredibly small.
Chevy’s Camaro was the chosen pace car for both the 1967 and ’69 Indy 500s. Some of the production replicas were convertibles.
RS REAR FEATURES
All-red taillight lenses with black bezels were an RS feature. Another part of the RS package was that reversing lights were moved to the rear valance panel. The RS emblem was inscribed on the fuel cap.
The Convertible RS was rare in 1967 with only 10,675 units produced.
Strato-bucket front seats came as standard, but Strato-back bench seat could be specified as an extra.
Dash was the usual period fare, with acres of plastic and mock wood-grain veneer. This model is equipped with the optional four-speed manual gearbox.
Color-keyed all-vinyl trim was a standard Camaro feature.
Trans Am Racing spawned the Z28 Camaro, a thinly-veiled street racer, designed to take on the Shelby Mustang. Top speed was 124 mph (200 km/h) and 0–60 came up in 6.7 seconds. Only available as a coupe, it was designed for those who put speed before comfort so could not be ordered with automatic transmission or air-conditioning.
The basic V8 power plant for Camaros was the trusty small block cast-iron 327cid lump, which, with a bit of fine-tuning, evolved into the 350cid unit of the desirable SS models. Compression ratio was 8.8:1, and it produced 210 bhp.
American horsepower was all about cubic inches (cid), not cubic centimeters (cc) as in Europe, and the RS proudly badged its 327 cubic inch capacity.
By 1968 the circular side mirrors had been replaced by rectangular ones.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible (first generation, 1967–70)
PRODUCTION 10,675 (1967, RS), 195,765 (1967, coupe), and 25,141 (1967, convertible).
BODY STYLE Two-door, four-seater convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Steel monocoque.
ENGINE 327cid small block V8.
POWER OUTPUT 275 bhp at 4800 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Three- or four-speed manual, two- or three-speed auto. SUSPENSION Independent front, rear leaf springs.
BRAKES Drums with optional power-assisted front discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 110 mph (177 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8.3 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 25.1 sec
A.F.C. 18 mpg (6.4 km/l)