5 Camaro Teasers Celebrating 50 Years
Later this month marks the 50th anniversary the press was teased with the Chevrolet Camaro. The official unveiling wouldn’t be until the fall, but Chevrolet first needed to make something clear to the media. A telegram went out on June 21, 1966 to about 200 journalists inviting them to join a SEPAW meeting. Some clarity was offered the next day when a second telegram from General Motors that told journalists, “The Society for the Eradication of Panthers from the Automotive World (SEPAW) will hold its first and last meeting on June 28.” This actually gave some insight because “Panther” was the codename for the upcoming Ford Mustang competitor. The press had used this nickname while stirring rumors for two years, but the only problem was Chevrolet knew the cat-like moniker was never going to reach production. RELATED: See Photos of the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro
The one and only meeting of SEPAW was live in Detroit and sent out over a conference call (a large feat 50 years ago) at 14 other hubs around the country. Chevrolet General Manager, Pete Estes, laid out the plan for the future pony fighter. He concluded with “Gentlemen: much as we appreciate the tremendous publicity given ‘Panther’ we ask you help scratch the cat once and forever.”
With that, pretty girls held up a letters in front of the Detroit audience each spelling out the new name, C-A-M-A-R-O (well actually, Estes provided the “O” but GM tells a great story on the full history.)
SEPAW did its job of putting the Panther to bed, and simultaneously, it wetted the appetite for the Camaro that would be seen in September. So in honor of that teaser a half-century ago, here are five interesting Camaros ahead of the golden anniversary. Just like the SEPAW meeting, we’ve given you just enough info to hook you in for wanting more.
The exterior panels say Carbie, but the interior ones say Camaro. Showcased on tour around 1968-1969, this concept car/truck is not one people remember too often. It gets a little lost in the shuffle since Chevrolet had plenty of other happenings at the time—everything from the launch of the C3 Corvette to the rocket-like Astro III concept. But wouldn’t you love to have this El Camanro today?
RELATED: See Photos of the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
Vanishing Point Camaro
Vanishing Point needs no introduction as one of the all-time great car movies. But while the Challenger gets the iconic glory, it was really a Camaro that made the ultimate sacrifice. A ’67 coupe rigged with explosives was a stand-in for the Dodge in the fiery finale. You can view the switcheroo if you slow-mo the final bulldozer scenes or just pay attention to the wreckage footage later.
Paradise Park Trailer Resort Bar (Downtown Nashville)
There are plenty of stereotypes about country music, and often it’s best to just embrace them. Paradise Park Trailer Resort on Nashville’s busy Broadway seems to do it the best. In the same way Applebee's fills its walls with a garage sale’s worth of tchotchkes, Paradise Park sells its low-brow flair with beer in a bathtub, tatty screen doors, and a busted mid-70s Camaro on its front porch.
RELATED: Bumblebee Returns to Transformers as a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro
Chevrolet never offered the second generation Camaro as a convertible. While most of us filled that void with T-tops and Whitesnake cassettes, there were a handful of people who got their droptop wishes.
From 1979 to around 1981, National Coach Engineering would turn a T-top Camaro into a full ragtop for those who really wanted it. According to a 1979 Road & Track article, NCE did a good job of strengthening the chassis and engineering the folding roof. But it was still a tough sell since they were basically doubling the price of a Z/28 for a car that looked a bit awkward with the roof up or down. So, finding buyers for the few hundred examples that were reportedly produced can still be considered a small miracle.
Busted the $12.99 Challenge
Dennis Pittsenbarger is a car guy we all recognize for having gasoline in his veins (anyone been to SEMA lately?) So as part of the team at the new Cars Illustrated, he wasted no time in reviving the “12.99 Challenge.” The rules were simple: build a car that can run the quarter-mile in 12.99 seconds and spend no more than $1,299.
That was a more obtainable when the challenge was first issued 30 years ago. So without help from inflation, it might be no surprise that the CI’s $450 worth of tired 1991 Z/28 had a V8 that wasn’t up to the task. But this is where the fun actually begins. Pittsenbarger is now in uncharted territory. With the new freedom to create a fresh legacy, he’s still determined to turn the Camaro into a quarter-mile burner for less others put into their stereo system.
So will this be an 11-second car for $3,100? All we know is the ongoing struggle for real results on a realistic budget is the best automotive soap opera going.
Words: Myles Kornblatt for BoldRide
Photo Credit: General Motors