Pouring In The PowerChevrolet had a depth and breadth of powertrains to chose from for the F-car. Since the car was to be marketed on several levels, ranging from economy to high performance, a variety of engine packages were selected. Standard was the 230 cubic-inch inline six-cylinder Turbo-Thrift, rated at 140 horsepower with single-barrel Rochester carburetor and mated to a three-speed all-synchromesh manual gearbox, located on the steering column. The optional two-speed automatic Powerglide was coupled with a 2.73:1 rear, and the optional four-speed box came with 3.55:1 cogs; rear axle ratio was set at 3.08:1

The first optional engine was RPO L22, a 250-ci inline six-cylinder Turbo-Thrift, pegged at 155 hp with a single-barrel Rochester carburetor using the same transmission as the standard six.

The standard L30 Turbo-Fire V8 displaced 327 ci and was rated at 210 hp with a two-barrel Rochester carburetor, and the transmission was a three-speed manual with floor-mounted Inland shifter. A four-speed manual or two-speed Powerglide were offered as additional options, as well as a second 327 producing 275 hp via a Rochester Quadra-Jet, 10.0:1 compression ratio, and a higher-lift camshaft. It also used Chevelle-style exhaust manifolds modified to fit the F-car's chassis.

New for the Chevy powertrain lineup was the L48 Turbo-Fire 350 with 295 hp. This engine displacement was achieved by lengthening the crank stroke .023 inches, enlarging the crank counterweights, and lowering the piston compression height. Rochester's new Quadra-Jet four-barrel fed the 10.25:1-compression engine. Rear axle ratios ranged from a gas-sipping 3.07:1, to an asphalt-melting 4.88:1. The SS package with the L48 cost an additional $210.65.

Introduced in November of 1966, the top drivetrain option for the SS package was the L35 396-ci Turbo-Thrust V8, which added $263.30 to the sticker price. The L35 weighed 186 lbs more than the L48, boasted 325 hp, and competed directly against the 390 Mustang. Components from the Corvette's 425-horse L78 engine were borrowed for the L35; however, the L35 used hydraulic lifters and smaller-valve heads. The M13 heavy-duty three-speed manual box was located on the floor with the L35 package, and the M20 four-speed with 2.52:1 low gear and M35 two-speed Powerglide were reintroduced as options. Mid-year, Chevrolet released the much-needed M40 three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic to replace the two-speed Powerglide, making the Camaro competitive with Ford's C6 three-speed automatic.

In early 1967, Chevrolet released the L78 for use in the Camaro SS. At a cost of $500.30, the 375 hp 396 was a standard three-speed heavy-duty manual gearbox, with the M20 Muncie four-speed as its only optional transmission; the four-speed rear axle ratios were offered from 3.07:1 to 4.88:1. The L78 featured 11.0:1 compression, solid lifters, and big Holley four-barrels with 1.562-inch primaries and secondaries. With the optional L78, the Camaro now had one of the best horsepower-to-weight ratios in the market. Amazingly, the same rear spring rates were used for the L78 (115 lbs. per in.), as the 250-cube six and the base 327 V8.

RPO CID HP Production
L48 350 295 29,270
L35 396 325 1,003
L78 396 375 1,138

Radical New CockpitWhile the engineering of the F-car's suspension and exterior was underway, stylists began work on the interior. Using the high Chevy II cowl and steering wheel placement (relative to seating position), designers worked to pull the seating position down and rearward for a sportier feel for the driver and front passenger.

By attaching the seats directly to the floor pan, the driver's position is lowered, thus creating a more sports car-like environment. The instrument panel was also slanted in and downward, increasing the space and suggesting a lower, more intimate driving position. The panel then was covered by a foam crash pad, color keyed to the interior, and the gauge package comprised two elliptical instrumentation bezels. In the center of the panel was a matte-black finished panel, with bright molding containing the radio, ashtray, and horizontal sliding controls for the heater. And as is custom, a glove box was installed in the right side of the instrument panel.

Bucket seats were standard equipment on all models; however, the Strato-back bench seat with fold-down center armrest was offered as an option. Vinyl seat coverings came standard, as did door-to-door carpeting, and the vinyl door panels were embossed with a freestanding armrest.

The custom interior option upgraded the F-car's appearance, as color-keyed accent bands highlighted the Strato-bucket seats and backseat. The door panels were molded vinyl with integral, full-length arm rests, recessed door release handles, and lower door carpeting. The steering wheel boasted chrome center spokes and color-keyed rim, and the center horn button wore one of three caps: Camaro, RS, or SS (depending on option packages). A steering wheel with chrome spokes and wood-grained rim was also offered optionally.

Between the bucket seats, buyers could order a custom console, which, when combined with automatic transmission, placed the shifter in the console. An optional gauge cluster consisted of fuel, temperature, oil pressure, and ammeter gauges, along with a clock. Other options included a fold-down rear seat, headrests, and an AM/FM stereo radio, which could be combined with an 8-track stereo tape player. Air conditioning could be installed either by the factory as an integrated system, or by the dealer as a hang-on package. Cruise control was a new GM option for intermediate models, as were remote-controlled outside rear view mirror, shoulder harnesses, and space-saver spare tire.

A Camaro For Every TasteChevrolet product planners chose to offer the F-car in three packages based on the standard, with added refinements and accessories. The first package was the Style Trim Group, which included front- and rear-wheel opening bright moldings, body-side accent stripes, and bright drip gutter moldings on hardtops. The standard front end featured exposed circular headlamps, a black full-width "loop" style plastic grille, and inboard-mounted parking lamps.

The second optional package, RS, included paint stripes, bright moldings, and specific rear dual taillamp treatment. The most notable part of the RS package was the disappearing headlamps: when concealed, lattice covers at both ends hid them. A second black grille ran the full width of the radiator, opening with an "RS" emblem in the center; the covers (or "doors") were powered electrically. Parking lamps were integrated into the lower valance, and "RS" emblems appeared on front and rear fenders, along with black body stripes below the side moldings.

The third package was the SS-the performance model. An "SS" emblem embellished the center of the black grille, and the hood featured a raised central area with simulated louvers. A wide "bumblebee" paint band wrapped around the front panel and the nose, easily identifying this F-car as an "SS." At the rear, the gas filler cap wore another "SS" badge, as did the steering wheel horn button. Either the standard 350 or optional 396 engine badges were displayed on the lower front fender behind the wheel openings, and the taillamp panel was finished in flat black. Since the SS was the top performance option, the front and rear suspension components were beefed up with the F41 package, along with a heavy-duty radiator.

These options could also be stacked together, combining the RS and SS packages, and providing the consumer with both the blacked-out RS grille and the SS performance package.

Additionally, the F-car was offered with a bevy of performance options. Front disc brakes were new to GM products (except Corvette), in 1967, as well as the F-car. Fast-ratio steering with or without power assist was available, as was limited-slip Posi-traction differential. The 9.5-inch diameter drum brakes could be ordered with sintered-metallic brake linings, and a tachometer was a dealer-installed accessory.

What's In A Name?As the new Chevrolet F-car was taking form, one major marketing aspect was still undefined-its name. Product planners combed hundreds of possible choices, including Chevette, Nova, Chaparral, Wildcat, and even "GeMini" before settling on "Panther." In June 1966, the Panther was retired and replaced by the name Camaro. "I went in a closet," joked Chevrolet General Manager Pete Estes, "shut the door, and didn't come out until I had thought up a name." Chevrolet PR found an obscure French-English dictionary from 1935 that translated Camaro as "comrade, pal, or chum," though the press had other versions, including "shrimp."

When the enthusiast magazines hit newsstands in late-August 1966 with coverage of the new Camaro, the reviews were mixed. Car Life noted that "the speculators (CL included), who said the Camaro was to be a 'modified Chevy II' were wrong. It isn't. It's virtually a new car, just the way the Chevelle was a new car for 1964."

While enthusiast press and the driving public reacted positively to the Camaro, some Chevrolet engineers were not satisfied. "The car wasn't as smooth and vibration-free as we would have liked it," said Paul, "but a lot of that had to do with product evolution. Part of those problems could also be attributed to the short development time allotted to the F-car." Fortunately, many of the problems plaguing Paul and other engineers were worked out in the 1968 and 1969 models.

Looking back on the first Camaro, Dave Holls, then group chief designer, remembers: "The first car was such a compromise. And we were so concerned because the Mustang was such a statement. And for GM not to come out with something better was really difficult for us to take. When the Camaro came out, we felt so much better. People just loved it and the dealers were crazy about the car. We had these little yellow ones with the black bumblebee stripe going around the front-people bought them like crazy! It was an absolute winner."

Sales SuccessThe end result of all this hoopla was a pretty impressive new car. Total sales for 1967 topped out at 220,906 units (roughly 10 percent of total Chevrolet sales that year). The RS option sold 64,842 units, and the SS recorded sales of 34,411. Buyers preferred the V-8 three-to-one over the V-6, which was no surprise considering the Sixties was the heyday of the V-8 engine.

Did the new Camaro put a dent in the Mustang's sales success story? Ford pushed 472,121 Mustangs over the curb in 1967, down from the 1966 total of 607,568. Unfortunately, Chevrolet cannot take total credit for the one-third decline in Mustang sales. New corporate cousin Mercury Cougar snared 150,893 customers, and Plymouth's restyled Barracuda sold 62,533 units. Far behind was the AMC Marlin, with only 2,545 moved.

The ponycar market was getting crowded, and while Mustang still led the pack, Ford was beginning to feel the pressure of competition. Nearly 8.5 percent of car sales in 1967 were ponycars, and the market was just starting to heat up. A whole new generation of super ponycars were looming over the horizon-some with pavement-pounding big-blocks, and others with high-winding small-displacement engines. Though confident in their product, Chevrolet still faced strong marketing and promotional challenges to change the American perception that the Mustang was the best ponycar around. But the ponycar wars were about to get red hot.

Rally Sport: 64,842
Super Sport: 34,411
Z/28: 602
Custom Interior: 69,103
Total: 220,906