One of America’s favorite cars, the Camaro has an interesting past with more than a few buried facts and secrets hiding just below the radar. Here are five 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 the 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-horses, puts out more ponies than the most powerful small-block V-8 in the original car (295-horsepower). In fact, it probably makes nearly as much power as the fiercest big block V-8 of 1967, the 396 cubic inch that had 375-horses. 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.