DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAMARO
Immediately upon introduction of the Mustang, rumors began developing (mostly within the industry) that Chevrolet was working on an answer. The rumor was true but the car was kept under wraps for another 2 years under Code Name XP-836. Nothing was done to stop the rumors.
July 14, 1964
The first design was the XP 196X --The Super Shark-- for display on renderings/scale model purpose (mystery competition).
July 16, 1964
The XP-386 project began in Design Staff.
Public Relations begins to shoot photos of everything from drawing board through clay models up to various features of the finished car, as it developed. One important project was an effort toward a LIFE Magazine story on the Birth of the Camaro. The car had not yet been named. Nor did the story ever materialize. It was replaced by the Frey-Mustang vs Estes-Camaro featurette that did appear in September 1966. Many of the photos have been used in different magazine stories. Fortune Magazine may still run the picture story originally planned for Life.
The internal code name became "F" car. November saw the first showing of cars to Chevrolet sales executives and creative people and to Public Relations. By now the car had become "The Panther." There was much speculation that this would be its name, and the public accepted it as such. Public Relations began planning for a July Press Conference. Proposals were made for various ways to publicize the car; specified cars were required for early showing and for photographic work. Creative work began at Campbell-Ewald immediately. This included catalogs, direct mail, sale promotion, and of course print-outdoor and TV/radio.
Public Relations began photography of test prototypes and styling models; early testing.
Public Relations decides to have 20 top-optioned Camaros for a press drive-away scheduled for early September. A selection of cities and editors to participate would be made. Creative explorations.
At the New York Auto Show Press Conference, it is admitted that the new 1967 will be in the Corvair-Chevy II range. No name has been chosen as of yet. Creative work is refined.
The first creative presentation takes place. The project is still known as the "F" car.
June 29, 1966
A 14-city closed circuit press conference is held to bury the name "Panther" and to announce the new name, CAMARO. General information is revealed on the new car. Estes' gag story about how he came up with the name was that he locked himself in a closet and came out with CAMARO. Bootlegged, over the fence telephoto lens photos hit on UPI Wire Service.
Public Relations has all major magazines in to the Proving Grounds for briefing, driving, and interviews on all aspects of the total line, with the emphasis on the Camaro. Photos and specifications were distributed. Wide photo coverage is done by the publications for September release. Radio/TV kits are distributed.
August 22-23, 1966
At the Chevrolet Sales Convention in Detroit, the Camaro is the big hit of the show.
September 5, 1966
LIFE teaser ad appears.
September 25, 1966
First Camaro ad appears in newspapers.
September 28-29, 1966
Camaro ad consist of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, outdoor, and a six-minute TV spectacular. Public Relations released a press package including photos, specifications, and line stories. The press package is mailed nationally. A General Press Conference is held using 25 Camaros, with 100 members of the press present. Another press conference is held featuring questions and answers, driving on the proving grounds, and a gymkhana where press guests competed in handling of the Camaro. The same type of conference was held a week later in Los Angeles for West Coast press. Top-optioned Camaros were driven from Detroit to home cities by 15 editors. They were used over the announcement weekend for a large public display at the U.S. Grand Prix by journalists and celebrities Cars circulated among the other prominent press in major city locations for additional "I drove it personally" features.
September 29, 1966
The Camaro is released to the public for the first time.