How the Camaro Got its Name

As we count down the days until the release of the 2015 Chevy Camaro at Harbin Auto, we got talking about the actual name, “Camaro.” For many cars of the era, the meaning of the model name was immediately obvious: “Corvette” was a warship, “Mustang” was a horse, and so on. But what on Earth was a “Camaro”? No one had any idea. So we did some digging, trying to find out the history of how the “Camaro” got its name.

Camaro Scottsboro AL

From the start, the Camaro took America by storm.

After Ford released the Mustang for the 1965 model year, Chevy had a problem on its hands. It was selling a pretty fair number of Corvairs and Chevelles, but Ford’s Mustang had begun selling more models than both of those cars combined. So when Chevy began production on its project car to compete with the Mustang, they wanted a name that would stick.

Although the design was code-named “Panther,” this name was never under serious consideration. At the time, Chevrolet was still using the letter “C” for all its cars–Chevelle, Chevy II, etc.–and when they had decided to go forward with the “Panther” design, Chevrolet’s branding team wrote down more than 2,000 words beginning with “C,” many of which were just made up on the spot. (This practice would obviously become the industry standard in time.)

One of the words suggested was Camaro, and a light bulb went on. It didn’t have a clear meaning to anyone, but Chevy would eventually claim that it was found in a French-English dictionary to mean “friend, pal, or comrade.” Simple enough. The Chevy Camaro was born.

Then, competitors started doing some homework. One found a Spanish definition that was “A small, shrimp-like creature,” and a journalist claimed to find a definition that meant “loose bowels.”

Now the fight was on. Chevy countered with a definition that has lived on in automotive circles ever since: “A Camaro is a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.” The point had been made, and the rest is history. In later years, Chevy would separate itself from all the gamesmanship and semantics and just own up to what was obvious, for several reasons: Camaro just sounds cool.

And, when the 2015 Chevy Camaro rolls out at Harbin Auto, it will represent nearly 50 years of sounding cool. To keep up-to-date on all the latest news, we encourage you to stop by Harbin Auto in Scottsboro, AL, and also serving the communities of Huntsville and Chattanooga!

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