The Beginning of the Chevrolet Camaro


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For over forty years Camaro and Mustang have been battling it out for first place in America’s heart.

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The Beginning of the Chevrolet Camaro

  1. 1. The Beginning of the Chevrolet Camaro<br />July 19, 2010<br />
  2. 2. Battle of the Best<br />For over forty years Camaro and Mustang have been battling it out for first place in America’s heart. <br />The Mustang arrived first, staking out the pony car high ground in 1964 and remained the only one of its kind during the two and a half years it took General Motors to respond.<br />Since that time, Camaros and Mustangs have faced off in showrooms, at stoplights, on magazine covers and most dramatically on racetracks all across the country. <br />Each has a large, passionate and loyal following. The story of how the battle lines came to be drawn, however, is almost as intriguing as the cars themselves. <br />
  3. 3. Who’s Their Daddy?<br />Lee Iacocca is universally recognized as the father of the Mustang<br />The Chevy Camaro’s parentage is much more difficult to define. <br />Credit might rightfully be given to Alfred<br /> P. Sloan. <br />President and finally Chairman of the Board of GM in 1937<br /> Sloan was a visionary automotive pioneer who created the concept of annual styling changes and a lowest to highest pricing structure for each of GM’s brands.<br />The idea was to provide a low, entry level price point and keep car buyers coming back to GM<br />
  4. 4. And They’re Off<br />By the early 1950s Sloan’s concepts were very successful<br />General Motors surpassed Ford Motor Company as the largest car company in the United States<br />Introduced in 1958<br />Chevy’s full-size flagship Impala out-sold both the Ford Galaxy 500 and Plymouth Fury by wide margins well into the mid 1960s. <br />Introduced in 1960<br />To keep the brand fresh and inviting, the Euro-styled, rear-engine Corvair family sedan was introduced, followed by a sporty Monza model in 1963. <br />To face-off against Ford’s highly successful Falcon and Fairlane tandem.<br />The compact Chevy II was launched in 1962 and size Chevelle was introduced in 1964<br /> <br />
  5. 5. The Wheels Keep Spinning <br />In the mid-1960s, both sales and spirits at GM’s Chevrolet Motor Division were at an all-time high. <br />Combined annual car and truck deliveries were approaching 2.8 million units. <br />Dinah Shore Chevy Show <br />On NBC, Dinah Shore closed each weekly episode of the hour-long show with a warm farewell kiss and a musical reminder to “See the USA is your Chevrolet.” <br />And at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan<br />opened by President Eisenhower in May of 1956, <br />engineers and designers were already working on a new 1968 Chevy II/Super Nova model with dimensions and proportions remarkably similar to the Ford Mustang’s. <br />
  6. 6. Wrong Turn<br />It’s a well known fact that GM didn’t approve production of what would eventually become the Camaro until six months after the Mustang was released.<br />In 1962 Chevrolet design chief Irvin W. Rybicki and GM design boss Bill Mitchell approached Chevrolet General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen with the idea for a personal, four seat sports car<br /> Knudsen quickly and confidently vetoed the idea. He was sure that Chevy’s existing models, would be more than a match for any new small car from Ford. <br />Knudsen would, incidentally, later be named president of Ford Motor Company in February 1968, temporarily stalling the ambition of a then up-and-coming vice president named Lee Iacocca. <br />
  7. 7. Wrong Turn<br />Mustang shocked the automotive world with record-breaking sales<br />26,000 units on its first day and 100,000 in the first four months<br /> Knudsen knew he had made a mistake. <br />Chevy quickly swallowed its pride and green-lighted the development of a conventional front-engine, rear drive sports car. <br />Engineers and designers were given a simple mandate: Make it longer, lower, wider, faster and better than Mustang in every way. <br />
  8. 8. Pedal to the Metal <br />To most quickly and economically bring the new Mustang killer to market, the engineering team pulled ahead development of the 1968 Chevy II/Super Nova platform<br />featured a unibody structure from the windshield and firewall back. <br />A unique feature, was a rubber-isolated front sub-frame.<br /> Isolated sub-frames had been used before but only in a few European designs, most notably some Mercedes-Benz models.<br /> One advantage was that it allowed a larger interior with more luggage space.<br /> Another advantage was that it provided a smoother, quieter ride. <br />
  9. 9. Pedal to the Metal<br />It would accommodate a wide variety of performance suspensions and power plants.<br /> Other off-the-shelf mechanical components included:<br /> four drum-type brakes, <br />standard manual steering <br />Chevy’s rugged:<br /> 230 cubic inch,<br /> 140-horsepower <br />straight six engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission. <br />
  10. 10. The Design Team<br />The design team that produced the Corvette, Corvair, and Nova were given the challenge of producing Chevy’s answer to the Mustang.<br /> Preliminary design drawings included: <br />two-seat roadster<br /> a fastback <br />and even a station wagon. <br />In the end, Chevy management insisted on a four-seat sport coupe, also available as a convertible. <br />
  11. 11. The Finish Line in Sight<br />The final design: <br />long hood and a short deck, A wide satin silver grille with inset headlights and parking lamps, a low roof, large wheel cut-outs and a bold horizontal crease midway on the sides gave it a surprisingly fluid, road-ready appearance. <br />Two trim packages were also created: <br />an appearance-oriented Rally Sport <br />and a performance-oriented Super Sport. <br />An RS/SS combination could also be ordered. <br />
  12. 12. The Finish Line in Sight<br />The RS package included:<br /> a blacked-out grille with hidden headlights, revised parking and tail lights, upgraded interior trim and RS badging<br /> The SS package included:<br /> a modified 350 cid V8 engine, simulated air-intakes on the hood, special bumble bee striping and a blacked-out grill<br />When the RS/SS package was ordered the RS badging took precedence. <br />All the parts and pieces were quickly coming together. However, as the launch date neared, Chevy’s Mustang killer still didn’t have a name. How it came to be called the Camaro is still another story. <br />
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