Classic – The Black Panther Camaro
The 1967 Black Panther Camaro manufactured by the Chevrolet division of GM, was a true muscle car. It took birth from GM’s desire to counter-punch Ford’s Mustang, which was taking everyone by storm with its muscular-characteristics. The project was named XP-836 and it directly targeted to draw the new youth from the Ford Mustang mystique. In 1965, the Xp-836 project created a prototype car based on some patched-up Chevy II. With the new-Chevy shaping up to give the Ford Mustang a run for its money, the project was named “Panther”- something catchy for the public.
Sometimes called “Chevy’s Mustang”, the “Panther” was promoted as GM’s Mustang-fighter. By early 1966, GM management sought to tone down the aggressive “Panther” name, to ward-off the attention of safety-crusaders. GM sought for a “clammier” image and one to keep up with other car names starting with the letter ‘C’ such as the Chevelle, Corvair, Chevy II and Corvette. The merchandising manager Bob Lund and GM vice-president Ed Rollert came up with “Camaro”, literally meaning, “Warm friend”. But when automotive press asked Chevrolet chief “What is a Camaro?” he replied “a little, vicious animal that eat Mustangs.” The new name helped GM to introduce the new car with a tamer image and gave a brilliant label to compliment its Chevrolet line. In a national conference call with nearly 200 journalists, GM released the warm & friendly “Camaro” name to the public well ahead of the car’s introduction to dealers.
In 1967, General Motors pulled-off an outstanding introduction of the Camaro by delivering more than 212,000 units to dealership showrooms that year. That too, during the period when the Ford Mustang was enjoying phenomenal success. The Camaro was offered with an extensive list of options at both the dealer level and the factory, to keep in fashion with the Mustang. The Toronto-based Gorries Chevrolet Oldsmobile dealership sought to integrate the new Camaro with their race knowledge. This resulted in the “Black Panther” Camaro. Gorries’s modified a limited number of Camaros into some real, street muscle hunks- the Black Panthers.
Modifications included heavy-duty front-coils, rear leaf-stiffeners, 10″ front disc-brakes, power-steering, tubular-shocks, 500 magnum wheels and tubeless tires. Brake-balancing valves and small tuning-points enhanced the handling and the drivability of the new car. All Black Panther Camaros were obviously painted black, with gold band & strips augmenting the beauty. The Black Panther name plate was fixed to the front-fender and rear-deck. The Panther had a deluxe Gold interior. A console featuring a row of toggle switches was added in place of the glove box lid.
Gorries offered two engines- the 327 & 427 V-8 for their Panthers. The 327-type was the 275HP L30 engine with 10: 1 compression and made 355 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 RPM. The optional 427 – 435HP ZL1 engine made 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. The ZL1 engine with its 12:1 compression and large 4-barrel carburetor proved to be the perfect opponent for the Shelby GT500 Mustangs.
It is estimated that only about 50 Black Panthers were produced. The Black Panther Camaro stands out as an excellent example of the dealer inspired and best looking street muscle- racers.
Check out the selection of used 67 Camaros.