Even before Ford launched the Mustang in 1964, executives at General Motors knew they'd need a stouter two-door sports car than the Corvair. The idea percolated inside the company under the code name XP-836; it was often known as the Panther, and at least one mockup carried the name Chaparral, borrowed from Chevy's successful Trans-Am racers.
The name had been revealed in June of 1966, and with a slow rollout to build anticipation, Chevy put the Camaro — a name derived from an obscure French-English dictionary that supposedly meant "friend" — on sale on this date in 1966.
That first generation offered a choice of eight engine setups, including the stonking 427 V-8, and three trim levels, with the Z/28 edition coming a year later. It's one of the most classically perfect designs GM has ever produced, and has lost none of its power in the nearly five decades since its launch. Here's the first ad for the Camaro, something that hasn't worn as well: