What Happened to the Black Panther?
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Brenda_Williams]Brenda Williams
In 1954, Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang, which had been designed to compete with the Chevrolet Corvair and Chevy II. The Mustang was a phenomenal success and immediately prompted GM to begin work on a counter competitor. The result was Project XP-836. The XP-836 was targeted to the new youth market that had taken to the Mustang.
Named the Panther, this project was released to the automotive press and promoted as GM's Mustang equivalent. In fact, it was often called Chevy's Mustang and GM had adopted much of the marketing formula used to promote the Mustang.
The Panther script was accompanied by leaping cat emblems that resembled those used by Jaguar. At this time, the image of the XP-836 was the jungle cat overtaking the Mustang.
But in early 1966, Ralph Nader launched an attack on the Corvair. This worried GM management and they were afraid that the Panther name together with the emblems would suggest aggression and attract the attention of the safety crusaders.
Consequently, the marketing department began to search for a new name. Currently all models such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Corvette, and Chevy II started with the letter C. Searching for another C name, the marketers perused both French and Spanish dictionaries. The result was the Camaro which means warm friend.
This would continue the C line and change the image of the new car. As the new name replaced the various project names inside the company, outside the company some controversy had started concerning the meaning of the Camaro name.
Frightened of an image problem before the new car had come off the assembly line, GM staged a national press conference to which over 200 journalists were invited. During the conference, GM released the name to the public and was successful in maintaining a positive image for the car.
Then, in 1967 Chevrolet delivered 212,000 Camaros to dealer showrooms. Like the Mustang, the Camaro was available with a variety of options allowing buyers to customize their purchases. The Camaro attracted some buyers who wanted high performance options. Canadians in Toronto were perhaps the most fortunate of this group. The Gorries Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealership in Toronto put their race knowledge to use and practically rebuilt some of the Camaros into Black Panthers.
Gorries added heavy-duty front coils, rear leaf stiffeners, tubular shocks, front disc brakes together with power assist brakes, and steering. They also equipped the Camaros with 500 magnum wheels and low profile Uniroyal tires.
The body was modified by painting it black with a gold band around the nose. A gold stripe was painted along the bodyline above the rocker panel area. Just below the upper side bodyline, a gold pinstripe was added. A Black Panther nameplate was mounted on the forefront of each fender and on the rear deck lid. The Panther's featured a gold interior and were available with whatever options a buyer might wish to order.
Buyers also had a choice of a 327 or 427 V-8 engine.
It is believed that about fifty black panthers were originally produced by Gorries. Only one is known of today. This is owned by Bob and Lorraine Simonen in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. [http://www.trianglerentacar.com/locations/7915-broad-street-richmond-va]Richmond Car Rental [http://www.trianglerentacar.com/locations/7915-broad-street-richmond-va]Richmond Rental Car
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