Updated: 6 days ago
Greenlight Collectibles captures Gorrie's Canadian big cat-themed Camaro in 1:64 form.
For the first time, Gorries Chevrolet’s 1967 Black Panther Camaro is presented in 1:64 die-cast form being created by Greenlight Collectibles. The limited-edition piece is part of their ‘Hobby Exclusive’ line.
The Indianapolis-based company first announced news of the model's release on July 3rd, 2022, stating it was set to arrive in November of that year. After nearly a full year of delays, the model is scheduled to be available this fall.
Eager to provide readers with an exclusive, up-close look at this exciting release, I reached out to the Greenlight team. They provided me with one of the very first packages of the Black Panther Camaro 1:64 diecast for an in-depth review. I'll also be showcasing it in future presentations of my 'On the Prowl' educational seminar, in which I delve deep into the fascinating history of the full-size cars.
What is the Gorries Black Panther?
The origins of the Black Panther Camaro can be traced to the model's 1966 release. Upon the revelation that the largest factory-installed powerplant would be the 350ci V8 followed by the 396ci V8 in the early winter of 1967, the rush was on by forward-thinking dealerships who saw the lucrative potential of offering high-performance Camaro variants.
These tuner versions came from the storied likes of Yenko Chevrolet, Dana Chevrolet and Nickey Chevrolet and right there with them was Gorries Chevrolet. Their owners and management teams seized on the prime opportunity to cater to the demand for Camaros equipped with the 427ci V8 as found in the Corvette and other full-size Chevrolet models.
Having access to the necessary components through their parts department, these clever innovators launched or expanded their in-house performance operations to complete the installs. The final result led to the creation of some of the most exciting and sought-after modified Camaros, with Gorries distinguishing itself in their unique execution.
Unlike their American counterparts who in 1967 and 1968 primarily focused on the engine upgrades without much attention to branding, marketing, or bespoke package contents, Gorries took a different approach. They carefully crafted a unique image for their modified Camaro offering, aptly naming it the Black Panther.
This moniker, likely a playful nod to Chevrolet's initial big cat designation for the ponycar model, encapsulated a distinctive black and gold color scheme complemented with gold interiors. The Black Panther also featured special badging and 14-inch mag wheels wrapped with UniRoyal 'Tiger Paw' redline tires. On the showroom floor, this strategy aimed to draw customers in with the striking good looks who could then be subsequently upsold on the in-house 427 conversion services.
The initial part of the strategy worked brilliantly, as the final Camaros were undeniably attractive and unique, carrying all the hallmarks of a factory package. However, many new owners opted to leave their cars unmodified, forgoing any onsite performance upgrades.
Lasting just two and a half years, approximately 30 Black Panther Camaros were created in 1967 and 1968. The program was supported by a robust advertising campaign featuring big cat imagery along with vigorous racing efforts led by Canadian driver Craig Fisher who competed in a 1967 Black Panther Camaro Z28. Also getting the word out was a 427ci-equipped car driven by Gorries' sales manager, George Moss. It, and Gorries' operations, were profiled in a May 1967 Canada Track and Traffic motorsports magazine.
Original Owner Inspiration
With just dozens of Black Panther Camaros created, finding surviving cars today is a rare occasion. One prominent example at the forefront that has garnered attention over the past two decades is the 1967 Black Panther coupe owned and originally purchased new by Bob Simonen.
After purchasing the car new from Gorries Chevrolet, he and his wife Lorraine daily drove the car for years around Toronto. After years of happy use, he completed a restoration of the classic in 2002.
Throughout the 2000s, Bob regularly showed the vehicle, helping to raise awareness of their presence and place in Camaro history. Through his efforts, he garnered media attention like a 2002 Canadian Classics feature article and a 2016 spotlight in a Canadian newspaper that helped put these cars and their story on the map of automotive enthusiasts.
With the press coverage, the car has been the primary Black Panther that represents the Gorries efforts. As such, it's even been rendered by artists for video game use and naturally was the example the Greenlight team used as the reference vehicle for this die-cast release. Both efforts include specific items to Bob's car like his B PANTHER license plate, the 327ci V8 fender badges, and the rear spoiler. The car did not come equipped with one but Bob added it during the overhaul.
The Family's Car
Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet Bob. When I initially reached out to him, he was already in the hospital battling failing health. Over months of correspondence and his eager anticipation of my visit and interest in his car, his condition never improved, and he passed away.
Wanting to preserve his legacy and love for his car, his family graciously allowed me to come to their home in Canada for an onsite documentation. You can find my photography and the complete narrative of Gorries Chevrolet's Black Panther program in Chapter 5 of my book, "Camaro Special Editions".
Die-cast Details: A Collector’s Delight
Turning attention to Greenlight's diecast, the front packaging boasts a captivating gold gradient, a mag wheel, and Gorries' program tagline: 'Discover the excitement of Black Panther.' This catchy slogan was featured in several newspaper advertisements at the time.
Flip to the reverse side of the blister package, and you'll find the same color motif, showcasing Gorrie's dealership logo, which includes Chevy's bowtie emblem and a nod to their downtown Toronto location.
The vehicle itself is highly rendered, featuring a metal chassis. Like the originals (which came in Tuxedo Black), it's painted black, highlighted with the appropriate gold accents including the beltline pinstripe, lower rocker stripe and noseband.
A gold interior faithfully replicates matches how the original vehicles were equipped.
The collectible also sports chrome five-spoke mag wheels with redline tires and is fitted with appropriate badging on the fenders and the rear panel.
In the Wild
The die-cast is a limited edition (approximately 2,400 total pieces will be created) and should be found for sale in the coming months through hobby retailers. It's a fantastic addition to any Camaro enthusiast's collection, showcasing and celebrating one of the most unique high points of the modified first-generation Camaro era.
If you want to learn more about Gorries' Black Panther Camaro program, I encourage you to check out the Black Panther Camaro Registry or view my full On the Prowl seminar below, recorded at the 2023 Bloomington Gold Corvette and Camaro Show.