From a 1940 Ford Deluxe Convertible Club Coupe to a Hummer, a couple of Corvettes, three Mustangs, a 1978 “Smokey and the Bandit” Pontiac Trans Am, and much more, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s annual car raffle might seem a bit out of place in a prominent museum. However, it’s hard to argue the popular raffle’s success in providing funds for the Center’s education and programming pursuits—a total of about $2 million in those coffers since the first annual raffle in 2001.
Now readying for its 17th raffle on September 23, the Center reports robust sales of raffle tickets for this year’s car, a 1968 Chevy Camaro SS. Staffers note that “with about 10,000 tickets sold each year, your chances of winning are approximately 1,400 times greater than winning the lottery.”
Camaro was Chevrolet’s answer to Ford Motor Company’s brand new 1965 Mustang. Soon, the jargon “pony car” emerged, referring to Mustang’s design with its long hood and short deck—a look that launched all kinds of competition. Eventually, nearly every major manufacturer produced its own version of the Mustang look, creating what car media at the time called the “Pony Car Wars,” from 1966–1972, including the first Chevrolet Camaro in 1967.
According to the book The Complete Book of Camaro: Every Model Since 1967, Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett conceived the name “Camaro” when they supposedly discovered the word in the French-English dictionary. Apparently, “camaro” was slang that referred to a friend or comrade, and Chevrolet chose it to imply the kind of relationship owners could expect with their Camaros. (However, the word “camaro” doesn’t really appear in any French dictionary.) At the time, Automotive Press asked Chevrolet product managers to define the Camaro; they responded, “It’s a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs!”
Raffle tickets for the 1968 Camaro SS are $20 each or six for $100. All proceeds from ticket sales go toward the Center’s education and programming efforts. The drawing takes place at the Center’s 41st Annual Patrons Ball on Saturday, September 23, 2017; ticket holders need not be present to win. Individuals may purchase tickets online through noon, Friday, September 22; phone (307-578-4008) and onsite ticket sales are available until 5 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are also available for the Center’s other raffle, a 1995 Kentucky Flintlock .45 rifle.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s pages on Facebook and Google+. #100YearsMore