Meet Black Panther, Ontario’s Own Specialty Camaro Dealer

By Brian Makse / Hagerty.com

The Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealer in Downtown Gorrie in Ontario has been a Toronto landmark for decades. The business started as a Ford franchise in 1917 but by the early 1960s had grown into a heavyweight Chevy shop. As soon as the Chevrolet muscle car hit the ground, Gorrie’s saw an opportunity to contribute to the emerging pony car story.

When the Camaro landed in his showroom, Gorrie decided that the car’s original code name, “Panther,” was too good to ignore. Gorrie’s owner and president, Burke Seitz, is an avid sportsman who enjoys small wheel-to-wheel competitions himself, so it’s no surprise that he’d be drawn to the Chevy pony. Therefore, Gorrie made and sold his own special edition Camaro called the Black Panther. About 50 cars—of very few originals—are painted in naturally black, with gold stripes around the nose and across the rockers. The interior is usually gold, too.

The base for the Black Panther Gorrie build is typically a 210-hp, 327-cubic-inch V-8 paired to a three- or four-speed manual (or automatic) gearbox, but there’s no set configuration, and a few big-blocks make it a mix.

The Black Panther Gorrie demonstrator, for example, is equipped with a 427, which is said to produce 435 hp, mated to a four-speed Muncie manual. In May 1966, Canadian Tracks & Traffic the magazine tested the car and stated: “Without a doubt, this Black Panther is a men’s car. It takes effort to get the pedals and gearshift (which has a fair amount of travel, and moves in a weird plastic shutter device), and in steering at low speeds, but it sits firmly on the road and grunts, roars, and vibrates in exhilarating fashion. .”

However, Gorrie’s didn’t have much fun with the custom-made Camaro. Burke Seitz’s son Bob recalls Black Panther’s most interesting option: the then $29 “007 Panel,” which contained dummy switches for Bond’s tricks of the day, such as a “laser beam” and an “ejection seat.”

1967 Black Panther Camaro interior switch
Melissa Carlson

“I remember sitting in it in our driveway, pressing all the buttons on the console,” said Bob, “probably fantasizing about firing a missile at my older sister! The Black Panther was very Bond, and as a kid it was magical. I knew we had one. , maybe for a few days. My dad, Burke, brought home all kinds of cool cars back then and he was a big Corvette guy. We always had one in the driveway. My mom loved the horsepower. She had lots of Camaros and Chevelles.”

1967 Camaro Black Panther interior doors open
Melissa Carlson

The car collector community agrees that Gorrie sold 50 or more Black Panthers, although only a few examples are known to survive, and they will appear for sale now and again. This 52K mile example, with 327 specs as well as with a “007” panel, is selling at the Kissimmee 2020 Mecum auction for $52,800.

Gorrie’s also does a neat business selling quick parts for Chevys; no doubt many Black Panthers were hot before and after giving birth. The racing history likely contributed to some of the Black Panther’s friction, and over the years several cars ended up quite a distance from their first Canadian home. The model has such appeal that, it turns out, at least one Camaro fan was inspired to make a homage to the ’67 Black Panther.

Corey Tyner, a real estate investor in the Phoenix area, happened to find himself with a 1967 Black Panther tribute car. A fan of painted-in-the-wool cars, Tyner started his automotive business as an extension of his property concerns.

“In the last five years, I realized that when I was going to look at this property, I inherited a lot of vehicles,” Tyner said. “If you’re there for a house, you want to buy a house and not focus on the car, but when I’m there, I’ll always ask. I would ask, ‘What are your plans for this vehicle?’ And nine out of ten, most people will tell me they need to get him off the property.” His website, CoreyBuysClassicCars, started as a hobby but has since grown into a lucrative side gig focused on the US and West Coast markets.

Three quarters front of the 1967 Black Panther Camaro
Melissa Carlson

Like all interesting car stories, Tyner’s route to getting his Black Panther clone has enough twists and turns for a California canyon road. One day, out of the blue, Tyner received a call from a man in New Mexico who wanted to sell some American classics. They don’t make a deal, but the man mentions that his brother has a car he wants to sell. Had Tyner ever heard of the 1967 Black Panther?

Tyner and the Mississippi-based auto dealer took three months to finalize the deal, and when Tyner finally received the Black Panther clone, the 396-equipped RS/SS needed some TLC. Cecil has acquired the car from a private collection, where he has been sitting for 15 years. “When Cecil got it,” Tyner explained, “he thought he had the perfect car for this image, but it had problems—leakages and lots of minor issues—and Cecil wasn’t in a position to tackle them. So when I got it, I got a 15 year old museum car, plus two more years to sit around and a lot of deferred maintenance. ”

In the eight months since Tyner’s got his Black Panther tribute car, he’s given it all the attention it deserves. The well-chosen Camaro has received a full cosmetic cleaning and a thorough mechanical refresh covering everything from the fuel system to the suspension and, most importantly, new brakes and tires.

Front Black Panther Camaro 1967
Melissa Carlson

Since his restoration, Tyner has covered about 1000 miles in the Camaro, but he drives a Lexus crossover every day and enjoys a Mercedes-AMG SLS on special occasions, so I have to know what this burly Camaro looks like to drive.

“It felt like I was riding a boat,” Tyner laughed. “It’s heavy, clunky, and corners really badly. You make an early turn and will then drift slightly sideways before actually catching the line. Oh, and the brakes are the worst.”

However, as any vintage car owner can relate to, this Black Panther award goes far beyond its mechanical eccentricity.

“When you turn on that big block and you turn it on and you burn the tires and you smell like fuel after, that’s something you don’t get from a modern car. There’s something very analog and vintage that makes it really fun.”

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