The Truth About Cars » Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:25:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2016 Camaro Receives New Architecture, Maintains Retro Looks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2016-camaro-receives-new-architecture-maintains-retro-looks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2016-camaro-receives-new-architecture-maintains-retro-looks/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:16:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770770 Due in 2015 as a 2016 model, the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro will be based upon the same architecture underpinning the Cadillac CTS and ATS while maintaining its overall retro looks. Edmunds reports the pony car’s styling will only undergo an evolutionary change in a manner similar to the 2015 Ford Mustang, according to a source […]

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro

Due in 2015 as a 2016 model, the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro will be based upon the same architecture underpinning the Cadillac CTS and ATS while maintaining its overall retro looks.

Edmunds reports the pony car’s styling will only undergo an evolutionary change in a manner similar to the 2015 Ford Mustang, according to a source familiar with the matter, with the revolutionary change occurring under the skin via the car’s new Alpha platform.

Though Chevrolet remains mum on the upcoming car, brand spokesman Mike Albano said the next Camaro “will have expressive design and will evoke the passion the previous-generation Camaros have done.”

The new Camaro will move from Oshawa, Ontario to Lansing, Mich., where the CTS and ATS are assembled, and will make its global debut during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

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Rental Car Review: 2014 Camaro Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/rental-car-review-2014-camaro-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/rental-car-review-2014-camaro-convertible/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 14:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706834 My rental car got egged! This was a new one for me. It all began when … I had to fly out for a one-day meeting in beautiful Silicon Valley, Northern California. I arrived the day before my meeting and showed up at Hertz, where I’d asked for a generic mid-sized car and they gave […]

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camaro-egg-door

My rental car got egged! This was a new one for me. It all began when …

I had to fly out for a one-day meeting in beautiful Silicon Valley, Northern California. I arrived the day before my meeting and showed up at Hertz, where I’d asked for a generic mid-sized car and they gave me… (drum roll please) a Jeep Liberty. Yawn. I wandered back to the “Gold Choice” area to see if I could do any better, but nothing seemed worth the bother. But right next door was the “Upgrades” section. As I stood there, staring at the Mercedes and Porsche, a helpful saleswoman came up and started fast talking me. Business or pleasure? Want something really fun? How about the Cayman? Yours for only an extra $300/day. Too much money? How about this Mercedes SLK convertible? Nice supercharger. Only an extra $150/day, such a deal!

What I really wanted was a Mazda MX-5 Miata. I was only staying one night, so I had just one small bag. The mid-60′s weather screamed convertible, and I wasn’t going to be doing anything fancier than driving 20 miles to my meeting. I ultimately zeroed in on this convertible Camaro. For $50/day extra, above the $100/day price I was already paying, it seemed reasonable. Something kinda fun, even if it is the base V6. Sure, let’s do it.

camaro-refuel

I’ve driven a bunch of GM rentals over the past few months, so I’m starting to know my way around the latest in GM parts bin engineering. The driver information screen in the gauge cluster shows up on all sorts of GM cars. The turn signal indicator has a twist knob and press button that lets you scroll through all the viewing options. (Grumble: a Buick Verano I rented last month was exactly the same as this Camaro, but a Chevy Equinox I also had last month lacked the turn-signal twist/press and instead had corresponding buttons non-intuitively located in the center stack below the cabin air controls.)

camaro-instruments+wheel

GM’s Bluetooth these days is relatively straightforward to set up and does all the latest A2DP music and album art. Watch out, though, if you’re on a limited data plan. The Camaro told my phone to start playing music, which then started chewing up my data plan via Pandora, even though I was listening to NPR on the FM radio. Still, GM specified decent speakers. For cars at this price point, it’s safely above average in sound quality.

camaro-radio

I mostly drove with the top down, and I’m pleased to report that the Camaro got something decidedly right: cabin heating. There’s a vent above your left knee that you can point anywhere, keeping you comfortable even at freeway speeds. This is far better than many of the older Mustang convertibles I’ve rented over the years, which would happily cook your feet without doing anything for the rest of you.

camaro-left-vent

I had few opportunities to floor it or otherwise exercise the engine, but I’d say the performance is about what you’d expect from the ubiquitous two-liter turbo fours that are all the rage in the European cars, and the Camaro’s engine runs on regular gas. Overall mileage in mostly freeway, relatively sedate driving, was an indicated 25.4mpg. In comparable driving with a modern turbo two liter, I’d expect more like 27-29mpg.

camaro-mileage

Too many GM cars these days still have tiny buttons that are hard to press, but the Camaro has two big, chunky knobs for cabin air and temperature. Nice! The buttons next to the screen have no tactile feel to them, though, so you can’t press them easily without looking. Bummer.

camaro-center-stack

As you can see, the trunk space, particularly with the top down, is limited. I can somehow hear Jeremy Clarkson intoning, “See this? It has room… for a bag.”

camaro-trunk

But what about that egging? Well, I spent the night at a friend’s house in Los Altos, a nice part of town. The Camaro was parked on the street. In the morning? Eggs. Probably half a dozen of them. Honestly, I’m a bit baffled. Does this represent a protest against the overweight excesses of GM engineering? Would they have left a Prius alone? Did I merely park in somebody’s favorite spot? Are we talking about Los Altos gang activity? Does Justin Bieber live around here? Were the eggs free range, and what’s the effect of high Omega-3 fatty acids on the clearcoat? Did they also stuff my tailpipe with Lululemon yoga pants and quinoa granola?

camaro-front

Parking on the mean streets of Los Altos.

The last thing I wanted was to have Hertz charge me a mint to clean up after Los Cholos Altos, so I took the Camaro promptly to a nearby car wash. To a man, everybody there was grossed out. Clearly, they’d dealt with this sort of sticky muck before. It ultimately took two passes through the machine (including a dude with a high pressure spray wand), but all the egg residue came off. When I returned it, I felt obligated to tell Hertz what happened. The lady noted that the car had an eggy smell (I didn’t smell a thing), but charged me the expected price and I was off for my flight home.

camaro-car-wash

Overall, you could buy a Camaro like this (as best I can tell, it’s a 1LT convertible plus the automatic transmission, although I think the frameless rear view mirror is an upgrade item) for $32,735 (MSRP). A base-level MX-5 Miata is $26,775. Curiously, if you take the top-of-the-line Miata (folding hard top “GT”) and add the “premium package”, you also end up facing an MSRP of exactly the same $32,735. If you need the token back seats, the Camaro is your winner. It’s also apparently a little bit faster in 0-60, but if you care about that, you’re spending the extra bucks and buying the V8 (or souping up a Miata, or buying a used S2000, or…). On the other hand, the Miata gets better mileage, is easier to maneuver and park in tight quarters, and has its own SCCA racing series if you’re so inclined. If Hertz gave me the choice, rental Miata vs. rental Camaro, at the same price, I’d have the Miata every time. If I were shopping for a toy car, along with the fantasy garage large enough to hold it and our daily drivers (sigh), then I’d almost certainly buy the Miata as well.

camaro-rear-mirror

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2013 – 2014 Camaros Recalled Due to… Stickers? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/2013-2014-camaros-recalled-due-to-stickers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/2013-2014-camaros-recalled-due-to-stickers/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 19:02:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=644194 If you’re one of the few, proud owners of the slightly angrier-looking 2014 Camaro, or one of the many to own the slightly less angry 2013 model, you may need to send it back to correct a problem. No, not spiders this time. The recall is about stickers. That don’t stick. The recall involves the […]

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro

If you’re one of the few, proud owners of the slightly angrier-looking 2014 Camaro, or one of the many to own the slightly less angry 2013 model, you may need to send it back to correct a problem. No, not spiders this time. The recall is about stickers. That don’t stick.

The recall involves the air bag warning label on the sun visor coming undone, which warns both drivers and passengers that having an explosive bag of hot air and chemicals designed to save your life could also leave you with a few cuts and bruises upon impact. No word on how many have this particular issue, however (the stickers, that is).

In its letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chevrolet says owners can bring in their defective stickers to their nearest dealership to be replaced with either a much stickier sticker, or a new sun visor. They also state that owners who don’t have this issue — assuming they would notice — can send a note saying all is well with the world, and at least no spiders were involved. This time.

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Camaro Blah Blah Ring Time Blah Blah http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/camaro-blah-blah-ring-time-blah-blah/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/camaro-blah-blah-ring-time-blah-blah/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 01:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=625225 Good news, everybody! The Camaro Z/28 is almost as fast as the Camaro ZL1 on a track that you’d need a 747 Cargo and a spare week to check out for yourself! You can get most of the details at Road&Track but the most important thing for you to know is the final number of […]

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Good news, everybody! The Camaro Z/28 is almost as fast as the Camaro ZL1 on a track that you’d need a 747 Cargo and a spare week to check out for yourself!

You can get most of the details at Road&Track but the most important thing for you to know is the final number of 7:37. This is faster than many cars including the R34 Skyline and slower than many other cars including the Camaro ZL1. Chevrolet spent a week of development and logged a thousand miles to get this time; however, they claim the car could go six seconds faster. I recall making a similar claim after qualifying once during a NASA race at Mid-Ohio. I was laughed at by everyone in the vicinity including the nice older lady who runs the concession stand in the paddock.

“Shut up and take this cheeseburger,” she said, “you’ve had two full sessions to run and you haven’t done any better than 1:44.2 in that Neon.” I still maintain that 1:44.2 is pretty fast around Mid-Ohio for a Neon. But I had a full cage in the car, and I was allowed to run any suspension and tire I could get away with…

Oh, yes. let’s look at the video, shall we?

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Chevy Reveals New Camaro Convertible Ahead of Reveal In Frankfurt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/chevy-reveals-new-camaro-convertible-ahead-of-reveal-in-frankfurt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/chevy-reveals-new-camaro-convertible-ahead-of-reveal-in-frankfurt/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 17:32:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500479 Chevrolet will be launching the 2014 Camaro coupe for the European market at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, which is probably the reason why Chevy is using the same show for the debut of the 2014 Camaro convertible, rather than introduce it in a few months at the Lost Angeles or Detroit shows.   Making […]

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Chevrolet Camaro convertible (MY2014)

Chevrolet will be launching the 2014 Camaro coupe for the European market at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, which is probably the reason why Chevy is using the same show for the debut of the 2014 Camaro convertible, rather than introduce it in a few months at the Lost Angeles or Detroit shows.

 

Making a big splash about the Camaro in Europe is no doubt part of GM’s plan to grow the Chevrolet brand globally. Since releasing (either by leaks or officially) photos in advance of auto show debuts has become part of the publicity process, you don’t have to wait two weeks for the Frankfurt show to see what the new Camaro ragtop looks like, as Chevy has dropped a couple of photos and a press release. Interestingly, for a brand that is trying to be global, the press release makes a point of the Camaro’s heritage as an American muscle car, saying that it’s “as much a part of Americana as apple pie and baseball.”

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Monday Mileage Midget: 8,193 Miles On A 1997 Chevy Camaro Z28 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-midget-8193-miles-on-a-1997-chevy-camaro-z28/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/monday-mileage-midget-8193-miles-on-a-1997-chevy-camaro-z28/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:27:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=470471 Let’s say you had to move out of the country. Forever. There are only so many things you can take with you. A few pieces of furniture. Family albums. Your antique collection of 1970′s beer bottles. The play car you rarely drive… has to be ditched. So you unload it at a nearby dealership and […]

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Let’s say you had to move out of the country. Forever.

There are only so many things you can take with you. A few pieces of furniture. Family albums. Your antique collection of 1970′s beer bottles.

The play car you rarely drive… has to be ditched. So you unload it at a nearby dealership and hope for the best.

It’s hard to believe. But what you see here is the real McCoy. A soon to be 16 year old Camaro Z28 with all of 8,193 miles.

By 1997 these Camaros had nearly caught up with the Mustangs in terms of sales volume. 100k for a Mustang. 95k for the Camaro. Throw in a healthy five-figure sales volume for the Firebird, and it seemed like the F-bodies would indeed endure for the long run.

Then something happened… and that something was nothing. GM more or less let both models shrivel on the vines of cost containment and amortization until May 2001 when, after only about 29k sales, GM finally pulled the plug on the last great cheap Chevy musclecar. Sales were so bad at this point that many of these models had to be badged as 2002 models to remain marketable.

 

Just look at that interior.A cheap, drab, plastic fantastic. I can tell you from personal experience that the dashboard alone shatters with frightening normalcy while nearly everything else just falls apart over the course of time.

Cheap seats. Cheap doors. Cheap dash. It was as if all the old accountants from the Roger Smith era had a party and all the retirees from the finance division were invited as well.  I’m sure you could find some 1980′s parts bin surplus if you looked hard enough.

Which is a shame. Because these vehicles are an absolute blast to drive. I recently got a 1997 Firebird model and to be frank, it offers one of the best powertrain combinations from that era. In a pure bang for the buck calculation, these F-bodies are tough to beat.

Should this one go to a museum? Ebay? A collectors garage? Beats me. However it did sell for quite a price. Feel free to make a guess and share with the Best& Brightest your F-body story du jour. Extra credit if you can associate with my home state of New Jersey.

 

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Shanghai Auto Show: Launch Of The Retro Rockets – Bumblebee Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/shanghai-auto-show-launch-of-the-retro-rockets-%e2%80%93-bumblebee-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/shanghai-auto-show-launch-of-the-retro-rockets-%e2%80%93-bumblebee-edition/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2011 22:29:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=392267 The fifth generation of that other legendary car was launched on China by Shanghai GM. Ample 50s cues were not spared. Rock’n’Roll and a historic Camaro were on hand that had served as the official pace car of the 1967 Indy 500. The 60s don’t make the hearts pound in a Chinese – unless accompanied […]

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The fifth generation of that other legendary car was launched on China by Shanghai GM. Ample 50s cues were not spared. Rock’n’Roll and a historic Camaro were on hand that had served as the official pace car of the 1967 Indy 500.

The 60s don’t make the hearts pound in a Chinese – unless accompanied by a rendition of “The East is Red.”

What they get are the Transformers. Now THAT works in China.

Like the Beetle, the Camaro will not be built in China. It’s an import with a hefty price of RMB 455,800 (roundabout $70,000) for the 3.6-liter model.

The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy GM The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Camaro in China. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1969-chevrolet-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1969-chevrolet-camaro/#comments Wed, 16 Feb 2011 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384017 Since I started the Down On The Street series for some other site back in ’07 (the very first car in the series was this ’84 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro, of all things), I’ve photographed exactly three first-generation Camaros: this perfect ’67 RS convertible, this purple ’69… and today’s car, a Denver survivor that lives on […]

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Since I started the Down On The Street series for some other site back in ’07 (the very first car in the series was this ’84 Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro, of all things), I’ve photographed exactly three first-generation Camaros: this perfect ’67 RS convertible, this purple ’69… and today’s car, a Denver survivor that lives on the street and doesn’t fear a little snow.

The mercury in Denver now reads about 80 degrees higher than it did a week or two ago, and I can’t swear that this car was driving around when it was 15 below and snowing like crazy. Rear-wheel-drive, 350 power, and a 1960s heater/defroster technology require a bit more concentration from the driver than these newfangled modern machines, but our forefathers managed to drive cars like this in all weather conditions.

I’ve never owned a first-gen Camaro (though I have owned plenty of small-block-Chevy-powered machinery), but I’m old enough to have driven, ridden in, and worked on many, many examples of the breed; you’d never guess it today, but the first-gen Camaro was a common sight on the street as recently as the mid-1980s. I recall a friend of mine in 1983 agonizing between a fairly beat ’68 Camaro with a 327 and a semi-nice ’67 Mustang with a six-cylinder, both priced at 300 bucks (he bought the Mustang, which he promptly wrecked when its parking brake failed while parked on a steep hill). What a dilemma! They drive pretty much the same as their first cousin, the Nova, but most of them have been banished to the golden cage of the car-show/cruise-night milieu by now. I’m glad to see that the owner of this car still drives the thing; I’m bored to death by ’67-69 Camaros in car shows, but one on the street is very welcome sight. I’m going to go back and try to track down the owner, so I can get his or her story about the car.

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The Return Of The Z28 Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/the-return-of-the-z28-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/the-return-of-the-z28-camaro/#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 16:44:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375763 When Bob Lutz came back from retirement for the umpteenth time, one of the first orders of business was to kill the Z28 Camaro. The only thing that was in high gear at the times was carmageddon, electric cars were the wave of an uncertain future, and come on, how more politically incorrect can you […]

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When Bob Lutz came back from retirement for the umpteenth time, one of the first orders of business was to kill the Z28 Camaro. The only thing that was in high gear at the times was carmageddon, electric cars were the wave of an uncertain future, and come on, how more politically incorrect can you get than with an 8 cylinder that makes anywhere between 500 and 600 hp, while producing enough plant food to keep the world’s rainforests lush and green? Rainforests rejoice:

Word reaches us from the Toronto Star that “the iconic Chevrolet Camaro Z28 muscle sports car will make a comeback in Oshawa.” Of course it’s not official yet,  but the Star’s “industry sources” are saying that the strapping Camaro will emerge en masse from GM’s Oshawa assembly complex “late next year or early in 2012.”

The Freep must have similarly chatty industry sources, and reported yesterday that “Chevrolet will revive its high-performance Camaro Z28 as a 2012 model, giving it a supercharged version of the current Camaro SS’ V8 engine with between 500 and 600 horsepower.”

The Camaro, which had come out of retirement in 2009, shortly before Lutz, fills GM with pride. According to Freep figures, GM had sold 71,521 Camaros year-to-date. The Camaro is 7,350 units ahead of the Mustang. GM will add a convertible, and with the rumored big muscle version, it is supposed to leave the Mustang in a cloud of dust.

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Chart Of The Day: Pony Car Wars Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/chart-of-the-day-pony-car-wars-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/chart-of-the-day-pony-car-wars-edition/#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2010 19:23:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=365604 Over the long haul of the Pony Car Wars, Ford’s Mustang has set the standard to which all others aspire. Having handily outsold the old F-Body Camaros (to say nothing of the nearest import-equivalent, the Nissan Z), Ford reigned alone over the declining muscle-coupe segment for much of the last decade. But the Pony Car […]

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Over the long haul of the Pony Car Wars, Ford’s Mustang has set the standard to which all others aspire. Having handily outsold the old F-Body Camaros (to say nothing of the nearest import-equivalent, the Nissan Z), Ford reigned alone over the declining muscle-coupe segment for much of the last decade. But the Pony Car cannot thrive alone, and the Mustang couldn’t keep its sales from sliding ever further… it needed some competition. Now, rather than fighting for pieces of a shrinking segment, the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang have been able to grow their sales together, revitalized by the renewed Pony Car Wars. Though our simple volume projection shows the Camaro on track to take the Pony Car crown from the Mustang, the short-term trends indicate a close battle to the finish this year. Hit the jump for summer sales comparisons…

Comparing the last three months of sales, it’s clear that the Mustang is fighting back. Still, if you break down those three months chronologically, another micro-trend emerges: Mustang won big in June, practically tied in July and slipped behind in August. How the Mustang-Camaro battle will play out through the end of this year is literally anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, the big picture is equally uncertain. The fact that the closest import competitors to the Pony Cars, the 370Z and RX-8, have received no bump from the segment’s revival is troubling. The indication then, is that the rebirth of the muscle coupe enthusiasm is based on a short-term, retro-nostalgia trend rather than a real shift towards coupes and performance cars. For now though, the Camaro and Mustang are locked in the kind of mano-a-mano horserace that this industry goes crazy for, and in the process they’ve revitalized a dead-on-its-feet segment. Even if it doesn’t last forever, this will be one Pony Car War to remember.

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Review: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/review-2010-chevrolet-camaro-ss/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/review-2010-chevrolet-camaro-ss/#comments Wed, 01 Sep 2010 19:23:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=364438 The third-generation Camaro, so much swoopier than anything else on the road back in 1982, looked more like a concept car than a production car. The throaty V8, though pitifully weak by today’s standards, at the time was easily capable of getting a 14-year-old’s pulse racing. Some critics dinged the car for its impractical packaging, […]

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The third-generation Camaro, so much swoopier than anything else on the road back in 1982, looked more like a concept car than a production car. The throaty V8, though pitifully weak by today’s standards, at the time was easily capable of getting a 14-year-old’s pulse racing. Some critics dinged the car for its impractical packaging, size, and weight, but I didn’t care. I wanted one, badly. Never did get one. By the time I could afford a Camaro, I agreed with the critics. From frenzied test drives in the Toyota Corolla GT-S and Honda CRX I learned the joys of high-revving multi-valve engines and agile handling. GM recently introduced a fifth-generation Camaro. What has it learned in the last 28 years?

In form and spirit, the 2010 car’s big, bold exterior is very much that of a Camaro. My 14-year-old self would have loved it. I thought my kids would love it, but instead they seemed puzzled that a car with such exaggerated styling could exist outside of a cartoon. Many people do clearly love the look of the new car, and virtually everyone has a strong opinion about it. GM deserves credit for crafting a shape that is at once current and readily identifiable with its ancestors. The lesson not learned: the racier the styling, the shorter the shelf life. Sales have been strong so far, but where will they be in 2012?

Size remains a big issue. Compared to previous generations, the new Camaro is about as long (190.4”), wider (75.5”) and heavier (3,860 lbs.). The original Camaro was based on a compact car platform. The new one is based on GM’s largest car platform. You’d never guess that gas prices reached record highs during the car’s gestation. Another lesson not learned.

Check out the 2010 Camaro’s back seat, preferably from a safe distance, and as with past iterations you’ll wonder where all of those exterior inches went. Adults who don’t regularly practice yoga simply don’t fit beneath the low roof. My skinny nine-year-old son complained about the lack of room and his inability to see out of the small, high-mounted windows. His comment on the car: “Everything is big except what you want to be big, and that’s small.”

Slide between the widely-spaced bolsters of the front seat, though, and you’ll wonder if the Camaro was designed for giants. You sit low behind a hulking instrument panel. Both the deeply dished steering wheel and shifter are super-sized: Camaro drivers best have big, manly hands. The retro-styled interior possesses some interesting elements, but it’s overly plasticky. The silver-painted trim bits are so thick they come across as clunky. The bulging center stack with its pair of oversized round HVAC controls (I’ll avoid references to the female anatomy) appears more 1990s GM than late 1960s. Sometimes there’s a fine line between retro and dated. The most attractive part of the interior: the door sill trim plates. Too bad they’re no longer visible once you clunk the door shut.

The windshield is much more upright than with the third-generation Camaro, and perhaps even the second—a retro touch I can definitely live with. Sitting low and gazing over a long hood as the V8 rumbles provides a badass feeling you just cannot get in a Mustang. Visibility? It’s as bad as everyone says, but still livable.

When paired with the six-speed manual, the 2010 Camaro’s 6.2-liter V8 puts out 426 horsepower at 5,900 rpm. Years ago GM claimed they could get pushrod engines to breathe well at high rpm, and they’re rightly proud of the peak output they’ve been able to wring from this one. But there are downsides to this approach. With only two valves per cylinder, breathing cannot be optimized separately for low and high rpm. So tune for high rpm breathing and the low end suffers. The 6.2’s torque peak is a fairly lofty 4,600 rpm, so there are only 1,300 rpm between the peaks.

Then there’s the way the Camaro’s engine sounds and feels when racing for the redline. Its raucous roar (with stray mechanical undertones) borders on violent, with much of this violence seemingly directed towards the engine’s own internals. Put another way, under hard acceleration at high rpm the big V8 sounds like it wants to tear itself apart. At the other end of the spectrum, the idle is a bit lumpy, which is typical of a cammy old-school V8.

Shift feel is similarly unrefined. Throws are moderate in length, but can feel clunky, and in casual driving it takes conscious effort to shift the car smoothly. Go too easy on the throttle in first and the shifter will take you straight to forth, an old GM trick to bump the EPA rating. The V8 is torquey, but shifting into fourth so early still lugs it. Even if this feature is avoided—and I didn’t encounter it at all the first few days I had the car—the gearing feels too tall. Fuel economy ranged from 13 in hard driving to low 20s on the highway. Figure 16 and change in moderately aggressive driving around town—nearly the same I observed in an Altima Coupe.

Then there’s the chassis, which seems to have received all of the refinement the rest of the car did not. The nicely weighted steering doesn’t communicate much, and the Camaro handles like the large, heavy car that it is. But body roll is restrained without killing the ride quality, and the precision with which the car can be steered with the right foot (a trait shared with the late, lamented Pontiac G8 and the Corvette) should serve as an example for other manufacturers. (Nissan, I’m talking to you.) Add in good balance and very grippy tires, and you’ll rarely come anywhere near the Camaro’s limits on public roads.

In the final analysis, outside of the chassis GM hasn’t learned much in the last 28 years. Some things they didn’t need to learn. The driving position might compromise visibility, but without it the Camaro wouldn’t be a Camaro. And a Camaro should be boldly styled and chock full of big, vocal V8. But the fifth-generation car is at least a half-size too large, a few hundred pounds too heavy, and far too unrefined. Sure, a Camaro should be raw, but not raw all over. Like hair that has been painstakingly styled to appear disheveled, rawness must be carefully distributed. The bits that enhance the driving experience should be retained, even amplified—as raw as it is, the Camaro could feel more visceral. But the other rough edges, that cheapen the car and disrupt the driving experience, should be excised. The good news: the chassis would be the hardest thing to fix with the refresh that needs to happen before the styling goes stale.

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.

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Alaman Left: The Camaro Comes To The UK. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/alaman-left-the-camaro-comes-to-the-uk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/alaman-left-the-camaro-comes-to-the-uk/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 10:03:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360103 Auto Express reports that GM is going to sell the Chevy Chevrolet Camaro in the United Kingdom by May 2011, with a convertible version later that year. It will only be available in the top level Gestapo SS trim, and will have the 6.2 litre, 426bhp V8 engine. Unfortunately, GM couldn’t be bothered to respect […]

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Auto Express reports that GM is going to sell the Chevy Chevrolet Camaro in the United Kingdom by May 2011, with a convertible version later that year. It will only be available in the top level Gestapo SS trim, and will have the 6.2 litre, 426bhp V8 engine. Unfortunately, GM couldn’t be bothered to respect local driving customs and will sell the car in left-hand drive only. That’s right. Pricing is yet to be confirmed as exchange rates are sensitive at the moment, but GM is aiming to keep the pricing in line (I thought it was a V8?) with the Nissan 370Z, which starts at £28,345. Now while there are many American-philes (probably located in the North of England) who are doing a “dosey-doe” around their living rooms at this news, there are a few of problems (and here comes the pessimistic part).

Problem number 1: The UK is under pressure to meet Kyoto protocols and environment standards, which means higher taxes on more polluting cars will be brought in. Hence, the rationale behind the £5K subsidy for electric cars. A car which is 6.2 litres and enough power to fell a bull elephant, will probably fall afoul of these taxes.

Problem number 2: As I mentioned before, the UK, over the next 5 years is going to experience a severe economic storm, possibly culminating in 600,000 jobs being lost. Which means a lot of belt-tightening. Justifying purchasing a car like this will be that much trickier. Though to GM’s credit, they are only planning to sell 100 car per year as a “test the water” venture.

Problem 3: This is the biggest problem in my eyes. Whilst in the United States you get cars like the Chevrolet Malibu, Equinox and Impala, in the UK, Chevrolet’s line up is nothing more than a bunch of re-badged Daewoos and other Korean engineered econo-boxes. The Spark, the Matiz, the Aveo, the Lacetti, etc. Now Chevrolet wants to stick the Camaro into a line which hosts these paragons of mediocrity?

Yee-ha(!)

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GM Alpha Platform: All Things To All Enthusiasts? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/gm-alpha-platform-all-things-to-all-enthusiasts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/gm-alpha-platform-all-things-to-all-enthusiasts/#comments Tue, 20 Apr 2010 17:20:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=353379 First developed by Holden in 2004, GM’s Zeta platform now underpins vehicles as diverse as the Statesman/Lumina/G8/Caprice sedans, and the Chevy Camaro. Originally designed for full-sized , rear-drive Australian sedans, Zeta was downsized as far as it could be for the Camaro, which reviewers largely view as overweight and rather too ungainly for true sportscar […]

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First developed by Holden in 2004, GM’s Zeta platform now underpins vehicles as diverse as the Statesman/Lumina/G8/Caprice sedans, and the Chevy Camaro. Originally designed for full-sized , rear-drive Australian sedans, Zeta was downsized as far as it could be for the Camaro, which reviewers largely view as overweight and rather too ungainly for true sportscar status. Accordingly, GM has been developing a new rear-drive platform known as “Alpha,” which will form the basis of GM’s performance and luxury RWD models for the considerable future. Last we heard about Alpha was last August, when Bob Lutz swore there was no development underway of the platform he compared to BMW’s 1-/3-series. According to Motor Trend, work on the Alpha platform has begun… but there are already signs of trouble.

MT’s big scoop is that GM is “flexing” the Alpha platform. So what the hell does that mean in Ed Whitacre industry-novice-speak?

we’ve learned that the platform is being “protected” for a variety of engines, including four-cylinders, supercharged or turbocharged V-6s, and the small block V-8. By “protected,” we mean the bodies are designed to allow for proper fitting of the various engines, whether they are offered with all the engine choices or not. You don’t “close off” the design to make it impossible to add a different engine or transmission initially unplanned. While four-cylinder engines are smaller than sixes and eights, of course, the cars also must accommodate active engine mounts to account for less inherent refinement and smoothness in the fours.

On the surface this seems like a hefty dollop of awesome. By building flexibility into its new platform, GM will be able to offer cheap, efficient four-bangers in budget enthusiast models (the next-generation Camaro will be based on Alpha) and big V8 power in extreme V-series versions of the Alpha-platform Cadillac, known as the ATS , as well as the next-gen CTS which will also be based on Alpha. Scratch a little deeper though, and some of the problems with this strategy reveal themselves.

The major issue with making Alpha capable of a full engine range is the perennial bane of the Zeta platform, namely weight. In fact, weight concerns were the very reason Hyundai decided to ban V6s from its new Sonata sedan. As Hyundai NA president John Krafcik explains in this video, by not having to engineer V6 and four-cylinder hardpoints, Hyundai’s developers were able to trim significant amounts of weight and mass from the Sonata. And with recent breakthroughs in direct-injected, turbocharged engine technology, they’re giving up little to nothing for the added lightness.

The problem for GM is that it’s invested so much in its power-mad Cadillac V-Series badge that it can’t develop the platform that will underpin the next CTS-V without at least leaving room for a “breathed-on V6.” Which, as MT explains, means they might as well just make it capable of rocking a small-block V8 as well:

Breathed-on V-6s need engine bay accommodation for the blowers or turbos, and for intercoolers. This makes it easy to protect for a small block — overhead valves are more compact at the engine’s top than dual overhead cams with four valves per cylinder. Therefore, they fit more easily than the breathed-on sixes.

Meanwhile, there’s another problem:

These plans are fluid. GM is said to be in a quandary over the transmission designed to accommodate these cars. It’s developing an eight-speed automatic for its V-6s. The question is, will the eight-speed be designed for front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive?

Before you say, “both, of course,” be aware that new transmissions are very expensive. Adapting an eight-speed for both FWD and RWD can double the already healthy cost of doing it for just one configuration. And while BMW and Lexus eight-speed automatics so far serve only RWD-based cars, if GM decided to design it for transverse mounting, it would serve a much higher volume of cars and trucks.

If it designs the transmission for RWD to better compete with BMW and Lexus, it probably would have to add the transmission to trucks and big SUVs in order to get enough volume

Weight and expense problems? Trying to develop a single platform that’s capable of competitively executing every RWD application across several brands? Compromising mainstream variants in order to justify the insane engine requirements of low-volume halo versions? Does any of this sound like a new day for GM’s RWD reputation to you? Don’t get me wrong: a sub-Zeta RWD platform is a great idea (in Cadillac’s case, probably an existentially necessary one), and my inner enthusiast thrills at the idea of both budget RWD treats and tiny, loony supersedans. But the last thing I want to see is GM spending taxpayer money developing a platform that tries to fill too many niches, only to end up a dud of a compromised-to-death mess. Sure, platforms are becoming more flexible but so are engines. With the Pontiac Solstice GXP’s Ecotec DI four-pot already making 260 horsepower, and with downsized, direct-injection turbo engines poised to become the short-term future of the car industry (to say nothing of CAFE), GM could make the Alpha platform four-cylinder-only and make up the performance difference with the reduced curb weight and engine technology. Too bad it probably won’t.

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Order Your 1967 Camaro With A Bench Front Seat To Go With The Column Shifter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/order-your-1967-camaro-with-a-bench-front-seat-to-go-with-the-column-shifter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/order-your-1967-camaro-with-a-bench-front-seat-to-go-with-the-column-shifter/#comments Tue, 20 Apr 2010 16:07:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=353348 Chevrolet made some interesting choices when it introduced the Camaro. The base model had an interior more worthy of a taxi cab, especially the steering wheel, to ensure buyers would more likely check of the Custom Interior package. But where the Camaro really deviated from the Mustang interior formula was with its column shifter for […]

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Chevrolet made some interesting choices when it introduced the Camaro. The base model had an interior more worthy of a taxi cab, especially the steering wheel, to ensure buyers would more likely check of the Custom Interior package. But where the Camaro really deviated from the Mustang interior formula was with its column shifter for the Powerglide automatic, and an available “Strato-Back” bench front seat. Why? Did you have to ask?

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Curbside Classic: 1968 Chevrolet Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-1968-chevrolet-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-1968-chevrolet-camaro/#comments Tue, 20 Apr 2010 14:37:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=353258 You wake despite the hope that you would never awake, that it was all just a bad dream. But you know she’s there in the bed next to you. In the early gray light of morning, your bleary eyes reluctantly open and fall on her mottled and pallid white skin. She seemed so hot and […]

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You wake despite the hope that you would never awake, that it was all just a bad dream. But you know she’s there in the bed next to you. In the early gray light of morning, your bleary eyes reluctantly open and fall on her mottled and pallid white skin. She seemed so hot and glamorous last night, in the sparkly beams of light on the dance floor at the Rockin’ Rodeo. Everyone always raved about Camaro, what a hot number she was, and how you just had to have one some day. And last night there she was, and you finally screwed up your courage to ask her for a dance. At the time, all you could see were those hips, those glorious bulging hips. You just knew they promised action, despite the fact they weren’t hardly moving at all. Oh yeah; she was saving her energy for the big run, the final blast, you kept telling yourself. But it never came.

And now, as the fog-filtered light ever so slowly increases, you lay there and actually look at her features, which were all just a blur in the heady heat of your desire last night. Yes, the hips are still the first thing your eyes are drawn to, but now they seem so exaggerated and unreal. Your eyes slide just a bit further, and they focus on the details between them that you totally missed last night. Christ, her butt! It’s not real; its a cartoonish thing, so crude , simple and unfinished; something maybe a ten year old would draw, in a hurry.

Perhaps aware of your gaze, Camaro gently rolls over, now facing you in the muted rays of light falling from the high window of her cheap apartment. Holy shit! That’s not a face!  It’s just a jumble of lines hastily arranged where a real face should be, and totally devoid of any expression or subtlety. My God, how could you not have noticed that last night? Just how many beers did you have before you walked up to her and slapped her gently on those damned hips? For years, you’d been staring at Camaros all dressed to kill in those glossy magazine spreads, and assumed they were all the same. Sadder but wiser, you now know otherwise.

Now the painful details of last night start to take shape and tumble out of the tangled haze of your embarrassment and hangover, like baby spiders hatching out of a cobweb.  From the moment you first kicked her over, you knew something wasn’t right. Instead of that wicked come-hither rumble emanating from her nether regions that was guaranteed to get a guys’ juices flowing, she emitted a most pathetic little nasal whine. What the hell? You lift up her skirt, and there it is: “Turbo-Thrift 230 – 140 HP”; a fucking six banger!  Its one barrel carburetor’s venturi is the size of a drinking straw. Just please don’t let her have a slushbox too. Sure enough, her feeble little six is backed by a two-speed Powerglide, with a column shifter no less. Now you know for sure you’re not dreaming, because you couldn’t have imagined a column shifter in a Camaro in your worst nightmare.  No Mustang sure as hell ever had one. Call it a Powerslide all you like, but obviously neither power nor sliding was going to be on the agenda. Any visions of a long hot night burning rubber with a crackling hot Big Block and a Muncie rockcrusher are gone with the puff of bluish smoke the tired little six emits on startup.

What a nightmare! No wonder you heard some snickering as the two of you left the Rockin’ Rodeo. Her feet should have been a tip-off: those tiny size fourteens looked utterly ridiculous, even if she was wearing Cragars. And the missing little badge next to the front side turn indicator that announced the cubes, but for V8s only. Well, it was too late then; you were way too caught up in the idea of a Camaro to turn back. Let’s just spare everyone the un-juicy details. At least you can be thankful for not getting baited into any races on the way home.

Her gentle nasal six-cylinder snore confirms she’s still asleep. You take one more regretful look, especially at that “Camaro by Chevrolet” tattoo on her ample breast. As a kid, that said it all, the invincible General’s one-two punch comeback to that sassy upstart Mustang. You knew when GM finally realized they’d been snookered and put their mind to it, they’d kick that Mustang’s ass with it, even if it was a rush job that wasn’t quite finished. What’s a fourteen year old to tell the difference? And you’d been lusting after one ever since. You quietly slip out of bed, grab your clothes off the floor, and tip toe out the door. It’s going to be a long cold walk home in the drizzle.

More New Curbside Classics Here

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: A Camaro You Can See Out Of Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-camaro-you-can-see-out-of-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-camaro-you-can-see-out-of-edition/#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 17:40:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=352651 After much back-and-forth, it seems that the Camaro convertible is a sure thing after all, as this picture has surfaced at the Camaro’s Facebook page. Would you friend it?

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After much back-and-forth, it seems that the Camaro convertible is a sure thing after all, as this picture has surfaced at the Camaro’s Facebook page. Would you friend it?

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Ask The Best And Brightest: How Did The Pony Car Wars Become All About The V6? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-did-the-pony-car-wars-become-all-about-the-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-did-the-pony-car-wars-become-all-about-the-v6/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 18:48:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351816 Back in the muscle car heyday, enthusiasts could likely have imagined that the 2011 Mustang and Camaro would make at least 300 horsepower. They might even have imagined that the pony cars would be equipped with optional flight modes, nuclear reactors, and autopilots. What they likely never imagined is that Ford and GM would revive […]

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Back in the muscle car heyday, enthusiasts could likely have imagined that the 2011 Mustang and Camaro would make at least 300 horsepower. They might even have imagined that the pony cars would be equipped with optional flight modes, nuclear reactors, and autopilots. What they likely never imagined is that Ford and GM would revive the time-honored tradition of pony car one-upmanship for V6 models.

But sure enough, Chevy came out with a 304 horsepower V6 Camaro only to have Ford beat that number by a single horsepower with its new 2011 V6 Mustang. Chevy’s V6 got an EPA highway rating of 29 mpg? Ford’s 2011 V6 just barely beat it again with 31 MPG highway. And the V6 wars show no signs of stopping. GM has just announced that it got its Camaro V6 re-certified with (apparently) no modification, and the new V6 ponycar benchmark is now set at 312 horsepower. Why all the one-upmanship in a class of cars that not long ago were seen as secretary specials or rental queens? More importantly, where’s the SS-versus-GT animus in all this?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Global Brands, Global Values Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-global-brands-global-values-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-global-brands-global-values-edition/#comments Sat, 27 Mar 2010 19:11:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350530 In America, certain European cars ostensibly set their drivers apart as willfully unique characters. Cars like the Volvo C30, or just about any Saab indicate that the driver’s desire to be seen as quirky iconoclasts outweighs any of the more rational metrics that might guide the car-buying process. And while in the US, compact size […]

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In America, certain European cars ostensibly set their drivers apart as willfully unique characters. Cars like the Volvo C30, or just about any Saab indicate that the driver’s desire to be seen as quirky iconoclasts outweighs any of the more rational metrics that might guide the car-buying process. And while in the US, compact size and European pedigree are the keys to stepping out of the automotive mainstream, making an automotive statement in Europe requires the opposite approach. Pickup trucks, muscle cars and American SUVs are the signifiers of choice for the Europeans who find themselves marching out of step with their efficient hatchback-driving fellow citizens. As a result, European advertisements for motorized guilty pleasures, like the one above, play on the perception that big V8s are downright antisocial. By refined European standards, no one should drive a brutish Camaro… but what’s more fun than blowing a supercharged raspberry at social niceties? And though the marketing for American muscle cars in Europe practically writes itself, global brands like Chevrolet don’t necessarily want the Ameri-barbarian associations… which might explain why Chevrolet has canceled plans to build a right hand drive Camaro.

Speaking to Motor Trend, GM’s Bob Lutz explains that swimming against the European mainstream can’t take priority for Chevrolet anymore.

No matter which car company you work for, there’s never enough engineering money, talent and capital to do everything you want to do. So when we looked at the hybrids that we have to do, and the plug-ins that we have to do, we just had to priority rank it and I couldn’t argue with the priorities.

In addition to engineering priorities and image issues, Lutz explains that the RHD markets also don’t have that many power-obsessed individualists. And sales estimates weren’t just low in the UK, but in Australia as well, where (RHD aside) the market taste resembles America’s more than anywhere else.

The UK was low, and…frankly I think Australia could have stepped up to the plate with some more. But when we finally looked at it there weren’t enough units to justify after all what is a fairly large investment. I am always personally sad when we create an exciting car and there’s demand for it in an interesting country like Australia, and we can’t afford it. It seems particularly ironic since all of the chassis development and the engineering was done there.

Meanwhile, will the parts of Europe that drive on the correct side of the road get Camaros as GM pushes its Chevrolet brand into greater importance there? Chevrolet.de offers no clues to the affirmative, listing Camaro as a “vehicle study.” And frankly, with Corvette and Cadillac also fighting (likely in vain) for Euro-acceptance, it makes far more sense for GM to limit V8s to their (theoretically) more profitable Caddys and ‘vettes. Besides, real European Amerophile cads buy their muscle cars from grey-market importers… because it’s just that little bit more delightfully antisocial.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Autoblog Ups The Opera-Top Ante Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-autoblog-ups-the-opera-top-ante/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-autoblog-ups-the-opera-top-ante/#comments Thu, 18 Mar 2010 17:47:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349521 One of the few things TTAC has in common with the Weblogs Inc/AOL juggernaut Autoblog is a weird fascination with landau roofs, opera tops, and all manner of roof-paddery. But what was developing into a friendly rivalry to see who could come up with the ugliest aftermarket roof treatment has run out of control: there’s […]

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One of the few things TTAC has in common with the Weblogs Inc/AOL juggernaut Autoblog is a weird fascination with landau roofs, opera tops, and all manner of roof-paddery. But what was developing into a friendly rivalry to see who could come up with the ugliest aftermarket roof treatment has run out of control: there’s no way we will ever be able to top this padded-roofed Camaro for sheer unnecessary tastelessness. Congratulations, guys.

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Curbside Classic Outtake: Maximum Exterior Accessories Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classic-outtake-maximum-exterior-accessories-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/curbside-classic-outtake-maximum-exterior-accessories-edition/#comments Sat, 13 Feb 2010 18:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=345261 Is there a clinical definition for the compulsion to fit every possible exterior accessory to one’s car? J C Whitney Syndrome?

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Is there a clinical definition for the compulsion to fit every possible exterior accessory to one’s car? J C Whitney Syndrome?

The post Curbside Classic Outtake: Maximum Exterior Accessories Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Curbside Classics: 1970 Camaro RS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/08/curbside-classics-1970-camaro-rs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/08/curbside-classics-1970-camaro-rs/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2009 15:43:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=325800

After being trapped six weeks in a 1971 time warp, I had the controls of the Curbside Classics time machine all set for the mid-eighties. But once again, fate interceded. Running some errands, I had my first encounter with no less than two 2010 Camaros. Then, on the way home, something called out to me as I tooled down Franklin Boulevard. I found it parked behind the old boarded-up Chevy dealer, and it had an important message for you and me: "beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it's in the object itself."

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After being trapped six weeks in a 1971 time warp, I had the controls of the Curbside Classics time machine all set for the mid-eighties. But once again, fate interceded. Running some errands, I had my first encounter with no less than two 2010 Camaros. Then, on the way home, something called out to me as I tooled down Franklin Boulevard. I found it parked behind the old boarded-up Chevy dealer, and it had an important message for you and me: “beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it’s in the object itself.”

I needed to hear that, after trying to make aesthetic sense of the new Camaro. Which was going nowhere, until it hit me: the 2010 Camaro is the Pamela Anderson of automobiles: exaggerated proportions, desperately trying to evoke a (long distant) youthful past, cartoonish, crude, clumsy, and just plain stupid—Borat would love it (“you like?!”), although he would have a hell of a time trying to stuff over-stuffed Pamela into its tiny trunk.

The fact that Chevy picked the ’69 Camaro for its “inspiration” tells it all, because the gen-1 Camaro was a rushed, half-baked stylistic lightweight. Yes, it was cheerful and youthfully innocent, kind of like the high-school Pamela. But it was hopelessly outclassed by the timelessly elegant, handsome, mature and universally praised 1970 version. Perhaps we should thank GM for leaving well enough alone, although I have a sinking feeling that if the Camaro revival doesn’t peter out quickly, its successor may well be a horrible pastiche of this 1970 Rally Sport.

I was never quite as stunned by a new car from Detroit as when I first saw the 1970 Camaro. One of the reasons was that Chevrolet managed to keep it a perfect secret right to the end: no spy shots in Popular Science or elsewhere. One day, I opened a magazine, and kazow!, that incredible front end was staring at me from a full-page ad. And such a complete break with its predecessor. Who saw that coming? It was quite the change from the three and a half years-long strip-tease we’ve just endured. Enough, Pamela, enough!

Obviously, Bill Mitchell had his Pontiac and Chevy design studios perusing old Pininfarina-designed Ferraris while they were fleshing out the 1970 F-body. If you’re going to crib, might as well go to the master. And when the master returns a compliment, bask in it. But inspiration is one thing; to put it all together in a balanced, fresh, yet timeless way requires skill, time, encouragement and most of all, taste. Either you have it, or you don’t. Bill did, often enough.

The Camaro’s perpetual nemesis sure didn’t. Ford must been mighty nervous when the ’70 Camaro was released in February of that year. The Camaro’s ads even made references to it here. Because Ford’s ’71 Mustang, due six months later, was an ugly POS: overwrought, heavy, terrible visibility, cartoonish; umm . . . sounds familiar. And it was a sales bomb, as in the dirty kind. After a few more stumbles, Ford eventually got the formula down, and now sticks to it. Unlike Chevy, which couldn’t seem to ever find its way out of the trailer park since the 1970-1981 edition.

GM knew its ’67-’69 F-bodies were immature, which explains the lack of any stylistic carry-over. The 1964 Mustang caught GM totally asleep at the wheel, as usual. And its phenomenal instantaneous success meant rush, rush, rush. The two years it took to cram the ’67 Camaro and Firebird out the door showed.

So Bill Mitchell had Chevy and Pontiac studios working on a gen-2 F-body worthy of the Mark of Excellence right from the beginning. And, not surprisingly, it was the Pontiac studio that came up with the basic shape. But both versions received enough differentiation to make them each worthy of praise, interest and attention despite sharing the same basic body—kind of like Isabeli Fontana and Izabel Goulart. Take your pick; you can’t go wrong. Personally, I favor Isabeli and the Camaro.

This particular Rally Sport (which is actually quite likely a ’71 or ’72) is not exactly how I like my gen-2 Camaro dressed and made up: no two-tone paint job, please, and either Chevy Rally wheels, Z-28 stock wheels, or minilite type vintage mags. But then this is not a “garage queen”; it’s a regular driver, has numerous dings, and an interesting crude hood cut-out for the after-market air cleaner. I’ll gladly take this for a car parked on the street.

I could go on way too long talking about the elegant lines and proportions of this car. But the front end is brilliant; the contours of the hood and fenders as they drop to that protruding nose. And that unusual windshield compound curve with a hint of a dog leg. Nobody was doing that since 1961. But my favorite part is that delicious front fender line as it tightly hugs the wheel and delicately nips and tucks into the head light. Unfortunately, that detail was ruined with the 5-mph bumpered 1974s.

The 1970 Camaro was anything but a poseur. It (not the Vega) set a new high for American passenger-car handling. The whole platform, and especially the suspension and steering were extensively re-engineered. The result was superb for its time. And not just in the race-track oriented way like the max-performance versions of Detroit’s pony cars, the previous Z-28 and Boss 302 Mustang. Ultra-stiff springs and a fast manual steering ratio are great on a smooth track, but in real world driving, especially on uneven surfaces, most muscle cars of the era were profoundly compromised.

Even the base version of the Camaro offered a level of balance, steering precision and feel, stout brakes, stiff body structure, and reasonable chassis compliance that finally brought US cars into world-class levels (of course, the ‘vette had been there since ’63). It was a huge step from the Falcon/Chevy II/Valiant based gen-1 pony cars. So good, that even at the end of its unusually long twelve year production run, the gen-2 Camaro was still being praised for its all-round handling competence, if not the performance from its de-smogged engines.

Chevrolet positioned the new Camaro much more as an all-round sports car/GT tourer than the ’67-’69 muscle/pony cars. You could still get a big-block 396 (actually a 402) SS Camaro, but it was no longer at the top of the horsepower pecking order. That would be the brilliant LT-1 powered Z-28. Whereas the previous Z-28 was a limited production Trans-Am race series homologation special, with a very peaky 302 engine, the new Z-28 essentially took the role of the old SS model. Even the THM autobox was finally welcome (if not preferred) in the Z.

The 1970 LT-1 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) engine was the crowning glory of the Chevy small block V8, its ultimate evolution until the all-new LS-1 replaced it some twenty years later. All the goodies developed in the sixties for the Corvette were present and accounted for: four-bolt block, big-valve heads, solid-lifter cam, aluminum intake, 780cfm Holley, and that lumpy idle. It was rated at 360 hp (gross), but essentially the same parts in the smaller 327 used to be rated at 365 hp. It probably churned out at least 310 of today’s net horsepower. At 3150 lb., the Z-28 had a 10 lb/net hp ratio, resulting in a 0-60 of 5.8 seconds, and a ¼ mile of 14.2 @100 mph (C/D stats). Superb, for a small-block, non-understeering, great-handling car of the times (big-blocks need not apply).

And what has forty years of progress delivered? The porky 2010 Camaro has a slightly better 9.15 lb/hp ratio, and delivers the 0-60 in 5 seconds flat, and the ¼ mile in 13.5 @ 103 mph (Edmund’s stats). Stickier tires probably account for most of that. And GM’s sticky fingers account for the price difference. The 1970 Z-28 cost $3,412 ($18.7K adjusted) complete with the go-fast goodies. A new SS starts at $31K. In 1970, that was money well invested: Z-28s go for $40K-$80K today.

The timing of the gen-2 Camaro’s arrival was less than auspicious. The whole performance era was peaking and about to crash under the weight of insurance, smog-controls, and a change in attitudes, especially once the energy crisis hit. But it was exactly because of the gen-2 Camaro’s balance of qualities that allowed it survive, and actually prosper the whole decade, right through 1981. Well, it did almost die after the 1973 model year because the new 5-mph bumper and other safety regulations seemed like a huge obstacle especially in light of weak sales. But that’s the makings of another Curbside Classics.

For the brief golden period of 1970-1973, new Camaros graced us with their svelte elegance. And a few are still at it today, giving us a lasting lesson on how ugly and malformed way too many new cars are today. Raw attraction is all too often crude, hormonal, and indiscriminate; but true beauty is self-evident and timeless, like good art, a beautiful woman, or an inspired car.

As I got ready to leave, the Camaro had a parting thought for me: “Folks who can’t tell the difference between attraction and beauty should be held accountable for their bad taste.” Like getting stuffed into the trunk of a 2010 Camaro, perhaps, I suggested. “Yes,” it replied, “along with Pamela. That should teach them a lasting lesson.”


More New Curbside Classics Here

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DetN Shocker! Scott Burgess Not 100% Sold on Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/detn-shocker-scott-burgess-not-100-sold-on-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/03/detn-shocker-scott-burgess-not-100-sold-on-camaro/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2009 22:18:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=289461 Today’s the day that the embargo on Camaro reviews ends. First, as a taxpayer, a big thank you to all the automotive publications and websites that abided by the terms of GM’s proscription. You’ve helped my corporate beneficiary concentrate its marketing firepower for maximum effect. Second, I want to re-iterate my suspicion—based on historical precedent—that all […]

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Today’s the day that the embargo on Camaro reviews ends. First, as a taxpayer, a big thank you to all the automotive publications and websites that abided by the terms of GM’s proscription. You’ve helped my corporate beneficiary concentrate its marketing firepower for maximum effect. Second, I want to re-iterate my suspicion—based on historical precedent—that all Camaros tested were “ringers” (specially built and prepared versions). And third, I’d like to point out that Detroit News carmudgeon Scott Burgess and I share something: we both hate people. OK, I hate the lies that people tell and Scott hates anyone who hates Detroit. I’ve said time and again that the number of people who actually care enough to hate Detroit is statistically irrelevant. But Scott’s world is constantly under imaginary assault from people who vilify the cars he loves. Which, needless to say, includes the new Camaro. Althoughly, strangely, Scott doesn’t bless with his 100 percent seal of approval. In fact, reading between the lines, the new Camaro’s not even a 90 percent car. First the ho-sannahs . . .

The new Camaro demonstrates how a muscle car can evolve — it may share its name with its predecessor but it offers a much smoother ride and more comfortable interior. The new Camaro is eerily quiet while cruising. The four-wheel independent suspension, as well as the car’s heft — it weighs 3,769 pounds at its lightest — smooth out the ride…

The Camaro felt remarkably agile on the road — perhaps a product of extremely sticky tires — 20-inchers on the SS and 18s on the base model LS. Whipping through a corner, the body stayed flat and the tires never lost their grip despite the power coursing through the rear axle.

In between those two heaps of praise (tagged “turnaround, GM, Chevy, triumphalism”)…

What I didn’t like was how loose the steering felt in my hands. I wanted more resistance and feedback while holding the wheel through turns. The return to center was fine, but I couldn’t feel the road as much as I would have liked. This attribute, however, may make the Camaro even better for daily driving, where mind-numbing commutes on highways fill our time (and not the fast, twisty roads leading us to Hell, or even Chelsea for that matter).

OK, Burgess’ complaint comes with a ready-made excuse (in the great American car reviewing tradition). But dash it all, that dash!

But the dash, especially on the passenger side, felt like there was too much plastic and the muted chrome finish, which is also plastic, took away from the deeply recessed speedometer and tachometer.

And then, of course, once again, Burgess ends by parading his Everest-sized shoulder chip.

Now, I can see the flood of e-mails coming: Why build this car? What is Chevy thinking? My guess: Chevy wants to sell cars. And people will buy this one. If you’re not a fan of beefy machines or just can’t remove that stick jammed up your attitude, don’t buy one.

But when you see those squinting headlights and the slit of the scoop accenting the V-shaped hood in your rearview mirror, and you hear a deep-throated downshift, please edge over to the shoulder and let it pass. Trust me; it’ll only take a second.

Translation: if you don’t like this car, NSFW you, you whiney, limp-wristed tree hugging Detroit-hating bastard. Or something like that. Anyway, as soon as production cars hit the dealerships, we’ll have our review. But not before. Oh, and I wonder what the WaPo’s Warren Brown will make of this car. Love Detroit. Hate muscle cars. Can’t. Make. Decision.

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