The Truth About Cars » chevrolet camaro The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » chevrolet camaro Cain’s Segments, July 2014: Muscle Cars Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:12 +0000 TTAC_Muscle-Car-sales-chart-June-2014

It feels like we’ve known a lot about the 2015 Ford Mustang for years. There have been stories on its alleged weight gain, then stories that suggested the gain wasn’t nearly so bad. Its independent rear suspension makes the idea of serving global markets so much more tenable. Its turbocharged four-cylinder should, on paper, offer a new blend of performance and efficiency.

But it’s not here, and it won’t be sitting at the forefront of dealer lots (alongside The Used Car Deal Of The Day! Call Tom @ 555-4321! and its accompanying neon sign) for a few months yet.

It was therefore not surprising to see that Mustang sales in the United States dropped sharply in June 2014, even though sales of the venerable Ford had reported improved sales on a year-over-year basis in January, February, March, and May of this year. Could Ford really maintain a high level of interest in a departing pony car?

In a word, no. And yet, with 7631 sales in the sixth month of 2014, one could argue that Ford did, in fact, maintain a high level of interest in the Mustang, as they always do. Naturally, deals on an outgoing car improve as it ages. Some who perhaps thought they may want to wait for the new car have decided they prefer the current car. But 7600 units for a relatively impractical rear-wheel-drive muscle car, is actually a very high figure, if not for the Mustang itself than for cars which compete in a performance-oriented corner of the market.

Volkswagen announced a terrific GTI sales month: 1927 were sold. Subaru sold 2065 copies of their WRX and STi. Jaguar sold 428 F-Types. Aside from the Countryman and Paceman, Mini sold just 3238 cars in June.

The Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even the Dodge Challenger aren’t low-volume cars. They attract lifestyle buyers – whoever they are, whatever it is they do – as well as performance car buyers. And they most certainly attract loyalists, the kind of buyers who, while acknowledging that these three cars are direct competitors, wouldn’t actually cross-shop.

After consecutive years with declining sales in 2012 and 2013, Camaro sales are up by 4360 units through the first half of 2014. If this sales pace holds, General Motors could see Camaro volume rise to a 2011-besting level, the highest since the nameplate returned in 2009. In this three-car category, the Camaro’s market share has risen from 36.7% during the first half of 2013 to 39.8% so far this year.

Since the Dodge Challenger nameplate returned in 2008, sales have always risen, doubling between 2009 and 2013, when 51,462 were sold. That streak is in danger in 2014: could the improved 2015 Challenger arrive in time for the year end results to improve from the current pace which would see fewer than 46,000 sold?

Even with its decreased volume and its third-place status in the category, the Challenger highlights the high-volume nature of this trio. FCA has sold more Challengers than Chrysler 300s this year; more Challengers than total Fiats.

The Viper, on the other hand, has clearly struggled in its latest form. June volume slid 63% to just 36 units. As for the Chevrolet Corvette, sales are booming, with 2723 sold in June and 17,744 in the first half, making it more popular than the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, and Porsche 911 combined.

6 mos.
6 mos.
Chevrolet Camaro
7721 7236 +6.7% 46,672 42,312 +10.3%
Dodge Challenger
4377 5101 -14.2% 26,281 29,982 -12.3%
Ford Mustang
7631 9243 -17.4% 44,231 43,111 +2.6%
21,580 -8.6% 117,184 115,405 +1.5%
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Cain’s Segments: Muscle Cars Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:43:11 +0000 2010_Dodge_Challenger_RT_Classic

The Ford Mustang is selling more frequently in 2014 than it did in the same period of 2013. Ford is also grabbing greater U.S. market share in the relatively high-volume muscle car sector.

This might seem surprising given that Ford is set to replace their fifth-gen pony car with a new edition for 2015 – don’t people want to wait for the new model? Yet such a turn of events isn’t unprecedented, and it’s not as though a few current Mustangs couldn’t be sold at this moment because their buyers find the next Mustang less desirable.

Unlike the Porsche Boxster’s class of European roadsters, the sales achieved by the Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger garner attention not just because they stir up the passions of automotive enthusiasts but also because the numbers are high. These aren’t rare cars; their ubiquity can be traced back both to their affordability and to their history.

Moreover, there may be no sports/sporting/sporty car sub-segment where the competitors are so easily identifiable. While it’s true that loyal Mustang owners may never consider the Camaro, the three cars in this group are still plotted on the same connect-the-dots map. The same can’t really be said of the Scion FR-S (hardtop, and a backseat) and Mazda MX-5 Miata (two-seat droptop), nor even the Honda Civic Si (two doors and a trunk) and Volkswagen Golf GTI (hatchback).

And so we compare rear-wheel-drive muscle. Even at the end of winter. Even in a transition year.

The Mustang, sales of which have improved by 2276 units through one quarter of 2014, is America’s 60th-best-selling vehicle overall, less than 1700 sales back of the Lexus RX, GMC Acadia, Jeep Patriot, and Subaru Impreza/WRX. It ranks just ahead of the Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Camaro, Nissan Frontier, and Kia Forte.

Camaro sales have increased by a less impressive 370 units. The Camaro is America’s 62nd-best-selling vehicle so far this year.

Both the Camaro and Mustang have stolen market share from the declining, aging Dodge Challenger. Never capable of challenging the Mustang and Camaro in terms of U.S. volume, Dodge has nevertheless increased its Challenger sales volume every year since the car arrived in 2008. In 2013 there were twice as many Challengers sold in America as there were in 2009.

The first quarter of 2014 has seen the Challenger’s market share in the category fall to 22% from 28.5% one year ago. Meanwhile, the Mustang has outsold the Camaro by a grand total of 28 units in 2014 – 681 units in March, specifically – and its share in the category has grown to 39% from 33.9% in Q1 of 2013. Camaro market share is up from 37.6% to 39%.

To better understand just how common these cars are, however, consider the total sales from individual automakers. Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge combined for 50,198 Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger sales in the first three months of 2014, 16,519 units more than the combined sales at Fiat, Mini, and Scion. The Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger’s total beats the whole Mazda brand by 8230 units; Infiniti by 18,977 units. The Mustang and Camaro, individually, outsell Volvo.

2014 won’t necessarily be a reliable barometer for American muscle car sales, with a redesign of the Challenger yet to be introduced, the aging Camaro, and the Mustang’s replacement. But the first three months of 2014 could still be an accurate gauge for what we can expect as the pages on this year’s calendar flip over.

And by the by, GM also sold 8179 Corvettes during the first three months of 2014, a 178% year-over-year increase.


3 mos.
3 mos.
Chevrolet Camaro
8624 8102 + 6.4% 19,568 19,198 + 1.9%
Dodge Challenger
4882 6132 - 20.4% 11,034 14,540 - 24.1%
Ford Mustang
9305 7688 + 21.0% 19,596 17,320 + 13.1%
21,922 + 4.1% 50,198 51,058 - 1.7%
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The Old Man and the Camaro: Part 2 Mon, 22 Apr 2013 15:02:16 +0000

Author’s note- In order to protect the privacy of the victims, some names and details have been omitted or changed.

Part One of this story can be found here.

In police work it’s never a question of what you know. The only thing that matters is what you can prove. The Nurse hadn’t straight up stolen the car. A couple of days after he’d refused to put her in for the theft of his wallet, the Old Man had let the Nurse back into his life. At some point, he’d willingly given her the keys and she’d hung around until just before the son arrived to pick up his father before clearing out with the Camaro and God only knew what else.. That meant that the most Chris could charge was a misdemeanor, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, normally used to deal with kids who don’t bring back their parents’ cars before curfew instead of hitting them with a felony.

Chris worked it anyway. He tracked down the Nurse’s mother and kept at her until she gave her daughter’s location up: Baltimore. I’ve watched every episode of  The Wire three times. The Camaro had probably already been traded for a handful of yellowtops and pressed into service as the getaway vehicle of choice for drive- by shootings.

Chris got the Nurse’s cellphone number and the address where she was supposedly staying. He called her a dozen times a day, threatening her with a Grand Jury indictment and prison time. He figured out what district she was living in, called the BPD shift commander in charge, and invoked the brotherhood of the Thin Blue Line to get a couple of uniforms sent to give her a little face to face encouragement. The Camaro wasn’t at the house when they visited, but BPD promised to find a reason to hook it if they caught it on the street. That would have gotten it out of the Nurse’s clutches, but it would have created new problems for the owner in that the car would be collecting impound and storage fees on the other side of the country for as long as it took for him to arrange to get it back.

The best solution, the only solution, was to get the Nurse to bring the car back herself. For over a week Chris made the Nurse the center of his universe whenever his other cases gave him time. He coaxed, threatened, flattered, and raged at her and everyone he could find in her immediate orbit. It was a majestic performance in the dark art of the projection of perceived police authority instead of actual police authority. The truth was that the case would be a weak prosecution at best. Even if Chris managed to slide a warrant for Unauthorized Use past an inattentive judge, no Assistant County Attorney was going to sign off on extraditing the Nurse from three states away for a misdemeanor, the city budget being what it is.

In the end it worked. A couple of days after BPD paid the Nurse a visit, she called Chris. The Camaro was back in Lexington, left unlocked on a quiet street with the keys in the console. She was back in Baltimore. Chris and I headed out of the office to retrieve it before somebody else stole it. The exterior was filthy, but undamaged. The latch for the rear hatch was broken, making it impossible to secure.

The interior was trashed. Candy wrappers, empty cigarette packs, and Big Gulp cups littered the floorboards. It reeked of eau de criminale, a olfactory combination of stale sweat, spilled beer, greasy food, desperation, and various “flavors” of smoke that any beat cop with more than ten minutes in uniform would instantly recognize. Mostly smoke in this case.  The ashtray was stuffed full of both cigarette butts and “roaches.” I brushed a small pile of stems and seeds into the street before settling down behind the wheel, wishing I’d thought to grab a pair of latex gloves from the trunk of Chris’s Crown Vic.

It fired up the first time, although the fuel gauge needle was way past the “E” and the warning light glowed menacingly. Chris needed fuel for his Crown Vic as well, so I followed him gingerly to the closest gas station that accepted our fleet credit card. While I filled the Crown Vic, Chris went inside to pay for $5 worth of low grade for the Camaro, knowing that he wouldn’t bother to submit a request for reimbursement.

We stashed the Camaro in the municipal garage next to headquarters, thinking that the son would make plans to retrieve it by the end of the week. He didn’t and one morning Chris stopped me as I walked into the office. He pulled me into the breakroom for a secure conversation.

“He doesn’t want to come back to Lexington. The Old Man’s taking a turn for the worst. He’ll never drive it again and the son doesn’t want it. He’s asking me if he can just give it to us.”

“Us as in the department?”

“No, us as in you or me. I told him we couldn’t do that and he said to make him an offer if we need to feel better about it. I think you could offer him a hundred bucks for it and he’d say okay. I don’t want it, but I said I’d ask you.”

Ethical temptations present themselves from time to time in police work. And they wouldn’t be called temptations if they weren’t, in fact, tempting. If I was going to make an offer, it would have to be fair. I checked the NADA website. The average retail price was north of four grand. I couldn’t afford “fair” and I wasn’t going to do it for “not fair.” Besides, between the Camaro I already owned, my pickup, my wife’s minivan, and the city’s Crown Vic, my house already looked like a used car lot. Bringing home an orphan Camaro that smelled of dirtbag wouldn’t do my property values or my marriage any favors.

Chris told the son that he’d help him dispose of the car legitimately. The son struck a deal with a local used car superstore. I strolled the lot while Chris found the manager that the son had been working and turned over the keys. The Camaro was at least fifteen years older than the next oldest car on the lot. I figured it would be headed for auction a couple of hours after we left the lot, which we did without looking back.

So what’s the moral of this story? The Nurse went unpunished. Karma will probably catch her, but neither Chris or I will get the satisfaction of hearing the bracelets ratchet shut around her wrists. The Old Man would be dead before the end of the year. At least he and his son reconciled before he died.

What matters is the job and the way you work it, even when it doesn’t matter. Every detective works the cases that matter as hard as he can with the facts and resources he has at the time. It’s how you do your job when the case doesn’t matter, when the bosses aren’t watching, and when you know that your efforts are most likely in vain that ultimately defines what kind of a cop you really are. And in this case a detective pulled every trick he knew to get back a lonely old man’s car, even though the Old Man would never know. In the end, that’s enough.

It has to be.

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The Old Man and the Camaro: Part 1 Fri, 19 Apr 2013 19:08:11 +0000

Author’s note: In order to protect the identity of the victims in this case, some names and details have been omitted or changed.

There are a million stories in the Naked City. This is one of them.

It wasn’t my case. Chris had asked me to accompany him one morning as he performed some case follow- ups. In a department with over 500 sworn officers, Chris is the only detective assigned to the full- time investigation of elder exploitation for a city of 300,000 souls. Whenever he needs help, he grabs whoever isn’t busy and we tag along.

The story was familiar. The Old Man was in failing health, his mental faculties beginning the long fade into night. His wife had passed a few months before. Estranged from his son, who lived out West, he was home bound and dependant on a rotation of home health caregivers to take care of him.

With home health workers, as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. The Old Man could afford a better than average service. He’d been an oilman and was comfortably, if not extravagantly, retired. The problem is that even if you pay an above average price, the services sometimes still employ below average people. It’s low- skilled, thankless work. Turnover is high and people with better prospects take better jobs.

It was a situation that was perfect for the Nurse, a petite blonde with all of her teeth and the pre- anorexic build that quickly appears when a girl spends her paycheck on Oxys instead of food. No direct supervision, with the patient confined to one bedroom of a rambling house full of small, pretty things that could slowly disappear. Bottles of heavy duty pain killers to be borrowed from. The Old Man didn’t miss them. He couldn’t remember having them in the first place.

Of course if the patient is male and alone, and you are a female fifty or more years his junior, it doesn’t take much to wrap him around your finger. Nothing so crass as actual sexual favors. Just a gentle hand allowed to linger on a shoulder. A low cut blouse every once in awhile. Maybe bring your kid to work one evening.  Lord knows he hasn’t seen his own grandkids in years.

The requests for favors began. A cash advance towards next week’s pay. The kid really needed some new school clothes. The rent was due. She really hated to ask, but could he spot her a couple hundred to tide her over? Little by little, ten, twenty, fifty dollars at a time, it began to float away.

Eventually somebody reported it. The Nurse let herself be seen with some jewelry that the caregiver on the other shift knew had once belonged to the Old Man’s wife. And so Chris and I went there to try to get a statement from the Old Man. Chris had already been dealing with the situation for a couple of weeks and had been to the house once before.

“You’ll like him, Dave. He’s got an old Camaro.”

We were let in and led to the Old Man’s room by the caregiver who made the initial report. Chris hoped to get a statement from the Old Man that would support charging the Nurse with elder exploitation. Nothing doing. Again, the familiar routine: The Nurse wouldn’t do that. I lent it to her but forgot. Everything is fine. The Old Man’s mind was in the Senior zone. He wasn’t obviously suffering from dementia, but all of the cylinders weren’t firing either, at least not all of the time.

He knew the jewelry we were talking about and told us the story of how he bought it at Tiffany’s on a trip to New York. He remembered details about his Camaro too, when Chris mentioned that I also had one in an effort to keep the Old Man engaged.

“It’s a 1992 model. Bought it when I retired. Thought it would be more fun than a Caddy or a Lincoln. Has a custom exhaust on it. Yes, sir.  Fun little car.”

An entertaining forty- five minutes, but it was clear we weren’t going to get what Chris needed to make a charge. We drove back to the office and Chris made contact with the man’s son, advising him to seek legal guardianship of his father sooner rather than later. The son said he’d look into it in a way that meant he probably wouldn’t.

A month or so passed and another report hit Chris’s desk. This time the Old Man was the complainant. The Nurse had been let go by the home health company in the interim, but she still had her claws in the Old Man. There had been more borrowed money, but the demands for it were less kind. In the report the Old Man alleged that the Nurse called him after his caregiver left for the night and asked for more. She was to call him on her cellphone when she was outside the house. Since the Old man was confined to his room, he would use the garage door opener to let visitors in and out of the house when he was alone. The Nurse made the call but when he opened the garage door to let her in, a rather large black male walked in instead, went straight to the bedroom, grabbed his wallet off the dresser, and ran away.

We went back to the house. This time the garage door was open when we arrived and I caught sight of the Old Man’s pride and joy. The white RS coupe was tucked away, covered with a thin layer of dust, but the tires glowed with a thick coating of Armor- All. The interior was spotless. Except for a tasteful gray pinstripe running down each flank and a couple of fat exhaust tips poking out of the back, it was in stock condition. While there’s nothing particularly special about an early ‘90s Camaro, the Old Man obviously loved it anyway.

Chris was hopeful that the Old Man would throw the Nurse under the bus this time. Unfortunately he had time to reflect and was now absolutely certain that the Nurse couldn’t have anything to do with it. The delay from the day the report was taken by a patrol officer to the time Chris got it two days later was a killer. Once again, we left without the crucial statements Chris needed.

He called the son again. This time he was ready to reconcile with his father. A few weeks later the Old Man moved back West with his family. The son called Chris the day after they got back home. The trip had gone fine and the Old Man seemed to his new retirement home well enough. There was just one problem:

The Camaro was missing.

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QOTD: How The Cadillac ATS Almost Became FWD Tue, 02 Apr 2013 12:00:57 +0000

The multi-billion dollar endeavor of developing a new car has effectively ended the one-off specialty car that many enthusiasts still clamor for and wronglyassert is feasible in this era. Supermodel-thin margins, a saturation of brands and vehicles and an ultra-competitive global marketplace have killed the previous formula for developing a production car, which was mostly a one-off solution to local road conditions and buyer tastes

The necessity of scale is a double-edged sword; if the bean counters deem a product too costly and it may proceed as a watered down version of the original concept. If a new architecture or platform is approved, then we are practically assured multiple variants spun off that platform.

As it turns out, GM nearly took the cheapskate approach to developing the Cadillac ATS. But at the 11th hour, the General decided to change course, and enthusiasts will be all the better for it.

Automotive News outlines how Cadillac’s 3-Series fighter very nearly became Cimarron 2.0, with plans underway to build it on the front-drive Delta platform.

“We were going to do a front-wheel-drive Cadillac compact off of Delta because it was going to be less expensive,” Doug Parks, GM’s vice president of global product programs, told me at the Detroit auto show in January. “There were people in the organization saying, ‘It’ll be OK. We can dial it in.’” So serious were the plans that Parks, who was based in Europe at the time, found himself driving 150 mph on a test track in Spain in a 2.0-liter turbo test mule built on the Delta platform.

“We actually made it pretty darn good,” Parks said. “But in reality, you can’t go beat BMW or Mercedes when you don’t have the right weight balance and everything else.”

GM’s decision to develop Alpha ensured that its performance vehicles have a new lease on life. The ATS will be the start of a range of cars, with the next-generation Camaro to follow. Two vehicles off of Alpha won’t be enough either, but what will follow the Camaro is anyone’s guess.

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Makes The SS Irrelevant Wed, 27 Mar 2013 17:17:10 +0000

Who cares about the Chevrolet SS? GM just stuffed an LS7 in the Camaro. Even though the Camaro is one of my least favorite cars, I cannot wait to drive this thing, visibility be damned.

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Canadian Government Investigating Price Discrepancies For New Cars Fri, 08 Feb 2013 14:00:08 +0000

Every Canadian consumer knows that when it comes to new car prices, we get screwed. Yes, Canada is a small market with higher taxes. It costs more to do business here in part because the high distribution costs can’t be amortized over 300-odd million people. In addition, things like metric instruments further complicate things.

But then there’s the question of why a Toyota RAV4, built two hours outside of Toronto, costs $2,890 less in Hawaii than it does in Canada. Why does an Oshawa-built Camaro demand a $4,685 premium in Canada? Where does BMW get off charging a $19,300 premium in the Great White North for a 535i xDrive, a 38.9 percent increase over the U.S. sticker?

The price discrepancy issue was the subject of a report by Canada’s Senate. Other consumer items like books and sporting goods were also investigated, but cars were a central focus. Interestingly enough, certain vehicles are actually cheaper to buy in Canada; these tend to be compact cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, which are popular with Canadians and built in Ontario.

Not so for other segments, like sports cars and luxury vehicles. The report mentions that consumers in Canada looking for these vehicles will pay the price that “the market will bear”. Translation: f**k you, we know we can gouge you, so we’ll do it. Of course, it’s the right of every business to set their own prices and earn a profit, which is precisely what makes it so difficult for the government to do anything about this matter. On the other hand, the compact segment is ultra-competitive in Canada, so it’s in the OEM’s interest to make sure the vehicles are priced competitively. But even mainstream cars like the Dodge Charger, built in a suburb of Toronto, can be as much as 20 percent higher in Canada than in the United States.

Some of the suggestions laid out for lowering vehicle prices, like lowering certain tariffs  may help lower the prices, but some experts interviewed in the report suggested that it was doubtful that the savings would be passed onto consumers by the OEMs. For domestic vehicles, it’s hard to imagine the government being able to do anything. Price controls for Camaros would be a farce, especially for a government as committed to free-market principles as the current Conservative government. Ultimately, it’s unlikely that the government will be able to do anything about it, though there’s one “left-field” savior that is just crazy enough to possibly make a difference.

One aspect that got a brief mention was the harmonization of safety standards between Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canada uses the FMVSS standards with a couple minor variations, and the OEMs have long used this compliance as an excuse for high MSRPs. What will really be interesting is if the proposed Canada-EU free trade deal leads to a harmonization between Canada and the UN/ECE standards. One complaint among Canadian car enthusiasts and OEMs has been that Canada’s market tastes have long been aligned with Europe, but the FMVSS-based standards mean that homologating European compact cars has been far too expensive. Meanwhile, Australia, which uses the UN standards and has a comparable market size to Canada, gets all manner of cars that North American enthusiasts can only fantasize about.

Imagine if the EU Free Trade deal opened the floodgates to a whole new swath of product for Canadian consumers? It may not make the Camaro any cheaper, but the amount of available models would increase exponentially, and auto makers would no doubt try and take advantage of the altered regulations to bring better-suited product to Canada. It’s hard to imagine greater overall choice not having any positive effect on vehicle prices. But then again, with things currently as nonsensical as they are, it’s tough to make that call definitively.

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GM Moving Chevrolet Camaro Production From Oshawa To Lansing Wed, 19 Dec 2012 16:40:31 +0000

GM is set to announce that production of the Chevrolet Camaro will move from its current home in Oshawa, Ontario, to a plant in Lansing, Michigan.

According to The Globe and Mail, GM and the Canadian Auto Workers agreed to keep production of the Camaro in Oshawa until 2014, when the current generation ended its lifecycle. Beyond that, no promises were made.

Recent contract negotiations between GM and the CAW saw Oshawa recieve a third shift at its “flex line” to build the all-new Chevrolet Impala. The Camaro is currently built on the flex line, alongside the Buick Regal, and the move is sure to be a blow to workers at Oshawa, which recently had its consolidated assembly line closed after Impala production was partly moved to another plant in Michigan.

The best case scenario is that GM is betting big on the Impala, and looking to free up further capacity for the full-size sedan – or perhaps another car. At worst, it’s a way of sticking it to the CAW, or an attempt to divest from Canada and its high labor costs.

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QOTD: Can Muscle Cars Do More With Less (Cylinders)? Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:52:34 +0000

The Wall Street Journal’s Driver’s Seat touches on the muscle car segment, and whether they’ll fall pitfall to rising gas prices in the future, CAFE regulations or some combination of the two. Among the solutions brought up in the article – by Chrysler executives, no less – is “a high output four-cylinder engine”.

There’s no doubt that the current crop of V6 muscle cars is better than ever; the constant chorus of “V6 Mustang $19,995 FTW!!!111″ may get tiresome, but there’s no doubt that the value proposition is there – and it really is a good car. The V6 Challenger with the Pentastar V6 is an often overlooked entrant, and the Camaro V6 is an honest effort, even if it’s not very good.

But to me, and many others, a true muscle car always has been and always will be about the V8 engine, and the intangible qualities that surround it. There’s the sound, the knowledge of all that power under the hood, but also the sheer profligacy and belligerence of the whole package. For an urbanite like myself, the V8 muscle car is a blatant rejection of the current zeitgeist; “sustainability”, the foodie movement, cycling, the push towards mass urbanization, doomsday theories of catastrophic climate change and fossil fuel depletion.The Mustang 5.0 (or the Boss, or the Shelby, or the Challenger SRT8) is unapologetic about being enormous, offensively loud and a deliberate misallocation of precious resources.

The irony is that while the wackier proponents of those theories are seeking a Rousseauian return to a mythical state of nature (where we live in harmony with the earth and our fellow man in a communitarian, kale-saturated paradise) that never really existed, I feel the same way about muscle cars. They evoke feelings of that era in between The Pill and the discovery of HIV, when optimism, not irony, was the spirit of the times, when my Grandfather left his MG Magnette in England and came to this continent. Without fail, he ordered his cars with a V8 engine, because he could, whether it was his first American car, a 1962 Pontiac, or his last, a 79 Caprice with a 350.

Even as someone who grew up during the apogee of the import tuner movement, who finds the same intoxication in a shrieking VTEC four-cylinder that a Boomer would in a big-block V8, the idea of a muscle car with fewer than 8 cylinders just doesn’t sit right with me. A V6 muscle car is a a 370Z. A turbo 4, as great as it is, is still something I associate with Nissan 240SXs and long nights in a damp garage trying to make it “JDM”. There are exceptions; the Buick Grand National is a legend, full stop. A Mustang with the 3.5L Ecoboost is a dream of mine. But then, you’d turn the key, and rather than hear that sublime gurggling, and the machine gun blatt as you leave the light, all that’s there is the subtle whistle of compressors and bypass valves. The F-150 Ecoboost I have now is just fine without the two extra cylinders. The blown V6 does just what I need and may even be better than the available V8s. But a muscle car is not a work truck. I don’t need to tell any of you this. But you can keep telling me how great the V6 ‘Stang is. I won’t disagree.


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The Scion FR-S And The Problem With Hype Tue, 26 Jun 2012 17:05:31 +0000

A few weeks ago, I took a Scion FR-S out for a spin. It was an automatic dealer demo, so I decided to withhold judgement until I drove the manual transmission car.

Having driven one yesterday, my opinion hasn’t changed much. Alex has already reviewed the car, and Jack will have his upcoming track test (which is a totally different process altogether). As far as my impressions go, I drove it around some empty backroads and urban environments, and came away a little cold.

I really like the styling, and the cut-rate (ok, really cheap) interior is there since the car was built to a price. But the whole driving experience leaves me cold. One of the complaints about the Nissan GT-R was that it had “no soul”, or in less nebulous terms, it felt like a a very synthetic, contrived experience rather than an organic driver’s car.

It’s not that the electric power steering is a let down, or the engine is a poor performer or the suspension is tuned wrong. I think that the real problem is the massive hype surrounding this car and the capitulation that followed. When I told a few other journalists about my thoughts – journalists that I respect and trust when it comes to vehicle evaluation – they were incredulous. “How can you not like it? It’s amazing!” Even as I tried to explain my reasoning, they just weren’t having it. I asked another journalist (who does not wished to be named) about his review of one of the Toyobaru twins. It was a glowing piece, praising the car as if Christ has descended from the heavens. Apparently, his review was less enthusiastic, but some changes were made before deadline…you can figure out the rest. So far, the main critic of the car has been Evo magazine. I didn’t want to believe their assessment of the car, and thought it was more Euro-snobbery, but I can identify with their criticisms now that I’ve been behind the wheel.


The main problem, as I see it, is the enormous hype surrounding this car. I’m not talking about inflated expectations that require managing. In this world, it often manifests itself as a simple unwillingness to declare that the emperor is naked. Witness Car and Driver praising the Chevrolet Camaro for its “zip and grip through the gymkhana” and “fresh, inventive interior”, both of which we know are patently false. Or how about C/D these gems, which Ezra Dyer highlights in his own New York Times piece about the car

Camaro’s Zeta roots pay dividends, with the suspension striking a brilliant balance between lively, grippy road-holding and wonderfully compliant damping. Meanwhile, the SS offers decent feedback through the steering wheel.

Could it be better? Absolutely, but at least its deficiencies involve its interior detailing more than its dynamics.
—Car and Driver, March 2009

Then, just a few months later:

We wish Porsche had supplied the steering. Shades of Camaros past are evident in the slightly overboosted and overinsulated wheel.

The stiff, insulated structure soaks up engine vibes and tire moaning, but the rear end discombobulates and dances while accelerating over rough pavement.
—Car and Driver, July 2009

Ezra attributes the change in opinion to the notion that once something becomes popular, it’s no longer cool. I think that they’ve come out of the woodwork now that it’s safe, and they aren’t at risk of getting blacklisted from the gravy train. Most journalists will now tell you that the Camaro is irredeemable garbage, with the dynamics of a Crisco-doused hog and an interior that was dreamed up after a bath salts bender. I’ve always held that view (though the convertible is much easier due to actually having rearward visibility and a stiffer structure).

When I was a very green car reviewer, I gave the Camaro a poor review when it launched, comparing the windshield to an artillery pillbox viewport I’d seen on the Golan Heights. GM was not pleased. In the end, I was vindicated. How long until we see the tide turn for the Toyobaru?

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GM’s Historically Inaccurate “Woodward Avenue” Testing Schedule for ZL1 Yields 11 Second Quarter Mile Thu, 10 May 2012 16:49:58 +0000
Car companies can go on about their “heritage”. Though we know it’s at least partly hype, some of that heritage is verifiable history and as car enthusiasts it can tug at our automotive heartstrings. Still, it’s very easy to get cynical when you see how casually companies can be with history when it comes to promoting their products.

Chevy has announced that a stock ZL1 Camaro has joined the “11 second club”, with a quarter-mile run of 11.96 seconds and a trap speed of 117 MPH. That’s with stock Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2  tires. You’ll have to consider that NHRA sanctioned tracks require a substantial roll cage for sub 11.5 sec runs if you’re thinking of running the ZL1 with drag radials. If you do, the ZL1′s already been modified to accept today’s large rims fitted with drag radials, which have a taller sidewall than the G-2s do. Though the new ZL1′s suspension has also been engineered to make it a credible track car with handling tuned for road courses, lapping VIR in under 3 minutes, the ZL1′s muscle car era namesake was a factory built drag racer with a racing all aluminum big block engine. Chevy knows that some new ZL1 owners will be more concerned with ETs and reaction times than with g forces and how well the car can cope with Laguna’s Corkscrew, so attention was made to the car’s drag strip capabilities. The contemporary ZL1′s dual personality shows up in marketing as well, with Chevy currently running two ZL1 commercials, one about the car’s cornering abilities on the track and one about developing the ZL1′s launch control for the strip.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Part of that development, it turns out, was using something Chevy engineers tabbed the “Woodward Avenue Schedule”. The testing schedule was named after the Detroit area’s famous cruising strip that hosted legendary speed competitions back when factory massaged street racers like the Mopar “Silver Bullet” or one of Jim Wanger’s GTO buff book test ringers ruled Woodward.

To test the chassis and suspension components to ensure they were up to repeated hard-start launches typical at the drag strip, engineers subjected the ZL1 to the grueling “Woodward Avenue Schedule” at the GM Milford Proving Ground.

Named for the famous cruising route that cuts north through Detroit’s suburbs and has been the venue for untold thousands of unofficial launch capability demonstrations since the 1960s, each test cycle is a hard-launch, standing-start drag race up to 100 mph. The ZL1 was subjected to 1,000 test cycles before its driveline was stamped “approved”.

“The Woodward Avenue Schedule was a really brutal test, but it told us the Camaro ZL1 would live up to the way we knew our customers would drive it on the track.”

I’m okay with appealing to hot rodder’s sense of history and I’m an unashamed Detroit booster, so I have nothing against naming their test schedule for Woodward. The implicit reference to street racing also shows that a hint of the outlaw mentality that bred the Silver Bullet and it’s competitors may still be alive at the major automakers. The problem is that the “Woodward Avenue Schedule” is historically inaccurate. While street racing in most of America usually has involved a “hard-launch, standing-start drag race” using a traffic light or an arm-drop to replace a drag strip’s “Christmas tree” lights, Woodward’s contribution to street racing culture back in the day wasn’t the standing-start – it was the rolling start.

Robert Genet, in his book Woodward Avenue: Cruising the Legendary Strip,  points out that most of the hard racing on Woodward took place in Oakland County, north of Maple, where Woodward gets less congested and police patrols were (and are) less frequent. With Woodward’s synchronized traffic lights, you could be assured of a number of opportunities to race against the same opponent. The racing on North Woodward was so serious that some wag had decals made up that said North Woodward Timing Association which looked a lot like the NHRA logo, only instead of silhouettes of a dragster rail and a hot rod, the NWTA stickers had images of a police car chasing, oddly enough, a Studebaker Avanti. Actually, not that oddly because an Avanti with the factory supercharged R3 engine set a record for production car speed in the early 1960s.

Another point that Genet stresses is that unlike in other parts of the country or even elsewhere in the Detroit area (as on Gratiot on the east side) where street racers used a standing start, either with an arm drop or a green light, racing on Woodward meant a rolling start. That was easier on the cars’ drivetrains. Remember, while California hot rodders preferred old roadsters, bucket Model Ts and 1930s Fords, in the early day Detroit’s contribution to ’60s car culture, the muscle car, was usually some kind of hardtop sedan with a big motor. Also, street racing is usually a pursuit of the young, and let’s face it, most kids who drive are driving Mom or Dad’s car. If you’re going to race your their family’s car you don’t want to tell Dad that you broke an axle on Mom’s station wagon. Those wagons and sedans could be fast, Dad may have ordered the big V8 and a quad carb or two, but getting that mass moving could be hard on the drivetrain, so Woodward racers did it with rolling starts. At a red light, two drivers would agree to drag race and then negotiate a 30 mph roll, a 40 mph roll etc. They’d get to the agreed speed, someone would yell go, and the race would be on. They’d stop at the next light, and start all over.

Last summer, a couple of days before the Woodward Dream Cruise, I saw something that reminded me of how Genet described street racing and cruising on north Woodward. It was a beautiful summer night and I had just dropped my mom off at my aunt’s house because the two of them were leaving for a family wedding early in the morning. My aunt lives up in Bloomfield Hills and the shortest route meant taking Woodward.

I dropped my mom off. While driving south on Woodward, I could hear some serious exhaust notes up ahead of me. When I got closer I could see that the two cars were a heavily tuned Acura Integra, with a fartcan exhaust and gauges up and down the A-pillar, and a mid ’60s Ford Fairlane with some serious rubber, maybe 10″ slicks, in the back. They were about a hundred feet in front of me, one in the lane to my right, the other in the lane to my left and as we all drove south they kept surging forward, first one, then the other, as if they were saying “You wanna go? You wanna go?” After reading Genet’s account of rolling starts along the same general stretch of Woodward, I had to laugh about it. There were no Acuras when that Fairlane first prowled north Woodward looking for a race but the more things change…

So it’s cool that Chevy is paying tribute to Woodward, but back in the day, if Detroit area street racers wanted to subject their cars to standing-start drag races, they’d either head east to Gratiot or south to Motor City Dragway at Sibley & Dix.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2013 Chevrolet Camaro To Get 1LE Package, Positioned As Mustang Boss 302 Rival Tue, 27 Mar 2012 14:42:07 +0000

The 1LE package Chevrolet Camaros have a long history in competitive motorsports, with the 1LE package on the third and fourth generation Camaro offered as a means to make the car competitive in SCCA Showroom Stock racing. For 2012, the 1LE will return to compete with the Ford Mustang Boss 302.

Pictures at purportedly show a Camaro 1LE concept, seen above. A matte black front hood as well as a grey front splitter and rear spoiler are the biggest visual changes, along with wheels borrowed from the Camaro ZL1. Chassis changes include thicker sway bars front and back (27mm and 28 mm respectively) as well as a higher 3.91 final drive and a liquid cooling system for the 6-speed manual. A dual-mode exhaust (similar to the Corvette), variable effort power steering borrowed from the ZL1, upgraded shock mounts, toe links, wheel bearings, a strut brace and a ZL1 fuel pump are also on hand to make the car more durable for track work. The 1LE may not be as focused a track machine as the Boss 302, but the upgrades sound promising in light of the performance and price deltas between the Camaro SS and the ZL1. Chevrolet is apparently touting a sub 3 minute laptime at VIR, as well as 1 G on the skidpad. Over to you, Jack.

Official press release below

2013 Camaro 1LE: 426-hp, 1g cornering, under $40,000

1LE features Camaro ZL1-inspired chassis and suspension enhancements
2013 Camaro LT, SS and ZL1 models available with MyLink infotainment system

DETROIT – The road-racing inspired Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2013 with unique gearing, suspension tuning, and tires that makes the model capable of more than 1 g of lateral acceleration and a sub-three minute lap time at Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course. It is offered on Camaro SS coupes with manual transmissions.

“The Camaro 1LE combines the best elements of the SS and ZL1 to take road-racing performance to a whole new level,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “That the 1LE breaks the three-minute lap at VIR puts it in the upper echelon of performance cars. That it starts under $40,000 makes the Camaro 1LE one of the most affordable, most capable track-day cars offered by any manufacturer.”

In anticipation of consumers entering the 1LE in amateur-racing events, Chevrolet is pursuing SCCA approval of the 1LE package for Touring Class competition.

For 2013, all Camaro SS models including the 1LE will feature standard variable-effort electric power steering and an available dual-mode exhaust system. Both features were introduced on the ZL1. Additionally, 2013 Camaro LT, SS and ZL1 models are available with Chevrolet’s color touch radio with MyLink infotainment system.

“With the 2013 model year, Camaro offers something for almost every driver, including: the 323-horsepower, 30-mpg 2LS; the all-new, 580-horsepower supercharged ZL1 convertible; the COPO Camaro for drag-racing; and the new 1LE for amateur track days,” said John Fitzpatrick, Camaro marketing manager. “We expect the range of choices, and enhancements for 2013, will help Camaro remain America’s most-popular sports car.”

Camaro sales were up nearly 20 percent for the first two months of the year, building on an 8.5-percent gain for all of 2011. The 1LE package goes on sale this fall with the 2013 Camaro line. Pricing will be released later this year.

A heritage of handling

The Camaro 1LE package was introduced in 1988, inspired by Camaro’s involvement in Pro-Am road racing.

For 2013, the 1LE package is offered only on 1SS and 2SS coupe models, featuring a 6.2L LS3 V-8, which is rated at 426 horsepower (318 kW) and 420 lb-ft of torque (569 Nm). In addition, 1LE is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.

While the Camaro SS features a Tremec TR6060-M10 for all-around performance, the Camaro 1LE features an exclusive Tremec TR6060-MM6. Paired with a numerically higher 3.91 final-drive ratio, the close-ratio gearing of the transmission is tuned for road-racing performance. As with the ZL1, the 1LE transmission features a standard air-to-liquid cooling system for track use.

The 1LE also features exclusive, monotube rear dampers instead of the twin-tube dampers on SS models. The new hardware allowed engineers to tune the 1LE suspension to focus on optimal body-motion control while preserving much of the ride quality and wheel-motion control of the Camaro SS.

Other changes to optimize the 1LE for track-day use include:

Larger, 27-mm solid front stabilizer bar, and 28-mm solid rear stabilizer bar for improved body control
Higher-capacity rear-axle half shafts to cope with increased levels of traction
Strut tower brace for improved steering feel and response
ZL1-based 20 x 10-inch front and 20 x 11-inch aluminum wheels
285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires front and rear (identical to the front tires for ZL1)
ZL1 wheel bearings, toe links and rear shock mounts for improved on-track performance
ZL1 high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups for improved fuel delivery during high-cornering

Visually, the 1LE package for 2013 is distinguished by its matte-black hood, front splitter and rear spoiler – as well as the 10-spoke ZL1-based wheels, which are finished in black. The functional front splitter and rear spoiler contribute to the car’s on-track performance by helping to reduce aerodynamic lift at high speeds.

Inside, the 1LE package incorporates the ZL1′s flat-bottom steering wheel, trimmed in sueded-microfiber and designed for easier heel-and-toe driving on the racetrack. The quick-acting, short-throw shifter from the ZL1 is also trimmed in sueded microfiber.

Electric power steering and dual-mode exhaust bring ZL1 technology to SS models

All 2013 Camaro SS models, including the 1LE, will benefit from performance technologies that debuted on the 580-horsepower Camaro ZL1.

The improvements began in 2012, when all SS Coupes incorporated the ZL1-derived chassis element: Stabilizer bars with drop links repositioned outboard of the control arms. This made the stabilizer bars four times more effective than in previous models, for improved control of body roll and crisper response to steering input.

New for 2013, the electric power steering system developed for the ZL1 will be standard on all 2013 SS models. The variable ratio, variable effort system provides light efforts for easy maneuverability at parking-lot speeds as well as increased resistance at higher speeds. This provides more feedback, and a more direct steering feel, to the driver.

Also new for 2013 is an available dual-mode exhaust system, available on Camaro SS models with the LS3 V8 engine and six-speed manual transmissions. Similar to the systems found on the ZL1 and Corvette models, this vacuum-actuated system provides a quieter driving experience at low engine speeds and a more aggressive sound at high engine speeds.

MyLink connects you

Chevrolet’s color touch radio with MyLink infotainment is available on all 2013 Camaro LT, SS and ZL1 models. The color touch radio, with a 7-inch touch screen, also can be paired with an available in-dash GPS navigation system – a first for the Camaro.

The color touch radio with MyLink gives customers a higher level of in-vehicle wireless connectivity and customized infotainment options, while building on the safety and security of OnStar. It seamlessly integrates online services such as Pandora® internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio® using hands-free voice and touch-screen controls via Bluetooth-enabled phones.

MyLink adds stereo audio streaming and wireless control of smartphones, building on the voice-activated Bluetooth hands-free calling capability already offered in most Chevy vehicles. The high-resolution, full-color touch screen display makes media selection easy to navigate.

MyLink also retains all the capabilities of today’s entertainment functions, including AM/FM/Sirius XM tuners, auxiliary and USB inputs.

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Wed, 16 Feb 2011 14:00:13 +0000
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.

Poodle_DOTS_Assistants DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-01 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-02 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-03 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-04 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-05 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-06 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-07 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-08 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-09 DOTSD-69CamaroSilver-10 Poodle_DOTS_Assistants Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 47
An Illustrated History Of The First Camaro Tue, 20 Apr 2010 18:42:48 +0000

It’s a well known fact that GM didn’t approve production for what eventually became the Camaro until six months after the Mustang was released, by which time it had already sold over 100k units. That doesn’t mean that Chevy hadn’t given the idea some thought over the years.

Internal GM advanced projects on a compact sporty four seater go back to 1958, which not coincidentally is the year that Ford introduced the groundbreaking four-passenger Thunderbird. In an article at, Pontiac Designer Bob Porter is quoted. “I remember a four-passenger, sporty type car of the general size and weight class of the Mustang being worked on in an advanced studio. In the early ’60s, similar cars were developed from time to time. Everyone wanted to do one, but at the time there was really no corporate interest.” But various design drawings and clays continued to be generated, under the code name XP-836. The Camaro’s final shape was already well under way in this airbrush (below) from 1963 (more likely 1964 or 1965).

Given that Chevrolet had practically invented the compact sporty genre with its Corvair, and had its hands full developing and marketing the Chevy II and upcoming Chevelle, its rationale seems valid enough. It certainly never expected the Mustang to be the overwhelming hit that it turned out to be.

The Super Nova concept from 1964 (top) represents a similar if slightly different approach on Camaro design influences. Still based on the old and tall Chevy II architecture, it’s more of a glimpse at the new roof line and styling of the ’66 Chevy II, but Camaro influences are obvious too, especially that crease line down the side that came back for the ’69 Camaro. I have vivid memories of it in GM’s Futurama exhibit from the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

This more advanced clay is is now closer to production, and looks almost exactly like the air brush rendering above. It’s probably from the time when the corporate green light came on, 1964. Although the roof line is still not finalized, what’s fascinating about this clay is that it sports the ’69 Camaro’s front end styling almost perfectly. I’m guessing here, but I suspect it fell away to the production ’67-’68 front end as a cost cutting measure, and one that Chevy rectified for 1969. That would explain why the ’67 Camaro’s front end looks improvised, cheap and crude.

Various body styles were explored, including this “shooting brake” wagon. And a shortened two-passenger convertible prototype was also built (below): Shades of what AMC later did in turning the Javelin into the AMX.

The final and thorny problem to be solved was the name. Panther was used for internal and planning purposes, but GM shied away from overly aggressive names, like the Pontiac’s Banshee.

A pre-release car here actually carries the “Chaparral” name, after the remarkably successful Chevy-powered race cars that were tearing up the tracks at the time. In the end, GM somehow came up with the Camaro name, and even dug up an antique French dictionary that showed it meaning “friend” or “companion”.

Here’s Chevy honcho Pete Estes getting ready to put some bang into the new Camaro name. Meanwhile, Ford found an old Spanish dictionary that defined Camaro as a “small shrimp-like creature”. And a journalist came up with another that defined it as “loose bowels”.

The Camaro was developed and built on the platform intended also for the 1968 Chevy II/Nova. It was significant in that it took the unibody structure and married it to a front subframe using several rubber biscuits. The intention was to reduce noise and vibration from the engine and front suspension, and it became a standard technique going forward. It did add some extra weight, but the direction was to more powerful and heavier cars anyway.

The ’67 Camaro was given the privilege of debuting two new variations of Chevy’s infinitely adaptable small block V8. The soon to be ubiquitous 350 V8 was specifically designed to give the Camaro a unique engine, which it kept to itself for the debut year. Initially, it was the biggest V8 available, but once again following rather than leading, after the Mustang’s introduction of its 390 V8 for ’67, the Camaro was quickly approved for the Chevy 396, although in modest 325 hp trim.

The other unique engine was the legendary Z28 engine, developed specifically to homologate the Camaro for the new SCCA Trans AM racing series. Using a trick similar to what hot rodders had been doing since the fifties, Chevy combined the four inch bore of the 327 with a three inch crank from the 283. Using the best components in its high performance arsenal, the mighty mouse 302 was very conservatively rated at 290 (gross) horsepower. Many in the know suggest that its true (gross) output was closer to 380-390 horsepower.

In the hands of racers like Mark Donohue, the Z28 was unbeatable on the tracks. Someone trying to sell you a ’67 Z28? beware, only 602 were made, and the few that survive are worth serious bucks. But they weren’t the easiest car to drive on the street, given that its wild cam made little power below 3,000 rpm. But it would rev to 7,000, and outrun a 396 Camaro once it picked up its skirts.

Despite its late start, the Camaro went to have a decent run in its first year, although nothing near what the Mustang was doing. Despite the new competition, Ford still moved almost a half million ‘Stangs in 1967, while Chevy had to be content with some 221k Camaros sold. The pony car wars were now in full heat, and the epic battles to come would be the stuff…of future Illustrated History chapter.

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Curbside Classic: 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Tue, 20 Apr 2010 14:37:45 +0000

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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