By on November 25, 2015

2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Welcome, friends, to the latest episode of “Chris grows a mullet, switches to Busch Light, and plays Skynyrd on repeat.” Hashtag ‘Murica.

Like I mentioned Monday, I’ve not yet had the pleasure of enjoying any sort of pony car. I can try and come up with excuses, but there aren’t any. This has to change. So, I opened up eBay and found my second dark blue pony of the week.

I hold no allegiance in the Chevy versus Ford battle, so vendors of Calvin peeing on the other brand’s logo can stop emailing me.

Were I to seriously consider acquiring such a car, I’d have to decide what to do with it. Part of me would like to get back into autocross, something which I’d abandoned once kids and minivan entered my life. This 2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS looks very close to stock, but wears lowering springs from autocross legend Sam Strano’s shop. The springs, Firebird WS6 wheels, and an uprated Hurst shifter are pretty much the only changes on a car that can nearly be piece-by-piece replaced by any number of aftermarket catalogs. The prior owners showed remarkable restraint.

I’ve been told that F-Bodies are difficult to live with on a daily basis, with the extra-long doors a major factor. The typical loose-plastics rattle will likely annoy over time as well, but I have a feeling that some LS1 goodness will help me to ignore all of those other annoyances.

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51 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 2001 Chevrolet Camaro SS...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    Let’s see “Mullet” was mentioned. Somehow I think the whole mullet thing will dominate the comments here.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I’ve never been a fan of this model. And yes, too closely associated with mullets.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        Yeah, you’d need a pretty thick skin to drive this. I had a ’99 SS (the “Red Dragon” as friends mockingly called it) and then failed to learn my lesson and later bought a ’91 Z28 (the “Black Beast”), to try to recapture some of that V-8 muscle magic mojo. I was embarrassed to be seen in them and sold both in less than a year.

        The price isn’t bad for a 29k mile example if it checks out and that wasn’t accumulated in 1/4 mile increments. But unless you’re prepared for some serious crap from your friends and contemptuous looks from the ladies (especially if you’re over 40), I’d probably pass.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I can’t decide if I’d rather be seen in a Chrysler TC by Maserati, or this Camaro.

          I’m thinking TC. At least it’s interesting, a conversation piece.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’d much rather have the TC for S&G.

          • 0 avatar
            kmoney

            That’s actually a tough one. I immediately thought TC as well, but then I realized that these F-bodies (at least around here) are getting somewhat rare. I can’t actually remember the last time I saw one on the street, and I imagine the cigarette-pack-rolled-up-in-the-sleeve/mullet image has probably faded for a lot of people. Kind of the same with 5.0 mustangs as well.

            They are a performance bargain and if tastefully modified, they can be cool cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            I think a TC would be mistaken by most as an old LeBaron convertible and make you look like an old out of touch Viagra popper or a washed up realtor whose heyday was during the late ’80s real estate boom.

            Maybe not as bad as being taken as a mullethead but I still wouldn’t drive one. That and the leather upholstry looked like an old lady’s face when these things were new. I don’t even want to think about how it looks on most examples 26 years later.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I get where you are coming from but the TC only sold a few thousand models in total, its by far the rarer of the two and IMO more of a looker.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          I can empathize about being embarrassed to be seen in certain cars. I’m a engineer in my early/mid 30s, live in a nice neighborhood, and have a 3 year old daughter. I chose a Scion FR-S as my company provided vehicle 15 months ago. I, probably against my better judgment, opted to get the TRD exhaust on it. Then I had my Enkei PF01s painted gold when I scratched one of them. When I’m giving my semi-stay-at-home wife some “me time” from the kiddo, we take the FR-S out to the park or hiking. As I’m shoehorning myself into the passenger side to buckle and unbuckle my daughter, I always feel like I’m committing some social taboo by even having the car with a family. We have a CUV that we use as the family car, but people only see the car that you’re in, right?

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I can think of so many cars that would get worse comments than a Camaro or Firebird. Some of them are very popular on this this site.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This vehicle (and its image) is a symbolic representation of Government Motors writ large: Save for the motor, which at least starts and works most of the time, and maybe transmission, burn the rest of the vehicle, Fischer Price plastics and ill-placed electronics included, to the ground with a flame thrower.

      But at least GM is now working on making their powertrains even less sturdy/reliable, too, by outsourcing them to lowest bidders in Mexico, China, Thailand and India! (See Hecho completely en China Buicks’ etc).

      Enjoy you Mexican Made Silverado, Hombre! Maybe take a Siesta in Quad Cab, Senor, Si?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Lol @ $10,500 buy it now price. It has a big dent on the front wing by the wheel, which is about to lose paint and rust. I also like how the mirrors are nowhere near aligned to where they should be with the fender trim, because build quality.

    Overall I’m just meh on these because they’re such crap quality. BUT, if you’re gonna have one, have a Firebird. Much cooler and more modern looking, pop-up headlamps, and big honeycomb tail lights. Costs about the same.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pontiac-Firebird-2dr-Cpe-Form-/281858980450

    • 0 avatar

      only steel in the exterior is the rear quarter panels, the rest is plastic or fiberglass.

      But I agree, I’d rather have the Firebird if I’m going for an F-body.

      A friend had a 97 Z-28, and it was always nickling and diming him to death.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      No it doesn’t it – that is the vehicles natural lines and the lighting angle when the picture was taken. Here is a different car, same appearance of a “dent” there.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/big_smile/8668547288/

      With that said, I’d rather have the Firebird.

  • avatar
    mason

    A friend has a Firehawk of this generation. I absolutely freakin despise riding in that thing. Getting in and out of it is more difficult than any other sport oriented car I’ve owned/ridden in, and once you do get in there’s a big hump in the passenger floor board from the cat that keeps your knees up into your chest. Not a flat spot on the floor. Hands down the worst car I’ve ever ridden in.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The sole reason to buy this car is the drivetrain. The rest of it is a cobbled-together mess of engineering malaise and below-cost parts.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I’d leave this to the unrequited love category. Like, the exotic dancer that spills wax all over your apartment and steals the rent money out of your sock drawer kind of unrequited. (Actual best friend story, if I ever get around to memoirs.)

    My own F-body experiences are limited to walking home from non-running 2nd gens, but my first college roommate exploded the differential in a ’96 on the way home from the dealership. It was bought new, and somewhat special ordered.

    I get it though. For years there was a black 98-00 Trans-Am in my office lot with the full scoops and wings Gundam-suit-look going on. It’s license plate was “NVRMORE”. It generated a field of want for a hundred yards.

    No matter how many times one has been burned, it’s hard not to say “this time it COULD work…”.

  • avatar
    omer333

    This would be the first time I’ve ever seen a used Camaro up for sale that looks like it wasn’t beaten within an inch of it’s life. Usually they’re ready for it’s fifth or tenth owner.

    My piece of advice for anyone looking at a used sporty car: stay away from anything that has student parking stickers from any college in the US. I was once the probable ninth owner of a 3rd gen Camaro that featured parking stickers on the back from the University of Florida, and I was surprised that I neither found drugs in the car and I kept it on the road for nearly four years.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      These cars fall into two general populations.
      The large majority are as you mention.
      But there is a significant subset of nice ones.
      In this era they were selling at roughly 50,000/yr volume so there are plenty out there, especially as the owners of the nice ones “age out”

  • avatar
    TNJed

    This generation has some appeal, because its the last natural progression of the Camaro before they got all self-consciously retro.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I was actually chatting with someone the other day about these. We were thinking of fully-depreciated fun cars that would work for a guy with kids. The Camaro SS convertible from this era came up. We thought if we could find one with a 6-speed in a nice color like this blue or black, one could hardly go wrong.

    I did have a 1993 Z28, the first year for this body style. It was a t-top delete coupe with a manual trans. But as a caveat I was working for GM at the time, was single, and living in Tennessee. When in Rome. I was trying so hard to not go there… mullet. Sorry.

    Still, those engines sound great, are reliable, parts are affordable, and it’s the top of the line pony car convertible from its era. They certainly can’t get any cheaper than they are now. Same thinking for contemporary Corvettes. They are dirt cheap for the performance but with two kids I would rarely have a chance to drive it.

  • avatar
    threeer

    My FIL has the final year Firebird Firehawk tucked away in his garage under a car cover. The color (metallic burnt orange or something to that effect) is stunning when it’s all cleaned up. But…but…he proudly let me drive it one day not long after he bought it. At the time, I owned a 2000 VW Golf. And while the Firehawk was decidedly faster, I just couldn’t get over the crap-tastic interior and overall *cheap* feel of the car, especially when compared to the interior build of my then-VW. Granted, the VW gremlins found my car shortly after the warranty ran out and my FIL still has the Firehawk under wraps like it’ll be a collector’s car one day, but I’ve never had the desire to ever drive the thing again. I get more excited about driving my son’s 1997 Tercel with 230k on it, as it feels more *quality* inside than the Pontiac ever will.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I worked in a Pontiac dealers from ’79 to ’99 and yes, the F-body really is crap, but they can fly. I ordered a black, fixed-roof Formula with 350 and 5-speed. It was a special order car like a Firehawk or the showroom stock F-body series we had in Canada. I think the Formula was the best looking Firebird as it had the big alloys, but no cladding. When I finally bought a Japanese car, I really noticed the quality difference.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I passed a Z28 version of this body style this week. They really haven’t aged well aesthetically. The way the fenders fit over the wheels like a bathtub and the super long front overhang just make it look like a concept car from the 60s where they were trying to imagine what cars from the 90s would look like. The fact that they tended to attract the type of second hand buyers that don’t take care of the car makes life for them even rougher. I think the Pontiac badged F-bodies will actually age better in the long run because they are unabashedly mid90s.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The front overhang on this car kills me, its like they were trying to win a d!ck contest and just made it as long as possible. Same in the back, the car has an extra 3 feet in wings and bumper but it only translates into a briefcase size storage bin. Back in the 80s I had friends with Z28 & IROCs and the visibility in them was basically zero due a hood as long an aircraft carrier, with an equally long sloped window out back and no side windows. I also remember the center console being too tall and too wide, to the point where you had to reach UP to shifter. As mentioned the interior was terrible but the exhaust sound was fantastic. My Z is basically a JDM Camaro but at least you can see out of it… well the front anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        You must be built very, very strangely. I had an ’86 Iroc and it wasn’t a great car, I had no problems seeing out of it, and no problems with the console and shifter.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Maybe it’s because I owned a ’79 Trans Am that I never cared for this generation in either Chevy or Pontiac guise. The interiors on these things were absolutely horrendous. I sat in a coworkers out in the parking lot who was pretty proud of her brand new 6 banger Camaro and I just thought to myself – this thing really sucks. But I didn’t tell her that.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    I owned a 88 RS with a 5.0. After replacing many parts…it was a decent car. Especially the engine. The interior was complete garbage. This next generation was no improvement. They lost the 5.0 and the quality was actually lower than the previous gen. As such…I wouldn’t touch one with a 10 foot pole.
    PS. It’s now a TOTAL drug dealer car! LoL

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    On the topic of trashy rides, when do we find out what the mystery panel-gapper was the other day?

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I liked the 2002 B4C, always wanted to pick up an ex CHP version in CA and drive it home to the east coast. i stalked several on ebay a few years ago but never was able to make it happen.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    On the one hand, this generation features the LT1 (and later LS1). On the other hand, they’re just as badly built as the previous generation, and far uglier. At this age, the style wins. My choice of mullet-mobile is a late third-gen IROC or Z28 with TPI 350, automatic, and no stripes.

    Edit: Like this one, but without the kind of hilarious $15k price tag.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chevrolet-Camaro-Z28-/262137812230

  • avatar

    I think that the way the rear spoiler is integrated into the back deck of the car is a masterpiece of styling.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Looking back, the greatest sin GM commited with this generation of Camaro is deciding to style it like a larger version of the Geo Storm.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    The person selling it shold put…”Attention all Meth-heads…ultimate Tweeker deal for you!” …LOL. They would have to be high to pay the asking price. On the plus side…they could give the COPS a good run for the money.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Nawww, the meth head model has color mismatched body panels (usually primer gray) and other accessories such as a temporary spare on permanent duty, garbage bag held on by duct tape where a window used to be, and in extreme cases, a bumper replaced by a wooden beam held on by zip ties.

      Some of the B&B might be doubting that such vehicles exist and are out on the road. To those readers, I say you are sheltered. To all the B&B, I say Happy Thanksgiving.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If the Bullit Mustang featured earlier this week was in the same condition as this Camaro SS, I’d want the Bullit Mustang.

    However given the choice between these two as they are (and the similar asking prices), I would go with this vehicle given how much cleaner, in better overall shape it is, and no evidence of serious hack job modifications (go look at the engine bay on the Bullit Mustang and weep)

    But I’ll add, both are over priced. This is too much Cheddar for a private sale, flexible squeakfest that is a F-Body Camaro condition and under 30K miles or not. For the Bullit Mustang, even though at a dealer, had multiple red flags when you look at the pictures, which then makes me wonder what you don’t see. This Camaro appears to have been gently treated, the Bullit Mustang appears to have been rode hard and hung out to dry.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    Back in the 80s Camaro’s had a “Body by Fisher” label on the door sill. The joke always went….Body by Fisher, Interior by Fisher Price. LoL…I know the 3rd Gen definitely had the Fisher Price inerior…but the body was more like a Saturn…with the various plstic body panels.
    By the end of that Gen, even the car mags were calling it crappy.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The same as it has always has been and will be.

      My knowledge of GM’s complete crapification arises from being born amongst, and living amongst, and going to school amongst, the offspring of GM white collar workers in a relatively affluent suburb in Detroit.

      I literally have witnessed GM unroll pet project (Allante) after failed “reinvention” (Saturn) after failed “intervention” (bailout) my entire life, while GM executives and their families have and will continue to forever bathe in the river DeNile (flooded with taxpayer appropriated liquidity), as their products, and their product quality/reliability continues to forever peg also-ran status.

      Barra and her “no more crappy cars” era is just a spin on the Roger Smith “we’ll have robots replace humans” (with said robots ending up painting each other) era.

      I’m now pining for a 2013 MY Cadillac ATS project car in about the year 2025 that I can run in the 24 Hours of LeMons, fully boosted, yo! (with a transplanted gauge cluster from an Escalade).

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        I completely share your disdain for GM. You must be a Gen X er like me. I owned one GM product in my life…and that was one too many! Never again!

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I don’t have any hatred, or too much love for GM, but the three GM trucks I had, an ’82 K-5 Blazer, an ’88 Blazer, and a ’00 Sierra, were all great. The ’82’s only issue in 4 years was a headlight, and I broke the rear window track. That was it, over 70K and nothing. The ’88 was almost as good. The GM cars weren’t all that bad compared to some of my friend’s Fords.

  • avatar
    Blake Noble

    Having owned two fourth-generation F-Body cars, my best advice to anyone considering one of these cars would be to avoid them, like you would crystal meth or the bubonic plague.

    Before I go any further, I’ll concede that, as a high school senior, my 1998 Firebird was a fun car to own during the few months I had it. It was a V6 car with the Y87 package that added the same rear end and steering gear as that year’s Trans Am. So, while it wasn’t fast, I did think it was fun to throw around a curvy backroad.

    Less than a year after graduating high school, and the Firebird becoming a fixture of my past, I found myself behind the wheel of a 1998 Camaro. Once again powered by the same 3800 V6 my Firebird had, this car had a five-speed manual transmission as opposed to the Firebird’s four-speed slushbox. It didn’t, however, have any special performance or handling packages. So it did handle a little worse.

    I also owned the Camaro for over a year versus the few months I had the Firebird. And during that extended period of time with the Camaro, I managed to notice all of the numerous, overwhelming flaws of the F-Body platform that I didn’t notice during the short period of time I owned the Firebird.

    Where to begin? Well, the interior was a cacophony of failing fasteners and various creaking and cracking plastic panels smashing into each other. Those long doors had just begun to sag on their hopelessly wimpy hinges. The whole chassis could be upset by simply driving over any object larger than a frigging Tic-Tac.

    And it was in no way reliable. The ignition control module failed not too long after initially purchasing the car, and repairing it wound up requiring going down one hell of a long and expensive rabbit hole. Then the radiator hoses went. Then the clutch went. Then the exhaust system wouldn’t stop rattling. And on and on and on.

    Would have my experience been any better with an LS1-powered car? That’s hard to say. But I’d hedge that it really wouldn’t have been, given that the shortcomings I encountered with the F-Body platform really had nothing to do with the car’s performance and everything to do with the car’s construction and quality.

    Having owned a Firebird, Camaro, Challenger and, now, a Mustang, I will say that the Mustang is the best out of that particular lot of cars. If you really want to scratch your pony car itch, just buy the original and be done with it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d go Impala SS or Crown Victoria LX Sport/Marquis LSE before any of these used pony cars.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I still want a Firebird…

    Whether it’s a 70-73, 79-81, late 80s GTA, or 93-97 Formula/Trans Am, I love Firebirds.

  • avatar
    kmars2009

    I will say, when this Gen 3 came out in 1993…it looked different, if not better, than the previous Gen. I like the pre-facelifted models 93-97 looks, better than the 98-02 with the flush lamps, that look like an afterthought. Either way, there was no love lost when production ended. For some reason, the F-body just seemed cheap, compared to a Mustang.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    These cars have the catalytic converter hump in the floor where the passenger’s left leg goes.


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