My thoughts of the 2014 Camaro and the Z/28......
The past week has certainly been eventful and it’s certainly caused a lot of conversation…..
But before I get to that – let me apologize. I hate lying to anyone. And I lied. I lied when I said to some “There isn’t a Z28” – which, now that I think about it, is a ‘half-lie’ if there is such a thing. You see, there ISN’T a “Z28” – rather, we unveiled a “Z/28” and there IS a difference – quite a big one….but more about that in a minute or two…… Anywhoo – I had to ‘lie’ about there being a Z/28 - -because to talk about it would have cost me my job. If I’d even put a ‘winkie’ after some of your posts, I would have been summarily fired.
We were so security conscious that we had an internal name for the new Z/28….
When we talked about “shooting steve” - -no one would have thought about us taking pictures of a Z/28, now would they?
(….although it may have made a few people in law enforcement sit up and take notice……)
One would think that working on the Camaro CORE team is nothing but nirvana.
To a point, it is – but let me assure you that there are many rough spots and there are long hours and missed family engagements, and weekends are usually non-existent. That goes with the territory. But as to the privilege of being “custodians of the brand”, it’s necessary that we give up a lot in order to ensure that the Camaro and all that surrounds the design, engineering and building of these legendary cars is as is it should be – and we must hit ‘all the targets’ deserved by such a hallowed brand.
Please note: NO ONE within ‘Team Camaro” takes their job or their responsibilities lightly.
Decisions are agonized over – because it’s THAT important to you as a valued Camaro Enthusiast. More importantly – and I think this is something overlooked by many of you: We are Camaro Enthusiasts, too. And we’ve been Camaro Enthusiasts for many, many years -- (in some cases long before many of you could even say ‘Camaro!’)
I use the word “agonized” because we know that no matter WHAT we do or choose, we will be wide open for someone to be critical. That’s just the nature of an automobile that creates such passion. That said, it’s sometimes very difficult to have horrible insults thrown at you – or worse, the insults directed at that “labor-of-love” you’ve worked so hard to make better.
Dateline: New York – Wednesday, March 27, 2014:
Approximately 50 Camaro Enthusiasts were invited to the unveil of the 2014 Camaro at the New York Autoshow. Frankly, there were hundreds more Camaro Enthusiasts there – because many members of the press and other people who work in and around autoshows happen to be Camaro enthusiasts in addition to their jobs.
I wish each of you could have felt the excitement as the SS/RS drove onto the stage – there were cheers and roars of approval and clapping.
I also caught some “looks of surprise” when the Red Rock Metallic SS/RS did not pull onto the turntable in the middle – but rather to the side……it was like “…….what????.......”
And then the excitement grew as the sound of an LS7 V-8 roared to life behind the stage – and then the LED screen exploded (figuratively – not literally) with the sights and sounds of Z/28s of the past – and then from behind the stage came the new 2014 Z/28 – to cries of joy.
I was so happy to be able to watch this thru other peoples’ eyes. That’s just the greatest feeling. I was delighted with the response to both Camaros………..
My Blackberry started to vibrate as dozens of emails landed – nearly all of them overwhelmingly positive. I suspect that was to be expected as a lot of the dyed in the wool enthusiasts happen to have my corporate email account.
(….that can be a double edged sword at times…..)
………..and then I went onto a couple of enthusiast sights that evening and was dismayed at some of the language being used by a few people – and even more upset to see some people bashing our engineers and designers - and even worse, the Disciples.
I continually remind myself that much of this behavior is driven by passion. I’m also not naive enough to believe that it’s all passion. It stuns me to see remarks turn into a ‘contest’ of sorts to see who can hurl the best ‘insult.’ I don’t know when this became proper behavior in our society – but in my book, it’s improper and some people should be ashamed. Frankly, I’m more inclined to take opinions from well thought out posts than one that utilizes bad language and insults.
Now – for my thoughts on the 2014 Camaro:
Everything we do on Camaro is to improve it – make it better – offer ‘more than expected’ and to keep it fresh. The Camaro was first offered to the public in early 2009 – just about 4 years ago this month. We know that styling is one of the top reasons for purchase in this segment. Thus, it’s crucial that we update the styling…if we don’t, the volume will simply deteriorate. Deteriorated Volume doesn’t bode well for any brand…it’s the way brands disappear into the history of the automobile industry…..
The bad news? No matter what you do in terms of styling or content, you’ll be criticized by some. That’s just the way it is.
People complained about the tail-lamps in the Camaro Concept. Not everyone was a fan – but we made the commitment to ensure that the production car looked as close to the concept as possible. Nevertheless, I received some nasty-grams about them……
When it was discovered that the car would have a ‘B-Pillar’ – some questioned if we – the members of “Team Camaro” -- had all just escaped from an asylum.
When people saw the back-up light slits in the rear fascia, some questioned as to whether or not we could even spell the name “Camaro”…..
When they saw the original 2010 Camaro steering wheel, some were certain that we’d time-travelled back in time to cause the Lindberg Baby Kidnapping…….
The SS fascia versus the V-6 fascia? We evidently created the hurricanes that devastated various parts of the world…….
Color changes? Well – according to a few, we simply can’t walk and chew gum at the same time…….
……and yet the new Camaro became number one in the segment.
And people got used to seeing all the things that caused so much uproar. And we continued to ‘wow’ the enthusiast community at large………
….and THEN we changed the steering wheel.
Some claim this caused 50,000 people to become sterile for simply laying their eyes on such hideousness. (some of the very people who HATED the original steering wheel now claimed that it was the most magnificent steering wheel the world had ever known…and that in changing it, we should be hanged by sundown.....how they now forget or try to hide the past posts they made…..)
And then we changed the SS wheels for 2013….. There’s a vicious rumor that this caused peoples’ teeth to fall out…….
And then we discontinued Imperial Blue (….in order to offer Blue Ray Metallic….) Some claim this caused thousands of dear little kitties and puppies to suddenly throw themselves in front of cars, trucks, and high-speed trains………..
(…are you noticing a trend here?)
Fast forward to earlier this week.
The new SS/RS was shown to the public.
The SS hood has evidently caused millions of people to suddenly slap their Mamas……
The rear tail lamps? Spring Flowers will no longer bloom.
And yet I suspect that once 90 percent of the people see the new 2014 Camaro in person, they’ll realize that perhaps they overreacted.
And the sun WILL come up tomorrow……….
The Camaro MUST ALWAYS be recognizable as a Camaro.
It must have Camaro styling cues.
We refreshed the front fascia to make the car more intimidating. We made the car look wider. AND – we made the SS look different than the V6 model. (at your request, by the way….) Further, there’s more differentiation between an RS Camaro and a non-RS Camaro – both in the front AND rear. (again, by your request…)
The tail-lamps are a tribute to the 1969 Camaro. (go study the 1969 Camaro tail-lamps -- both RS and Non-RS and you’ll start to appreciate why we did what we did.)
Remember those ‘poor unfortunates’ who hated the slits in the rear fascia for the back-up lights? Well – we listened to you. Shame on us.
The back-up lights have been moved into the tail-lamp assemblies. For those of you who felt the rear was “too busy” or “too tall” – well – we fixed that…..
For those of you who told us we should have put LED tail-lamps in the car? Well – we did on the RS models….
Some hated the ‘mail-slot’ front fascia on the SS. (some even went so far as to fill the slots on their Camaros in with various types of filler……) Well – we listened to you as well. (off with our heads…) The air extractor on the SS? It’s functional. (you asked for it….) It also just happens to be the same width as the reverse Mohawk in the roof.
And for the record – the V6 does not have the extractor in the hood – once again differentiating the SS from the non-SS.
Somehow, I suspect that Spring Flowers WILL bloom – and that most people in the coming months will say either:
“I LOVE it”
“Well ….that wasn’t so bad after all…”
A few others will still hate something about the front or the back -- Just as there are still Camaro Enthusiasts – however few – that still don’t like the 5th gen, period – luckily they are far and few between as sales figures prove……
So – for those who were disappointed in the changes – I sincerely hope you’ll be able to see the new 2014 Camaro in person real soon – and that you’ll find that the changes are in keeping with what makes a Camaro a Camaro…………
1. Now – on to the Z/28……..
I’ve said many times: “Wanna get a good fight going? Ask Camaro enthusiasts which is the ‘top’ Camaro – Z28 or SS………..”
-- and then put on a crash helmet and watch the fur fly……..
Everyone has their opinion and 90 percent have an opinion that THEY are correct in their beliefs and that those with a different opinion are completely wrong and perhaps motivated by the Devil himself……………….
The new Z/28 has blown some people away and we’re getting emails and letters and phone calls saying “THANK YOU! You FINALLY understand what a Z/28 really is after all these years of ruining the nameplate!.....”
It also has some people saying:
“You RUINED it! I can’t get *insert favorite option here* and so you are a bunch of…..*insert foul words here*….”
“ ……what do you MEAN it’s not a drag car???......”
“…..this car should come in at 40K!...” (even though we’ve not discussed price as of yet—and frankly, 40K is as attainable as me being elected as President of the United States……….)
(and for those who think the Z/28 should be 40K – take a 1LE and start counting the costs of all the awesomeness we’ve added to the Camaro in order to make it a true Z/28 – and then take into consideration the costs for engineering and validating – and then consider we have to ensure we don’t lose money on the program….)
Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
The ONLY reason for the original Z/28…
(note I once again used ‘Z/28’ and not ‘Z28)
….. was to go road racing. SCCA Trans Am racing had a rule that no competing car in the series could have an engine displacement larger than 305 cubic inches.
Our Camaro SS-396 was FAST…..but it wasn’t really a ‘track’ car. So the purpose of the Z/28 was to compete in Trans Am Racing – meaning it had to stick to the road like Velcro. Tidbit: None of the 602 1967 model year Camaros with option code Z28 had a nameplate that said Z/28 on them. It really wasn’t meant to be a main-stream entry.
As we moved into the 2nd gen years, the SCCA engine rule went by the wayside…….. And with increasingly stringent fuel and emissions standards, performance was on the wane……at a startling rate. Fast-rising insurance rates certainly didn’t help things…… And by the early 70s, there really wasn’t room for both a Camaro SS and a Z/28 as we knew them. By 1974, performance was so diminished that the Z/28 was dropped at the end of the model year because it had become to many of us a ‘caricature’ of what it once had been. The SS had been taken from the line up at the end of 1972…….
When the Z28 came back in 1977 (note the difference in the name…..there was no “/”….) it was definitely a road hugger – and it DID offer more performance than any other From then on – whether right or wrong, the Z28 was the ‘performance’ Camaro….until the IROC came along. The Z28 was then relegated to ‘2nd fiddle’ and that didn’t set well with Z/28 purists. But – on the other hand, the Camaro was the “International Race Of Champions” chosen brand – and one could go down to their Chevy Dealer and buy a new Camaro – an IROC Camaro – that sure looked a lot like the real race car.
…….And then Chevy pulled out of IROC racing -- and the Z28 was once again the ‘ultimate’ Camaro…that is, unless you ordered one with 1LE.
Fast forward once again to the advent of the 4th gen. We offered a Camaro Sport Coupe with a V6 engine – or a V-8 Camaro Z28 with an LT1 small-block with a ‘blistering’ 275 horsepower.
(to some of you young-uns – that was a LOT of horsepower in 1993….)
Yes – the Z28 was the ‘ultimate’ Camaro back then………and then Ed Hamburger at SLP Engineering came to us and said something along the lines of: “….Chevy -You’ve done a magnificent job with the Z28 – but I’ve got plans to take it to the next level…”
and we said “Sure!” …and the Camaro SS roared back to life. That also put the Z28 as ‘second-in-line’ and again, Camaro Z/28 purists were not happy! I very much remember getting several phone calls, letters, and emails that weren’t –shall we say – ‘charitable’ in their content…..
It all became moot when the Camaro went onto Hiatus in the late summer of 2002……..and I continued to say to you, our Camaro Enthuiasts – to “keep the faith…” - -that GM understood the importance of the Camaro nameplate. Yes, there were a few people within the corporation that proposed moving the name to the J-car platform.
(….they were last seen being shoved into a fleet of black suburbans – never to be seen again…….)
As John Heinricy said in a meeting that I attended: “The ugliest sight I can imagine would be tire smoke coming from the FRONT tires of a Camaro!..”)
As I’d said before, as Custodians of the Brand, it was crucial that we ensure that the 5th gen Camaro build upon it’s rich 35 year heritage. And yet, as I mentioned earlier in this article, we were questioned at every step of the way. And that’s not a bad thing, I suppose.
We felt so strongly about the heritage of Camaro and ensuring that the new Camaro would “check all the boxes” that were important to Camaro Enthusiasts - that we drafted the 15 members of the Camaro Enthusiast Advisory Board (better known as ‘The 12 Disciples of which there are 15’)
So—after all that: The 5th gen Camaro hit the streets and blew people away…..it’s still #1 in the segment – so I think the team did a pretty good job, don’t you agree?
At the same time, we’d been working on a Camaro that took performance way past our SS. It had been in the product plan for some time – but with the Housing Melt-down of the mid to late 2000s – and the resultant Bankruptcy of GM (and Chrysler and many vendors) the “HP” Camaro was put on ice. That the “HP” car was put back into the program was a miracle in and of itself. Interestingly, it was internally called the “HP” and kept top secret….. but the intended name was to be Z28. Talk about controversy. There were emails, letters, threats, banging-on-desks – and perhaps some thinly veiled threats made……and it was finally decided that the original Z/28 had a naturally aspirated V8 engine. The “HP” Camaro was to have a supercharged engine…….so perhaps the Z/28 moniker wasn’t really appropriate. Our President, Mr. Mark Reuss – himself a Camaro Enthusiast since the time he was able to recognize a Camaro – made the final call…..the “HP” would be christened “ZL1.” What you DON’T know is that he had another plan in mind for the Z/28.
(Note the “/”…..)
Volumes will be written about the 2014 Z/28 – but what’s important to understand is that while we made “Z28” enthusiasts happy over the years with 275hp – and then 285hp – and then an LS1 based Z28………we continually disappointed the “Z/28” purist.
The 2014 is dedicated to the “Z/28” purist. This is a track car that makes no excuses. That this car is a full three seconds faster on a track than the mighty ZL1 speaks volumes to its intent. Make no mistake – this isn’t a slap at the mightly ZL1. Far from it. If you want a car that blows other cars off a road course on Saturday and Sunday – and yet will get you to the office in comfort on Monday morning – the ZL1 is the car for you. If you want blistering track performance at a reasonable cost – the 1LE is prescribed. And – if you want to shame exotics on a road course – with an automobile that’s not meant for daily driving, then the Z/28 makes no apologies and may grab you by the collar – shake you silly -- and shout “LET’S GO MAKE HISTORY!”
So—that’s been a lot of words.
And that’s my take on why we’ve done what we’ve done.
Many already understood before I started typing away.
Some others now have a better understanding.
Yet others will say “Scott – go take a long walk on a short dock…..” Some of those are true Camaro enthusiasts and just are upset that what we’ve done isn’t in keeping with what they’d like or prefer.
And then there are the trolls………….who like nothing more than to start something……….
As I said at the very beginning…..we at Team Camaro are ‘The Custodians of the Brand” – and we take our jobs very seriously. Every decision is in many ways, agonizing. But – we have to make hard and fast decisions.
And yes – it hurts when we’re constantly ‘called on the carpet’ – and yet rarely if ever get an apology afterward. We have broad shoulders and our skin is tough…but it IS discouraging and a bit frustrating to be constantly insulted. And for an old codger like me (I’m quite certain I’m the oldest in the group…..) I tend to lose my temper more than I used to when people become ‘surly’…..
So – in the final analysis…………
……….we hope you’ll go check out the family of 2014 Camaros when they become available. We hope that the family Camaros will offer you a great spread of choices
Let me introduce the family……….
>323 horsepower LS and LT
>400 horsepower SS
>426 horsepower SS
>426 horsepower SS/1LE
>580 horsepower ZL1
And the new Camaro Z/28…….
…every one of them designed, engineered, and built to instill “Perma-Grin.”
What’s not to love?
Thanks for taking the time to read my ruminations and I hope you’ve got a better understanding of ‘why’………..
It’s the best time EVER to be a Camaro Enthusiast.
Note: The opinions shared in this email are the opinions of ME….and not necessarily those of the company for whom I work.....
I could write a long, eloquent reply about how badass the Z/28 is or how you fulfilled your promise that GM wouldn't disrupt the Z/28 tradition by giving us an inferior example of Camaro excellence. I could thank you for the continued feedback and input GM has considered from some of our harshest critics, which also happen to be enthusiasts, many times on Camaro5. I could express my appreciation for your patience with us and that you keep posting here. Instead, I'll post a picture.
Thanks for all the hard work!
I have to admit the rear is starting to grow on me so let me offer the first apology on the thread for hating on the rear so hard in the huge thread - and the front end over all is a cool improvement.
I'm pretty excited to see the 1LE... and then order it... and then drive it.
I love the refresh. Congrats to the Camaro team for a job well done.
Scott, seeing as you used the code name "Steve" for the Z/28, I think its only fitting that you send me one so I can properly evaluate my name sake........colour doesn't matter too much, and since the plant is only about 20 minutes away, I'll pick it up myself to save you shipping charges ;)
Thanks for your words, Scott. As always, you have a way of putting the rubber to the road.
Wait! You still have a blackberry?!
I completely agree! But I think much of the uproar was from the people who saw the SS refresh on TV before the official release. It looked absolutely terrible from the few pictures we got. I think you should have a long talk with whomever decided that was a good idea.
If I could afford a Z/28 let me tell you, I'd be heading to my dealer as soon as I could!
Very well written Scott....as always. And seeing a car in person definitely gives someone a different perspective than pictures do.
The problem with pictures is no matter how good the camera is...it is still taking a 3D object and trying to turn into a 2D representation. You just cannot capture all of the same viewpoints, angles, and light reflections on camera that the eye can see in person.
On a side note I also get a lot of entertainment watching many of the over reactions that are typed on these forums with out much thought as to why some of the decision were made. Being a mechanical engineer myself and having worked for a few different companies involved in different types of markets (some consumer products and others being commercial products) I completely understand the difficult decisions that need to be made when it comes to new product development. It is no easy task by any means. I commend and applaud the entire Camaro team for making the Camaro as successful as it has been so far and I think this refresh will continue the Camaro success.
Thanks for all of the hard work Camaro Team!!
Maybe he has a BB, but he was also getting emails in 1993. Tech forward!
I'm good with the refresh.
Sent from my Nexus 4
IMO 2014 Z/28=best looking factory Camaro ever. So from me yall deserve a bro hug and a highfive thanks for the hard work and a lot of our empty wallets.
Well said Scott. I think Team Camaro did a great job on the '14 refresh and especially bringing back the Z/28 to its proper roots. Thank you and your team for all you do and continue to do. I'm sure more people will change their minds on the '14's when they see them in person. Looking forward to seeing how the 1LE looks.
Ah SS vs Z/28. I remember many of those epic "debates" on another Camaro site even back when the 5th gen was still in its "keep the faith" stages :D
Great Job on the 2014 line up GM and Team Camaro. I believe that when the 2014 SS is on the streets. Alot of crow will be served up to some of the ones that were so quick to insults and bashing. Thanks for the info and great write up fbodfather. :thumb:
On the Z/28... Perfection ! Great job, but...
You have 1 more box to check for Camaro heritage.
Build ONLY 602 of them, then retire the badge once again for another 40 years.
The new Z/28 is awesome.You and the whole team put alot of time and effort into the whole Camaro program.Many thanks to all of you.
Nice read. Thanks, Scott.
The hood extractor is still ugly. :D
Scott, that was a great read!!
Congratulations to you and the Camaro team!
By the way, you did exactly right with the new Z/28
I knew all along this car (if it ever came to production) wouldn't just be some appearance package.
I've heard you talk before about how important it was to stay true to the heritage.
This is our 3rd Camaro (1st Gen, 2nd Gen, and now 5th Gen).
This new Z/28 is badass!
Job well done :happy0180:
As for all the negative comments, maybe some people have forgotten that we had no Camaro from 03-09. I think sometimes people post things they normally wouldn't say to someone in person not thinking about how harsh they may come off as. My first new car was a 1998 Camaro SS. I kept it for 12 years and really enjoyed that car. I also had an 86 Z28 in high school that I had a ton of fun with. Next year I plan on ordering a 1LE. I can't wait to go a pick it up with my 5 year old son. He has the car bug bad. I brought home a 2013 brochure and he actually hugged the page with the orange SS on it!
We can argue all day about the changes and will get no where. At the end of the day, the sales numbers will not lie. I see the Z28 doing well, not sure about the others.
Thank you for the insightful remarks in the 1st post, some were witty and had me :bellyroll: I love your sense of humor and wit, very refreshing. There is no doubt as to why you are "Fbodfather" :hail: :bow: :headbang: A lot of responsibility to be the "custodian of the brand" and I can only imagine the pressure of that role and I don't think that there could be any other that could fit that role. I'm sure you've heard that many times (it's always good to hear though, right?)
It's always appreciative to get it from the horse's mouth(so to speak) about the history and lineage of the Camaro from someone who's lived it. As I read through your posts, it really puts things in perspective about the Z/ that I never understood until lately. It's what every boy that grew up watching racing and wanting to be a part of and having something that is or will make you feel like you're part of something special. What GM did back then (60's) with that car was something special and unique and those that knew or found out wanted to be a part of it, but it came at a price. It left others to dream and create their own versions, thus the plethora of clones and tribute cars.
And now it's starting over again, a chance for a new generation to experience the same. I can't wait to see how the new Z/28 will create and unfold a new legend. Bravo and kudos to the 12 disciples and the rest of the Camaro team for doing so. :respekt: :clap2::clap2::clap2: :hail::hail::hail: :bow::bow::bow:
Very nice write up Scott as always. I can honestly say that at first I was one of the people that wasn't to found of what I saw but was not going to say anything for certain until I can make the final judgment in person and certainly wasn't going to say anything with foul language or harsh judgment towards the hard work that every body at Team Camaro has put into it.
But in being foolish I made my initial assumptions on the refresh with the pictures that had been put up on C5 from the morning show. Now those pictures where no pictures to judge this car. With the new pictures showing up from multiple users I can honestly say that I have changed my initial judgment. I honestly have grown to like the refresh in its own way and can't wait to see the new Camaro in person. But as always the 10s will always have a special place to me since they are what brought back the Camaro to my generation.
And now that the "top dog" Z/28 is back a new generation can see the legend unfold.
I will admit that when I first saw the refresh I wasn't a fan. I have been staring at pics of the fifth gen almost every day since its release and to me the styling wasn't stale. I was pretty upset when those less than stellar pics were shown from the Kelly and Michael show. I am very resistant to change but in a period of a few days the new style has not only grown on me but grabbed my attention enough to push me towards a 2014 Purchase over a 2013. (Seeing the new Z/28 had a lot to do with those new feelings. :) ) Thanks Scott and the Camaro team for working so hard and offering so many different choices for Camaro fans.
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