this is a story about my first "hands on" encounter with a camaro outside of auto shows or dealerships. a long but hopefully entertaining text shall be followed by some pics of the car along the pacific coast highway. if you care for such shenanigans, read on! spelling errors are a form of freedom and you may include them in your collection of internet-spelling errors!
i was looking forward to this car since i first heard about it in the spring of 2008. pretty late, i know. yet before i ever saw transformers. weird, isn't it. but just before the camaro came out in the spring of 2009 i had to make a decision and bought a leftover 2008 mazdaspeed3. that didn't stop me from watching pics of hundreds of camaro5 users getting their cars and i was still very much following whats going on with the camaro.
so recently I flew out to san francisco to spend a couple of days in the bay area, visited a friend, watched a sharks game, went to a concert and, last but not least, finally drove the new camaro along the pacific coast highway and napa valley.
i was supposed to pick up the car at SFO airport on 11/14 around 8:00am and return it the next morning since i was leaving on 11/15.
the day started shitty. i set my alarm clock for 6:00am. guess who lives on the eastcoast, forgot to change the time on his alarm clock, got up at 3:00am PT
, checked out of the hostel and then found out "hey it's only 3:00am wtf?"
well i went back inside and took a nap on the couch for another two hours or so.
anyways, i went to avis to pick up the car and was greeted by a nice lady who wanted to talk me into taking a corvette instead of the camaro. for the same price. "sir you know the camaro SS is not a convertible and the corvette is? how about a 350z convertible?" - "thanks for the offer, but i'm perfectly fine with the camaro SS." - "are you really
sure about that?" - "yes thank you". got to choose from three colors: ketchup red, mustard yellow and inferno orange. naturally i went for orange because i'm really not a fan of the other two colors. i knew it wasn't gonna happen but i thought it could hurt to ask: "so do you have any camaros with manual transmission?" the woman just laughed at me... i took the keys and on my way out the lady said "but next time you need to take the corvette!", i turned around with the camaro keys in hand, giggling like a little boy on christmas and said "i will!" and went outside to look for parking spot E2.
several other camaros were parked outside. LT's SS's, mostly colored in ketchup and mustard. GM really should've come up with better looking yellows and reds (aside from red jewel tintcoat). anyways, off to look for my IOM car.
and there it is. an IOM 2010 camaro 2SS without the RS package. first thing i notice is that a bird took a HUGE crap on the hood. that is going to look GREAT on the pics i want to take
. oh well. i open the trunk and put my luggage into it. or should i say i attempt to. it takes me a while to figure out how my bag fits best into the tiny trunk-opening.
next step, i open the doors (thank you, captain obvious) and take a seat. first thought: "tight like a virgin!", but let's not go there. i adjust the seat, mirrors, steering wheel and start the engine. i expected a sound so beautiful that it makes angels sing and babys cry. instead i found it to be rather quite. maybe a little too quite. i get out and double check the engine bay. yup that's a V8 under the hood and a SS logo on the back of the car so i wasn't given the keys to an LT by accident. i rev the engine a bit. aaah, much better!
off we go. my first baby steps out of the parking garage feel weird. leaving the parking spot i realize how much bigger this car is compared to my speed3. i am very careful. eventually i make it onto the highway. i didn't want to get on it right away since i didn't know the car yet. i figured there will surely be a number of opportunities on the upcoming 400 mile road trip through northern cali, napa valley and the bay area. but naturally i can't help myself and do a few pulls here and there when traffic allows to do so. can you say perma-grin from there on?
i cruise into a sleeping san francisco. there i am, standing at a stop light when some guy crosses the street. he looks, walks back a few steps, looks at the other side of the car and continues walking with a look of disbelief on his face while he is still staring at the car. and plenty of that was to follow. throughout the day i learned that this car makes you look like the biggest attention whore in the world. but more on that later.
i cross the golden gate bridge, take the first exit and go up a twisty road with several opportunities to check out the golden gate bridge from above and obviously to take a few pictures of the car. funnily enough, at the first stop i park next to a red LT. i haz a friend!!
further up the mountain at another stop a lady stops by and asks "is this the new camaro?" - "yes it is" and i added "sadly it's only a rental though." - "congratulations anyway! great looking car!" she says with a smile on her face. "thank you!"
after a coupe of pics i take off to US state route 1 aka the shoreline hwy and later on the pacific coast hwy. i hit some traffic but i really don't care. a 70's something cadillac convertible with a family of four pulls next to me, thumbs up and waving. attention whoring? anyway, with the window open and some rock'n'roll on the stereo i cruise along until traffic eases and i can enjoy the drive.
i eventually get to the coastline and this song is playing: "take a drive baby up the coast, yeah highway 101. i'll pass ventura and santa barbara too, just as fast as my motor runs". mhhhh, i love social distortion. not exactly my route, but close enough!
driving on the twisty roads of US1 i am surprised how well the camaro handles for a car its size. i remember test-driving a challenger r/t and how it was more like a boat floating on the water. but this car is zippy with a great feel to it. but there is one thing that annoys me. the transmisson. i know this is a matter of preference, but this is MY review, so...
i have never been a fan of automatic transmissons, and the one in the camaro is no exception. the shifting just feels weird and unnatural from time to time. but maybe that's just me. after a while i kinda got used to it. i'd still prefer a "proper manual gearbox". i might want to check it out at a dealership i guess.
along the way i stop at several outlooks, take a few pics and just enjoy the gorgeous views of the ocean and the coastline. all of a sudden, yet another ketchup red camaro stops next to me. this time a SS. a couple gets out of the car, smiles and waves. i still have a perma grin on my face, so i wave back.
on my way up to stewards point, a tiny town in northern california in which my way on US1 should end, i had several opportunities to pass "slower moving vehicles" aka RV's. for the first time ever i wished there were more slow-ass cars on the road. on a two-way-road you only get so many chances to pass cars so you better make sure you take them. and boy was it fun: make sure nobody is coming towards us on the other side of the road, put the car in sport mode and mash the gas. with an IMMENSE thrust you get pushed into the comfy leather seats and the car just goes. and i mean it GOES! holy crappy pants batman! coming from a fairly lightweight 2.3L, 263hp turbocharged 4-cylinder FWD car, I am used to torque steer and power that only sets in around 3000 rpm. as much fun as i think my car is (and it is!), the camaro is in a totally different league. obviously the 400hp V8 and RWD setup play a big roll, but also the roaring of the engine in higher rpm's just make it so much more fun! and the amazing thing again is, the car doesn't feel like a 3800lbs (or something) car! by that time i also had turned off the radio completely and was making my own music. via exhaust!
on the twisty roads of US1 i am averaging 17mpg. woops. well i guess lots of slowing down, accelerating and braking don't exactly help. i pull in to a small burger place to get some lunch. i love cheeseburgers. and mountain dew. mhhh, yes i know i know i shouldn't eat that kind of stuff but a veggie-sandwich just doesn't taste as delicious.
same goes for the camaro. i am all for more fuel efficient technologies and cars, but as long as they come in form of priuses and insights i prefer something with a bit more fun and power.
as i turn out of the burger place, a dude in one of those kickass orange porsche GT3's honks and waves. wtf? i wave back, thumbs up to you too my friend! just down the road a bunch of dude's are hanging out of the window of their truck, yelling and waving as i cruise along.
did you count? that's like the fourth or fifth time i seem to be attention-whoring. and it's only like 2pm or so. but i can't help. i keep smiling and nod their way.
arriving at stewart's point, i am supposed to make a right turn and take a small, twisty road east which should take me to US128 in geyserville. now i did plan this trip using google maps. my first thought when i turned right was "errr... wtf?" as it turns out, it is mostly a one-way road through a forest. but i see a regular nissan maxima coming that way and it looks intact, i figure how bad can it be? so i take off. luckily the road is still concrete, just a bit muddy. the road is even twistier than US1. for the next 30 miles it was pretty much like this: accelerating up to 30/40mph, braking, steering, accelerating, braking, steering and so on and so forth. am i still having fun? hell yes! the camaro seems to be glued to the road. the ride is perfect. not too soft, not too hard. soon i have another car in front of me. it lets me pass, i turn on my emergency lights for a second to say "thanks" and off i am.
i am happy as i finally see some signs of civilization. by the time i got to geyserville it was already getting dark, so i wasn't able to take as many pics as i wanted to since i forgot my tripod at home.
but i was too busy with driving anyway. i didn't even want to stop. but i did get some gas in castiloga and streched my legs for a while. i was walking around san francisco for the last two days, and with all the hills etc that was exhausting and my legs felt pretty much dead each night. as i am getting out of the car, i am amazed how comfortable the seats are and that i can still feel my feet. i got some gas and some mountain dew (woops). for whatever reason i hit heavy traffic around st.helena and don't make any real progress for a good hour or so. by now it is dark outside and i realize i much prefer the HID's on my speed3 over the regular headlamps of the non-RS camaro. maybe it's just what i am used to. but there is something else that i noticed when it was dark outside. something that when it was first announced had been good entertainment on these forums, but got damn annoying after a while. "watch out for something superduper friggin awesome!!" i remember somebody saying. ambient lighting. ye ole ambient lighting!! i found it to be annoying when looking left before passing/turning and was looking for an offswitch but couldn't find it. i can't believe that's what all the buzz was all about.
since i was supposed to have dinner with my friend in san jose at around 8:00pm i said "no more playing around!" and put her address into my GPS. as i cross the bay via I-580 i find myself in the very right lane. why not in the left lane you ask? well for some reason i didn't feel the need to be fast. just cruising along in traffic, watching the skylines and feeling good. however sometimes i had to change lanes, and that's when i remembered something that i noticed earlier that day when i just picked up the car and was cruising the highway: the blindspot. a terrible, terrible blindspot. maybe there's a trick to set the mirrors. i tried my best, but i still had to prepare a loooong time before i changing lanes. not that i usually just move over, but it definitely took a while.
at exactly 8:00pm i pull up to my friend's apartment. i hesitate for second to get out of the car. maybe another a quick drive around the block? just one? my cellphone rings, i pick up and my friend says "wtf? a camaro? nice!" as she is looking out of the window.
we have dinner and i drive to my hotel close to the airport where i'm staying for the night. the day ended just like it started: parking in tight parking spots is a bitch. but that's nothing that practice couldn't fix. i am smiling as i return the car the next morning because i had taken a small detour to the airport, just to drive for another minute or two.
so here i am. i have finally driven the new camaro. and as you can probably tell i had a crapload of fun doing so! yes there are a couple of things i find annoying or that i would change. but those are things i would definitely deal with, because the positive outweigh them by a thousand miles.
if you know me or read some of my posts you know i like to point the finger at stuff that i think is wrong. and boy did i have a lot of opportunities at pointing fingers at GM in the past for which i got slapped by the mods or other members
but this is a camaro forum, so that should be all that matters. and i agree with the hundreds (thousands?) of people that shared their happy camaro story: this car kicks some serious automobile ass!
will i be trading in my newly bought 'speed3? i don't know. even though i will most likely be able to pay it off already in a few months i don't know if i can justify buying another car after only one year.
but then again... will i be able to say no to, let's say, a gently used, aqua blue, imperial blue or red jewel tintcoat, six-speed 2010 camaro SS with RS package? after all i am a man you know: rational thoughts, irrational actions
but only time will tell. but one thing is sure: great scenery, great weather, a great road and a great car. this was one of the best days ever.
oh one more thing: when i got home yesterday and wanted to go get some groceries my speed3 just wouldn't start. not even the keyless entry clicker would work. battery dead. completely dead. i had to call my buddy to give me a jumpstart. a sign of jealousness from my speed3?
last but not least, pictures! no comments necessary.