If showing a Camaro convertible concept at the 2007 Detroit show seems obvious, that's only from your armchair.
It may not be so obvious as it is necessary. Chevy will launch the Camaro coupe in late 2008 as a 2009 model; then to battle the other Ford Mustang body style, it'll launch the Camaro convertible about spring of 2009.
As the concept makes the rounds of car shows following its Detroit debut, GM Australia ishard at work on the production car. Expect thicker sills and tunnels and added cross-bracing to give the convertible's unibody coupelike stiffness.
The convertible concept has charcoal SS stripes over a lustrous Hugger orange paint job-the stripes are so dark they appear black under certain light. You might think of the 1969 Camaro RS/SS Indy 500 official pace car, which has orange stripes on a white body.
The two back seats are about six inches closer together to make room for the tonneau cover. As in last year's coupe, the front seat tracks are on the center console and on the rocker panels instead of the floor for better rear-seat foot space. Circular gauges in square frames seem certain for production. The large, round gauges now are white-faced, with black chrome numbers and a red anodized needle, for more clarity, versus the coupe's turned-aluminum face with chrome numbers.
There's a blue glow circling the convertible's gauges, and the only reference inside to the orange paint is the seat stitching. The deep-dish three-spoke steering wheel and Rallye Pack-inspired four-pack gauge cluster at the base of the floor console, fortunately, return. The six-speed manual's gearshift looks like a piece of sculpture, and the chromeseatbelt buckles are designed to look like the iconic belt buckles in late 1960s GM cars.
The convertible concept has last year's ram-air 6.0-liter LS2 engine, rated 400 horsepower and with Active Displacement Management and an exhaust note that makes a sensuous, throaty burble. Built on the next-generation Holden/ Zeta architecture, the car has independent rear suspension. It's likely the base engine will be the DOHC 3.6-liter V-6, not the 3.9-liter pushrod V-6.
The best news is, size the tires down to a "normal" 18 or 19 inches, and you're looking at the convertible you're likely to find in dealerships in 2009. Stay tuned for our full story on the Camaro Convertible concept coming soon to MotorTrend.com and the upcoming March issue of Motor Trend.
CAMARO CONVERTIBLE CONCEPT DESIGN DETAILS
Tonneau cover over the folded top
Rear spoiler with LED-lit CHMSL
Racing-inspired fuel filler door
Front-inlet hood scoop, inspired by the Corvette Z06
Heritage-inspired rear fender "gills"
Anodized aluminum door handles
21-inch (front) and 22-inch (rear) wheels, with accent color
CAMARO CONVERTIBLE CONCEPT SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle type: two-door, four-passenger rear-wheel-drive convertible
Wheelbase (in / mm): 110.5 / 2806
Length (in / mm): 186.2 / 4730
Width (in / mm): 79.6 / 2022
Height (in / mm): 53 / 1344
Track (in / mm): 63.8 / 1620 front; 63.3 / 1607 rear
Powertrain: V-8 engine with manual transmission
Suspension: four-wheel independent: MacPherson strut front, multilink rear, progressive rate coil springs, gas-pressurized dampers
Brakes: four-wheel disc, 14-in rotors with four-piston calipers
Wheels: cast aluminum; 21-in front, 22-in rear
Tires: 275/30R21 front, 305/30R22 rear