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Old 04-02-2013, 10:20 AM   #1
Mr. Wyndham
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Lightbulb Camaro5 NYIAS Interview Series (2/7): John Fitzpatrick on the Camaro

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Interview 2/7...Feel free to ask any questions - and I may be able to elaborate.

Interview with John Fitzpatrick, Marketing Manager for Chevrolet Performance Cars
by J. Bella,

What customer are you targeting with the Z/28?

The Z/28 is really the “ultimate Camaro”, it always has been. In the first generation, it was built to take on the best in the SCCA trans-am series, and did quite well. In a lot of ways, that’s what this car is all about: taking on the best on the track and beating them. It’s race to win, baby, and we think this is the car to do it!

We’re looking for anyone who wants to take, basically, a track-car…and be able to drive it legally on the street. That’s really the goal. Now is that everybody? No. It’s really a small subset of the sports car buyer, but it’s a subset that understands cars and really want the ultimate experience of a Camaro track car, and that’s what the Z/28 is designed to do.

Will the car be competing, as-is, in any competitions?

Not right away, we’re looking at it, but we don’t have anything sanctioned at this point.

When the ZL1 was released, the buzz lasted for about a week, and then the question became “What about the Z/28?” Was this car already in development at that point, or was it a response to that enthusiast interest?

It’s a tough question, to be honest with you. Always in the back of our minds, Z/28 existed. It was a question of how it existed, how it was executed, and how you would bring it to market. I’m sure the question surfaces, was the ZL1 supposed to be the Z/28? But that’s not really the point in our development. Our point for the car was how do you make sure you deliver the best Camaro possible? So we’ve always had it in the back of our heads during development; in trying to figure out how to best execute it.

When can you order a Z/28?

You’ll probably be able to order it in the third or fourth quarter, we haven’t nailed that down, yet. The car is still about a year away from showrooms, and we’ll be able to announce some more details as we come closer.

The 1LE already proved faster than the Boss 302, which is no longer sold anyways. So were you competing with anybody with the Z/28, or did you just want to show off?

Let me put it this way. The Z/28, in our initial testing at the Milford Road Course (MRC) is three seconds faster than the ZL1. The ZL1 beat the GT500 there by three seconds. You can do the math from there…

What I don’t think a lot of people consider at times, is that what we learn from cars like the Z/28 eventually find their way down to Camaro LS/LT models, they find their way down to SS models, to Impalas, trucks, into Cruzes and Sonics. This is all part of the learning experience for us: how do you get the best out of your production vehicles? Some of this, obviously, becomes very specific as in the track cars – but what we learn from this will find its way down into other vehicle lines.

Some people feel as though the Camaro lives in the shadow of the “big brother” Corvette. And this seems like the first time that a Camaro gets technology or performance gear the Corvette doesn’t yet have. Has the Camaro been elevated to a higher status in the company?

It was never in our eyes, you know, big brother/little brother. The two cars are unique unto themselves. I mean, we’re the only manufacturer that delivers this kind of performance in two separate cars. Dodge comes close with the SRT Viper and Challenger, but even then it’s not really an Apples to Apples comparison. Our cars are designed to be pushing the limits, and figuring out what we can do and how we can translate that to other vehicle lines.

So this whole conversation about the Corvette being the tip of the spear, and the Camaro as the little brother…they both serve a great function for both the consumers and for us, internally. And the great thing is, because they’re both Chevrolets, we can share a lot of the technology and make both better than any competitor out there.
Full interview list:

Interview 1: Mark Stielow (Chief Engineer of Z/28)
Interview 2: John Fitzpatrick (Marketing Manager for Chevrolet Performance Cars)
Interview 3: Helen Emsley (Director of Interior Design for Performance Cars)
Interview 4: Mary Barra (GM Senior Vice President, Global Product Development)
Interview 5: Russ Clark (Director of Marketing, Performance Cars)
Interview 6: Tom Peters (Director, Exterior Design)
Interview 7: Ed Welburn (Vice President of Global Design)
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