I used to be Dragoneye...
Drives: 2014 Camaro 1LE
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Buffalo, NY
Camaro5 NYIAS Interview Series (6/7): Tom Peters on 2014 Camaro Refresh
Interview 6/7...Feel free to ask any questions - and I may be able to elaborate.
Every time I speak with Tom Peters...he astounds me with his intimate understanding of the design of the Camaro...every line, every surface...there's a reason for it with him. It's very cool to see.
Full interview list:
Interview 1: Mark Stielow
Tom Peters – Director, Exterior Design
by J. Bella, Camaro5.com
I would go so far as to say the new Z/28 is even more track-focused than the C6 Z06 was. What are your thoughts on that?
Could be. Oh yeah, because it’s way more raw. Z06 still has those creature comfort features, and accouterments. This one is like, get everything out…no radio, A/C…just rip it all out. It is a nasty…dog; a “street fighting dog” if you will, because that’s what it’s all about. The Z/28 is very function-driven - and when you drive it, say in comparison to the ZL1 (which is more kind of a GT feel, a refined high performance). This one is refined in it’s own right, don’t get me wrong, but it’s much more serious race car and raw. There’s nothing on it that’s for just creature comforts, it’s just raw performance. You will notice the distinct personalities between the two.
The ZL1 is extremely high performance, has a lot of animal in it…but it’s like it’s gone to finishing school or something. The Z/28 has not gone to finishing school, other than being on the track.
What drove the design, the changes that went into the 2014 refresh?
To me, it’s three things you want to look at: You want to create differentiation; you have to listen to what the customers are saying (like “why aren’t you guys doing LED tail lamps?”). We wanted to take every opportunity to make the vehicle look wider. And function – function was huge. Having the Z/28 in mind, that’s something about the current car that we learned: aerodynamically, cooling-wise, lift-wise…the more you optimize that lower opening, the better the car gets in a lot of different ways. When you go look at the ZL1, you notice the lower grill is bigger. We wanted to push that further and get it across the line.
When cars are developed there’s a lot of different designs and proposals that go into it. Was there anything on this car that was recycled from initial Camaro development in 2007?
No, everything was new. That’s not to say that somebody might have done some sketches of something that was similar to this, but everything was fresh and from different designers. And that’s the other thing, too – we had different personalities involved on the team, and that’s naturally going to generate different things.
Pictures don’t quite capture these two cars (Camaro and Corvette), do they?
No, they never do. I knew it was going to be controversial when we did it, too. These two cars were developed at the same time in the same studio. People would say “it’s [Corvette] got Camaro tail-lights on the back!” When in actuality, we designed, and I wanted, Corvette-inspired tail lights on the Camaro. The Camaro tail lights were supposed to be Corvette-like tail lights. Over history, which is something pretty cool about Chevrolet and the heritage of Camaro and Corvette, there’s been a relationship. Over the course of time, Camaro’s had round tail lights on it, and I think that’s just fine. I think, maybe, the only consistent tail lamp has been a “brick graphic” – a horizontal bar.
The midsized sedans appear to “go with the flow” in terms of design, but I haven’t seen a single generation of Camaro that looks “old.”
That’s what we try to derive, and something we did with the new Camaro – elements that are timeless. You can’t directly rip them off…my guys would call it “chomping”, you can’t chomp it. You need to interpret that in a modern way, which my team is real good at.
You have a great vision for the car. And as people start thinking about how the sixth generation car will evolve, do you have a character for Camaro in mind?
Just as a general theme, I think it’ll be a continued evolution. It’s spirit is so strong and powerful, and we’re trying to make it timeless. Camaro is about being functional, and there is an aesthetic in that. Other things like Technology, even Corvette, will affect it. But there has to be an enduring passion that has to permeate through the sheet metal. I’m always adamant about having hand sculptors work on the design. Yes, we do the computer design, but what sets these cars apart from Mustangs or Challengers or any other company you have is, I think, that through our sculptors, that passion and hand-crafted design gets stamped into the sheet metal. There’s a hard-to-describe soul that comes through the body, and the surfaces.
The current car’s design is so powerful; it’s a tough act to follow. We’re looking at everything. And that’s why it’s taken so long, we needed to get the Z/28 right…this refresh. They were all very carefully calculated. It wasn’t as though we said “oh, lets just put a different front end on and make it look different.” There was a huge amount of effort that goes into every millimeter of that.
(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)