Camaro5 Chevy Camaro Forum / Camaro ZL1, SS and V6 Forums - Camaro5.com
 
Lethal Racing
Go Back   Camaro5 Chevy Camaro Forum / Camaro ZL1, SS and V6 Forums - Camaro5.com > General Camaro Forums > 5th Gen Camaro SS LS LT General Discussions

5th Gen Camaro SS LS LT General Discussions General 5th generation Camaro topics not covered by other subforums.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-08-2013, 10:11 AM   #1
OXCatLove
 
OXCatLove's Avatar
 
Drives: 1997 Z28
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Posts: 46
A Camaro Conversation With Al Oppenheiser

Good morning my fellow Camaro lovers. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I havent posted in a bit as I got married and have been up in the mountains with no signal lol.

I was cruising through all of my favorite Chevy sited catching up and I saw a really cool interview with the one and only Al Oppenheiser. Really cool in depth look at his passion about Camaros.

https://theblock.com/news/camaro-con...al-oppenheiser
Quote:
Name:  BLOCK_Al_Oppenheiser_12-20-12-1.jpg
Views: 2559
Size:  81.4 KB

If you're a diehard Camaro fanatic, there's more than a good chance you're familiar with the name Al Oppenheiser. For those perhaps not yet acquainted with Mr. Oppenheiser by name – it's a good bet you've seen his work. Whenever you roll up to a stoplight and see the new, 5th generation Camaro next to you, yep, that's Al's pride and joy. As chief vehicle engineer for the 5th gen Chevy Camaro, Al and his team were at the forefront of bringing this iconic American sports car back to its loving public after having gone out of production for nearly a decade.

However, being the chief vehicle engineer for the 5th gen was hardly his first rodeo.

Al has been a part of the GM engineering family for over 25 years, and in the process has worked on some of the coolest production and performance car projects imaginable.

In 2008, his team worked on the legendary 1957 Chevy Bel Air named "Project-X." And together with David Ross, GM Design Manager Styling at GM, and many others, brought this bright-yellow star of innumerable magazine appearances back to the future with the first-ever Chevrolet Performance 50th Anniversary 427 Big Block crate engine. This build featured prominently in the pages of Popular Hot Rodding, which seems fitting for what's arguably the most popular '57 Chevy on the planet.

While serving as Director for what was then the GM Performance Division, Al also oversaw several other high-profile build projects for some pretty well known folks from the sports and entertainment worlds.

A driving force behind turning Tom Peter's vision of the next generation Camaro into a functional car, Al has remained the captain of the Camaro engineering team since the car's unveiling at Detroit NAIAS back in 2006.

With those things in mind, it should come as no surprise that we were pretty ecstatic to be able to catch up with Al recently and ask him a variety of Camaro-related questions.

We touched on everything from the accolades the award-winning 5th gen Camaro has garnered, to his thoughts on the drag strip-dominating COPO, and on down the line to track titans, the ZL1 & 1LE – as well as the news of the first Camaro-specific parts Chevrolet has produced in over forty years!

So, join us as we cordially invite you to ride along as we talk with a guy who is as genuinely passionate about the legacy of Camaro as he is about its promising future.






Q: The Camaro won SEMA's "Best in Show" two consecutive years, did you ever expect that the 5th gen would have the success it's had to this point?

A: I don't think any of us expected it. We knew it was going to be a hot car. It had been out of production for 8 years, so there was a lot of pent up demand and passion for it. But the fact that we had the stroke of genius to work with Michael Bay and the Transformers Movie transformed the car "literally" and connected it with a younger generation. It really took off on a much greater trajectory than we ever imagined.





Q: Talk to us a bit about COPO. How do you feel about reigniting that flame and transforming the 5th gen into the modern-day incarnation of its legendary drag racing namesake?

A:
We were asked by a lot of drag racing fans when we would have a 5th gen Camaro for them. Because basically, they've done everything they can to the 1st gens but couldn't get them any faster. So in order to compete with Mustang and Challenger, who have their drag racing kits and versions, it was a thrill to be able to bring the COPO back. We just had to wait for the right time and the right formula. And it's taken off as well, just like the other Camaro versions. It's been a hit, and so much so, that we're proud to bring it back for another run of 69 in 2013.







Q: From a personal standpoint, what drew you to Camaros early on?

A: I was a kid, and grew up in the era of late 60s muscle cars, and I fell in love with the First Gen. My first car was a Camaro, I bought a 70 ½ RS/SS, and planned on keeping it forever. I've always been a Camaro guy, always been around it. In my career I've worked in the Camaro and Corvette performance divisions. But the thrill of being able to be part of the concept when we first decided to bring the Camaro back in 2006 for the Auto Show, literally gave me goose bumps. Then they asked me to be the Chief for it. It's a dream come true, I don't call it "work." I refer to it as a "Thank God it's Monday Job."







Q: Generally speaking, what's the first Chevrolet Performance part and/or modification you'd recommend to a new Camaro owner?

A: Usually, it's our ground effects kits, splitters, and spoilers, things that help the aerodynamics of the car. I'm really happy that we're getting to work with the Chevrolet Performance Parts guys now to release parts such as the 1LE, so that anyone with a prior year's car can build theirs up similar to the production 1LE for 2013.

Anything we can do to help out owners of prior year cars is a great step. These are cars that will last, and you'll see people auctioning off 5th gens at car shows 40-50 years from now.






Q: What do you think of the whole new suite of Camaro-specific parts?

A: Every Camaro show I go to, and I go to several of them per year, everyone wants to bring me over and show me how they've individualized their car. They took our car and did something to personalize it. Usually it's exterior, and then it's under-hood mods. Everyone wants an air box or a smaller pulley. It's great that now consumers are going to have such a broad complement of parts to choose from to truly personalize their vehicles.








Q: Why is the ZL1 the best car on the planet?

A: Because we had a passionate group of engineers and designers put everything we knew about performance technology in the car. From the aerodynamics – the car makes down force – which is rare for a production car, down to the supercharger. To all the features and functions in the performance traction management, such as the magnetic ride control. One of the great things about the magnetic ride control is that it's a peripheral benefit for us, because the car is so set up for the track. It's over a 1G-capable car.

Most people don't get to take the car out to Road America, but even still, just driving the car around town on rough roads -- take Michigan roads for instance --that MR really comes into play in "tour mode." It's outstanding. So what's generally designed to enhance performance on the track is also a great feature just driving around on regular roads. The ZL1 literally has every technology trinket you could put on a car – and it's all standard.






Q: Do you own a Camaro?

A: Sure do. A '68. I'm the second owner. It's a black convertible, and I did a complete ground-up restoration on it. I kept the parts original, so I sandblasted everything. And then I put new bushings and things on it. I played around a bit under the hood; it's a Small Block that makes about 360 hp. I have a 10-bolt in the back still. It's plenty of capability in a convertible – I can chirp the tires in every gear. It's actually got a one-foot paint job, but the remarkable thing is I drive it all the time. People are amazed, they think it's a trailer queen, but I built it to drive. I love spending time in it.

Q: Sounds like you've got serious passion for the Camaro

A: You know, there was a time I was working on the 2010 Camaro, during the day, and I'd come home and work on the '68 at night. So I was working on Camaros 'round the clock. Occasionally I'd fall asleep on the garage floor about 2 o'clock in the morning. My wife had a series of shoes at the back door she'd throw to wake me up. She'd say "You gotta get up and go to work on the new one!" I live and breathe it. And that's why I've got a dream job.










Q: There was certainly an assortment of killer Camaros at SEMA 2012. Out of all them, which one would you most like to take home?

A: This one (points to the '67 Hot Wheels Camaro). I was a Hot Wheel collector. In my youth I had over 300 Hot Wheels cars, and every track. When we got to work with the Mattel guys it was so cool. I got to see their development lab; they have their little mini Proving Grounds like we have for the big cars. So it was really cool. The idea to do a tribute car like this is phenomenal. As much as I love the Fifth Gen., I've always been a 1st gen guy, and I'd take this home in a heartbeat!









__________________
I work with GM but am not an official spokesperson. All views and opinions are my own
OXCatLove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2013, 10:27 AM   #2
Char1ieone
Fear the Red Bow Tie
 
Char1ieone's Avatar
 
Drives: 2010 Black Camaro 2SS/RS LS3
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: La Mesa/Las Cruces, NM & El Paso, TX
Posts: 1,694
First off, congratulations on your recent marriage, and as they would say in the old country "Mozel Tov!" I don't know what that really means as I am not Jewish, but always wanted to say it, Hahahahaha!

Great find. I have always liked reading the blogs and interviews that they post on The Block. I wish and hope that the website becomes more mainstream with auto/Chevy entusaists.
__________________
Char1ieone is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2013, 04:03 PM   #3
OXCatLove
 
OXCatLove's Avatar
 
Drives: 1997 Z28
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Posts: 46
LOL.. It means good luck I think. Thanks so far its going great. Ya they have some really great content up there. Some awesome photography as well.
__________________
I work with GM but am not an official spokesperson. All views and opinions are my own
OXCatLove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2013, 04:11 PM   #4
jameslk55

 
jameslk55's Avatar
 
Drives: 2012 2LT/RS, 2005 SLK55 AMG
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 1,168
"You know, there was a time I was working on the 2010 Camaro, during the day, and I'd come home and work on the '68 at night. So I was working on Camaros 'round the clock. Occasionally I'd fall asleep on the garage floor about 2 o'clock in the morning. My wife had a series of shoes at the back door she'd throw to wake me up. She'd say "You gotta get up and go to work on the new one!" I live and breathe it. And that's why I've got a dream job."

jameslk55 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2013, 07:59 PM   #5
FINALLYSATISFIED
Est.1775
 
FINALLYSATISFIED's Avatar
 
Drives: ZL1#206 (Sold) 6th Gen!?
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: SoCal
Posts: 5,417
Q: Why is the ZL1 the best car on the planet?

A: Because we had a passionate group of engineers and designers put everything we knew about performance technology in the car. From the aerodynamics – the car makes down force – which is rare for a production car, down to the supercharger. To all the features and functions in the performance traction management, such as the magnetic ride control. One of the great things about the magnetic ride control is that it's a peripheral benefit for us, because the car is so set up for the track. It's over a 1G-capable car.

Most people don't get to take the car out to Road America, but even still, just driving the car around town on rough roads -- take Michigan roads for instance --that MR really comes into play in "tour mode." It's outstanding. So what's generally designed to enhance performance on the track is also a great feature just driving around on regular roads. The ZL1 literally has every technology trinket you could put on a car – and it's all standard.

FINALLYSATISFIED is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2013, 09:32 PM   #6
solo40oz
 
solo40oz's Avatar
 
Drives: My wife crazy
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Austin
Posts: 709
The picture of that white camaro, black hood, offset white stripe.....maybe future z/28?
solo40oz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2013, 09:49 PM   #7
stlrammer

 
stlrammer's Avatar
 
Drives: 2011 2LT/RS SGM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Saint Louis, MO USA
Posts: 1,972
I'm hoping I can get that Hotweels Blue without the full package. I'm a big fan of the split Rally Stripes and not to hip on the rear quarter pannel flame decals on the Hotwheels version.
__________________
stlrammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2013, 01:24 AM   #8
Deke736
COTW 12/3/12
 
Deke736's Avatar
 
Drives: 2012 Ashen Gray ZL1
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Glen Carbon, IL
Posts: 3,175
That was a good read! Thanks for posting. I met Al at CF3 last year and he is a really nice guy and a true Camaro enthusiast.
__________________
Deke736 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2013, 09:15 AM   #9
rtcat600man
having FUN now 13.66@101
 
rtcat600man's Avatar
 
Drives: 2010 2LT IOM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Clarkston, Michigan
Posts: 8,143
Fantastic info. I always like hearing more about Al and the History behind the Camaro. What is fun for me is he works 150 feet down the hall from my desk. I have spoken to him a few times and he is a very down to earth person to talk to. He truly does have a passion for the Camaro.
__________________
rtcat600man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2013, 09:58 AM   #10
Russell James


 
Russell James's Avatar
 
Drives: '12 SS/RS LS3 IBM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 3,444
Love that Hot Wheels blue. Corvette also has an awesome med blue tintcoat for the '14 Stingray. I'm hoping that blue makes it over to the Camaro some day. But not in a expensive package, just as a stand alone premium paint option.

Glad to see he loves the 1st gen. Hopefully the 6th gen goes even more toward the retro 1st gen styling. Pro-tour/de-chrome a '69 Z28 for the styling starting point and the Camaro lovers would go nuts for it.
Russell James is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2013, 05:00 PM   #11
PYROLYSIS
Remember the Charleston 9
 
PYROLYSIS's Avatar
 
Drives: 2004 KME PREDATOR, 2014 2SS/RS/1LE
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Summerv1LE SC
Posts: 4,716
Quote:
Originally Posted by solo40oz View Post
The picture of that white camaro, black hood, offset white stripe.....maybe future z/28?
Have you not seen that car before? That's the V-6 performance package shown at 2012 SEMA.
__________________
BRING BACK THE B4C POLICE CAMARO!
2002 V-6 5 speed rally red (current camaro) Also driven:1992 Z-28 305 auto Red w/ black stripes (anniversary), 2001 V-6 auto light pewter metallic,1991 RS V-6 auto Black
PYROLYSIS is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.