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Old 09-22-2006, 01:17 AM   #1
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Super Chevy Mag Nov '06 by Jim Campisano

Pick up a copy of Super Chevy's latest mag to see some cool pix. Saw the Camaro on the cover, so of course, I picked it up and found this good article by Jim Campisano.

First Drive: The Camaro Concept Car
The rumble of the 400-hp LS2 fills the cockpit. You're sitting behind the wheel of the hand-built Camaro Concept car, a one-off show special worth about $5 million; and it sounds righteous; righteous enough to make your right hand and foot twitch.

Unlike the late and lamented Fourth-Gen Camaro, you see more than just the wipers when you look through the windshield. The rise in the conter of the hood is plain to see, just like the cowl-induction hood from the First-Gen cars that inspired it. The windshield itself is more upright, and though the roofline is low, you don't feel claustrophobic. The entire interior feels more spacious, again like a '67 to '69 model. But the fat wrap on the steering wheel reminds you that this is 2006.

We were about to be unleashed on GM's Milford Proving Grounds in Chevy's wildly popular one-off, which debuted last January at the Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows. OK, maybe unleashed isn't the correct term since the car was speed governed to 40 mph. Still, this car is close enough in its execution to the now official production version that we wanted a turn in it.

If you don't think Chevy's management is burning every time Ford sells one of the 170,000 or so Mustangs it builds annually, you are mistaken. Dodge had gone on the record that it would enter the ponycar market with the upscale Challenger. Chevy enthusiasts were twitching with anticipation. Finally on August 10th Chevy announced it would begin production of the Camaro in late 2008 and have them on sale in the first quarter of 2009. GM stated that this concept is pretty close to the fifth generation Camaro.

In person, the Camaro has a much more dramaic and cohesive appearance than it did in photos from its Los Angeles and Detroit debuts. It's almost a cross between the '69 Camaro and the 2006 Corvette. Its styling is especially strong from the doors on back, where the roof mimics the Corvette's dual humps. It has broad, muscular shoulders over the rear wheels. It's though and athletic without being gimmicky.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the design is the grille opening, which can appear from some angles as too narrow. Again in person, it's bold and fits in well in the overall form.

For production GM's global Vice President Ed Welburn said the new car will be "almost identical to the concept," and will feature an IRS, a choice of manual and automatic trannies and V-6 and V-8 engines. We'd expect a few alterations. The roofline may be raised to accommodate taller drivers while aiding ingress/egress. Surprisingly, it doesn't hamper visibility or make you feel like you're sitting in a chopped street rod. Don't look for hideaway headlights, which we're told add to cost and complexity while having the potential to be "customer dissatisfiers" when the doors don't line up properly or when they fail to actually operate.

The two aspect of the car that are most troubling are the taillights, which don't blend into the overall design, and the decklid opening. Our sources tell us that getting a five-star crash test rating from all angels is paramount, not only for protecting passengers but in helping to keep insurance rates down. That means a hatchback is out and a traditional trunk is in. The Camaro concept has plenty of space back there, but the opening itself is rather small, and this could really limit both functionality and market appeal. The opening could be made larger by altering the roofline or shrinking the size of the backlight, but the roofline has been very well received and the latter choice would have a detrimental effect on visibility.

For production, there will most likely be only a fixed roof coupe and a convertible. The styling of the roof could not accommodate T-tops, and quality control issues mean GM couldn't accommodate all the squeaks, leaks, and rattles they would bring. Still up for discussion is whether the rear quarter windows will be functional a'la the show vehicle or fixed, like on the 1999 to 2004 Mustang.

Chevrolet couldn't be happier with the response to the Camaro. "In our wildest dreams, we couldn't have expected it to be this good. The people who don't like it are adamant about why, which is fine too. I'd say 80% of people, once they see it at a show, reverse their thoughts and come around," Scott Settlemire, manager of Chevrolet and Hummer Shows and Exhibits, said.

"We had people whistling, screaming. There were tears, lots of tears," Settlemire said of the unveiling in Detroit. "I've been into cars for 30 years, and I've never seen such a reaction."

Vlad Kapitonov, sho was in charge of the exterior design of the car, is completely satisfied with the final product, though for a while he was nervous.

"She wasn't easy. There was a rough point in the development, and I was wondering if it was even worth it. Other people are working on this car and it's stressful," he said. "You're taking directions from a lot of people, a lot of management, and you're dealing with a lot of people trying to get what you want out of it."

Kapitonov questioned if dealing with the added stress was worth the final product,he said. It wasn't until he experienced a memorable moment in the finishing phases of production that he knew all his hard work was not in vain.

"In this moment when it [the Camaro] was finished up in the shop. We put the hood down, and that was it." he said. "They set it up, drove it off, and now it's worth it. And then, of course, at the unveiling."

Kapitonov said the new Camaro will offer more than just power, though it definitely packs a punch.

"It makes me so proud of it, too, that there's a double punch. Where it's got a solid exterior there is also a solid interior. Not a lot of show cars are that consistent through and through."

IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
Speaking of the interior, this is one area where there was no controversy-it's a slam dunk. It reminds me of GM's better designs from the mid-to-late '60's. It's simple, yet exciting and beautiful, spacious and airy, as well as thoroughly modern. Sure, the retro touches like the console-mounted gauge pods are a bit hokey, keeping with the show car theme, but it's definitely a case of doing more with less, with plenty of nice curves.

"The overall theme of it was to be super simple with just one strong simple gesture to it," said Micah Jones, the creative designer for Rear-Wheel Drive Performance Interiors who spearheaded the design inside of this vehicle. "And that gesture goes wide and around you on the doors. Super horizontal."

Except for the obvious show-only touches, the basic theme could be easily carried over for production, and it should be carried over. The driving position is excellent, all the controls are intuitively placed and there's lots of room, even the backseat isn't a complete torture chamber. The rear quarter windows not only help visibility, they add to the open feel of the interior. Best of all, there's no giant lump on the passenger's side floor in front.
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Old 09-22-2006, 01:32 AM   #2
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Anyone who's ever driven a '67 to 69 Camaro will feel right at home behind the wheel of the new one. It's pure American muscle. Fat-wrapped three spoke wheel? Present. Beefy, chrome handled shifter with round knob? Check. The tach and speedo are right in front of you, though they are nonfunctional. It takes all my self-control not to rev the engine to the moon and sidestep the clutch. ("Hey, you said I couldn't go over 40 mph; you didn't say there were instructions on how to get there!")

Of course, you don't want to stall a $5 million one-off, either, so I take care with the six-speed when pulling away. And you certainly don't want to drive like a wuss. Let's say we got to 40 pretty quick, and then the limiter kicked in. Foot's to the floor, but once you get to the big 4-0, that's all she wrote.

The under pinnings for the concept car are Cadillac CTS-V, which give the car an independent rear. With this foundation and the giant tires (21-inchers fore, 22s aft), it felt a lot more like a real vehicle than we expected. The steering was particularly nice. Let's hope they get it this good on the production model.

In a real automobile, the LS2 with active cylinder deactivation could probably knock down 30 mpg on the highway. With the next series of LS engines already on the drawing board, who knows how good it can get? Weight will probably be about 3,650 pounds with a driver, or similar to that of the 2005-up Mustang GT.

It's no secret that the General is working on a whole line of new rear-wheal-drive vehicles, and we don't just mean Cadillacs and Corvettes here. Rumor has it the next round of full-sized cars (like the Impala) will have north-south drive trains and differentials mounted out back, like God and nature intended.

In order to justify its existence, the Fifth-Gen Camaro would have to hit a sales bogey of around 100K units a year. In the old days, this would have been a no-brainer. But considering that Chevy hasn't sold as many as 50K Camaros in a year since 1998, it might be tricky. Ford sold around 158K 2005 Mustangs and was on target to top that by a significant amount in 2006. Over 50% of those went to women, who shunned the Fourth-Gen Camaro like the plague, and 70% of Mustang production was of the V-6 variety.

In order for the Camaro to be a sales success (and ensure its future), the Fifth-Gen will have to appeal to men and women alike, old and young, and most importantly, to those who aren't complete performance freaks. It must be a usable automobile, one that makes people feel youthful, but not juvenile.

Ford has laid out a pretty simple formula: Fun-to-drive V-6 base model, powerful V-8 mid-level model, followed by a fire-breathing 500-horse variant on top, all available in couple and convertible form. We can see how the Camaro could be a sporty runabout with a powerful V-6, a Mustang GT killer with a 400-horse LS3 and Shelby slayer with 500-plus horsepower LS8.

The Camaro concept has the basic ingredients. With a little tweaking here and there and the right marketing, it could be a runaway success. Let's hope, because if it goes on hiatus again (in GM speak), it'll probably be forever.

Jim Campisano
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Old 09-22-2006, 07:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for the "heads up" 'TAG'!

Now I anxiously await the mail for another addition to the 'Camaro treasure chest'.
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Old 09-23-2006, 02:05 AM   #4
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Just sharing all the new info I can on this new bad boy. I love to read those new articles and I'm sure all of ya'll do too! I'll sure keep'em coming.
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Old 09-23-2006, 10:10 AM   #5
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Yep we sure do, I come to this sight daily, looking for any new bits of info I can gather. Keep em comin.
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Old 09-23-2006, 10:31 AM   #6
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oh boy oh boy oh boy. I just hope they don't change too much about it. lol get rid of the orange interior accents. I mean I love orange being a university of tennessee fan and all, but I personally don't think that would be a good thing for the interior. Even if they change the colors our to color key them with the exterior color.
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Old 09-23-2006, 12:25 PM   #7
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oh boy oh boy oh boy. I just hope they don't change too much about it. lol get rid of the orange interior accents. I mean I love orange being a university of tennessee fan and all, but I personally don't think that would be a good thing for the interior. Even if they change the colors our to color key them with the exterior color.
I agree about the orange accents. That is, in my opinion, over the top. It looks good for a concept car, but not for an everyday driver. I would like it to be uniform all the way around. I would like a leather type of dash w/ a medium gray and something like black inserts where the orange goes...or flip flop.
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:48 PM   #8
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Just received my issue of 'Super Chevy' with the concept on the cover!!!

I don't know about ya'll, but ever since the concept first appeared, from the day I saw it in N.Y., to the announcement it would make production, every days feels like Christmas! All this coverage, then the tests of the production car, then seeing them at dealers, and finally ending in putting one on my garage. I love it.
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Old 09-25-2006, 02:58 PM   #9
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Nice read thanks. Did you type all that up!?
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:18 PM   #10
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Nice read thanks. Did you type all that up!?
Actually, yeah...hehe. It is a brand new issue/article and they don't have it on any websites. I'm a pretty fast typer, so it didn't take too long. That's the passion, bro. I love the Camaro.

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Old 11-09-2006, 12:48 PM   #11
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Ya I got the article as soon as it was out and read it but I am only on here during school and can not type anything new because my computer at home crashed. But in that magazine I liked the Retro hybrid 69 Camaro w/the flames and the 4th gen interior, and everything.
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