Share This Article

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 27, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

DEJA VU By John Grafman

I remember the time when muscle cars freely roamed the earth decades ago. As crazy as it might sound now, we thought those days would live on forever. Back then, the American car companies were the only game in town, and the only two things that mattered were bigger and faster.

The Camaro was symbolic of the time. The Chevy reached higher and higher with each passing year. Motors got bigger and more powerful, styling became more dynamic. These cars excited a country, and shaped the lives of several generations of car enthusiasts. This was the heyday for Detroit. Then the party came to an abrupt end. Gas prices, exhaust emissions, and safety standards were the equivalent of a cold shower. In turn, those cars produced prior to this downturn were elevated to legendary status. Now it's hard to escape asking if history will repeat itself. We'll cut to the chase: The new Camaro Convertible concept car does have the makings of a legend. All the key elements are in place. Take the more than slightly reminiscent body style, coupled with a hearty eight cylinder motor, saddled with skyrocketing gas prices, and a government hell bent to control CO2 emissions, and what have you got?

Speaking with Brian Smith, the Exterior Design Manager on the convertible, he describes how the new Camaro concept began life prior to been given the official green light from GM. This project started as one of love and desire. And not just to maintain the name Camaro, but also to continue the passion. During our conversation, Brian points out a number of details that morphed from the coupe to the convertible. These features included the height and satin finish on the windshield surround, the tonneau cover, the rear spoiler, the fuel filler door, all of which have some relevance to the coupe's hardtop being eliminated. Additional features include the halo headlamps, LED tail lamps, heritage inspired rear fender gills, and anodize aluminum door handles to match the windshield surround. Also included are wheels with accent colors to match the exterior.

Listening to Brian explain the development, it becomes apparent the challenge in trying to retain the flavor from the '69 Camaro, yet create something new and contemporary. Another hurdle is retaining a strong Camaro identity, explore new directions in order to keep it fresh, and avoid the common design cues found in some of the other muscle cars. This is tougher than it might seem, as yesteryears' muscle cars shared many similar traits. But, this is why Brian gets paid the big bucks. Interior Designer Micah Jones created an interior that's both bold and modern. It still retains much of their original flavor, such as having the four auxiliary gauges mounted in front of the manual shifter. It's these touches that make the car seem very familiar to those acquainted with the '69.

While this is still just a concept, this is also a driver. Slipping behind the deep dish steering wheel, it's obvious some of this is not ready for prime time. The seat belts, for instance, are purely for display purposes only at this point. Nevertheless, it's easy to get a good sense as to what the production vehicle more than likely will be. This car starts up effortlessly with a healthy growl. A little more provoking of the accelerator results in a deep, purposeful, World War Two fighter plane roar. Given the opportunity, the Camaro is more than willing to jump off the line. We are kindly reminded this is only a concept, but it represents a lot of time and money invested. Translation, you break it - you buy it!

Even with just a small taste on a closed road and a coned course, this does live up to keep its reputation for performance. Cruising with the top down on a perfectly radiant morning, this isn't about reliving old memories as much as creating new ones. Who am I to argue? Clearly, the materials and design, particularly in the interior, are several steps ahead of what we can find on current production cars of this genre. While we reserve our final judgment for the production car, this concept does provide much of the driving feel and experience one would hope to find. Will the melting polar ice caps, shifting ocean currents and tension in the Middle East spell trouble for the Camaro before the car even gets to production? After living through numerous presidential administrations - including some that definitely were not friends to muscle car enthusiasts, surviving nearly four decades of fluctuating consumer tastes, and being brought back from the dead, somehow high gas prices just don't seem too disconcerting after all. After all, cool just never goes out of style.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Going against the grain makes this the bad boy muscle car even more attractive. Find more at www.gm.com. See the Camaro Concept at Chevy's Rev It Up ride-and-drive events this summer.

SPECIFICATIONS Price: TBD Engine type: V-8 engine Drive configuration: Front engine / rear-wheel drive Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut front, progressive rate coil springs, gas-pressurized dampers Rear: Independent multilink, progressive rate coil springs, gas-pressurized dampers Wheels and tires: Front: cast aluminum 21-in, 275/30R21 Rear: cast aluminum 22-in, 305/30R22 Brakes: Front: disc, 14-in rotors with four-piston Rear: disc, 14-in rotors with four-piston Overall length: 186.2 / 4730 Overall width: 79.6 / 2022 Overall height: 53 / 1344

You Might Also Like These Articles:

volkswagen art car jetta mountain alltrack

#TBT: Five Volkswagen Art Cars

toyota supra 3.0 premium grey car misty night

Car Review: 2021 GR Supra 3.0 Premium

quattro book group b rally car

Book Review: Quattro

917 restaurant waiter food burger

917 (K)afe

Porsche 356 made by Reutter

Book Review - Porsche 356: Made by Reutter