Featured Muscle Cars


2010 Chevrolet Camaro

by Malcolm Gunn

What a difference 43 years can make. Then again, maybe nothing has changed at all.

In February, the Chevrolet Camaro, which became a nameplate for the 1967 model ear, rides again to challenge the Ford Mustang and the recently reappearing Dodge Challenger in a Big-Three-way sports car face off.

As the Mustang's most persistent rival, the Camaro survived both good times and bad over a four-decade timespan until succumbing to a fatal case of public and corporate apathy. The car, along with the popular Pontiac Firebird, bid farewell at the end of the 2002 model year.

But it seems that time has nurtured a little nostalgia for vehicles of the Camaro's genre, especially from the boomer generation that grew up lusting after the original versions of these captivating cars. As if answering some far-off clarion call, Chevrolet has again prepared a brand new Camaro that blends plenty of way-back-when looks along with sufficient power and technology.

Although the Camaro might look and sound North American, it's actually an international effort that has transformed it from the drawing board to reality. The rear-wheel-drive platform, which is also used for the new Pontiac G8, was developed in Australia and could eventually be used for other General Motors models. Final assembly will take place at GM's Oshawa, Canada, plant that's near Toronto.

The stylists have done an impressive job staying true to the original concept vehicle that was the hit of the 2007 Detroit Auto show. Certainly, the general shape is retro-inspired, but the lines are crisper and more up-to-date with just the right amount of bulge in the fenders and creases in the body panels.

Similarly, the interior is a mix of new and classic themes that no doubt will delight diehard Camaro-istes. In particular, they'll positively swoon over the twin center gauge pods as well as the console-mounted dials that replicate those found in early Camaros. Contrast that with an available package that lights up the door panels with LED piping. No other automaker has this feature on any model.

Physically, the Camaro finds itself slotted between the smaller Mustang and the bigger Challenger, the latter being based on Chrysler's full-size sedan architecture. As such, expect the Camaro's rear seat for two people to be a snug fit and merely for occasional use.

The weight advantage goes to the Mustang which, at 3,400 pounds, is the lightweight of the trio by a good 300-350 pounds.

Chevrolet will roll out three hardtop versions of the Camaro, with a convertible scheduled to arrive later in the model year.

The base LS and LT are motivated by a 300-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 fitted with either a six-speed manual transmission, or optional six-speed automatic. The top-end SS comes equipped with one of two 6.2-liter V8s, depending on which transmission is selected. Those wanting to row their own gears will et the Corvette-based LS3 motor with 422 horsepower that's connected to a six-speed manual gearbox. Camaros fitted with the available six-speed automatic will receive the slightly tamer 400-horse L99 engine equipped with a fuel-saving feature that shuts down half of its eight cylinders when coasting or while cruising along flat roads.

All Camaros will arrive reasonably well turned out with the usual air/cruise/tilt, four-wheel disc brakes and power-operated accessories. SS models will add beefier Brembo-brand brakes, lowered ride height, sport suspension, exclusive 20-inch wheels (18 and 19-inchers are standard) and a performance mode setting for the traction control and stability control systems, which are vital to preventing this rear-drive machine from becoming a little too tail happy.

Other options include leather interior, additional floor console-mounted gauges, backup warning alarm and a premium sound system.

There are a couple of unknowns, however. Can the new Camaro truly live up to years of advance hype? And is there still enough interest in this category of car to sustain the Camaro and its rivals, especially in this time of expensive fuel prices and fickle consumerism?

If the answers to both questions turns out to be yes, then perhaps the 1960s really have returned.

courtesy of Wheelbase Communications

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