Fans of the Bow Tie brand can rejoice: the Chevrolet Camaro is back - and looking better than ever.
Right now, it's just a concept car - unveiled at the Los Angeles and Detroit motor shows - but General Motors is using it to test public reaction before deciding whether to bring the high-performance two-door back into the Chevy range.
The Camaro, Dodge's Challenger concept, and Ford's production Shelby Mustang 500, all shown in Detroit mirrors America's rekindled love affair with the pony car genre.
And straight out of the box all three will deliver performance that once the province of the aftermarket tuning industry.
Like the current Mustang and the Challenger show car, the Camaro Concept takes its styling cues from the pony car's heyday.
In Chevy's case, it has updated the lines and look of the first generation Camaro from 1968.
But the new car has a more efficient powertrain, and a much more sophisticated chassis in place of the 1960s car's leaf-sprung rear end.
Chevrolet saus its goal is to make the Camaro relevant to younger enthusiasts while retaining its appeal to its current fans.
“Millions of people of all ages fell in love with the Camaro for all of the right reasons,” says GM design chief Ed Welburn. “Camaros were beautiful to look at and offered performance that could rival expensive European
GTs. Yet they were practical enough to drive every day and priced within the reach of many new car buyers.”
The Camaro Concept has a 400bhp aluminum small-bock V8, a six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension.
The V8 has fuel-saving features like Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology to give highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or better.
Where Dodge says its Challenger is a full four-seater, Chevy says the Camaro will provide occasional back seat accommodation for two adults.
Bob Boniface, the director of GM's Warren Advanced Design Studio, says the fact that the Camaro has been out of production for severalyears made it "particularly
important that the Camaro Concept honours the Camaro heritage in the right way.”
But as well as the 1969 Camaro, the designers also turned to the latest Chev Corvette and
to aircraft like the YF-22, to develop a design that "encompasses the spirit that made the 1969 Camaro great, but interprets that spirit in a fresh, exciting way."
“The overall proportions, long hood and powerful fender forms say, ‘this is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive performance vehicle',” says design director Tom Peters. The prominent grille and bonnet bulge hint at the power of the V8 engine; large wheels and tyres, exposed high-performance brakes and prominent fender shapes signal that the Camaro Concept has the handling and braking to go with the powertrain.
Its cockpit nestles between sharply defined fender forms, a design element inspired by fighter planes and the new Corvette. “The Camaro Concept isn’t just a styled shape,” says Peters. “The design incorporates what the vehicle needs to perform to its optimum level.”
Inside the cockpit, the gauges and splash of orange trim hint at classic first-generation Camaros,
but the overall design and execution reflect the no-nonsense functionality of a high-performance Chevrolet.
Engines and tech stuff
The Camaro Concept uses the latest generation of GM’s small-block V8.
The 6.0-litre LS2 engine features an aluminum block and heads for light weight. Active Fuel Management shuts off four cylinders to save fuel when the engine is lightly loaded.
The six-speed manual transmission provides a wide spread of ratios for aggressive acceleration off the line, confident passing and merging and efficient highway cruising.
The rear-wheel drive chassis has independent front
and rear suspension with progressive-rate springs and gas-pressurised dampers, and four-wheel vented disc brakes with 14-inch rotors.
The wheels are unique five-spoke cast alloys, 21 inches at the front and 22 at the rear.
A runaway success
Designed in the mid-1960s, the first-generation Camaro captured the optimism of an era.
The Baby Boomers were in their teens, and rock-and-roll and Motown ruled the airwaves.
The Camaro's dramatic proportions and graceful lines recalled both the Corvette and the Italian GTs of the era.
Its powertrain line-up, which soon included both the potent Z-28 small block and big block 396s and 427s, gave the Camaro the performance to go with its looks.
But what really made the Camaro an American icon was that it was accessible to millions. Chevy sold more than 699,000 Camaros in its first three years.
“The Camaro Concept is designed to have that same broad appeal, with unmistakable style, spirit and performance,” says design boss Ed Welburn.
Chevrolet Camaro Concept specifications.
Engine. 6.0-litre LS-2 V8, Maximum power, 298kW. with
Transmission. Rear-wheel drive. Six-speed manual T56 gearbox.
uspension. Four-wheel independent. MacPherson strut front, multilink rear.
Brakes, Four-wheel discs with 350mm disc rotors and four-piston callipers,
Wheels. Front, 21-inch cast aluminum. Rear, 22-inch alloy.
Tyres. Front, 275/30 R21. Rear, 305/30 R22 rear.
Dimensions. Length, 4730mm. Width, 2022mm. Height, 1344mm. Wheelbase, 2806mm. Front track, 1620mm. Rear track, 1607mm.