The Ford Mustang is proof positive that a good idea never dies - that
of rear-drive, 2-door sporty coupes with V-8 engines. Chevy has
decided that it can't stand idly by and let Ford dominate the segment,
or watch Dodge dust off the Challenger for another go.
While the Mustang and Challenger are fairly faithful modern
interpretations of their respective forebears, Tom Peters (designer of
the C6 Corvette) decided he wanted to pick up cues from the '69 Camaro
but use them on a car that is edgier and more modern than retro.
"My charge to the design team was for them to do the meanest,
scrappiest, street-fighting dog they could sketch," Peters said,
adding that he wanted to incorporate the sheer surfaces found in jet
fighters like the F-22 Raptor, a plane which also influenced his
While the front-end graphic of a single opening flanked by headlamps
is pure Camaro, the sheet metal has a decided point to its nose and
the anodized grille in that opening has an even sharper beak. The
sharply creased character lines in the power-dome hood and down the
side of the car are offset by convex curved sheet metal that gives the
car a fuselage look. The roof features a double-bubble inspired by the
Corvette, while planar rocker panels sweep into bulging rear fenders
to give the Camaro its muscle. The rear end is a fresh look with twin
square openings filled by round taillamps.
Inside, designer Jeff Perkins reinterprets the classic muscle-car
interior. "Those cars were always kind of mysterious, kind of dark
with deeply hidden instruments," Perkins said. "I wanted to pick up
those cues but do it in a new way."
His vision is to keep things simple, with minimal use of buttons,
switches and read-outs. Two instruments dominate the dash - the tach
and speedometer - and use the recurring theme of round aluminum faces
set into square bezels. Rather than having a cockpit with the console
joining the dash, the two are separate; the dash is one piece from
door to door, while the console - which extends into the rear seat -
ends just ahead of the large shifter with its baseball-sized knob.
The reborn Camaro rides on GM's global rear-drive Zeta platform, which
means that rumors of that architecture's death for the North American
market have been greatly exaggerated. Beneath the hood is a 6.0-liter
LS2 400-bhp V-8 mated to a Tremec T-56 6-speed manual gearbox. Riding
on a 110.5-in. wheelbase, the Camaro measures 186.2 in. in overall
length and rides on a fully independent suspension with 4-wheel 15.0-
in. disc brakes. The alloy wheels measure 20 in. at the front and 21
in. at the rear.
Because the Camaro shares the same basic underpinnings as the GTO, all
indications are that this Chevy variant could join the lineup
following the Pontiac's total redesign in 2008. Which means the Camaro
could be a go for the 2009 model year.