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Chevrolet Camaro

Looking to the Future: Camaro Markets Itself Globally, Designers Look to 2020 and Beyond

The Future of GM Features Many Things, and the Camaro is Chief Amongst Them

This is a 2-parter update, as I wanted to share both of these videos with you. So, I’ll break it down in to two parts:

 

Part one: The Camaro Advertises to the Brazilian Market

The future of American automobiles is tied almost as much to foreign markets as it is to our own domestic one. This has become obvious as we’ve seen Ford make major moves in to the European market with their vehicles, and make even bigger plans for moving ahead with a full global strategy for their Mustang.

For their part, Chevrolet hasn’t been sleeping on global markets. We’ve seen commercials featuring the Camaro from Brazil before, two of them in fact. And they’re good. This year, with the 2014 redesign hitting Brazil as well (the Brazilian market is the largest non-North American Market for the Camaro), a new commercial has been released:

This new commercial is incredibly reminiscent of the Chevrolet ‘Find New Roads’ commercial featured during the Super Bowl last year, and for a good reason: it’s basically a Portuguese language version of that very same ad campaign. However, the American version didn’t ever feature a Camaro–or, for that matter, Mike Tyson, either. In the American version the Corvette had the premiere spot, but, the Brazilian commercial definitely treats the Camaro as the flagship car with, arguably, the advertisement’s best segment.

Here’s the American version, for comparison:

Part Two: A look to 2020 and Beyond

In a new video released by GM featuring Frank Saucedo–GM’s Director of Advanced Design–we get a glimpse of what GM’s strategy is moving forward with design and production. They have a long-term plan that looks past the year 2020 in an effort to stay ahead of the curve and continue creating vehicles like the C7 Corvette and Chevrolet Camaro which highlight the most forward thinking visual and performance design cues.

Strangely, the video focuses on the California automotive culture instead of the more classic American ones of the Midwest and Southeast, in its efforts to look toward the future. The video makes some great points about consumer desires and highlights the Bumblebee Camaro a fair bit, but, it also seems a little shortsighted ultimately–a strange comment to make about a video titled 2020 Vision whose focus is looking to the future and for the long term.

They mention foreign cars and foreign car design, but, they also fail to mention the very American identity that has made vehicles like the Corvette and Camaro so undeniably successful. Here’s to hoping these aspects aren’t forgotten as Chevrolet moves forward, too.

Strong August Sales Keep Camaro in the YTD Lead

Camaro Posts Strong Sales Raises in August and Build Larger Lead in the Pony Car Sales Race

The number one competition for the pony car industry doesn’t take place on any track: it occurs in a battle of numbers from showroom to garage floors. Vehicle sales are the number 1 indicator of which car in each segment is the best, as they’re based not only on the track numbers vehicles produce, but also the public popularity–an indicator of success in design and marketing far beyond what any writer could tell you.

That being said, the Camaro is king in its class, and further proved so this August.

The Camaro saw a 33% increase over August of last year to total 8,875 deliveries (deliveries are completed sales). These totals put the Camaro’s YTD deliveries at 59,156. This number is good for a sizable lead over the Mustang and Challenger. The Mustang had come close, pre-August, in YTD totals, but a 22% decrease in sales from last year left their August total at 5,866 and their YTD numbers lagging behind the Camaro with 54,745. The Challenger has the fewest sales of the three, but is also the only vehicle to post consistent sales increases over the last two years. While just two years ago the Challenger held an almost invisible portion of the market share, today they account for 4,392 deliveries in August (also a 33% increase) and 38,645 sales for the entire 2013 year.

Full charts and numbers below. All infographics courtesy of Camaro5 forum member Enator:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

 

 

Jeff Gordon Camaro Test Drive Prank

PepsiMax and Jeff Gordon Pulled One of the Best Pranks We’ve Seen In a Long Time with a Camaro

Usually, guerilla viral marketing can be a little ridiculous, but every now and then there’s a video that really works: this is one of them. On contract as a spokesman for PepsiMax, Jeff Gordon decided to put his driving skills to the test and give one unsuspecting car salesman both the scare and the ride of his life.

Utilizing hidden cameras, both inside the vehicle and around the closed course that Pepsi put together for Gordon, he went undercover in prosthetic make-up as middle-aged and nerdy “Mike” to test drive a Camaro. Gordon then took the Camaro, and the salesman who greeted him, for a fantastic ride.

Gordon definitely showcased his skillset as a driver, which he has proven time and time again in the NASCAR circuit, by taking the 2009 Camaro through hairpin turns, around tight corners, and in to some fantastic drifts and burnouts. Steve, the car salesman in the video, has a response befitting such a terrifying ride. Pepsi bleeped out a number of curse words, and as the test drive ends Steve is threatening to call the cops. Once he realizes who the driver is, and what the prank itself entails, Steve changes his tone and finishes the video 0n a light note.

The video has gone viral, and has been some great unexpected publicity for the Camaro with over 7 and a half million views in just two days time. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. This is one of those commercials that will be remembered for years to come.

Camaro Conversation with Chief Vehicle Engineer Al Oppenheiser

 

TheBlock’s full interview and conversation with Al Oppenheiser about all things Camaro related

Any time Al Oppenheiser–the main man behind the fifth generation Camaro–speaks us Camaro fanatics listen. Recently, automotive publication TheBlock was able to have a full conversation with him. Al divulged lots of information about the Camaro’s production past and future, some of it new and some of it old, and gave a genuinely charismatic recounting of his involvement in the vehicle itself. Oppenheiser is clearly a brilliant and interesting individual, and his conversations are always worth a read, as they’re both enjoyable and informative.

The full text of the article, as well as a link to the original posting, are below. Pay special attention to Oppenheiser’s answer about why the ZL1 is the greatest car on the planet, as I found a great deal of entertainment in that posting. Also of note is Al’s love for all Camaros, including his mention and directed praise for the first generation. Enjoy!

 

If you’re a diehard Camaro fanatic, there’s more than a good chance you’re familiar with the name Al Oppenheiser. For those perhaps not yet acquainted with Mr. Oppenheiser by name – it’s a good bet you’ve seen his work. Whenever you roll up to a stoplight and see the new, 5th generation Camaro next to you, yep, that’s Al’s pride and joy. As chief vehicle engineer for the 5th gen Chevy Camaro, Al and his team were at the forefront of bringing this iconic American sports car back to its loving public after having gone out of production for nearly a decade.

However, being the chief vehicle engineer for the 5th gen was hardly his first rodeo.

Al has been a part of the GM engineering family for over 25 years, and in the process has worked on some of the coolest production and performance car projects imaginable.

In 2008, his team worked on the legendary 1957 Chevy Bel Air named “Project-X.” And together with David Ross, GM Design Manager Styling at GM, and many others, brought this bright-yellow star of innumerable magazine appearances back to the future with the first-ever Chevrolet Performance 50th Anniversary 427 Big Block crate engine. This build featured prominently in the pages of Popular Hot Rodding, which seems fitting for what’s arguably the most popular ’57 Chevy on the planet.

While serving as Director for what was then the GM Performance Division, Al also oversaw several other high-profile build projects for some pretty well known folks from the sports and entertainment worlds.

A driving force behind turning Tom Peter’s vision of the next generation Camaro into a functional car, Al has remained the captain of the Camaro engineering team since the car’s unveiling at Detroit NAIAS back in 2006.

With those things in mind, it should come as no surprise that we were pretty ecstatic to be able to catch up with Al recently and ask him a variety of Camaro-related questions.

We touched on everything from the accolades the award-winning 5th gen Camaro has garnered, to his thoughts on the drag strip-dominating COPO, and on down the line to track titans, the ZL1 & 1LE – as well as the news of the first Camaro-specific parts Chevrolet has produced in over forty years!

So, join us as we cordially invite you to ride along as we talk with a guy who is as genuinely passionate about the legacy of Camaro as he is about its promising future.

 

The Camaro won SEMA’s “Best in Show” two consecutive years, did you ever expect that the 5th gen would have the success it’s had to this point?

Al Oppenheiser

I don’t think any of us expected it. We knew it was going to be a hot car. It had been out of production for 8 years, so there was a lot of pent up demand and passion for it. But the fact that we had the stroke of genius to work with Michael Bay and the Transformers Movie transformed the car “literally” and connected it with a younger generation. It really took off on a much greater trajectory than we ever imagined.

 

Talk to us a bit about COPO. How do you feel about reigniting that flame and transforming the 5th gen into the modern-day incarnation of its legendary drag racing namesake? 

Al Oppenheiser

We were asked by a lot of drag racing fans when we would have a 5th gen Camaro for them. Because basically, they’ve done everything they can to the 1st gens but couldn’t get them any faster. So in order to compete with Mustang and Challenger, who have their drag racing kits and versions, it was a thrill to be able to bring the COPO back. We just had to wait for the right time and the right formula. And it’s taken off as well, just like the other Camaro versions. It’s been a hit, and so much so, that we’re proud to bring it back for another run of 69 in 2013.

 

From a personal standpoint, what drew you to Camaros early on? 

Al Oppenheiser

I was a kid, and grew up in the era of late 60s muscle cars, and I fell in love with the First Gen. My first car was a Camaro, I bought a 70 ½ RS/SS, and planned on keeping it forever. I’ve always been a Camaro guy, always been around it. In my career I’ve worked in the Camaro and Corvette performance divisions. But the thrill of being able to be part of the concept when we first decided to bring the Camaro back in 2006 for the Auto Show, literally gave me goose bumps. Then they asked me to be the Chief for it. It’s a dream come true, I don’t call it “work.” I refer to it as a “Thank God it’s Monday Job.”

 

Generally speaking, what’s the first Chevrolet Performance part and/or modification you’d recommend to a new Camaro owner?

Al Oppenheiser

Usually, it’s our ground effects kits, splitters, and spoilers, things that help the aerodynamics of the car. I’m really happy that we’re getting to work with the Chevrolet Performance Parts guys now to release parts such as the 1LE, so that anyone with a prior year’s car can build theirs up similar to the production 1LE for 2013.

Anything we can do to help out owners of prior year cars is a great step. These are cars that will last, and you’ll see people auctioning off 5th gens at car shows 40-50 years from now.

 

What do you think of the whole new suite of Camaro-specific parts?

Al Oppenheiser

Every Camaro show I go to, and I go to several of them per year, everyone wants to bring me over and show me how they’ve individualized their car. They took our car and did something to personalize it. Usually it’s exterior, and then it’s under-hood mods. Everyone wants an air box or a smaller pulley. It’s great that now consumers are going to have such a broad complement of parts to choose from to truly personalize their vehicles.

 

Why is the ZL1 the best car on the planet?

Al Oppenheiser

Because we had a passionate group of engineers and designers put everything we knew about performance technology in the car. From the aerodynamics – the car makes down force – which is rare for a production car, down to the supercharger. To all the features and functions in the performance traction management, such as the magnetic ride control. One of the great things about the magnetic ride control is that it’s a peripheral benefit for us, because the car is so set up for the track. It’s over a 1G-capable car.

Most people don’t get to take the car out to Road America, but even still, just driving the car around town on rough roads — take Michigan roads for instance –that MR really comes into play in “tour mode.” It’s outstanding. So what’s generally designed to enhance performance on the track is also a great feature just driving around on regular roads. The ZL1 literally has every technology trinket you could put on a car – and it’s all standard.

 

Do you own a Camaro?

Al Oppenheiser

Sure do. A ’68. I’m the second owner. It’s a black convertible, and I did a complete ground-up restoration on it. I kept the parts original, so I sandblasted everything. And then I put new bushings and things on it. I played around a bit under the hood; it’s a Small Block that makes about 360 hp. I have a 10-bolt in the back still. It’s plenty of capability in a convertible – I can chirp the tires in every gear. It’s actually got a one-foot paint job, but the remarkable thing is I drive it all the time. People are amazed, they think it’s a trailer queen, but I built it to drive. I love spending time in it.

 

Sounds like you’ve got serious passion for the Camaro.

Al Oppenheiser

You know, there was a time I was working on the 2010 Camaro, during the day, and I’d come home and work on the ’68 at night. So I was working on Camaros ’round the clock. Occasionally I’d fall asleep on the garage floor about 2 o’clock in the morning. My wife had a series of shoes at the back door she’d throw to wake me up. She’d say “You gotta get up and go to work on the new one!” I live and breathe it. And that’s why I’ve got a dream job.

 

There was certainly an assortment of killer Camaros at SEMA 2012. Out of all them, which one would you most like to take home?

Al Oppenheiser

This one (points to the ’67 Hot Wheels Camaro). I was a Hot Wheel collector. In my youth I had over 300 Hot Wheels cars, and every track. When we got to work with the Mattel guys it was so cool. I got to see their development lab; they have their little mini Proving Grounds like we have for the big cars. So it was really cool. The idea to do a tribute car like this is phenomenal. As much as I love the Fifth Gen., I’ve always been a 1st gen guy, and I’d take this home in a heartbeat!

TheBLOCK.com would very much like to thank Al for taking time out of a very busy schedule to chat Camaro with us. While we’re on the subject, we want to know: What’s been your favorite 5th gen Camaro build? Drop by the Camaro forum and start sharing pics and stories!

Original Story

 

LS7 Powered Camaro?

Leaked GM Dealer VIN Card Declares LS7 Engine Option for 2014 Camaro

For those Camaro lovers who have been waiting for their Z28 model, the time may finally be here. In the Dealer VIN cards handed out by GM to dealers, an image of which was posted online today, there was an amazing find. Amongst the available engine option codes was an available E code–which would be the VIN identifier for the 7.0L LS7 engine.

Now, nothing’s official about this engine just yet, but this does seem to signal a move towards according it in a Camaro trim level. What that trim would be is the mystery, though, and if there’s a VIN designation for it it would seem there would be some trim level featuring it.

Of course, all of this is mysterious, as 2013 was intended to be the final year of production for the Camaro. With the C6 Corvette run’s coming to an end this final year of the C6 Z06 was intended to be the last vehicle to feature the LS7 engine. Seeing it here though, and being aware of the Camaro’s longer time table before we see the next generation, it may make sense that GM has decided to extend the engine’s life a little while longer.

If it does come to grace a Camaro, this means we’ll then see a naturally aspirated fifth generation Camaro capable of outputting 505hp. Those numbers, which are the current performance numbers for the 7.0L LS7 engine as it is tuned in the Z06, would make for an extremely powerful Camaro with a more natural torque and power curve–albeit less overall power–than the ZL1. A combination of that engine with a 1LE like lightened performance package would be the ideal coupling for a Z28 Camaro–matching, very closely, the Z28’s history of being a higher powered and more lightened and track focused naturally aspirated Camaro iteration.

What do you think? Could this be the Z28? If so, would it do the Z28 badge justice?

vincard-camaro-ls7

The Return of the 4-Cylinder Camaro Rumor

In 2008, before the fifth generation Camaro had even been seen by the public, the rumor of a 4-cylinder Camaro began to circulate. At the time Bob Lutz, who was then Vice Chairman of GM, made an allusion in an interview the possibility of one such Camaro offering. Then the C5 was released and such a thing never materialized–something many purists are very thankful about. The car went on to be one of the most popular American Sports Cars ever built and during it’s illustrious lifespan has outsold all of its competition impressively–today it holds around 40% of the entire market share.

With the sixth generation Camaro quickly approaching, the rumor has once again reared; however, this time it seems like less of a rumor and more of an inevitability. With the C6 Camaro moving to the newly developed Alpha platform, and the promises that platform brings with it of being smaller and lighter, it seems like now would be the key time for GM to make such a change.

At current, the Camaro’s direct competition seems to be going in the same direction. All indications are that the next generation Ford Mustang will feature an Eco-Boost 4 Cylinder engine in its lowest performance package, and the Camaro will likely follow suit. This change seemingly comes about as need to meet two different modern points: the rise in popularity of the Asian/European sports car once again, and the stricter CAFE regulations placed on American automobile makers.

GM Authority themselves have made the claim that sources (albeit, unnamed ones) have confirmed that the sixth-gen Camaro will in fact be available with a turbocharged 4-cylinder 2.0L engine. While this may seem like a move away from what made the Camaro great, it does make some sense. The inclusion of a lower-power and higher MPG effeciency Camaro will make room for production of high displacement engines–both V6 and V8 versions–without handicapping the company’s capabilities per CAFE restrictions. Also, with the Alpha platform being utilized, a forced induction 4-banger will still provide a fast, responsive, and fantastic driving experience.

There are downsides to make such a move, though. Outside of the idea of watering down the Camaro name and brand by forcing it to compete with vehicles of lesser-regard, it also means the drivers who purchase and own the 4-cylinder Camaros will almost certainly not have the same love affair experience that even today’s V6 Camaro drivers have. The exhaust tone will be a more subdued, higher-pitched variant on what we’re used to, and the torque numbers–and thus, 0-60 performance times–will certainly be well below what the lowest level Camaro today produces.

Thankfully, though, GM doesn’t seem to have any intentions of letting a move towards a 4-cylinder base destroy their dedication to the small-block V8. The new C7 Corvette will feature an incredible new variant on the Small Block–redubbed the LT1–and GM has invested a lot of time and effort in to updating that engine line’s technologies to achieve higher performance numbers in conjunction with greater fuel efficiency. This means we’ll almost certainly see an SS or Z28 build Camaro featuring an updated LT engine variation at some point during the sixth generation Camaro’s life time.

What do you think? Does the idea of a 4-cylinder Camaro leave a bad taste in your mouth or do you wholly embrace the idea of one such vehicle? I myself am torn. My first car in high school was a 4-cylinder Toyota MR2, and while that boxy beast was underpowered by comparison, it had an amazing driver feel thanks to its mid-engine and RWD configuration. GM could achieve a similar vehicle with a well-designed Alpha platform Camaro that would only be greater with the inclusion of V6 and V8 engines. They could also, however, end up leading us down a stray path where the American pony car loses its large engine identity, and that’s a world I don’t want to live in.

Great Videos of the Camaro as the Launch Vehicle for the U-2 Spy Plane

The Chevrolet Camaro is the officially used chase and launch vehicle for the U-2 Spy Plane

For a few decades now, the Camaro, and other similar Chevrolet vehicles, have been used as the chase car for the U-2 spy plane on take off and landing. The use of a chase vehicle is necessary for a plane like the U-2, as its extremely specialized nature requires visual confirmation for all take-off and landing aspects. The Camaro is utilized because of the vehicle’s capability in getting up to speed quickly, and following behind the plane.

The videos are incredible, really, as we get to witness the speed and go of the Camaro at Wide Open Throttle, as well as see a multi-million dollar piece of military machinery touchdown and take-off. The last two videos also show the history of the Camaro’s place chasing U-2 spy planes, and they show Third and Fourth generation Camaros chasing down airplanes–as well a few other GM vehicles doing chase duty.

Enjoy!

Camaro ZL1 Reviews Are Coming Out, and They’re Great!

Camaro ZL1 Reviews

Major automotive publications begin rolling out their Camaro ZL1 Reviews, and they’re very very good!

So, by today most of the major automotive publications have had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Camaro ZL1, and over the last week we’ve seen some great reviews from them hitting the web. There’s a lot of them, and I haven’t had a chance yet to get behind the wheel of one, so I’ll just give you some of my favorite snippets from them and include the links to the original reviews(as well as a few parenthetical remarks from yours truly). Before we get in to them, let me just say, these are incredibly exciting. The ZL1 looks to be such an amazing and exciting vehicle.

From AutomobileMag.com where they decided to compare the ZL1 to the Grand Sport Corvette for the basis of their review:

“During development, one ZL1 endured 600 clutch-dumping launches as part of the most demanding driveline durability testing program in the history of General Motors.” (Sounds like a monster of a driveline in this new Camaro!)

“Third-generation Magnetic Ride dampers charge and discharge faster than earlier examples, allowing for more precise control of damping rates. Their flexibility and bandwidth also allow the ZL1 to use the same springs as the Camaro SS. Sport and tour buttons just ahead of the shifter adjust the dampers accordingly, and a third mode — track — is available when Performance Traction Management is active. Unlike most cars, in which sport mode alters throttle calibration for quicker acceleration with less pedal travel, the ZL1 makes the throttle-pedal mapping less aggressive to allow for finer modulation.

“Rather than focus on reducing drag to, say, hit 200 mph, the ZL1 team aimed to maximize high-speed stability with downforce. The hood extractor, front splitter, and rear spoiler create enough downforce to eliminate lift as the ZL1 nears its top speed of 184 mph.”

On a 2.75-mile road course at Inde Motorsports Ranch, twenty-one turns make the case for the ZL1. We expected the intoxicating effect of more power and assumed there would be significantly improved body control, but we were skeptical that the ZL1 would revolutionize the way the Camaro handles. In fact, it does.

“The fast, balanced steering of the ZL1 is much more confidence-inspiring than the Camaro SS’s hydraulic power steering. The effort, the damping, and the return are tuned for a perfectly natural weight, but the electric rack does filter out most of the front-end feel. That’s even more true when compared with the Corvette, which boasts an equally quick rack with a robust hydraulic assist. While both cars deliver satisfying shifts, the Camaro’s shorter, snappier throws are more inviting than the Corvette’s longer shifts.”

From Autoweek.com:

“Packaging in the Camaro allows better intake and exhaust flow, with a 30 percent reduction in flow restriction compared with the CTS-V.”

“Its shifter was developed by Chevrolet, using slightly longer throws than the Hurst package in the Camaro SS, and was optimized for a road course rather than drag racing.”

“The ultimate Camaro also offers something you can’t get in a Mustang GT500 or Boss 302: an automatic transmission… There’s another technology in the ZL1 that you can’t get in a Mustang, and it’s significant. GM’s Magnetic Ride Suspension (MRS), now applied in supercars such as the Audi R8 and the Ferrari FF, has been upgraded for the ZL1. The Gen III MRS gets a faster processor and four smaller magnets in each shock, rather than two larger ones. The objective is quicker reaction time.”

The ZL1 comes standard with track stuff you don’t get on a GT500, including a transmission cooler, differential cooler and brake-cooling ducts, and its aerodynamics have been optimized for high speed.

“Chevy says development included a 24-hour, high-speed flog at GM’s proving ground in Milford, Mich., with a 150-mph-plus top speed each lap and an average of 88 mph, stopping only to change tires and brakes.

Here’s Car and Driver’s review. It’s my favorite one of the bunch:

“It features GM’s second-most-powerful engine: With 580 horsepower, it’s behind only  the truly absurd, 638-hp Corvette ZR1. No surprise that during its development it was known simply as the “HP.” And it carries the most sophisticated adjustable dampers and stability-control system any amount of money can buy. For this, GM asks a base price of $56,295, which includes a $1300 gas-guzzler tax; all the go-fast parts are standard issue.”

The ZL1 is not your old-school, all-ate-up-with-motor muscle car, although its name derives from such a vehicle. It is built with the GM Performance Division mantra of  “go, stop, and turn” in mind. Track ability was always part of the HP program from back when everyone assumed the car would be called the Z28.”

“Get everything right, and the ZL1 hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and passes 1320 feet in 12.3 seconds at 119 mph—or better, as the cold and dusty track at Inde was less than ideal for acceleration runs. Few cars costing less than $60,000 can claim such feats. And the ZL1 sounds angry, with a throaty bass-boat rumble backed by a faint supercharger whine. The V-8 fires up with a roar, and the exhaust crackles when you back out of  full throttle.”

“Starker is the transformation of the ZL1’s handling characteristics from those of a stock SS. In the latter, the driver is always fighting the car—it understeers on turn-in and oversteers on corner exit, all served up with a healthy dollop of body roll. The ZL1 does exactly what you want all the time, with no surprises. Front grip is tenacious enough that you actually get a sense of the tires biting in as you turn the wheel. Power comes in so creamily and with such linearity that it’s easy to forget you’re driving a 580-hp car. The brake pedal feels solid but still offers enough travel for smooth application, and it shows no fade. The ZL1 goes around the track with a composure that would shock many BMW M3 fans.” (Comparisons to an M3 are huge praise from C/D who are famous for their love of the BMW M-Series vehicles)

“We saw 0.98 g on a dusty skidpad (did we mention Tucson is in the desert?). This is supercar territory.

Each body alteration either improves cooling or reduces lift. Or, in the case of the bulging center section of the hood, which is made of carbon fiber (and covered in clear-coat paint for an additional $600), both.”

“Should you wish to save some fuel, or suffer a fit of social responsibility, you can comfortably drive the ZL1 gently, but that seems contradictory to the car’s whole mission. Isn’t 580 horsepower supposed to be—and feel—ludicrous?

“What’s crazy is that the ZL1 is not crazy; it’s comfortable and easy to drive. With the ZL1, General Motors has made the Camaro into a true GT car—daily driver, long-range missile, and track-day special all in one. “

For the purposes of their review, MotorTrend ran the Camaro up against the fastest production Mustang available right now, the Boss 302:

“For 2012, Chevy aims to redefine the ponycar completely in one electronically optimized fell swoop. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 takes the once-simple formula for all-American performance and reworks it into a recipe for a modern cyborg warhorse. Literally leaning on suspension technology originally developed for Cadillacs and Corvettes, the Camaro achieves better-than-Boss levels of handling with the highway ride quality of a CTS-V.”

“With professional racer Randy Pobst behind the wheel, the ZL1 laps the 2.2-mile Inde Motorsports Ranch circuit 2.45 seconds faster than the Boss. That’s huge.

The Camaro felt far more composed on the track than the Mustang. “I can put this thing right where I want it!” barked Randy as he slid the car around with one hand. Although heavier than the Mustang, the ZL1 still changes direction easily and is capable of pulling higher g-forces mid-corner. The constantly variable damping rates make the Camaro feel as though its tires sink into the track. Bumps that shook the Boss simply disappeared and never upset the ZL1. More important, more of the track became usable since curbing wouldn’t throw the Camaro into a tailspin.”

“The Camaro clearly came out on top of this fight. Although the Boss 302 is probably the best Mustang ever built, it just feels and performs like it’s a generation behind. Randy summed it up: “The Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca was my favorite American musclecar — until today.” It isn’t the lack of power; it isn’t the lack of amenities. It’s simply a lack of technology.

Popular Mechanics did what they do best in their review (which is to say offer solid information in an annoying slideshow format whose embedding stopped functioning for me on slide 4 of 7 and required reloading and starting over at slide 1. We should be past this slideshow format in web journalism, guys!):

“The ZL1’s headline-grabbing figure is 580 hp, which, admittedly, is an addictive amount of giddyup to have under your right foot. But focusing solely on the power overlooks the fact the ZL1 is probably the first Camaro in history that turns better than it sprints.”

“Depending on the driver’s skill, PTM can make the ludicrously quick ZL1 feel somewhat safe when pushing the car to its limits.” (Never underestimate how important driver confidence is to performance and lap times.)

“Approaching a gentle but very fast right-hand kink at Arizona’s Inde Motorsports Ranch, we cut the corner just a touch too tightly, dropping the right-side wheels into a hole next to the track surface. Running at 100 mph, that’s the sort of mistake that can turn ugly in an instant. The ZL1, however, bounced out of the hole, immediately regained composure, and carried on as if we’d driven perfectly. That’s the kind of forgiving nature that’s rare in a car as fast as the ZL1. “

We’d be just as happy to pilot the ZL1 on a mountain road or road course as we would on a drag strip.

“Many onlookers will focus on this horsepower war, but that misses the point of the ZL1. While we’ve always appreciated the style and, of course, the power of previous Camaros, the ZL1 is the first one that we actually want to drive. And for all it delivers, the asking price is a bargain.”

Jalopnik’s review begin feeling almost bitter and grumpy, but it quickly got very positive in favor of the Camaro ZL1:

“The ZL1 itself gives me my first scare a couple of laps in as I come around the 180-degree turn that empties onto the straight. I’ve decided the tires—and my abilities—are as warmed up as they’re going to get. Gunning it on the straight to catch up to the Bondurant race instructor playing leader in a Camaro SS, the ZL1’s tremendous torque pitches the back end of the car back and forth over the width of the drag racing road surface. The sensors that send information to the PTM system are doing a full reading roughly about every inch, so within a quarter-of-a-second the relatively timid Mode 2 has set the ZL1’s fishtail back on a straight line and I’m at 100 MPH with no tail flash in sight.
I’d modulated the throttle when the back end started getting squirmy because that’s what one does when getting a lot of unwanted wheel slip. But according to the Camaro’s engineers, I didn’t have to. In fact, had I kept the throttle smashed to the floor, the car would have still done what was necessary to keep the ZL1 from spinning out into a wall.

You’d have to really hate cars not to enjoy throwing a ZL1 around a track.

That is the ZL1 in a nutshell: an incredible, frighting behemoth of a car, entirely too powerful for its own good, but reined in by clever engineer-wranglers who have worked very hard to allow even terrible drivers to keep themselves safe.

“You can’t ever grade over the rough disappointments of youth, but you can leave them behind. And with cars as mad and indignant as the Camaro ZL1, you can sure as hell make an adulthood worth remembering.

The reviewer for MotorAuthority absolutely loved the Camaro ZL1 and gave it my favorite comparison of all the reviews–a 2012 Porsche 911:

“I realized, while mentally re-visualizing the last set of laps, that from turn-in to apex, under fast entry speeds with a fair amount of trail brake, the ZL1 felt, acted, and moved almost exactly like the 2012 911 did under similar circumstances.”

“Wait for the lights, step off the clutch, and WHAM! it’s off, scrabbling and chirping down the 60-foot, making the most of the tsunami of torque-producing atmosphere being crammed down the gullet of the V-8 engine by the supercharger.”

“It’s not that the ZL1 isn’t really, really good on a road course. Its 7:41 Nurburgring time says it is, as does my own first-hand experience. It’s even outfitted from the factory with transmission and differential coolers–bits the ZL1’s main rival, the Ford Shelby GT500, makes optional add-ons.”

The ZL1 is a true driver’s car, and regardless of its ultimate pace in comparison with sports cars or supercars in its price, power, or performance categories, it delivers an experience that, at times, is on par with the very best of them.”

So, there you have it. Six of the world’s biggest automotive publications have great great things to say about the Camaro ZL1. Anyone else as excited as I am to get behind the wheel of one and see for themselves?

Reigning Champ Camaro Wins the Sales Battle Once Again

2010’s Pony Car Sales Champion Camaro Moved the Most Units in 2011

88,249 Camaros sold in 2011 give it a decisive sales victory over direct muscle car competitors Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger

In sports, when a team or competitor dominates for the majority of the match and coasts to a decisive over-all victory by the very end, the term “blow-out” is typically used. In the case of the battle for most popular American muscle car in 2011, you might say that a “blow-out” victory was exactly the type that the Chevrolet Camaro enjoyed.

Following the vehicle’s break-out success in 2010, 2011 saw the Camaro continue its dominance. For 11 of the 12 months the Camaro moved the most vehicles–and did so, in many of those months, with a considerable cushion of multiple thousand units. The only month that the Mustang took the sales crown was the month where Ford was moving all of its prior model year vehicles at a severely discounted price to make way for the new model year, and even in that month the Mustang only managed to move 400 more units than the Camaro.

In December alone 6754 Camaros were sold, which was good for a 20% increase over December of 2010, and a 1697 unit lead over the second place Mustang for that month. On the entire year, the Camaro’s 88,249 units sold took a commanding victory over the Mustang at 70,438 and the Challenger at 39,534.

So, there you have it, the Camaro is the victor in its sector for a second straight year, and with the ZL1 hitting showroom floors–and the sales for both the coupe and convertible models of the Camaro continuing to climb–it looks like a safe bet to take home the crown on a threepeat.

A Superbowl Preview that doesn’t talk about football…

So, I’ve already touched on the GM marketing strategy for the Superbowl in a previous post: all Chevrolet! Originally, the thought was that Chevrolet would not share or screen their new commercials before the big game (unlike the majority of their automotive marketing competitors who began sharing commercial clips weeks ago on video sharing websites), but that has all changed. This week, a few different Chevrolet Super Bowl commercials have leaked out on YouTube, and two of them are of particular interest to me (and, probably, to you also!). Why are they of particular interest, you ask? Because they feature the Chevrolet Camaro in all of its beauty and glory.

The Chevy marketing team has done great work with these commercials and has provided two different ones–one which focuses specifically on the car, and another which combines the vehicle’s hype with the hype for the new Transformers film coming out this year–for a tandem of hilarious marketing spots. The direction of the marketing team is obvious: humor. Each of these commercials is almost certain to elicit a good chuckle from you, especially as each presents a farcical approach to standard commercial formats. One highlights the standard ridiculousness of car commercials (and uses this highlight to its advantage to go above and beyond in the ridiculousness), and the other pokes fun at the standard used car lot commercial format. Each is funny, well-made, and most importantly features a Camaro. So, here they are, the day before the Gigantic All-American Super Fantastic Marketing Football Extravaganza Event itself, for you to watch and enjoy!

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