On Sale: Winter 2008/2009
Expected Pricing: Comparable to Ford Mustang
There was a strange time warp at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The calendar said it was January 2006 but the cars on display made many think the clock had been turned back more than three and a half decades.
On display were a new Shelby Mustang, a new Dodge Challenger and a new Chevrolet Camaro. The last time all of those constellations aligned was a quarter-century plus 11 years ago.
But it appears the pony car era, created in the mid-1960s with the birth of the original Ford Mustang and then resurrected a couple of years ago with the rebirth of the '69 Mustang as a 2005 model, is galloping again. Not only did Chevrolet unveil its Camaro concept but the Chrysler Group unveiled a very retro Dodge Challenger concept.
While the smoothly curvaceous Challenger looked like it was simply reissued, though in a somewhat more modern size because of its Chrysler LX underpinnings, the Camaro concept had a more contemporary and angular appearance that looked cutting edge, and we mean that both literally and figuratively.
This was not a retro or reissued '69 Camaro. In fact, some might have wondered if this car was designed in the Chevy studio at all. It's edginess looked Cadillac inspired, and if all you caught was a quick glance through the crowd around the car, you might have thought you'd wandered out of the GM display and into the Mitsubishi stand.
GM says the Camaro concept is a "thoroughly modern interpretation of the classic sport coupe" with "dramatic design" and "responsive performance."
GM still is working on the rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform on which a future production Camaro would be built. The concept version was based on the same architecture as the Pontiac Solstice, though that platform was modified to accept a 400-horsepower, small-block V8 powertrain borrowed from the Chevrolet Corvette.
By using Active Fuel Management to shut off cylinders not needed for highway cruising, GM figures the modern Camaro could achieve 30 miles per gallon in such circumstances, yet still provide the off-the-line muscle that made the pony cars appealing in the first place. Putting that power to the pavement in the concept cars are huge 22-inch rear wheels, with 21s up front to provide steering control and with 14-inch disc brake rotors to provide stopping power.
While the exterior has a modern edge and attitude, the interior has more retro styling cues with two large main gauges and with other gauges located at the front of the center console.
GM says the concept "is intended to explore customer reaction to design and engineering elements that might lead to an all-new version of the Camaro," the Chevy pony car that ceased production after the 2002 model year.
The Camaro concept was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We're looking for production to resume as soon as 2008.
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