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1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

2dr Convertible

Starting at | Starting at 19 MPG City - 30 MPG Highway

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  • $22,125 original MSRP
Printable Version

1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Printable Version

1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

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1998 Chevrolet Camaro

Source: New Car Test Drive

The most go for the dough.

by Don Fuller

Base Price $17,150
As Tested $24,411

The Chevrolet Camaro, and its cousin, the Pontiac Firebird, just might be the best performance values on the face of the planet. Restyled for 1998, these sleek sportsters come with major mechanical enhancements and offer performance ranging from really good to awesome, at prices that are surprisingly affordable and competitive.

The Camaro and Firebird are as American as it gets: Long and low with a powerful engine mounted in front and rear-wheel drive. Room for rear-seat passengers and cargo capacity are not top priorities. But for style and performance at a great price, the Camaro and Firebird are nearly impossible to beat. We drove the Camaro Z28 Coupe, but what we have to say about the Camaro applies to the Firebird; they are nearly identical.

Walkaround

The Chevrolet is available in two basic levels, Camaro and Camaro Z28. They come in coupe and convertible body styles. (The Pontiac comes as the Firebird, Formula and Trans Am.) Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, dual airbags, theft-deterrent system, tilt wheel, full instrumentation and air conditioning.

The base engine is a 3.8-liter V-6, and we like it a lot. Available with either a four-speed automatic or (our preference) a five-speed manual, it's rated at a robust 200 horsepower and 225 foot-pounds of torque and will rev to 6000 rpm. The 3800 Series II V-6, as it's called, is well regarded and offers performance equivalent to many V-8s of the not-too-distant past -- without the cost, fuel economy penalty or extra insurance premium of a V-8. Furthermore, the 3800 V-6 is available with an optional performance handling package that includes a limited-slip differential, dual exhaust, P235/55R16 tires on alloy wheels, quicker steering ratio and, if equipped with the automatic transmission, a 3.42:1 axle instead of the standard 3.08:1 ratio. There is also a sport appearance package that includes alloy wheels and special body trim.

Those wanting more performance can opt for the LS1 5.7-liter V-8-powered Z28. Modified slightly from the engine developed for the new Corvette, and rated at 305 hp and 335 lb-ft of torque, this aluminum powerhouse makes the Camaro a genuine high-performance car (especially if equipped with the six-speed manual transmission), that's capable of well over 150 mph, right off the showroom floor.

Standard with the Z28 are the tires and wheels of the sport appearance package, a performance handling suspension, limited-slip differential and the all-important 155-mph speedometer. If wretched excess is your game, order the Camaro SS with forced air induction and the output soars to 320 hp, accompanied by further suspension upgrades and massive P275/40ZR-17 tires. There isn't another car within $10,000, and doggone few within $20,000, that can stay with it.

The Camaro does an admirable job of keeping all this power hooked up to the pavement. The reason: Its chassis features upper and lower control arms in front, which keep the tires in better contact with the road than the more popular struts. A live axle is used in the rear and it's one of the best live axles because it's well-located by a long torque arm, trailing links and a Panhard rod. Springs are coils, and there are front and rear anti-roll bars. This is one very capable high-performance car. Compared to its most likely and obvious competitor, the Ford Mustang, the Camaro accelerates better, stops better and gets around corners a whole lot better, all due to its superior chassis.

The brakes are big four-wheel discs, with plenty of cooling ability for enhanced fade resistance. ABS is optional. Steering is by power rack-and-pinion.

In our view, the most attractive aspect of the Camaro is the performance for the money. We'll even put in a few words here about the Camaro with the 3.8-liter V-6. The Mustang is also offered with a base 3.8-liter V-6 engine, but while the Camaro V-6 makes 200 hp and revs to 6000 rpm, the Mustang runs out of wind at 150 hp and won't come close to 6000 rpm. So, V-8 to V-8, or V-6 to V-6, the Camaro (and the equivalent Firebird), simply runs away from the Mustang.

The Inside Story

Obviously, cars built low and sleek don't offer much excess interior room, and the Camaro is no exception. The Camaro is more difficult to get into and out of than the taller, more upright Mustang. Also, the seating position is low and somewhat reclining, with your legs extending forward. But once you're in, the overall driving position, including control layout and instrumentation, is pretty good and lends itself quite well to the business of enthusiastic driving -- a significant part of the Camaro's appeal.

The tiny rear seats are shaped with deep buckets in the cushions, so the requirements for sitting back there include: Sufficient nimbleness to get in; the ability to sit squarely in the bucket with feet in front and knees up; and basic measurements of less than 5'10" and 160 pounds. If you meet those requirements the back seat is not the torture chamber it might appear to be, but it's still primarily a place for briefcases or small people who won't complain.

Cargo space is also limited. Open the rear hatch and there's a modest bin that fits behind the rear axle, and a higher shelf behind the rear seats. There's plenty of room as long as you don't need to haul more than groceries for two. The rear seats fold forward to accommodate a decent amount of luggage room. But if cargo space is a priority you shouldn't be looking at a Camaro.

Ride and Drive

Even in its base form, the Camaro feels pretty sporty to most drivers. The low driving position and low center of gravity contribute to a hunkered down, responsive feel, no matter how briskly or sedately the car is driven.

The Camaro's mechanical layout, with a front engine driving the rear wheels through a live axle, might seem outdated, but it's quite capable and very successful on the race track. The engine is positioned so that most of it is behind the centerline of the front wheels, thus placing it in the category of front mid-engine design. This distributes the weight more evenly. The result is a car that bends into corners with eagerness and grip and accelerates away from those same corners hard and true. Compared to the Mustang, the Camaro will feel lower, wider, more stuck to the road and more responsive. It's more sophisticated than the Mustang, feels better when driven hard, and works better.

Moving even higher on the performance scale is the Z28 Camaro, a car that offers remarkably good handling, better than many that wear the "sports car" label and cost a good deal more. Driven conservatively the ride is well controlled and smooth enough for "sports car" expectations. Driven with more enthusiasm, the Z28 has exceptional directional stability and good feedback through the wheel. It turns into corners with linear precision. It'll make you look for the long, crooked way home.

We can't emphasize enough the significant role the excellent 5.7-liter LS1 V-8 plays in this. Most people have never driven a car that runs this hard. The engine revs and pulls with gusto all the way to redline. The chassis is balanced well and contributes to the commendable driving experience. But as good as the Z28's chassis is, the heart of the car is really that Corvette engine.

Final Word

This kind of car isn't for everyone. Interior room is modest and the swoopy styling, responsive performance and exceptional handling mean the owner must be willing to accept some compromises. But if your willingness to accept those compromises lines up with what the Camaro or the Firebird can deliver, then you could be looking forward to a lot of miles of driving pleasure -- without busting your budget.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
4-Wheel Disc Brakes Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile¹ CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile² Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile³ Powertrain Limited Warranty for model years up to 2014.

¹Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

²Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

³Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1998 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

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