Muscle cars are back!

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Muscle cars are back! Ford's retro-look, big-power Mustang has plugged that long-vacant space in US buyers' hearts - and now Chevrolet wants a piece of the action, too.

It took the wraps off the Camaro con-cept at January's Detroit Motor Show, and five months later, while General Motors does the sums for a production version, Auto Express has driven it first.

Away from the stands, the Camaro looks bigger, edgier and more menacing than ever. Design supremo Ed Welburn - himself the owner of a 1969 Camaro - had two design teams working on the styling. One car was just too retro, but the other is what you see here.

It's broad, bad and bulging, the rear wings extended to cover giant 22-inch rims and unique 305/30-section Goodyear tyres. The fronts are mere 275/30s on 21-inch wheels! Vast aluminium tail-pipes hint at what's to come, and there's more aluminium under the bonnet, with polished rocker covers for the Corvette-sourced 400bhp, 6.0-litre V8. Inside, yet more aluminium surrounds the dials and gearlever. The speedo and rev counter are set in Sixties-style pods, the blade-like column stalks are similarly retro and what resemble gold-anodised aluminium trim panels are actually acrylic. The standard of finish is fabulous, especially the way the heavy glassfibre outer panels fit together with laser-like precision.

Unlike most sports cars, the seating position is high; project leader Gretchen Darbyshire says the idea was to make the seats look as if they are floating. But the result is a letterbox-style view out through the shallow windscreen.

The V8 fires with a violent rumble. Into the first of the six forward ratios, up with the smooth clutch and we're off, the engine crackling angrily. It sounds terrific. "We worked hard on that," ex-plains Darbyshire, "but we might have issues with drive-by noise legislation."

Her role was to bring together all the pieces to make the concept work: the Corvette engine, the Cadillac CTS rear suspension, the front suspension from a pre-production car. Which one? Well, it's tipped to be GM's new Global Rear-Wheel Drive platform. Developed mainly in Australia by Holden, but with input from engineers worldwide, this is most likely to underpin a production Camaro.

We can't push too hard, as it's a concept and has an electronic speed limiter - but unleashing most of the 400bhp in second gear, we're definitely going quicker than we're supposed to! Each gearchange brings a fluff and a crackle, and there's enough power and pace to push the car through some corners - it's taut, hardly leans and steers sharply.

With a chassis that promises to be far more sophisticated than the Mustang's, menacing looks and that big V8, a production version would really be something that lived up to the Camaro name.
John Simister

Pontiac may switch to rear-wheel-drive only

As posted by
Tuesday May 30, 2006 8:43 AM EST - By: Michael Kwan

General Motors forms a giant umbrella of different brands, and each name is meant to convey a certain message, or rather, appeal to a certain demographic. Pontiac was once the performance minded division, but many industry pundits have found that GM may have lost its drive in recent years, putting out "understeering, generic-looking, front-drive blandmobiles."

According to Automotive News, however, the crew over at General Motors are ready to hype up the Pontiac brand again, catering to a crowd with high-end performance preferences. In fact, word is that they're switching to rear-wheel-drive ONLY. The only RWD vehicles in its current lineup are the GTO (which appears to be coming to an end of its run) and the recently released Pontiac Solstice. The later has made a big splash (as has its cousin, the Saturn Sky), and they hope to continue that trend with a few new additions.

In the works is an updated (possibly rear-wheel-drive) version of the Grand Prix sedan, but more interestingly, rumours are floating around that they're doing a Camaro-based GTO and maybe even a Firebird. The age of the muscle car may be back in full swing.

Chevrolet Camaro Concept: Meet Mr Muscle

America wants to have fun again - and GM, reports John Simister, may be about to deliver with this prototype for a low-slung, retro Chevy road-eater. He wants one

Published: 30 May 2006
Posted by The Independent

We all know what a Ford Mustang is. An aggressive-looking American coupé with a big V8 engine and a starring role in Bullitt. So ingrained is the Mustang in the US auto-psyche that Ford recently recast it in the style of the original and most iconic version after years of embarrassing decline. It has sold like hot pretzels ever since.

Observing enviously Ford's success, GM showed an idea for a new Camaro back in January, at the Detroit auto show. The crowd went mad, helped no doubt by the mind-altering unburnt hydrocarbons puffing from the exhausts of the five 1969 Camaros preceding the new one along the car-walk.The US wants its musclecars back, wants to feel good about itself, wants to have fun again.

So here's the new Camaro in concept form. Will GM build it? Petrol-headed product-planning chief Bob Lutz, never very good at staying "on message", has declared the intention to put the Camaro into production, and I'm driving the concept car right now. This would hardly have happened if the project was going nowhere.

The Camaro and I are at GM's proving ground at Milford in the company's Detroit heartland. Ahead of me are instruments sunk deep in 1960s nacelles, all around are shiny details in machined, polished aluminium. Behind the steering wheel are two stalks flattened like blades, another 1960s touch. And the gear lever is a fine piece of polished aluminium sculpture, moving precisely from one number machined on its housing to the next. Something isn't right, though. I'm sitting too high, making me aware of the shallowness of that windscreen as though I'm wearing a peaked cap.

"That's because we wanted to make the seats look as if they are floating," says my passenger, Gretchen Darbyshire. She has yet to drive the Camaro, which is an injustice because she is its project manager. "It happened so quickly, finishing the car for Detroit, and it's been out at shows ever since so I haven't had a chance."

I squeeze the accelerator for an exploratory burst of power. There's a 400bhp, 6.0-litre Corvette V8 under the bulging bonnet, all buffed-up with aluminium acccessorisation, and the sound it sends through the fat pair of tailpipes (machined aluminium, again) is magnificent. "You're enjoying driving this car," says Gretchen seeing the smile forming on my face. "That's good to see, because that was the idea."

Another gearshift, another crackle from the exhausts before I reapply the power and stoke up that percussive V8 beat once again. What a great sound. "Yes," says Ms Darbyshire, "we worked hard on that, trying lots of different mufflers. We might have issues with drive-by noise legislation, though."

Yes, this all feels authentic. The Camaro is low, sinewy, wide, vocal, just as a musclecar should be. There's one big divergence from the 1960s template, though. I steer the Chevrolet through a long, fast bend, and it responds accurately with credible feedback and none of the springy vagueness that the original Camaro possessed. It also feels very firm on its vast, machined-from-solid wheels (21in front, 22in rear), maybe too taut for a roadgoing car. "Too taut?" queries Ms Darbyshire. "We selected the springs purely to give the right ride height," she continues, as if to say that the tautness is immaterial because this is, of course, only a concept car. "I'm interested to know what you think, though."

She's interested because it could have a bearing on how the production car turns out. This concept car doesn't use quite the same chassis and suspension components as the production version would, but in principle they are quite similar. One of Ms Darbyshire's tasks was to select the right parts from GM's huge inventory to make the designers' ideas a reality, to bring the concept car to life and make it work. What a fantastic job that must be, a notion with which she - an engineer whose father and brothers are also engineers - readily agrees.

The chosen pieces include that Corvette engine (the latest, all-aluminium version of the Chevrolet small-block V8, of which more examples have been made since 1955 than any other engine range in history), multi-link rear suspension from the Cadillac CTS, and "pre-production" front suspension. Aha, interesting... pre-production of what, exactly?

Ms Darbyshire could not reveal the answer, but it's likely to be part of GM's new Global Rear-Wheel Drive platform whose development is centred at GM's Holden outpost in Australia but to which GM engineering teams worldwide are contributing.

Holden has already sent the Chevy V8-engined Monaro coupé to the UK, and the Camaro (if it goes ahead) is essentially a rebodied version of the next-generation Monaro.

Back to the concept car. It feels mighty rapid, of course, but the real thing would be yet faster. That's partly because it would weigh less, and, more obviously because there's an electronic speed limiter to reduce the possibility of artistic, rather than durability-tested, pieces falling off. The Chevrolet Camaro concept is a fabulous bit of fun, and its profligate engine even switches to four cylinders under gentle driving to stem the fuel thirst. GM is almost certain to make a production version, perhaps as soon as 2008, but plans for Europe are hard to fathom.

One problem is that Chevrolet has been recast, outside the US, as a global budget brand with Daewoo roots. The most glamorous of the US Chevrolets, the Corvette, is denied its Chevrolet branding in Europe and is sold here by Cadillac dealers. Perhaps the Camaro could be similarly de-Chevied if deemed necessary. It's an easy anomaly to live with if it means we can have the car.

I hope it happens. Whatever you might think about the US at the moment, it does this sort of thing rather well.

Pontiac Going Rear Drive?

Proposal plays up performance cars in attempt to revive ailing brand


DETROIT -- After debating Pontiac's viability this year, General Motors' leadership plans to revive the brand's heritage of performance with a product lineup of exclusively rear-wheel-drive cars.

There would be no trucks and - after the next generation of vehicles - no front-wheel-drive cars either.

GM will unveil a rwd sedan concept at January's Detroit auto show, company sources say. This echoes the strategy that GM adopted with the 1999 Evoq concept, which revealed Cadillac's new brand "look."

The Pontiac plan is not final. GM executives continue to build a business case for it. This ambitious proposal is a plan to save the brand, which has suffered declining sales. GM sold 437,806 Pontiacs in the United States last year, compared with 599,123 in 1995.

One insider says it would take five years to convert the brand to rwd. That's why Pontiac will get one more generation of fwd and all-wheel-drive small cars.

A Pontiac spokesman declined to comment on the brand's plans. Fwd cars will not go away soon, but rwd vehicles will become more prominent "in the near term," the spokesman said.

Sources inside GM and close to Pontiac say GM leaders are debating:

>> The future of the Grand Prix sedan.

>> A possible GTO replacement based on the Chevrolet Camaro.

>> A Firebird muscle car.

In recent years, Pontiac has been wracked by debate over its future. During a controversial speech at the New York auto show last year, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz called Pontiac "a damaged brand."

In a recent interview with Automotive News, Lutz said he had never asserted that the brand was "irreparably" damaged. While Pontiac is still struggling, GM is repairing the damage, and the bleeding has stopped, Lutz says.

Nevertheless, sources say top-level GM executives did debate a phaseout of the brand. In January, senior executives met to discuss Pontiac's future. GM decided to revive Pontiac as a pure performance brand.

GM will trim product lineups as it consolidates Buick, Pontiac and GMC into three-brand dealerships under its retail channel strategy. In a recent interview, Lutz told Automotive News that Pontiac and Buick will not carry trucks.

Lutz declined to speculate whether the Pontiac Torrent crossover, a rebadged Chevrolet Equinox, would one day go to GMC, but industry sources say it's likely.

The strategy will force Pontiac to sort out its product plans for the Grand Prix. While GM hasn't set a time frame, it's likely the automaker will discontinue the current incarnation of the fwd Grand Prix after the 2008 model year, industry sources say.

GM is considering a new mid-sized rwd sedan to replace it, says an industry insider. The source says the vehicle will be "one notch up" from the present Grand Prix, which has a base price of $21,990, including shipping. Whether that vehicle keeps the Grand Prix name is uncertain.

A rwd lineup could give Pontiac performance credibility, says John Pitre, general manager of Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, Calif. "They're right on track with the performance division of GM," he says. "BMW has been born and raised on rear-wheel drive. For us on the West Coast, rear-wheel drive feels better to drive and seems to last longer."

But Pontiac's drive to become a pure performance division would sacrifice sales volume, predicts Doug Scott, industry analyst at GfK Automotive in Southfield, Mich. For example, many G6 buyers in northern climates want a front-wheel-drive car for winter conditions.

Scott also said GM is pressuring dealers to combine Buick, Pontiac and GMC franchises into single stores by cutting the brands' product lineups.

"They really want to narrow the range of products and narrow the sales objective," Scott says. It means sacrificing sales volume at dealerships for profit at corporate level. "It's forcing the channeling strategy," he says.

Pontiac brand executives hope that if GM builds the Camaro for Chevrolet, the architecture could provide a similar product for Pontiac. The previous generation of GM muscle cars included the rwd Pontiac Firebird, a sibling of the Camaro.

But Pontiac spokesman Jim Hopson is quick to add, "We want a truly differentiated product. We don't want a rebadged vehicle."

Company insiders say that if GM decides to build the Camaro, GM will not revive a Firebird version. "There will be no Firebird," says one source. "Rear-wheel drive? Yes. Pony car? No."

Dealers also want a replacement for the GTO, one of only two current rwd Pontiac cars, the other being the Solstice two-seater. Pontiac will kill the Australia-produced coupe this fall after just three model years.

Insiders say there will be a replacement for the GTO, but the product gap will remain for a couple of years.

Says Pontiac's Hopson: "We haven't made any bones about the fact that Pontiac needs a rear-wheel-drive performance vehicle."

Dodge Challenger makes unexpected pit stop in Golden State

We could only hope to see the Camaro making an appearance like this!

as posted on

Either Dodge is prepping to officially announce production of the Challenger concept, or the brand's feeling dissed for not receiving 300 e-mails daily like rival Chevrolet for its Camaro concept. Whatever the reason, the retro-muscle car rumbled largely unannounced into SoCal last week, sending enthusiasts into a frenzy. Autoblog reader John and members of Challenger Talk snagged several pics at various spots in Orange County, while reader emulous1974 snared a surprising number of night shots (above) before his camera battery died. Thanks for the top-notch work, guys!

Click here to see more exclusive images

Challenger Concept could be parking next to you soon

as posted on

Dodge has been doing some market research these days by sending its Challenger concept on the rounds. Autoblog reader Kurt spotted the beaut on Cruise Night at a Big Boy restaurant in Taluca Lake, Calif., where the carbon fiber-clad one-off was the object of everyone's affections. This is at least the second or third time the Challenger Concept has shown up unannounced in a parking lot, which is likely playing a part in Dodge's decision whether or not to make the car a reality in production form. Check out the link for some night shots of the Challenger Concept under the bright lights of Big Boy

2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Acceleration Video


Keep your eye on the tach and speedo during a terminal velocity blast in a 2006 Corvette Z06.

The June 2006 issue of Motor Trend track tests five of America's hottest tuner vehicles against the new 505-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06. A strike force of five tuner cars, 4,500 horsepower, and six tough tests were documented across 14 pages in the magazine, and in this video.

Click HERE to see the video!

UPDATE 1-GM restructuring efforts 'bearing fruit'-Lutz

source: Reuters
Thursday 25 May 2006, 11:11pm EST

By Kevin Krolicki

DETROIT, May 24 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp.'s restructuring efforts are "starting to bear fruit" and a new approach to car design has shaken up what was an overly bureaucratic and failed product planning process, the auto maker's vice chairman said on Wednesday.

"Our turnaround at General Motors North America is starting to bear fruit," Bob Lutz, also GM's global product chief, told an industry dinner at which he was honored.

"We will get this thing turned around and we'll do it on the back of the great cars and trucks we have and the ones we'll be introducing at an incredible pace in the near future."

Lutz also said he believed GM would opt to produce a version of the revamped Chevrolet Camaro muscle car that it showed off as a prototype in January, pending board approval.

He said GM was allowing its designers freer rein in creating vehicles such as the hot-selling Pontiac Solstice convertible.

"The way the world is seeing GM is coming from a very negative place to a slightly more positive place and we think as we roll out more new products that momentum is going to build," Lutz said.

"We have the insider's view and we know what is coming over the next three years and it is going to be an array of products that is going to be best-in-class. That's a focus we lost for about 30 years," he said.

Lutz's comments came after GM shares gained 8 percent on the New York Stock Exchange earlier on Wednesday, buoyed by Merrill Lynch raising its rating on the view that the auto maker's cost-cutting program was moving faster than expected.

GM shares have gained over 30 percent since the start of the year on a growing belief that its restructuring could head off a deeper financial crisis for the auto giant that is closing 12 plants and cutting 30,000 jobs.

GM stock had dropped by more than two-thirds between August 2004 and December 2005 amid investor fears over declining sales and high legacy -- pension and healthcare -- costs.

Lutz said GM had also shaken free of what he described as a "purely mechanical, bureaucratic, highly left-brain, analytical" product planning process, in which all the important decisions were left to marketing analysts.

"Why should we give your future products to statisticians who troll through the past two years of market trends as opposed to letting our creative people take the lead," Lutz said.

Lutz said GM had "several" upcoming but still unannounced models that had emerged from its designers in a departure from past GM practice that would give the cars a more emotional connection to consumers.

"There's no doubt that a design-driven philosophy is the only one that will work," he said.

"People who are not sensitive to design, people who don't care about vehicles, people who view a vehicle as an appliance, they just default to Toyota. We will never win that one."

Lutz said the new Camaro, inspired by the 1969 version of the legendary muscle car, would be priced at about the same level as the Ford Mustang and produced in similar volume.

"We're assuming it will be an approved project," he said. "We're doing a lot of the basic engineering and cost estimating, the basic architecture, but at GM projects are not approved until the board signs off."

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GM To Showcase High Feature Test Facility At Milford Proving Ground

source -

FOR RELEASE: 2006-05-22

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. will today hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to showcase one of the most sophisticated powertrain vehicle development facilities in the world. GM’s new state-of-the-art High Feature Test Facility at the GM Milford Proving Ground is designed to simulate any type of road system or climatic condition found in the world.

Capable of achieving temperatures between 40 degrees below zero to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity and altitudes from 700 feet below sea level to 12,500 feet, and simulating air speeds up to 100 miles per hour, the facility significantly accelerates powertrain vehicle development and enables notable cost reduction. The facility also provides full emissions measurement capability, meeting regional regulations in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

One technology feature of this new facility is its dynamic road simulation. GM engineers have mapped nearly two dozen mountain and desert roads where customer vehicles are driven. The climatic conditions along with road grades have been programmed into the test site computers. The computer simulated roads can be “played back” as test vehicles are driven to them. Any of the road schedules can be easily modified to simulate all of the four seasons, on a single day if needed.

“The High Feature Test Facility helps GM develop and validate the next-generation powertrain products by allowing testing currently completed on the road to be executed in a controlled, repeatable and climatically robust laboratory environment,” said Dan Hancock GM Powertrain vice president of engineering operations. “We have the ability to provide year-round climatic and altitude testing, which greatly improves our vehicle development time.”


The High Feature Test Facility at the GM Milford Proving Ground involved new construction of two full-feature test chambers. The test chambers contain features such as altitude, temperature, humidity, wind speed and emission measurement for drivability testing. Additionally, the adjustable floor tracks and vehicle entry paths can accommodate a large range of vehicles for powertrain evaluations. Capable of simulating just about any driving condition, the chambers equip GM with a year-round, altitude capable, powertrain vehicle testing facility providing comprehensive testing data to Powertrain development engineers.

In addition to the test chambers, the project involved a building addition and associated test support areas, including thermal soak rooms, control rooms and test article preparation areas. The facility can transition between one climatic extreme of arctic temperature to another such as desert heat in a matter of a few hours. There are four static chambers (non-driving or soak) where stationary vehicles are climatically tested.


The design of the facility included safety interlocks, overloads and emergency procedures and egress areas. The safety elements are a part of the normal operating procedures of the facility to ensure care for employees during reduced atmospheric pressure work environments.

About General Motors:

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world’s largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit , GM manufactures is cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. More information on GM can be found on

New GM project targets U.S. cities

From the Detroit News

'Arlington' initiative calls for taking message to markets untainted by negative news coverage.

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- General Motors Corp., hoping to overcome a flood of negative national news, has quietly launched an intensive marketing effort to tout its successes and build consumer awareness for its products in medium-sized markets around the country.

A team of about 50 people -- including a couple in each of 16 cities, including Sacramento, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, Austin, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y. -- is running the multimillion-dollar "Arlington Project," named for the Washington, D.C., suburb where it will be based.

The effort includes direct marketing, attempts to secure more favorable news coverage and outreach efforts by dealers, suppliers and other company officials. The cities were selected because they are dominated by local media rather than national outlets that have hammered GM in recent months for its sales and financial losses.

"We need to be more confident and aggressive in getting our side of the story told. One side's been told quite a bit. We need to get our side out, but you know we have to have results to validate it," Mark LaNeve, GM's sales and marketing chief, said in an interview Wednesday. "All the Arlington Project is about is really getting out our side of the story on product, fuel economy."

A second effort -- dubbed the Detroit Project -- is aimed at touting the progress of GM's turnaround in the national media.

"We have a lot of good news stories to tell," GM chief spokesman Steve Harris said, calling it a grassroots effort to get better coverage.

According to an internal memo sent by Harris on Wednesday announcing a shake-up in GM's public relations department, Peg Holmes has been named senior strategist and will oversee the Arlington Project.

She will work with the McGinn Group, a communications consulting firm also based in Arlington.

Brian Akre has been named to head up the Detroit Project -- "which is responsible for communicating the success of the GM turnaround," the memo said.

In addition, GM is making a renewed push to boost sales in booming markets such as southeast Florida and southern California, where its market share has fallen to the low teens in some areas.

Nationwide, GM has captured 23.8 percent of the U.S. market in the first four months of 2006, compared to 25.4 percent during the same 2005 period.

The company has been using senior executives to promote GM's turnaround.

Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has been on national TV, including an appearance on the CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday morning news program and "60 Minutes" newsmagazine, as well as in Time, Newsweek and other prominent media outlets.

"Rick's been out there quite a bit. The dealers think that Rick is an excellent spokesperson for the company. He doesn't like doing it. He likes to run the business. … It's important for him as the CEO to be out there," LaNeve said.

During the interview Wednesday with The Detroit News, LaNeve touched on a number of topics:

GM wants to build and "fast-track" the new Camaro -- a concept sports car that's received lots of positive press coverage. "Based on the reaction to it, it'd be a great product for us not only for volume but from an image standpoint," LaNeve said.

"A car like that done and priced right is a 100,000-unit vehicle." No final decision has been made on putting the Camaro into production.

LaNeve said the company is about 1 percentage point behind where it should be in market share this year. "I feel we can make up some of the ground," LaNeve said.

GM is committed to building more flexible-fuel vehicles -- 400,000 are planned this year -- which can run on E85 -- a fuel made of 85 percent ethanol -- and will continue to add new models. "We think we'll be over 50 percent by end of the decade," LaNeve said.

GM has no plans to do an "employee discount" style summer sale that boosted market share in 2005. "We're not planning on any big bang, GM-wide incentives. We are going to be aggressive. We are going to have summer sell down programs, but they'll be executed by division," he said. The amount of incentives "is going to be driven by the competition. We're not going to let them run away and hide from us."

Rising gas prices have significantly impacted SUV sales.

"If gas was $2 a gallon, we'd probably be doing 100,000 more" full-sized SUVs.

GM's Live Green Go Yellow Web site has received more than 5 million hits, helping the company combat the perception that it doesn't build enough fuel efficient vehicles.

"Everytime it gets written and it says, 'GM, which is dependent on gas-guzzling vehicles,' it reinforces the belief. We'd like to see some shifting in that."

You can reach David Shepardson at (202) 662-8735 or

Buick Y-Job set the tone for car designs

as posted by The Detroit Free Press

May 21, 2006

I watched the sky anxiously as I drove to General Motors' Milford Proving Grounds early Monday morning. The forecast called for rain, and rain would ruin everything.

The reporter in me knew I had to concentrate on driving the Chevrolet Camaro concept car, but the parts that appreciate history and beauty ached to touch the Buick Y-Job.

Neither car would turn a wheel on the test track if it rained, and for good reason.

The Camaro is a show car, built to wow crowds inside Cobo Hall. The electrical system isn't waterproof.
You'd no more drive the Camaro in the rain than toss a hairdryer in the bathtub.

The Y-Job has been rained on countless times since it debuted as GM's -- and almost certainly the entire auto industry's -- first concept car in 1938.

Legendary GM design boss Harley Earl used the voluptuous black convertible as his personal car for years, racking up about 12,000 miles behind its skinny steering wheel.

Today, though, you'd as soon leave Van Gogh's "Starry Night" out in the rain as the Y-Job.

The chrome-bejeweled concept spends most of its time at GM's Heritage Center in Sterling Heights these days. It's trucked to special events, but almost never driven.

"It's the crown jewel of our collection," said Dale Jacobson, concept car coordinator for GM's design center.

GM craftsmen spent two years building the one-of-a-kind Y-Job. The car cemented Earl's status as the auto industry's most influential figure, setting the tone for decades of automotive design with its low profile and flowing airplane-inspired lines.

It was the first Buick with a tapering boat-tail rear end, the first GM car with enclosed headlights, without running boards and the first on which the fenders' curves extended into the door panels.

It also helped establish Buick as a luxury brand, with futuristic features like power windows, a fully automatic power soft-top, and the first DynaFlow automatic transmission.

That's just the spec sheet, though. The true allure of sitting on the Y-Job's broad black leather bench seat was the chance to be in the company of timeless beauty, like being offered a trip back in time to have dinner with Ingrid Bergman or Greta Garbo.

The rain held off Monday. I drove the Camaro and rode in the Buick.

Driving the Camaro was a thrill, but I was a little relieved when GM said one of its people would drive the Y-Job.

The prospect of taking the wheel was a little intimidating, as if somebody asked me to help move the Venus de Milo. I will if you insist, but I'd just as soon have a professional do it. I don't want to be responsible if another piece falls off.

The decades have been a friend to the Y-Job. Get back to me in 70 years, and I'll let you know about the Camaro.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or

Driving Impression: Chevrolet Camaro concept

by: John Simister
18 May 2006

'You're enjoying driving this car. That's good to see, because that was the idea.'

Camaro project leader Gretchen Darbyshire has noticed a smile on my face as I move the solid aluminium gear lever through its precise gate and reopen with my right foot the gateway to the V8 engine's 400bhp. It sounds fantastic.

'Yes,' she says, 'we worked hard on that, trying lots of different mufflers.'

Well, the ones her team chose don't do much muffling at all. There's a healthy V8 cackle as the revs rise, a racy crackle when I back off. This is a 6.0-litre Corvette engine, the latest, all-aluminium and most powerful descendant of the ubiquitous and venerable Chevy small-block for which former Camaros were just a few of its underbonnet homes. The first of those Camaros were the greatest: the 1968 originals and the 1969 facelifts. And it's a '69 that the 2006 Camaro concept car most closely evokes.

The retro aura is all around, but cleverly updated, which means, mainly, a visual toughening-up. The dials are recessed in deep dashboard tunnels but their aluminium edging is solid, machined, expensive. Four auxiliary gauges huddle together ahead of the gear lever, an unergonomic, out-of-sightline indulgence deemed cool in the 60s but a functional solecism now. They look good to me, with their wedgy needles, minimalist calibrations and gold-anodised backdrop, even if - like all the instruments - they don't actually work. The door panels are full of this gold stuff, too, except that really it's all acrylic plastic and merely very convincing.

It's unlikely, frankly, that the production version will have so much machined aluminium. It's a concept car thing. But this thought immediately triggers the next one: will there be a production version?

People have been asking that since the Camaro concept smoked and bellowed onto the Detroit Auto Show car-walk, following five '69 models to the loudest cheers of the show. We sensed then that General Motors was pretty serious about the idea and the fact that it has allowed the Camaro out again, this time to drive, suggests further intent.

Gretchen Darbyshire and her colleagues keep saying that it's just a concept car and gives little clue of how a production version would drive: but when you're that close to a project the little things always assume big dimensions.

So yes, the concept car uses Cadillac CTS rear suspension and the front struts from, says Darbyshire, 'a pre-production car that I can't reveal'. Would that be Camaro pre-prod car, by any chance? Or anything else using the new Global Rear-Wheel Drive platform (GM's preferred nomenclature) slated to underpin any future Camaro?

'I can't say,' she replies. Probably not a no, then.

In case it's relevant, here's a quick run-down on that platform. It's a two-generations-distant, more sophisticated descendant of the Vauxhall/Opel Omega's underpinnings, its development concentrated in Australia (home of GM's Holden division) but driven by engineers from all GM's major regions, so it will be ready-adapted for all worldwide applications. It's not quite the same as the Camaro concept's hidden parts, then, but not radically different either - and a whole lot more sophisticated than the Mustang rival with its solid, live rear axle.

We're at General Motors' vast proving ground at Milford, near Detroit. And I'm taking a bend as fast as I can, given the Camaro's electronically limited 60km/h (37mph) speed ceiling, imposed in case concept-car bits fall off. Actually I don't believe it's that low given that the engine revs heartily in second gear. There's enough speed to make the Chevrolet work in this bend.

The springs were selected to give the right ride height
How does it feel? The grip is much more than I'm needing (but look at those huge tyres); the steering is firm and positive; the ride, ditto and almost too taut.

'Too taut?' queries Darbyshire. 'Oh, but we selected the springs purely to give the right ride height,' she continues, as if to say that the tautness is immaterial because this is, of course, only a concept car. 'I'm interested to know what you think, though.' Aha! So it is relevant.

The whole car feels tough, heavy (it's heavier than a production version would be) and wide. It's a hefty machine. You sit oddly in it, too, because the front seats have ended up too high in an attempt to make them look like they're somehow floating. Combined with the low windscreen header, it makes the view forward as though it's through a letterbox.

It would be fun to drive at night, though. The edges of those gold-look trim panels have soft lighting to accentuate them, also found in two longitudinal strips along the headlining's central axis.

Other interior features include fascia vents bisected by the fascia/door join, a rear seat that really isn't very roomy, and frameless doors and rear quarter windows to make this a pillarless coupe.

Ah yes, the look. Like Ford's ultra-successful Mustang, whose popularity GM would no doubt like the Camaro to emulate, the conceptual Chevrolet looks simultaneously modern and retro. Two different GM studios produced proposals; the winning one coming from Tom Peters' team at the advanced design studio. The other one looked just a little too slavishly retro in the view of GM design director Ed Welburn (himself a '69 Camaro owner).

The new interpretation is chunkier and more muscular than the original, with a fabulous flare out to the rear wheelarches and, seen in the open air, its sharp edges and the fantastically crisp and narrow panel gaps of the heavyweight glassfibre body are especially obvious. There's lots of machined aluminium detailing, including the two hefty tailpipes and, under-bonnet, the strut towers and cam covers. This is one good-looking small-block. The vast wheels are machined from solid aluminium billets and bear 275/30 R21 tyres at the front and 305/30 R22s at the rear, specially made by Goodyear. No wonder the ride is firm.

As petrolhead Gretchen (her father and five brothers are all engineers) and I take another run along the Milford curve, working up through the six-speed Tremec T56 gearbox one more time, I try again to get a handle on the chances of a production version.

'I really hope we build it,' says the engineer responsible for bringing together the components of the concept cars and making sure they work. But it's out of her team's hands, she's saying. It's down to the business case now.

Will the lights go green for this beguiling muscle car coupe? By the end of this year we'll know.

V6 version is key to Camaro success

as posted by -

GM, Chevrolet - Journalists were given yet another preview of the Camaro concept this week, but GM would not confirm that the project is a "go." We can confirm, however, that the make-or-break business case for the new Camaro won't be the 400HP V-8, six-speed version, because GM can do that car in its sleep and make it great - and that package is as close to being a "no-brainer" as you can possibly get. The real issue is the V-6 version, a car that must be worthy of the Camaro nameplate, first of all, and be premium in every respect - while delivering an outstanding performance/value equation vis-a-vis the competition. This is the car that GM must get right if the Camaro is going to be a success in the market. We'll stick by what we said immediately after the Detroit auto show, however: The Camaro is a done deal - GM is just making sure that it's every bit as good as people want it to be. And we'll probably get official confirmation of its production timetable by the fall.

MAILBAG: Readers give reactions on Camaro

as posted in the Detroit Free Press

May 18, 2006

Readers flooded me with letters reacting to my article on my drive of the Chevrolet Camaro concept Monday at the Milford Proving Grounds. GM is likely to build the car in 2009.

Almost everyone likes the looks of the Camaro, the top draw at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Some readers said GM can't build the Camaro fast enough. Others said GM needs to look forward, not backward, if it is to build fuel-efficient vehicles that compete with the Japanese automakers.

By Mark Phelan

Loaded with style

The car is absolutely awesome and has the style GM production cars have been lacking. However, if GM can't find a way to build the V8 option under $32,000, I would be disappointed.

Joel Ypma
Grand Rapids

Bring back Firebird, too

I think you should have mentioned more the expectation (and hope) of many GM fans that if the Camaro is built GM will also bring back the Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am. I hope GM builds the Camaro but it would be ridiculous for GM to do so without also bringing back the Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am.

Michael J. Thomas
Albuquerque, N.M.

Seek gas alternatives

It is really hard to believe that you could be so excited about a vehicle whose dependence on oil is so obvious in these days when the No. 1 concern should be alternative fuels. Detroit can build hybrids.

Detroit can even re-tool to start building more vehicles for public transportation -- buses, rail cars, shuttles, electric driven delivery vehicles, etc. Isn't it time?

Mary Rose Weckerle

Fuel efficiency

Unless they can make the new Camaro get 30-plus m.p.g., it won't last any longer than the GTO, T-Bird or other retro-look cars that have come out recently. GM needs to focus its limited resources the way Honda and Toyota have -- on the small, light and fuel-efficient.

Dennis J. Holt
Ann Arbor

Members of the West Michigan Camaro Club were invited to give their opinions on the new Camaro.

All liked the new Camaro and many are eager to see the revival of the '60s muscle car battles between the Camaro and Ford Mustang owners.

Long live the Camaro

The Camaro will be around a long time to come, and the Mustang has nowhere to go.

Dennis J. Mykols
Spring Lake

Likes it all

I have to give this to GM, they did a great job on bringing this Camaro back.

It is sexy fast. I cannot think of one thing I don't like on it.

Tammy Loudon

Future and past

It is a fantastic-looking car that looks to the future while remembering its past; whereas the Mustang is a weak recreation of the past. The new Challenger is impressive, too, but that car is an updated version of an old classic.

Dave Wilkins

Capturing the essence

GM Design did a wonderful job capturing the essence of the Camaro, without going too retro (like the Mustang and Challenger). The Camaro makes you think of the first-generation Camaro, but is still a fresh and modern design.

Doug Warren
Western Michigan Camaro Club, Wyoming

Chevrolet preps Camaro for production

as posted on

By: Michael Kwan on Wed. May. 17th, 2006, 7:30AM EST

The Camaro has a long standing history that can rival the best of them, including the hugely popular Ford Mustang. Just as the Stang got its retro redesign recently, the Chevrolet Camaro received a complete overhaul and made the rounds at the latest car show season. It seems the response to the retro-styled muscle car has been nothing but positive, because the good people at General Motors are gearing up to develop the car and ready it for production.

The final specifications have yet to be released, of course, but we do know for certain that the Camaro will be based on a Holden platform from Australia; Holden is one the many companies under the General Motors umbrella. The suits of the company are fully expecting to sell north of 100,000 of these hot puppies year in and year out, so they're more than motivated to get the show on road.

Currently, predictions have the Chevy Camaro hitting American showrooms by the end of 2008, and as with the Ford Mustang, there don't seem to be any plans for a European model, at least for the time being.


TheCarConnection Drives Chevy’s Camaro

as posted by

by Paul A. Eisenstein
May 15, 2006

click HERE for the images from the story

The sky is a menacing slate gray, but so far, the rain has held off. I've seldom been so interested in the weather, but this morning, even the slightest sprinkle will abort the opportunity that led me to buck morning rush hour to get to the General Motors Proving Ground at this ungodly early hour.

Clearing security, we roll up to Black Lake , the seemingly endless expanse of asphalt that is normally used for advanced vehicle testing. This morning, however, it provides backdrop for the first test drive in the Chevrolet Camaro concept car. Yep, that Camaro-the one that single-handedly stole the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, the show car that has captivated automotive aficionados around the world, and led to endless speculation about whether it might make the leap from prototype to production.

Sitting out on the tarmac, it's easy to understand why there was so much demand for the first spy shots that TheCarConnection's Web servers nearly shut down. The Camaro concept is absolutely stunning.

"I wanted the guys to design the meanest street-fighting dog you can get," recalls Tom Peters, who oversaw the design project. The Camaro's sharp creases and flared wheel wells hint of raw power, yet the brute elements of the concept pony car are softened by its sensuous curves.

The prototype that was unveiled to so much ballyhoo last January almost didn't happen. The original idea, as outlined by GM's Bob Lutz, was to do an absolutely retro remake of the classic '69 Camaro, easily the most popular year in its long and celebrated history. The project was handed to designer Bob Boniface, who went to work out of Studio North, at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich.

But early last year, company officials began to have second thoughts. They called in Peters, who had played lead on the latest Corvette, and asked him to consider developing an alternative design, something a little less literal, though equally reverential. Peters quickly pulled a team together, borrowing designers, sculptors and modelers from other GM projects, and set down to work in the top-secret Studio X.

They didn't have a lot of time. The other team's effort was already well underway, and whoever won the eventual shoot-out would have to be in position to pull a running prototype together in time for the January debut in Detroit . Peters preferred working under all that pressure, he recalls, because it left "no time for over-analyzing or analysis paralysis."

What the Studio X crew came up with had many of the classic cues, starting with the cockpit-like cabin sitting atop an aircraft-influenced fuselage. It's the basic pony car formula, says Peters, that made the original Ford Mustang such an icon.

The team borrowed some other design elements from the C6 Corvette, such as the strong fender peaks and dihedral deck lid. There are other "heritage" cues lifted from the '69 Camaro, including the wasp waist and bulging rear wheel wells. But don't call this show car retro, says Peters, who insists his goal was to "take the Camaro into the future."

While Steve Kim, the project's lead designer, knew something special was taking shape in the basement studio, he was nonetheless surprised "by all the fanfare."

There was a time when concept cars were little more than fantasies in chrome. These days, however, most prototypes are little more than thinly-disguised production vehicles, four-wheel billboards declaring, "watch this space." The mandate for the Studio X crew was to come up with the most beautiful, iconic design they could manage. Production wasn't among their goals. Nonetheless, says Kim, "This is not pie-in-the-sky, that's for sure."

I'm watching the sky for rain, actually, as I figure out the Camaro's fold-away door handle. The car is a "runner," in industry parlance - it has a real, working version of the beefy LS2 V-8, all 6.0 liters and 400-some horsepower. But it was designed to simply roll across a show floor, not out on the highway, and its electronic control systems are open to the elements. Only a little water, splashing up from a puddle, would be needed to fry this one-of-a-kind prototype.

So far, the heavens have held their wrath. So as my GM co-pilot gives me the go, I tap the start button. With a menacing road, the Camaro comes to life, settling into a brooding burble. I sit for a few moments just listening, my mind wandering back to the very first Camaro I can remember, a cherry red '69 revving at a stoplight waiting to chew up a Dodge sitting in the next lane.

Slipping behind the wheel, my eyes wander across the instrument panel. It's high-tech meets retro. The look is familiar, in the way the Jetsons made tomorrow seem so easy to identify with. If, "God is in the details," as Albert Einstein asserted, then this is a religious moment. There's an incredible attention to the subtlest of design features, capped by the copper-acrylic door inserts, a striking touch we hope to see when Camaro goes into production.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It takes a few moments to position myself in the cramped cockpit. The chopped roofline is a bit low for my six-foot frame, and the seat adjustments are limited on the show car, but scooching around I finally get my bearings. My right hand instinctively reaches for the brushed aluminum gearshift lever, shifting the six-speed manual smoothly into gear. Releasing the clutch, the Camaro leaps into motion.

I've been warned to take it easy. No burn-outs, no high-speed turns. This is, after all, just a running mock-up, even though the engine is real and the chassis is based on GM's next-generation Zeta rear-wheel-drive architecture. My foot modulates the throttle gently, though my heart screams "hit it." Common sense wins out. Or perhaps it's fear. I don't relish the idea of reporting on how I wrecked the only Camaro concept car in existence.

So keeping the speed down a bit below 40, I sweep around the Black Lake loop - once, twice, once more for good measure. I pull back into the makeshift pit and shut the engine off. It's been a brief ride, but as someone points out, I exit the Camaro with an oversize grin spreading across my normally somber face. "I wonder what the production car will feel like," I catch myself thinking.

In the current issue of Automotive News, GM Vice Chairman Lutz stressed that for the moment, Camaro is "not an approved program." But don't expect the automaker to dither for long. Peters, the director of design for rear-drive performance vehicles, says the decision has to be made soon, "Probably this year. If we want to get it out when it's still relevant, we have to do it fast."

Considering the automaker would like to bring in a base-model Camaro for somewhere in the low-to-mid-$20,000 range, it won't be easy to make a convincing - read profitable - business case. According to Lutz, that would mean selling at least 100,000 Camaros annually.

There's good reason to believe that's possible. With the launch of its all-new - and unabashedly retro - Mustang, Ford saw sales surge to 160,975 last year, and probably could do more with additional production capacity. Skeptics will note that the Mustang had handily outsold Camaro for years, but that was a Camaro that had grown too aero-slick, almost anesthetically clean for its own good.

If the Camaro concept I drove at Milford is any indication, there's plenty of opportunity for GM to re-enter the pony car segment in a big way. Of course, it will require the automaker to stay true to the prototype that millions of fans have fallen in love with, but we can certainly hold out hope.

MARK PHELAN: Exclusive Camaro test drive

as posted by the Detroit Free Press
Click the link for 22 pictures and a video

GM needs this car to pump up excitement, sales

May 16, 2006


Build it.

That's all I can say after 40 minutes driving the ravishing Chevrolet Camaro concept car around General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford.

The head-turning new sport coupe can't hit the road soon enough. GM has not officially decided it will build the Camaro, but the legendary car's powerful appeal, the adrenaline shot it will give Chevrolet and conversations with a number of GM executives are enough to convince me only a catastrophe will keep this car off the road.

You don't spend this much time nailing every detail -- from the growling rumble of the exhaust to the light and easy feel of the clutch pedal -- if you're not serious about a car.

And the Camaro is serious fun. Its unique design may set the tone for other Chevrolet cars, boost sales and add excitement to GM's most important brand.

The sensuous and threatening-looking coupe will be a welcome addition to Chevrolet showrooms. That was apparent even in the handle-with-care driving mandated by the fact that this is a show car, built for looks not speed.

Despite that, the Camaro felt very polished. The power steering is direct and responsive; the brakes are firm with good pedal feel, and the six-speed manual transmission was more precise than some production cars.

"We spent a lot of time on the sound of the exhaust," GM concept car engineer Kris Hess said as the Camaro's 400-horsepower V8 burbled to life on the test track in Oakland County for my drive. "We have a lot of performance fans on the team that did this car."

The concept's classic wasp-waisted shape, flared fenders and eager forward-leaning grille made the Camaro a hit when it debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Camaro was introduced in 1966 as the answer to the Ford Mustang and went through several generations before production ended in 2002.

"We set out to capture the essence of the Camaro," said Tom Peters, who led the design team that created the concept in Studio X, a secret den below the design building at GM's technical center in Warren. The concept's styling borrows elements from the classic 1969 Camaro, the 2005 Corvette and the YF22 jet fighter's rounded cockpit.

Crowds packed Chevrolet's stand to admire the Camaro at the show, but almost nobody got close enough to see that the concept's interior is equally appealing and well executed.

The big, chrome-rimmed speedometer and tachometer perfectly complement round brushed-metal dials for climate and audio controls. Door and dash insets the color of burnished copper match the faces of four small rectangular gauges -- fuel, battery, oil and water -- set in the center console just ahead of a round aluminum shifter knob.

Even if everything goes flawlessly, the Camaro isn't likely to hit the streets before 2009, and the production model will not be identical to the concept.

There's no magic or sleight of hand involved in making the case for the Camaro.

The concept uses GM's new Zeta global architecture for rear-wheel-drive cars, which goes into production in Australia this summer and should form the basis for several big, powerful sedans and coupes in North America.

The Camaro's engine, transmission, brakes and most other major components are off-the-shelf technology, ready to run today, but ready to mate high-horsepower performance with 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, GM said.

GM executives have told workers in at least two North American assembly plants -- Oshawa, Ontario, and Wilmington, Del. -- that they're in the running to build the Camaro.

So the decision to build it comes down to a few questions: Will people buy it? How can GM build it profitably? What will it cost?

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Automotive News that GM won't build the Camaro unless it can sell 100,000 a year.

To reach that goal, Chevy will have to offer a less-expensive V6 model in addition to the V8, said Jim Hall, vice president for industry analysis at the Southfield office of consultant AutoPacific.

Even then, it's unlikely Camaro could beat the popular Ford Mustang's $19,115 base price, he said.

The Zeta family of cars features an independent rear suspension, a more-expensive layout than the Mustang's trusty old live axle.

Nobody at GM will touch the price question, but it's clear Chevrolet doesn't need -- and probably couldn't sell -- another high-priced, low-volume image car. The Corvette fills that role beautifully.

Chevrolet accounts for around 60% of GM's annual sales in North America. Adding a couple of exciting and profitable cars to Chevy's lineup would go a long way toward curing what ails GM.

The stylish 2008 Malibu sedan -- unrecognizably different from today's mundane model -- set to debut next year may be the first of those cars. The Camaro could be the second.

Build it.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or

2007 Pontiac GTO.R

as posted by

By Preston Lerner

Pssst! Wanna buy a factory racing car that'll send a Porsche 911 GT3 back to Weissach with its whale-tail spoiler between its legs? Well, has Pontiac got a deal for you!

For $275,000, cheap in this arena, you can buy a GTO.R built by Pratt & Miller-GM Racing's quasi-works team-to the exact specifications of the car that dominated the GT class in last year's Grand American Rolex Series.

Unlike the Porsche, the Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, or Ferrari's Challenge cars, the Pontiac is a handbuilt, tube-frame thoroughbred. And that's a good thing. As factory stud Andy Lally, who came within a few heartbreaking corners of winning the driver's championship in the GTO.R, puts it: "This is the most compliant car I've ever been in."

An all-too-brief test on a lamentably tight track didn't give us a chance to thoroughly assess the car's handling. But at least we were able to exercise the GTO.R's robust-sounding and endorphin-liberating pushrod LS2 V-8. Some relevant numbers: 6.0 liters, 410 hp, 406 lb-ft of torque, 0 to 60 mph in a heartbeat.

A five-speed sequential Xtrac transaxle and driver-adjustable traction control make it easy to get the power down to the eighteen-inch Hoosier slicks. And even though the car carries 2700 pounds of beef, AP Racing brakes get it whoa-ed down with alacrity.

Now, the fine print: A required spares package runs an additional $100,000, and prices don't include engine management or data logging. Hey, nobody said racing was cheap. But if winning is job one, then the GTO.R is a bargain.

Camaro Concept Specifications

Wheelbase (in / mm): 110.5 / 2806
Length (in / mm): 186.2 / 4730
Width (in / mm): 79.6 / 2022
Height (in / mm): 53 / 1344
Track (in / mm): 63.8 / 1620 front; 63.3 / 1607 rear
Engine: 6.0-L V-8 LS-2, 400 hp / 298 kw, with Active Fuel Management(TM)
Transmission: six-speed manual T56
Suspension: four-wheel independent: MacPherson strut front multilink rear, progressive rate coil springs gas-pressurized dampers
Brakes: four-wheel disc, 14" rotors with four-piston calipers
Wheels: cast aluminum, 21" front, 22" rear
Tires: 275/30R21 front, 305/30R22 rear

Phelan to GM: build the Camaro - quickly

from the Detroit Free Press

May 15, 2006


Mark Phelan was the first writer to drive the Chevrolet Camaro concept vehicle this morning at General Motors Milford Proving Grounds.Here are his early impressions: It sounds even better than it looks and it looks exactly like a 21st century Camaro should.

The 400 horsepower V8 has the bubbling note of authority a muscle car needs and the interior was an ingenious combination of comfortable modern materials and design touches, like the round aluminum shift knob and big circular speedometer and tachometer, that harken back to the classic 69 Camaro.

GM hasn't said if it will build the Chevy Camaro yet, but barring a catastrophe they will and it can't get this sharply styled sports coupe on the market soon enough.

Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or

100,000 Camaros a Year

as posted on -

Lutz says GM must reach sales goal if concept is built

DETROIT -- Product chief Robert Lutz thinks General Motors can sell more than 100,000 units of the Chevrolet Camaro -- and says that's the number required for GM to build a production version of the concept unveiled at the Detroit auto show.

GM is doing "intense work" on engineering for a production version and analyzing the business case, Lutz, GM's vice chairman and global vice president of product development, said in an interview with Automotive News.

He added: "Is it an approved program? No."

In January, Lutz said he expected a decision on building the sporty coupe within six months. GM executives have strongly hinted they will build the Camaro.

Lutz says GM wouldn't consider building the car unless it could sell more than 100,000 a year. He says the Camaro, a car he describes as "a little bit off to the side" of mainstream segments, would draw new customers and promote GM's product quality.

The Camaro would be aimed at the Ford Mustang, which sold 160,975 units in the United States last year. In the peak years of muscle-car coupes, the Camaro sold 200,000-plus units.

The Camaro would be part of GM's coming lineup of midpriced to premium-priced cars on a new rear-drive architecture developed by Holden. North American production of those vehicles is expected in 2008 or 2009.

GM to Halt Hummer H1 Production

as posted by the AP -

DETROIT (AP) -- The 2006 model year will be the last for the Hummer H1, the hulking, gas-guzzling status symbol that has attracted celebrities and off-road enthusiasts but has drawn the ire of environmentalists.

General Motors Corp. announced plans Friday for the H1, which is the foundation for the automaker's Hummer brand. Based on the military's Humvee, the about 12,000 put on the road since 1992 defined the Hummer name.

"It's a reflection of where we're going with the Hummer brand," Hummer general manager Martin Walsh said of the decision. "The Hummer DNA still resides in the Humvee. ... It will always be the core from where we come."

GM expects the last H1s to be built next month.

Walsh said Hummer plans to focus on models with broader appeal instead of the niche-market H1. Since taking over the Hummer name in 2000, GM has introduced the still hefty H2 and a midsize H3 sport utility vehicle.

The H1 gets about 10 miles per gallon, but Walsh said rising gas prices didn't factor into GM's decision. He noted that H1 buyers typically have been less sensitive about gas prices than most other drivers.

The H1 attracted well-heeled drivers looking for a military-style vehicle with an intimidating stance. For the 2006 model year, the H1 was offered as a high-performance H1 Alpha that costs about $130,000 to $140,000.

The vehicle first was marketed to the public as the Hummer in 1992 by AM General, which also makes the military version. Under a 1999 deal, GM bought marketing rights to the Hummer name and called the vehicle the Hummer H1.

Last year, GM sold 374 H1s, down 16 percent from 447 in 2004.

AM General, which builds the H1, H2 and Humvee in Mishawaka, Ind., said in a statement that it doesn't plan to cut any jobs as a result of the decision. GM said workers there were expected to be shifted to military production.

CZ6 Pace Car Rendering

Ben Hermance recently completed this awesome rendering of the new Camaro. He did it in true Indy Pace Car fashion!

Ben operates Hermance Design - Hermance Design. They offer digital modifications or traditional renderings. Visit his website for just a sampling of his work.

Recently he was published in Camaro Performers Magazine and won the 2004 Truck Design contest in Truck Trend Magazine!

Click image for a full size version

The Cadillac CTS Super V

As reported by -

Though we'd hardly consider the Cadillac CTS V-Series ordinary, it’s clear this version is well beyond that performance CTS.We last encountered the CTS Super V in testing at the Nürburgring, but this one—spotted recently by an alert spy shooter—appears much closer to production-ready.

We’re told it’s the 2007 CTS Super V, and that it is powered by a 7.0-liter 505-hp LS7 V8 lifted directly from the Corvette Z06. The Super V also features custom bodywork, huge rear tires, larger exhaust pipes and an engine sound unlike any other CTS.

With the new CTS slated for arrival as a 2008 model, speculation is that Cadillac will offer this exclusive model as a last hurrah for the exiting first-generation CTS. If that’s not powerful enough, wait for the next-generation CTS Super V, which is rumored to be equipped with the LS9 engine—a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 600 hp. But you’ll be waiting at least until the 2010 or 2011 model year for that one.

The 8th Annual Camaro Nationals - 2006

The 8th Annual Camaro Nationals is almost here!

June 23, 24 & 25th, 2006 in Carlisle, PA

If you haven't been to Carlisle, you haven't been to a carshow!

• Judging your Camaro is Not Required
• Over 500 Camaros Expected
• 49 Classes in 10 Levels
• From non-judged to concours
• 2 Goodie Bags for Early Registrants
• Hundreds of door Prizes
• Huge Classic Car Corral (Over 200 Cars)
• Camaro Memorabilia Auction
• Over 35,000 Spectators
• Fun for the Whole Family

We undertand the 5th Gen Camaro that debuted at the Detroit NAIAS will be at the show!

Visit the American Camaro Association for all of the details

For more information about Carlisle, visit their website

The Downshift Flusher is available for Fathers Day!

Looking for that perfect Father's Day gift?

When it's time to flush... Downshift with this "American made" aluminum shifter.

Features a 4-Speed shift pattern on the top of ball. This quality aluminum shifter looks just like the one in your dream car, except it flushes almost every type of toilet! High performance, sports car, and racing fans will all have something to say about this fun yet very functional gift. The Downshift Flusher is MADE IN THE USA and comes with a One Year Warranty

This is available in the standard aluminum finish as well as a black powdercoat finish.

Checkout our store at and order yours today!

Color your 5th Gen Camaro

Click here and build your 5th Gen Camaro color scheme!

Midnight Blue with white stripes was one of my favorites

Building the Camaro Concept

as reported by -

Chevrolet has released this photo gallery of the Camaro Concept development. The new Camaro, shown above next to the '69 Camaro SS of Ed Welburn, GM VP Global Design, was arguably the hit of the Detroit Auto Show, and by any measure a home run for Chevrolet.

Photos of the concept car under development after the jump

The full-sized clay model being built at the GM Design Center in Warren, Michigan. Computer numerically-controlled machines are used to transfer the shape from the computer design files to the clay model, but extensive hand-sculpting is still required to bring the shape to life.

A clay mock-up of the interior, using prototype parts.

Hand-crafting the final bodywork.

A good view of the car on its alignment jig.

Final assembly of the interior.

The reward: Ed Welburn, GM Vice President, Global Design, with the EyesOn Design Award for the best concept car realization at the Detroit Auto Show.

Spied: 2008 Pontiac GTO

Originally posted on in May 2005

All-new all-American Mustang fighter

The design for the new GTO coming to Pontiac showrooms in 2007 as a 2008 model. The big, rear-drive sport coupe will be designed and built in the U.S., possibly at GM's Hamtramck or Wilmington plants, and it's likely to show up in concept form at a 2006 auto show, probably Detroit in January.

Click image for larger image

Internally called the GMX282, the 2008 GTO will be built on GM's new Zeta platform, now under development in Australia by GM's Holden subsidiary. The Zeta platform brings new suspension all around, with a more sophisticated independent rearend promising better traction and even sweeter handling. The wheelbase has grown marginally to 110 inches. The next GTO will carry over the 6.0-liter, 400-horse LS2 from the current car as well as the six speed manual transmission.

Click image for larger image

The new GTO looks more muscular than the today's model, with a fastback roofline and strong tension in the profile and pumped fenders. Overall length is down 0.8 inch to 189. The only retro nods on this car are the wide-track Pontiac-style front end and the twin hood scoops. Ironically, the design is being done under the direction of Australian Mike Simcoe, who designed the current GTO as a Holden Monaro in 1997 and is now responsible for all GM North American cars.

Click image for larger image

Grassroots Organization Pushes GM To Hurry Camaro Production

DETROIT — reports - General Motors executives say they are being inundated with e-mail messages — sometimes 300 or more in one day — from Camaro enthusiasts who are anxious to get their hands on a production version of the concept car shown in January at the North American International Auto Show.

"People will not get off Camaro," Bob Boniface, GM director of advanced design, told Inside Line. "Those people were hurt when that car went out of production, and they're letting us hear about it."

Boniface would not confirm last week's reports in a Canberra, Australia, newspaper that a task force at GM Holden is working on a production version of the Camaro concept. He said the business case for a future Camaro is still being "analyzed." Still, he was relatively upbeat about the car's future. "A lot of programs make it to the 10-yard line and get canceled," Boniface said. "But this is buildable [and] believable."

He noted that in discussions about the future Camaro, designers are "going back to the icon," the original version of the car. "The '69 Camaro," he said, "was the king of the pony cars." He added: "If it made it to production, it would look exactly like the concept. That would be the intent."

A major shift from the original would come in the future Camaro's interior, Boniface noted. "The Camaro was never known for its interior," he said. "The materials were poor and there were not comprehensive gauges. [GM Vice Chairman Bob] Lutz said the gauges looked like Westclox, a cheap production design."

What this means to you: So should we build this car that people seem to actually want? Real tough decision…

Ford Shelby GT500 lives up to name - officially rated at 500HP reports -

This summer the most powerful Mustang ever will go on sale, and Ford announced today that it would have 25 more horsepower than originally estimated. The Shelby GT500 was just ran through the Society of Automotive Engineer’s ringer of tests and came out the other end with an official rating of 500 hp and 480 ft-lbs. of torque. The supercharged 5.4L V8 uses a roots-type supercharger providing a not insignificant (for OEM) 9 lbs./square inch of boost. Many of the engines components were also borrowed from Ford’s supercar, the GT.

This news certainly makes the battle for domestic dominance interesting, with the Dodge Viper rated at 500 hp and 525 ft-lbs. of torque and the Corvette Z06 coming at a perhaps conservative 505 hp and 470 ft-lbs. of torque.

Follow the jump for Ford’s full press release.

[Source: Ford Motor Company]

2007 FORD SHELBY GT500 OFFICIALY RATED AT 500 HORSEPOWER-Ford Shelby GT500 officially rated at 500 horsepower, 25 horsepower higher than preliminary estimates-The Shelby GT500 will go on sale this summer with more horsepower than any previous factory-built Mustang

DEARBORN, Mich., May 2 - The most powerful factory-built Mustang ever just got even more potent. Final certification testing of the Shelby GT500’s 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 shows it will produce 500 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque – 25 more horsepower than preliminary estimates.

“With 500 hp and the Shelby name, this car is an instant legend," said Hau Thai-Tang, director, Advanced Product Creation & SVT programs. "This is the most powerful, most capable Mustang ever."The Ford Shelby GT500's supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V-8 is a result of Ford's experience in developing the modular V-8 and V-10 engine series. The engine is force-fed air via a "Roots-type" supercharger providing 9 pounds per square inch of boost. It borrows the four-valve cylinder heads, piston rings and bearings, from the Ford GT engine.

The 500 hp rating was obtained using the Society of Automotive Engineer's latest standard and was witnessed by an objective third party. The Shelby GT500's 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 will be built at Ford's Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Mich. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

The right to purchase the first 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 was auctioned for $600,000, with the proceeds benefiting the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation. The 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 goes on sale this summer.

Technical Specifications:

Type V-8
Manufacturing location Romeo, Michigan
Configuration Iron Block and Aluminum Heads
Intake manifold Cast-aluminum with Roots-type supercharger and air-to-water intercooler
Exhaust manifold Cast iron
Crankshaft Forged steel
Throttle Body Dual 60 mm, electronic
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Valve diameter Intake: 37.0 mm; Exhaust: 32.0 mm
Pistons Forged aluminum
Connecting Rods Cracked forged steel I-beams
Ignition Coil-on-plug
Bore x stroke 3.552 x 4.165 in. / 90.2 x 105.8 mm
Displacement 330 cu. in. / 5,409 ccHorsepower 500 hp @ 6,000 rpm (SAE Certified)
Torque 480 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm (SAE Certified)
Compression ratio 8.4:1
Redline 6,250 rpm
Idle Speed in Neutral 750 rpm
Engine control system Spanish Oak PCM
Required fuel Premium
Fuel Injection Electronic returnless sequential
Oil capacity / type 6.5 quarts / Motorcraft 5W-50 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
Coolant capacity 21 quartsPeak Boost 9 psi

Union wants to build new Camaro at idled GM plant in Oklahoma

Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY - Union leaders at the idled General Motors Corp. plant would like to one day produce the next generation of the Chevrolet Camaro sports car.
GM stopped production of sport utility vehicles at the plant in February, putting 2,200 members of United Auto Workers Local 1999 out of work and forcing hundreds of layoffs at area suppliers.
The automaker unveiled a concept version of a 400-horsepower Camaro at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The 2002 model year was the last for the Camaro.
"We're still trying to get the Oklahoma City plant a product to build for the future," said Bob Alexander, president of UAW Local 1999. "With the quality of work that has come out of our plant, we're not giving up."
Last month, union officials, state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, and former Democratic Gov. David Walters presented the local plant's strengths to GM executives in Detroit. The executives were noncommittal, so the group is lobbying to take the case directly to GM's board of directors.
But plant manager Tyree Minner said Thursday that he believes it's unlikely a new product ever will come to Oklahoma City. GM has offered buyout and early-retirement packages to hourly employees across the country, including those in Oklahoma City.
"I don't want them to hold out hope and pass up their chances for this package," Minner said.
The company is in preliminary discussions with one of its plants in Oshawa, Ontario, about the Camaro, although GM hasn't decided if it will build the car.
"It's a hot product," GM spokeswoman Nancy Sarpolis said. "A lot of people would like to see it built, and a lot of people would like to build it."
Before the Oklahoma City plant was idled, it produced extended versions of the Chevrolet TrailBlazers and GMC Envoys.

Beloved Camaro returned to rightful owner

ELKVIEW, W.Va., April 7 (UPI) -- A West Virginia man whose 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS was stolen four years ago found it on eBay near Tampa, Fla.

The car had sentimental value to Matt Frame, who bought it for $1,000 in 1991 when he was in high school.It was a corroded hulk badly in need of work when he retrieved it, but Frame and his father Butch replaced body parts, the engine, transmission, interior, chrome and emblems. They salvaged only the frame and a few other minor parts.What made the Camaro really special was the time Frame and his father spent together in the garage, the Charleston Daily Mail reported.

Butch Frame had cancer at the time and died in 2000 at 50. The car carried a personalized license plate that read MISSUDAD.The Camaro was stolen from in front of a motel in Charlotte, Va., where Frame was staying with his wife and child.The seller on eBay had recently purchased the car at a guaranteed auction for $38,000.When the owner rolled it out of his garage, Frame said he became unraveled. He pulled off the wheel covers and saw his name and contact information still etched inside.

Camaro Concept Guru Goes Down Under on Secret Assignment

PORT MELBOURNE, Australia — reports - The plot thickens. Inside Line has learned Chevrolet Camaro concept Lead Exterior Designer Sangyup Lee is on a special one-year assignment with General Motors' Australian subsidiary, Holden.

Why is this move significant in a business that moves people around the world like pawns on a chessboard? First, if it reaches production, the Camaro will be built off of a derivative of the Zeta platform — a new rear-wheel-drive chassis. GM's Holden division is currently spearheading the development of that platform. Rear-wheel-drive vehicles continue to be popular in Australia, and represent a significant share of Holden's product portfolio, so its lead role on Zeta development is logical.Second, the recent report from Canberra, Australia confirms that further development work is being done Down Under on future American rear-wheel-drive vehicles.Third, Sangyup Lee's involvement in the Camaro concept was significant.

We interviewed Sangyup in the days following the Detroit Auto Show, and found he had a clear understanding of the direction on the production car, if approved.It doesn't take much imagination to look at the above facts and infer that Sangyup is in Australia working with Holden on the production Camaro set to debut in 2008 as a 2009 model.What this means to you: General Motors remains coy about announcing production plans for the Camaro. But if Vegas had odds on whether the Camaro will be built, we'd solidly bet on production.

Australia's GM Holden May Be Taking the Lead Toward Production

CANBERRA, Australia — reports A task force based at GM Holden — set up shortly after the debut of the Chevrolet Camaro concept at the North American International Auto Show in January — is reportedly working on the production version of the car, according to the Telegraph newspaper here."The only thing I can say on the record is that our new rear-wheel-drive (Zeta) architecture is the main candidate for the future American rear-wheel-drive products, including the Camaro concept," said GM Holden Chairman Denny Mooney in the report. "We have a significant number of engineering and design resources…working on the project."The newspaper said Mooney was careful to avoid any confirmation of a Camaro car project and also declined to discuss whether the Camaro project would affect the future of a new Holden Monaro.What this means to you: Chevy's upcoming muscle car may have roots Down Under.

Camaro Superfest 2006 in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Camaro Superfest an all Camaro event-weekend starting on Friday, June 30 and running through Sunday, July 2nd, 2006. The event is moving to Riverside Park in the Depot Town section of Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA.

Event Activities:
• Friday afternoon Road Rally
• Friday evening drag racing at Milan Dragway
• Friday evening cruise to Depot Town
• Camaro Police Cars (B4C option) Tribute
• Saturday and Sunday show & shine
• Saturday night charity banquet and auction
(benefitting the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor)
• GM Designers Tom Peters and Brian Smith at banquet
• New Camaro concept vehicle on display
• Guest speaker Scott Settlemire from GM Shows and Exhibits
• Goodie bags to first 400 participants
• Dash plaque to first 400 participants
• Livernois Motorsports portable dyno on site
• Swapmeet area

Event History:
Camaro Superfest was started in 1992 by the then new Eastern Michigan Camaro Club and the established Western Michigan Camaro Club. The event has been running for 15 years. For eight of those years, Camaro Superfest has been the largest Camaro-only event in the USA, at one time welcoming over 450 Camaros to the event.

Registration information can be found at . All proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor.

Tailgate theft prevention - The Gate Keeper™

The most common places for pickup truck tailgate theft are parking lots in Home Improvement stores, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc. If you frequent these places, you are very likely to fall victim to tailgate theft.

Tailgates are very easy to steal and sell. With factory replacements often costing up to $1,000 when it is all said and done, you can buy a nice complete setup for as little as $100 through a variety of sources.

Some companies sell locking tailgate handles, but for those that use their tailgates almost daily as I do, that can become more of a hassle then a tool. The locking tailgates are not that difficult to get past, and once they do, they can have your tailgate in less than 30 seconds, you know how quickly you can remove your own...

We offer the Gate Keeper which bolts onto your truck and covers the pivot point so the tailgate cannot be removed without proper tools. We supply everything you need including the tool to install/un-install the unit. Installation takes only minutes yet allows you to open/close your tailgate at will while keeping is secured to your vehicle!

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In-Door lock protection - The Jimmi Jammer™

The most common tool used in vehicle burglary or theft is a screwdriver!

The sketch below shows our Jimmi' Jammer™ plate mounted to the backside of the handle, inside the door. Thus, when the thief tries to pry into the door, the plate stops them cold!

The Jimmi Jammer™ is A custom formed solid 14 gauge steel plate that bolts to the backside of your door handle, preventing thieves from prying into the handle seam to get at the lock rods.

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GM Holden May Be Taking the Lead Toward Production

CANBERRA, Australia — A task force based at GM Holden — set up shortly after the debut of the Chevrolet Camaro concept at the North American International Auto Show in January — is reportedly working on the production version of the car, according to the Telegraph newspaper here.

"The only thing I can say on the record is that our new rear-wheel-drive (Zeta) architecture is the main candidate for the future American rear-wheel-drive products, including the Camaro concept," said GM Holden Chairman Denny Mooney in the report. "We have a significant number of engineering and design resources…working on the project."

The newspaper said Mooney was careful to avoid any confirmation of a Camaro car project and also declined to discuss whether the Camaro project would affect the future of a new Holden Monaro.

What this means to you: Chevy's upcoming muscle car may have roots Down Under.

As reported by

See the new Camaro at

Chevrolet has a special section dedicated to their performance car lineup on their website:

There you will find details about the car, an image gallery and some premade PC wallpaper of all different sizes, and don't miss their 'Then & Now' section!

Chevy dealer pulls Camaro deposit ad after it draw fire from GM

Les Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn, Mich., has solicited deposits from enthusiasts who want to order the Camaro. In the May edition of the national car-enthusiast magazine duPont Registry, Stanford published an ad that says "the new Camaro is coming," advising readers to "reserve yours today."

After hearing from GM on Thursday, April 27, Stanford says he will discontinue the advertisement. The ad will run in the June duPont Registry, but Stanford says he's pulling the ad from the July edition.

No doubt that will be good news to GM executives who objected to the ad. "We would obviously not condone a dealer taking deposits on a car we have not verified that we will build," Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News.

Chevrolet has received unsolicited deposits from people eager for the Camaro, which GM unveiled as a concept at the Detroit auto show in January. Chevrolet returns the money, says Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano.

Albano says GM has not made any production announcements to dealers or to GM employees. "We do not endorse the idea of using the Camaro or any concept car in a misleading way in advertising," he says.

Click HERE for the entire story.

Renderings of the Camaro

Ever since the introduction of the new Camaro in January 2006, people all over the world have taken their shots at generating renderings of what they think they new Camaro should look like, everything from making current versions of classic Camaro nameplates like Nickey & Yenko SYC and even a version of the 1969 Camaro Pace car.

Here are some great examples, posted on Popular Hot Rodding Magazine's website - CLICK HERE

Here are a few examples, click on each image for a larger version

Tom Henry Racing talks to Camaro Concept Designer, Tom Peters

Tom Henry Racing in Bakerstown, PA talks with Tom Peters, Camaro Concept Designer

Back in January, at the two biggest shows in the U.S., Detroit's North American Automobile Show and the Greater Los Angeles Automobile Show, Chevrolet's Camaro Concept, was a smash hit.

Said to be a strong indication of what a 2008 Camaro might be, these striking cars, a silver one in Detroit and a red one in L.A., were a drop-dead-gorgeous mix of '69 Camaro inspiration blended with contemporary design cues. Needless to say, this prelude to Camaro's return to production created a ton of buzz in the car business.

The Concept's exterior was done by a team of designers led by Tom Peters, one of General Motors Design Staff's current stars who previously guided the group which gave us the C6 Vette, a '63-'67 Corvette-influenced interpretation some already term "classic". For more on Peters' C6 role, see

Here at Tom Henry Racing, Peters is a favorite of ours because, like us, he has a lot of Camaro equity. He was on the team which styled the 1985 IROC-Z along with other Camaro concept/vision efforts of the 80s and 90s. He, also, owns a '69 with an aluminum Big-Block in it which he acknowledges is nothing but a "hot rod."

So, without further adieu, here's Designer Tom Peters talking about the Camaro Concept:

Tom Henry Racing: What single aspect of the '69 exterior most influenced you?

Tom Peters: Probably the proportion.

THR: Long hood, short deck?

TP: Yep. The pony car proportion, exemplified by the the original, (1964) Mustang. You have a fuselage with a canopy sittin' on top of it, like the P51 Mustang. Big powerful engine. Lean, very tight package. Relatively small, agile with fighter proportions. I think the (1964 Plymouth) Barracuda followed that philosophy in its own, unique way. The (1967) Camaro did, too.

The other thing that influenced me was that front face–that circular front opening. I wanted to carry that through, but again, still interpreting it in a fresh way.

THR: How much did Ford's mixing '69 Mach 1 influence with contemporary design on the '05 Mustang affect the decision to use the '69 Camaro as inspiration?

TP: I don't think any at all. We just asked, "What's the quintessential Camaro statement?" That discussion occurred before I got involved, but I certainly agree. The '67? Very strong, neat shape, but the '69 was an evolution with a higher level of refinement and sophistication.

THR: Why not the 70 1/2?

TP: Again, that discussion happened before I got involved. Personally, I love that, too, for different reasons. It had more European influence. You see kind of Jaguar-esque influences, but to me; the '69 is pure American.

THR: You had limited time to complete the Camaro Concept. Tell us about that.

TP: The project kicked-off in April, last year. Actually, it was "tax day"–April 15th.

Two big players in Camaro's future, all smiles at the Concept's intro in Detroit: Camaro owner and GM Vice President, Global Design, Ed Welburn (left) and GM Chairman, Rick Wagoner

There'd been lots of discussion about the next concept car. Camaro is always being talked about–models going here, sketches going there–but they got organized and kicked-off the project with a theme to stay faithful to the Camaro icon. Of course, everybody focuses on the '69.

They developed that theme and started on a proportion and continued until about June when Ed (Welburn, GM Vice President, Global Design) felt the car was important enough that he wanted to look at an alternative theme. He gave me a heads-up just before the first of July, but we didn't jump into it until after the two-week shut down, in mid-July.

I picked a handful of sculptors, a few designers, sat 'em down and said, "Hey, man, Ed has asked me to put together a team and take a shot at doin' an alternative vision for Camaro."

We skunk-worked it in a studio down in the basement we refer to as "Studio X." One reason is other studios were full with production programs. Also, for a high-profile project like that, we didn't want distractions and all the people. Everybody's interested in Corvette and Camaro, so we wanted a place that's out of the way. Years ago, I worked on the Corvette Indy, down there for the same reasons.

THR: So Mr. Welburn was uncomfortable with the Camaro concept already underway?

TP: I don't know if he was uncomfortable but he wanted to look at what else was out there. If you have an important vehicle, you don't put all your eggs in one basket. You want to do as much exploration as you can within the time you're given.

THR: So he said, "Do an alternative concept but you've only got a few months."?

TP: Probably more like one month. Which is very exciting. We talked about Corvette? I applied the same formula. I didn't have time to mess with philosophies. I picked one that worked. We looked at the history–where Camaro has been. We identified the timeless, powerful elements that made that car successful when it was first introduced and still make it desirable, now–those timeless design cues, its fender shapes, profiles, proportion, detail–all that stuff. We looked at heritage cues, but I, also, wanted to do a new vehicle. I want to translate into the 21st Century.

I think it's appropriate to, also, have a touch of Corvette because there's always been a relationship between Camaro and the Vette. Just like on C6, we looked at some jet aircraft, like the F22.

THR: Who were the top guys working with you?

TP: We let a wide range of folks sketch on it. The ones I selected had a touch in their sketching and a feel for what I thought the car needed to be. I had Sing Yup Lee, who worked with me on the Corvette, and Steve Kim who was workin' with me on a production program currently in the studio. He was raised on the West Coast so he had a feel for what I wanted. The third designer was Vlad–Vladimir Kapitonov.

I told those guys to come-up with the meanest, scrappiest, street fightin' dog they could sketch. It has to be elegant, simple, beautiful, but, also, aggressive-looking because, I'm comin' from street racing where it's not about bein' nice; it's about bein' the fastest, the most aggressive and lookin' the part.

THR: To us the grille and headlight assembly have sort of a "devilish squint". Is that part of your wanting it to be the meanest, street fightin' dog you can get?

TP: There was a deliberate attempt to add an aggressive edge to the design not present in the 1969.

THR: What do you say to those who claim GM is just following Ford's lead with musclecar influence in their Mustang?

TP: Hey–whatever.

THR: Ha! You mean: whatever works?

TP: Yeah. Geez–whatever. If that was the catalyst to get things focused, fine.

THR: When we talked after C6 was introduced, you said you'd been influenced by the F22 Raptor. With this Camaro, you seemed to look a little more to the past. Why?

TP: There was an effort to draw more intensely on the heritage aspect. Because Camaro's been away for so long, havin' some recognizability goin' back to the '69–it's such powerful imagery, why not capitalize on it? There was, also, an effort not to make it literal-retro or literal-heritage. Put those heritage elements in, but make the final composition fresh and new. On Corvette, there were other influences, in terms of its function and the package, we had to work with.

Back on the Camaro, um–We wanted some elements, like that center opening, that we just felt good about. No solid reason or explanation other than they felt right. I wanted to strike a balance of a unique personality but with strong family ties or characteristics.

Late Summer, 2005. The "three" Camaro Concepts with Ed Welburn and his '69 as reference, in one of Design Staff's outside viewing areas. Tom Peters' clown suit car is at right.

When Ed gave it to me, I saw what was goin' on and I had a feeling for what Camaro needed to be. We didn't have time for scale models or varied exploration. I had one full-sized model–that clown-suit. (Webmaster note: a "clown-suit" is a model having a different design on each side.)

With sketches, to hedge my bet, I selected two different directions. In a short amount of time, I wanted to create two themes and we tracked those for a while. One was less blatantly Camaro–different grille, different feel to it. Eventually, we gravitated to one that was more recognizable as a Camaro or what we thought Camaro should be.

I gotta tell ya, it was good we did those two, because the one we pushed even farther, kinda assimilated into the final solution and made it even fresher, still. We didn't have as many iconic Camaro cues in the alternate version.

THR: This clown suit–is that in the picture where Ed's standin' in the middle with his yellow '69?

TP: Yeah.

THR: Why was the passenger side rejected? Not Camaro enough?

TP: No. We just felt it was very angular and sheer and the other side was more flowing and seemed to have more sensuous transitions in the surfacing. it just felt right.

THR: Did the final selection better portray the '69 theme?

TP: No. We're weren't trying to portray a '69, but it had to say "Camaro". Look at the taillights, for instance. They have more Corvette influence than Camaro. It all came together with the right balance. I wasn't thinking how close it is to the '69 but, on occasion, we did pull one out there–like Ed's car–but that was just for reference. It wasn't like we were tryin' to stack the concept up against it.

THR: The other car, on the left–is that the concept that was going when Ed brought you in.

TP: It's the evolution of the concept that was goin when I came in. There was some influence of our car onto their car. For instance, you see the body side is leaner and there's a similar character, too.

THR: They kept on working?

TP: Oh, yeah. The day ours was selected, they kept right on developing theirs. We'd lower our roof a little bit; they lowered theirs. They had a little bit more angularity, but I sensed our theme affecting theirs. They still had a unique theme, in that it was more faithful to the '69 philosophy, whereas I tried to push ours farther out.

THR: Towards the end of 4th gen. production, clinics revealed Camaro was a little short on trunk volume and had a backseat too small even by 2+2 standards. During concept's interior design, was any emphasis on making interior space larger?

TP: If we decide to produce the Camaro, it will have a competitive interior package without compromising the design.

THR: The Concept looks like its top is chopped. Will that aspect of the design go to production?

TP: While a production Camaro would look similar to the Concept, there would likely be adjustments to make the interior package competitive.

THR: Anyone concerned that, by the time this reaches production, interest in vehicles which mix contemporary and musclecar influences might have peaked?

TP: Not at all. If you do a vehicle right–if there's a universal, timeless beauty and it's got the right elements–if it looks right, now; it will be relevant for some time to come because it stands on its own.

THR: "Relevant", meaning–if all the boomers were teleported off earth and nobody had ever seen a '69 Camaro, you'd still want this vehicle to be one about which people say, "Wow, that's really cool."?

TP: Relative to that: I have a 17-year old and a 14-year old. They and their friends have given me feedback. Those kids don't have a clue what '69 Camaros are; they just love the Concept. That's what you strive for. I'm not lookin to make guys wish they'd had a '69 or remember when they were kids. I want to do a beautiful Camaro. I've worked on Camaros of the past starting with the '85 IROC Z. I understand Camaros. Look at all of them. Camaro has evolved over its life. The Camaro Concept continues that evolution.

THR: So, over the years, you've been a Camaro guy?

TP: Yeah.

THR: You own '69, which is a ZL1, right?

TP: Yes. It's not original. It's not a COPO. It's "inspired by". It's got modern running gear. It's got a T56 six-speed in it. I did some engine work on it. It's got dog dish hub caps on steel wheels, things like that. It looks stock but it's not.

THR: What a sleeper. It's just a big hot rod.

TP: Yep.

THR: Tom Peters, we appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. I know the Tom Henry Racing site's visitors will enjoy our discussion.

So there you have it: Designer, Tom Peters', views' on the concept car prelude to the 2008 Camaro. With luck, you just might see something like the Camaro Concept at Tom Henry Chevrolet. around the end of '07. In addition, the Chevrolet performance experts at Tom Henry Racing are already thinking about another run of the famed, Tom Henry SS Camaros which combine the best of aftermarket performance enhancements with Chevrolet's quintessential muscle car.