Saleen to get more involved with the new Camaro?

Reading the article below from - Saleen tuned Chevrolet Camaros may not be that far off. Since they had quite a bit to do with the 2009 Camaro in the upcoming Transformers Movie that may be a taste of things to come.

Saleen Open to New Niche-Vehicle Partnerships

Source: - Byron Pope

DETROIT – Niche vehicle-maker Saleen Inc. is open to building specialty cars for auto makers in addition to Ford Motor Co., says company founder and former race-car driver Steve Saleen.

“I never rule anything out,” he tells Ward’s in a wide-ranging interview. “It has to make business sense and fit in with our philosophy and appropriate branding, but we’re looking at other opportunities and only time will tell.”

Steve Saleen has been customizing Ford products since 1984, when the racing great founded Saleen Autosport. The latest Saleen-branded Fords are the Parnelli Jones Limited Edition Mustang and upcoming Saleen Sport Truck lineup.

Steve Saleen says his decision to consider doing business with other auto makers has nothing to do with the ongoing woes at Ford, which currently is in the midst of a massive North American restructuring as it continues to bleed red ink.

“Ford is not causing us problems, but its problems are something we’re watching closely,” he says. “There are a little over 200 Saleen/Ford dealerships, and things have slowed down at the dealerships in general.

“The volume they’ve done in years past is not there, and when you have that you have to say it has some affect on everybody.”

Meanwhile, Steve Saleen has taken on a new role at his company, having handed over day-to-day operations to Brian Walsh on Sept. 1. The move allows him to concentrate more on the company’s product design and development activities, as well as its branding strategies and promotional efforts.

The change in leadership would have occurred earlier, Steve Saleen admits, but it took awhile to find someone he trusted to head up his company. “I think it’s more of an evolution,” he says. “I’ve finally found someone who could run day-to-day operations.

“I’m still doing everything I was doing, and I continue to guide the company in an overall direction.”

Working out of his two facilities located in Irvine, CA, and Troy, MI, Steve Saleen is leveraging the growing popularity of low-volume models, whose production often is farmed out to specialty shops such as Saleen or ASC Inc.

The idea of niche vehicles is nothing new to him. In fact, he says his company was in the forefront of the trend.

“I recognized (the niche market) 25 years ago,” he says. “It’s just now becoming more acceptable. Any runs up to 10,000-15,000 (units), we can do very cost effectively. And we have the ability to bring unique types of autos to (common) platforms.”

His most recent foray into OEM niche products was the Ford GT supercar, which his company both built and painted. The project has been deemed a success by Ford, going from concept to production in less than 16 months, a remarkable feat for any vehicle project, let alone a 550-hp supercar.

Steve Saleen says his company’s involvement with the Ford GT project went smoothly, with approximately 4,000 units built between 2004 and 2006. No future collaborations with Ford are in the works at the moment, Saleen says, although he is open to the

In addition to his work building Saleen versions of Ford products and his Saleen-branded S7 supercar, Steve Saleen is enjoying the success of his recently opened retail store in Irvine.

The store sells a variety of Saleen-branded products, including cars and trucks, apparel and jewelry. It also offers access to advanced driving simulators and a cafe.
Business has been so brisk, Steve Saleen is considering opening another location. “If we keep up at this rate, there will definitely be a second,” he says.

Bumblebee exposed in HOT ROD magazine

Here is the information we have been waiting for!

If you haven't already seen it, pickup the November 2006 issue of HOT ROD magazine. There is a great story (with pictures) of Bumblebee in the making at Saleen in Troy, Michigan.

According to the story, there were two versions of Bumblebee built for filming. The first one was completed in 30 days and both done in less than 45 days. Fabrication was done at Saleen's 280,000 square foot facility in Troy, Michigan. Steve Minn, vehicle coordinator for the film, recommended Saleen because they had built the Cobras used in xXx.

GM looked to their inventory and found the current GTO was the closest to the concept Camaro in size. With data and some sections and wheelbase drawings from GM, Saleen began their fabrication. The two Pontiac GTOs came from GM's R&D fleet and Joe Miesak (Saleen) went to work.

The fiberglass bodies were cast using the same molds GM used to build the two concept cars.

The interior looks much like the concept Camaro because the dashboard shell covers the original GTO instrumentation and the seats and interior handles came directly from the GTO as well.

GM had a say in the paint work. They altered the original stripes planned by Saleen to more closely resemble the Rally stripes from the 1969 Camaro.
Here are some images from the HOT ROD magazine spread:

American Axle sends Camaro work to Mexico

this is a follow up to Axle plant's hopes ride on new Camaro

Souce: Business First of Buffalo - Thomas Hartley

Hope was dashed Wednesday that American Axle & Manufacturing's local axle plant could land work on the GM's new Camaro muscle car.

The company told employees that the work, instead of being assigned to Buffalo, will be done at a Mexican plant.

"I'm disappointed and disgusted," said Kevin Donovan, the United Auto Workers union's Region 9 assistant director.

"The plant worked hard to make American Axle a success which gave them the opportunity to build plants in Mexico. Now the company is taking work that we worked real hard to bring here and is putting it into Mexico," he said.

Plant officials told UAW members at meetings in the morning and afternoon where the decision was announced that American Axle will aggressively pursue other new work for the Delavan Avenue facility.

A company official at Detroit headquarters declined comment.

Donovan estimated that 130 local jobs probably would have been involved in producing components for the Camaro, which is being introduced in the 2008 model year.

The plant has about 650 to 700 hourly workers. Several hundred more are on layoff, some since early this year.

At three Western New York facilities -- Buffalo, Town of Tonawanda and Cheektowaga -- American Axle has 1,700 employees.

The modern update of the popular 1960's-era model Camaro is being assembled at General Motors Corp.'s plant in Oshawa, Ont.

Workers at GM's Powertrain plant in the Town of Tonawanda were still waiting this week to learn if they would be assigned to make the Camaro's engines.

Hot Rod magazine has a new Camaro Poll online


September 18, 2006

Let GM Know How to Build the New Camaro!
By now you've heard the Camaro is coming - but how do YOU want it built? Here's your chance to tell GM exactly how the new Camaro should be equipped - from engines to options. Fill out our survey by October 13th and we'll hand-deliver the results to the higher-up's at GM in person - no kidding!...

Click here to take the Hot Rod Camaro survey

Axle plant's hopes ride on new Camaro

September 17, 2006 - Fred O. Williams

Will the rebirth of a famed Detroit muscle car pump up an ailing Buffalo axle plant?
Workers at American Axle and Manufacturing are waiting expectantly to hear if they're selected to carve steel for General Motors' revamped Camaro. The update of the popular 1960's era model will come snarling off the the assembly line in nearby Oshawa, Ont., in 2008.

"They have new work, they haven't announced where it's going to go," a union official said of GM. Word of the selection is expected as soon as October.

While its peers in the auto industry have announced downsizing moves to cope with the industry's slump, the Detroit-headquartered maker of gears, axles and steering parts has so far stayed mum.

Ford accelerated its downsizing last week, announcing early retirement incentives and buyout plans worth up to $140,000, for which all 1,340 of its production workers at the metal stamping plant in Hamburg are eligible. That attrition plan joins buyouts under way at General Motors and Delphi that will draw more than 1,700 local workers out of their jobs by year end.

Workers and union officials say that American Axle is likely to follow suit with some sort of labor overhaul. Labor talks are quietly going on about a lower starting wage for new hires, a move that some individual plants, including one in Cheektowaga, have already adopted. Also in the works are talks for reduced union work rules at some older plants.

At Delphi, a lower starting wage for new hires combined with early retirement incentives is transforming the company's Lockport plant into one with a smaller, lower-paid work force.

United Auto Workers officials wouldn't comment on the talks at American Axle, which were set in motion by the union's last contract with the company in 2004. Company spokeswoman Renee Rogers would say only that American Axle is in discussions with a number of its plants.

With about 2,000 jobs at its three area plants in Buffalo, Cheektowaga and the Town of Tonawanda, American Axle employs more locally than Ford's stamping plant, with about 1,500, and about as many as GM's sprawling engine plant, which will have about 1,960 jobs after incentive plans are complete at year end.

But there's a hitch. Of those supposed 2,000 jobs, hundreds are on layoff. Some 500 workers are idle from American Axle's largest area plant, the Delavan Gear and Axle plant on Buffalo's East Side, leaving about 700 production workers there on on the job, a union source said. The company would neither confirm or deny the figure. Though layoffs at the former GM unit come with nearly full pay, they're hardly a good sign for the plant's future.

Being on board the Camaro could help bring back some of the hundreds of workers on layoff. American Axle specializes in rear-drive parts, putting it in the running to supply the performance-oriented car.

Some good news from Detroit would help offset a lot of the other kind that has been worrying American Axle. Rear-drive pickups and SUVs, for which it makes parts, are out of favor, with gas prices over $2.50 a gallon. Main customer GM expects to cut its overall production by 12 percent in the fourth quarter.

The Delavan Avenue plant and the Tonawanda Forge are two of the company's original sites acquired from GM in 1994, which company officials have cited as cost centers in meetings with the union.

Recent layoffs at the Buffalo plant, characterized by the company as "minor" (no specific number given), were taken as a sign by one retiree that American Axle is "preparing to pull out of Buffalo at the end of the contract," which ends in 2008.

Nothing from the company or the UAW backs up the rumor, which has floated around the shop before. But neither is it an isolated worry, judging by messages on Internet chat boards and calls and e-mails.

Unlike bankrupt Delphi, American Axle is still in the black, but its sales and profits are declining.

"They're struggling a bit - most of their business is Big Three business - but they're hanging in there," said Bruce Belzowski, director of the Center for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan.

With volumes from automakers shrinking, the axle maker's sales sank 5 percent last year while operating profits fell 63 percent. In the first half of this year, sales were about level with last year's, but operating profits slipped 11 percent.

The question facing the company is whether the dip in sales of larger vehicles is a temporary reaction or a long-term shift in buyers' tastes, signaling the end of the SUV boom. In that light, winning work on rear-drive autos like the Camaro is especially important. GM expects to sell 100,000 of the cars a year.

Rather than pulling in his horns, chief executive Richard Dauch remains bullish on the auto industry, or at least his piece of it. In one comment to reporters in Detroit last month he said he might "bolt on" parts of troubled Delphi to his company, when the fellow parts maker gets around to selling some assets.

He also expressed no sympathy for auto supply companies that reject the competitive realities of a global manufacturing market. Companies should benefit from lower labor costs abroad, instead of being disadvantaged by them. "If you can't accept the medicine," he was quoted as saying by the Detroit News, "go ahead and die."

New Shelby GT sure to turn heads with cobra image

Source: Mercury News - Matt Nauman

General Motors stole some of the nostalgic-mojo momentum from Ford's Mustang by first showing a Chevy Camaro concept in Detroit earlier this year, and then saying it will build the car. Dodge is doing the same with its Challenger.

But that new Challenger won't go on sale until 2008, and the new Camaro won't arrive until early 2009, and Ford knows it'll sell a couple of hundred thousand more Mustangs between now and then.... more

Concept Camaro Ringtone

We all know how well the public has received the Chevrolet Camaro Concept, it is no secret it stole the show at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. At GM's Flastlane blogsite, one of the more popular requests has been for a downloadable ringtone of the new Camaro.

Tom Peter, GM Design Director has obliged with an MP3 file we can download into our mobile phones and use as a ringtone!

Click here to download the 2009 Chevy Camaro Ringtone

Camaro for Europe?

Chevrolet may sell the famed muscle car in Europe

September 11, 2006
Source: Automotive News - Jason Stein

MUNICH, Germany -- Chevrolet Europe executives are studying whether to bring the Camaro sports coupe to Europe.

Last month, General Motors confirmed it will build a new version of the American muscle car based on a concept unveiled at the 2006 Detroit auto show.

Although the Camaro concept vehicle has not been shown in Europe, Chevrolet Europe is considering importing and selling it here.

"I want the car for our lineup," Wayne Brannon, executive director of Chevrolet Europe, told Automotive News Europe. "But we want it to be a good business case. We are considering it."

Brannon said he would like to make a decision by the first quarter of next year. He said a number of factors will be considered in the decision, including engineering issues for Europe, emission requirements and volume.

"We would not look at it as a huge volume opportunity," Brannon said. "But the project has to make sense."

Chevrolet Europe says there already has been a positive reaction to the car from dealers and customers.

The sales expectations probably won't be large because American muscle cars are minor players in the European market.

Ford, for example, sold 441 Mustangs through six months this year, according to British market researcher JATO Dynamics. That's down from 463 during the same period last year but up substantially from 2004, when Ford sold just 70.

Coupes are also a niche segment. In the last two years, carmakers have sold an average of 30,000 units as customers increasingly switch to the coupe-cabriolet segment. That market is now nearly 10 times the size of the coupe segment, JATO reports.

GM will begin production of the Camaro at the end of 2008 in Oshawa, Ontario, and the car will go on sale in the United States in early 2009.

Chevy Camaro rides again


Richard Blackburn, The Sydney Morning Herald, 01/09/06
Keep an eye out for prototype versions of the new Chevrolet Camaro testing on Australian roads.

Disguised prototype versions of the reborn Chevrolet Camaro should be on Australian roads within months, as General Motors finalises its plans to bring the iconic American nameplate to market.

Australia will have a lead role in engineering the rear-wheel-drive underpinnings of the Camaro, which will be built at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plant in Canada. Early production versions of the Camaro will begin leaving the plant at the end of 2008, with sales starting in the first quarter of 2009.

Work has already begun on an $875 million manufacturing facility for the vehicle.

The new Camaro is a modern interpretation of the 1969 icon and will look almost identical to the concept vehicle first featured at the Detroit motor show earlier this year.

The sports coupe will be sold in a variety of models, with the choice of manual and automatic transmissions, as well as V6 and V8 engines. GM hopes the new Camaro will appeal to young drivers, as well as those who remember the original.

Almost 4.8 million Camaros were produced between 1967 and 2002 and more than 1000 Camaro clubs exist around the world.