2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT RS Coupe: Thumbs Up for Nostalgic Icon-ocar
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
After test driving Chevrolet’s new retro 2010 Camaro 2LT RS, it is clear that it is thumbs up for GM’s Icon-ocar. The vehicle represents a great balance between retro/nostalgia and modern/hip, and while based on the 1969 Camaro, the entire look is not completely vintage and blends yesterday’s world with today’s – right down to its Corvette-inspired rear and body-color bumpers.
Forty years ago, I cruised the “American Graffiti” auto showcases of Southern California, traveling down Van Nuys, Hollywood and Sunset boulevards on Friday and Saturday nights in my red, ’67 Camaro 327. Four decades later, this representation of one of America’s greatest “Pony” cars still turns heads and garners thumbs up from admiring onlookers and still provided me with a powerful, exciting and fun ride.
The Camaro story began in the mid-’60s (initial car model year was 1967), when Chevrolet chose to compete with Ford Mustang by producing the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Four generations of Camaro were produced before production ended in 2002. In 1965, Chevy code-named the project Panther, with project designation XP-836. Moving away from Panther, company executives decided the car’s name should follow Chevy’s C-Car names as with Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette, and chose Camaro, which really has no English derivative, but which GM marketers said, “suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner." When Chevrolet product managers were asked, "What is a Camaro?", the company response was that it was "a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.”
Down the boulevards, across the highways and on the track, Camaro enjoyed a stellar reputation for being sexy, fast and reliable. Camaro was one of the prominent vehicles in the SCCA-sanctioned Trans-Am Series, as Chevrolet contracted with Roger Penske to operate their "unofficial" factory-backed Trans Am team. The team won the title in 1968 and 1969 with Mark Donohue behind the wheel, and Jim Hall's Chaparral team replaced Penske for the 1970 season. Beginning in 1975, Camaro was the official car of, and used in the International Race of Champions until 1989, making it the first American car of the series, succeeding the Porsche Carrera RSR.
There are two distinct versions of the 2010 Camaro taking to the streets. The star of the movie, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, the SS (Super Sport) gains the most notoriety, with its domed hood and simulated vents, "bumble bee" stripes encircling the nose, the iconic SS badges and an American-muscular 6.2-liter sequential fuel injection V-8 thundering up to 426 hp and 420 lbs.-ft. of torque. Priced under $40,000, it is the cover-car for many automotive magazines.
But the version I tested is the one that will garner the most sales, and is more mainstream without losing an ounce of nostalgia, excitement or sexiness; as I put the 3750-lb. 2010 Camaro V-6 with RS (Rally Sport) trim through its paces.
Outside, the look screams excitement from its nostalgic lines to its front and rear body color fascias, RS grille, rear air diffuser and 19-inch painted aluminum wheels. A true attention-getter, admirers flash waves and thumbs up – some even speed along the interstate to pull alongside to signal their approval – and several came right up to my Imperial Blue metallic test ride to discuss the past and future of GM, saying how much they love the look, the grille, the concept and how they believe this car “will save GM.” I don’t know if that will prove out, but it seems to be the feeling among the public that this is one thing GM has done right and the right time.
Under the hood, the 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission hummed out 304hp and 273 lbs.-ft. of torque to provide excellent power in all ranges, and my tests achieved times of 6.2 seconds from zero to 60mph and a 14.6-second quarter-mile. That’s better than the original, which showed the 1969 Camaro RS going down the strip from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 14.7.
EPA rated at 18/city and 29/highway, my 940 miles of testing from Pennsylvania to Maryland, New York and New Jersey that included being caught in Broadway traffic averaged an economical 24.5mpg.
When you mash down on the pedal for acceleration, there is extreme over-rev (the shift-points are set too high and rpms are much higher than are optimal). Nostalgically, however, that provides the same 1960s engine feel and performance that we experienced with the original Camaro. Back then, you’d get a bit of hesitation and then when the engine kicked in, you’d get jetlike thrust. That’s the same ride you get with the 2010 edition. You also get superior turning a low center of gravity and the most confident of rides.
The Interior has a 1960s feel without a complete ’60s look, as old-fashioned dash instrumentation melds nicely with digital readouts, driver info center and au current upgrades. The plastic in the interior and the “no-navi” credo are cost-cutters, but the cabin is comfortable, roomy and equipped with a 9-speaker Boston Accoustics sound system, XM Satellite radio, air conditioning, power and heated front seats, leather appointments and solid safety equipment, from passenger-sensing airbags to ABS brakes, Stabilitrak and On-Star.
One of the top car buys of the year, my test Camaro RS was base priced at $26,580, with a price as tested of $31,485.
GM has made the right move with Camaro at the right price.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
# # #
Journalist note: Information about the Carlisle Events Group, its event listings, auction offerings and expo center is available to journalists by phone:
Carlisle Event Marketing Dept.
# # #