The Chevy Camaro is in its 5th generation since its introduction as a pony car in 1969. The 4th generation Camaro ended on a sad note in 2002 with only 42,098 cars rolling off the assembly line. But Camaro got its mojo back with the distinct styling designed by Sangyup Lee and presented at the North American International Auto Show in 2006. Based on the Zeta platform, the Camaro included a 6.0 litre LS-2 engine with 400 horsepower and Active Fuel Management (formerly known as DoD or “displacement on demand”); T56 six-speed manual transmission, front and rear suspension, 4-wheel vented disc brakes on 14” rotors; and a 110.5 inch wheelbase – nine inches longer than its predecessors.
A virtual parade of concept cars followed. The 2007 convertible concept car debuted at the NAIAS decked out in Hugger Orange pearl paint and dark charcoal racing stripes on the hood. These appearances created a buzz and that buzz created a demand. Next came the 2008 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) concept cars: the Camaro LST and the Dale Earnhardt Jr Camaro followed by the 2010 GS Racecar Concept and Camaro Black.
The 2009 Camaro was finally available for sales beginning in April. It was available as a coupe in five trim levels – LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1SS, and 2SS. The LS and LT were equipped with a 3.6 liter GMLLT V6 engine that produced 312 horsepower while the SS models were available with either a manual tranny (6.2 liter GM LS3 V8 with 426 horsepower) or an automatic tranny with a GM L99 engine (a variation of the LS3) which produced up to 400 horsepower. The GM L99 uses Active Fuel Management, a technology that allows V6 and V8 engines to deactivate lifters on selected cylinders via a solenoid, thereby improving fuel economy. The car must be under light load conditions or cruise mode.
Like the “original Coke” lovers of the 80’s, Camaro fans’ voices were heard and notice was taken by GM. But it was the Transformer movie that lit the fire under younger drivers – too young to remember the First Generation Camaros – that created demand. GM sold 61,648 Camaros in 2009 alone, just shy of 20,000 units more than GM produced in 2002.
Production has continued through 2015 and concept cars to highlight GM Performance Parts have appeared each year from 2006 to 2015. GM built a concept Camaro for Jay Leno in 2009. The Camaro has appeared in every Transformer movie sequel as much as for consistency as for marketing and there’s even a Hot Wheels Concept car for those of us who grew up playing with the toy cars. And let’s not overlook the 2012 45th Anniversary Special Edition with its 323 horsepower 3.6 liter direct-injection V6 LFX engine.
Is Chevy Camaro a keeper this time around? It must be, with sales spiking at 86,297 units in 2014. Let’s hope GM keeps this good thing going.