Exclusive: Q&A with the Fbodfather
5thGen.org and the Middle Tennessee F-Body Association (MTFBA.org) are proud to share this EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Scott Settlemire, current Manager for Chevrolet and Hummer Shows & Exhibits, former Assistant Brand Manager for Corvette/Camaro, and affectionately known in the F-body community as the "Fbodfather."
We asked Scott 12 questions submitted by members of both sites. Here's what he had to say (with my reading between the lines in red).
Q. How set in stone is the Spring 2009 sale date? In other words, is there any chance that speedy progress could give us a Fall 2008 debut?
A. Nothing is ever set in stone. Let me say upfront that we would like the car on the street tomorrow, but that isn't practical. We need it for many reasons, one of which is that YOU want it! (..another is I WANT IT!)
It's important to understand that the new Camaro comes from a completely fresh sheet of paper, unlike others who will modify an existing architecture to build their entry. [meaning the Challenger] (and their entry is huge, I mean HUGE. Take a look at it next to the early 70s version.....it's larger than our Monte Carlo! That isn't a bad thing if you're looking for a big boulevard cruiser with a large back seat, perhaps. But I digress! If the Camaro could be moved forward, it will be. But we won't bring it to the public until it's RIGHT. This is a hallowed nameplate to some, and it's important that we make a Camaro that we ALL can be proud of.
Now, let's do some math here: We announced that the car will go into production in the 4th quarter of 2008 (that would mean Sept/December of 2008) and be in showrooms for you to purchase in the first quarter of 2009 (that would be January/March 2009).
Today is August 17. In less than 15 days, we'll be in the 4th quarter of 2006. Now, lemme get my abacus out here and check something............hmmmmm...........YUP! That's two years from now! Not bad for a clean sheet of paper approach!
Q. Do you anticipate the convertible being available the first year?
A. If we were to offer a convertible, it would be my thinking that it would be delayed at least for several months. With a brand new car in either a NEW factory or a RE-ENGINEERED factory, it has to be expected that the 'ramp up' to full production will take some time. If not, you don't get a quality product, and that's unacceptable to everyone.
Q. Was the 5th gen project handled similar to the C5, with a team that used after hours, off peak project time, to design and build this car? Or was it an official project from day one?
A. There have been many starts and stops with the Camaro program--oh, I need to write that book! I would not compare it to the C5 in terms of 'stealth', but it WAS done in another studio secreted away from where the rest of GM Cars and Trucks are conceived.
Q. How much change from concept to production can we expect? Will it be as watered down as some feel the '05 Mustang was concept-to-production?
A. With the wide acceptance of the Camaro Concept - we must keep the production Camaro as close to what you see in the concept as possible. In fact, at our announcement, Ed Welburn was very specific about that. The problem with answering your question is: 'We ain't done yet!' I'd suspect the biggest change will be in the interior and perhaps the overall width of the car.
Q. Is there any expectation for a "sister" car to be released down the road, or is the GTO new model the new sister for the Camaro? Will the Firebird be coming back? What other cars will share this chassis?
A. I learned long ago NEVER to say "NEVER", 'cause "NEVER" is a longggggggggggggggggggggg time! I think it would be reasonable to think that this all-new architecture could be shared with other Divisions - and it IS adaptable - so you might see perhaps another car or two off the architecture, but at 50 paces, you'd never believe it was the same
architecture. [that's a nice way of saying there's zero plans for a Firebird right now, but who knows what will happen if this car is uber successful]
Q. What sort of "creature comforts" will be availible for the new Camaro? Heads up display? On star? Satellite Radio?
A. I think most of that stuff is "the price of entry" as we move through the decade. I can guarantee OnStar and XM Satellite Radio as we plan to offer it on everything. The Camaro MUST appeal to a wider audience - and that
wider audience, I believe, wants the availability of creature comforts. In all of my 'sit downs' with the many Camaro and Firebird Enthusiasts nationwide and with our friends in Canada. I ask those questions and find that a lot of people want more creature comforts AVAILABLE, but not necessarily standard.
Q. Will there be a V8 & Manual Trans "creature comforts" delete model?
A. That all depends on what you mean by 'creature comforts." Do you mean a car without power windows? Highly unlikely. Without Air Conditioning? Again - highly unlikely. To do so is extremely expensive. For instance, you would need to engineer and manufacture TWO interior door/window mechanisms. So in fact, you'd be increasing the base price of the car. And the bigger question is: how many more units would you sell if you did it? AND, how many people would absolutely NEVER consider the Camaro if it did not have manual windows? (before you answer that....you're telling me that you'd buy a Mustang WITH power windows over a Camaro WITH power windows 'cause we didn't give you a choice???? and we offer a superior product?) (If the answer is 'yes' -- well -- I'm kinda worried about you!) Further, power window weight gain is negligible these days.
Q. Any idea on curb weight yet?
A. As I said above "we ain't done yet." -- but let me make something crystal clear to everyone: Stop with the "I won't buy the car if it's a pig" routine. You need to understand that weight is an auto manufacturer's nightmare and natural enemy. Ever hear of CAFE? (Corp. Average Fuel Economy?) We have strict standards that we must meet as a manufacturer. Weight is an enemy of fuel economy. With gasoline going higher and higher, it becomes even more important that we are weight conscious. Now, that said, the Camaro has to be affordable, which rules out exotic materials-- so we are very very very aware that people want a light and nimble car. SO DO WE!!! It could be said that some are 'preaching to the choir!"
I'd also point out that this car--and all others we're developing--MUST have a 5-star crash rating in all tests, bar none. Period. That means that the car has to be engineered properly to comprehend that, and that adds weight.
Q. Are any details on powertrains firmed up yet? Can we expect an LS3 "SS"?
A. Yes, Details are firmed up. No, I can't talk about 'em. (well-- I could, but there'd be a fleet of Black Suburbans in my driveway tonight......)
Forget about engine designators that we know of today, [does this mean the "LS" designation is gone or just that current motors LS2/7 are old news??, hmmm] .... 'we ain't done yet with powertrain, neither!!' (remember when we thought the LT1 was the end all????)
Q. Oshawa or Wilmington? And how does each effect the on-sale target date?
A. Pay attention in the next couple of weeks.
Q. Some Chicago guys want me to ask you about the number 7 and what that means.
Dang.....I should know this one............
Q. How much of an eye toward enthusiasts and "modability" is being
given to the powertrain and engine management system?
A. We know you want to mod your cars. Guess what!?!?! WE DO, TOO with our personal cars! That said, we have an obligation to the government in terms of safety and emissions and fuel economy. We also live in a society where people sue for any number of reasons, some of which are ridiculous beyond belief. And we have a responsibility to our stockholders.
Last edited by Chris 96 WS6; 08-17-2006 at 04:36 PM.