Aug 22, 2006 -- By Izabela Jaroszynski
Enthusiasts applaud return of Chevy muscle car
For Tami and Paul Hamilton having the Chevrolet Camaro built in Oshawa is a dream come true.
The Oshawa couple has owned their 1969 Camaro for 11 years and can hardly wait for the new model to come off the assembly lines in their own hometown.
"Its a great muscle car," Ms. Hamilton said. "It has a great history behind it."
First produced in 1967, the Camaro quickly became an American classic. In its 35-year history, General Motors produced nearly 4.8 million units of the Camaro. Originally built in the now-demolished GM plant at Ste. Therese, Quebec, the car was discontinued in 2002 because of slumping sales.
But for enthusiasts like Mr. Hamilton, the Camaro obsession has never faded.
"I've always loved the car," he said. "People were devastated when they stopped producing it and are anticipating its return. I think it will sell well. People have been waiting for this."
And Mr. Hamilton is certainly not alone with his love of the Camaro. More than 1,000 Camaro clubs exist around the world and thousands of Camaro-inspired websites pay homage to the sports coupe on the Internet. According to GM, some consumers have already sent in certified cheques in hopes of placing early deposits.
When he made the announcement last week that GM will bring back the Camaro, CEO Rick Wagoner said the enthusiastic response from consumers reminds him of the iconic place GM products have in customers' hearts.
"Camaro is much more than a car," he said. "It symbolizes America's spirit and its love affair with the automobile."
Ron Elliott, a truck plant employee and owner of a 1969 black Camaro classic, says having the car built in town will be a great boost to the economy and will get people excited about the GM brand.
"These cars are very special," he added.
According to GM, the new Camaro will be nearly identical to the concept car unveiled to rave reviews in January 2006 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where it was named best in show.
The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sport coupe will feature an independent rear suspension, and owners will be able to choose between manual or automatic transmission and V-6 or V-8 engines.
And while some are concerned that a sports car runs counter to the current consumer trend of buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, GM's David Paterson is not worried.
The vice-president of corporate and environmental affairs says that new technology, like the fuel-management systems currently being used in many GM vehicles, show that cars can be both powerful and fuel-efficient.
"All the new technology that's helping us to drive great fuel economy right now is all available to us to put into this vehicle," he said. "Already with the Corvette, it has absolutely excellent fuel economy and yet is one of the most powerful cars on the road today. So you can have both and we will have both (in the Camaro)."
Production of the car is expected to begin in late 2008 and it will go on sale in early 2009.
"It's so exciting that the comeback model will be 2009," said Ms. Hamilton. "It will be nice to have the '09 with exactly 40 years between it and our 1969 version."