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As reported by Z284ever at

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Lutz: Modern Camaro borrows from past

Rick Kranz
Automotive News / January 23, 2006 - 6:00 am

DETROIT -- Loud whistling and noisy applause greeted the Chevrolet Camaro concept as it was driven through the General Motors exhibit on its way to a stage at the Detroit auto show.

But unlike the equally praised Dodge Challenger concept and today's Ford Mustang, the Camaro does not merely display a strong retro theme.

Citing comments made by GM Chairman Rick Wagoner, GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said: "You don't want to repeat the past slavishly."

Lutz explained the Camaro's design direction and issues that need to be overcome before production can be approved to Product Editor Rick Kranz and other journalists Jan. 9 at the show. Here are Lutz's comments.

Modern styling

I've got to say that Rick Wagoner deserves a lot of the credit for it because the early clay models that we had were much more in keeping with the '60s through the '70s.

Rick saw the pictures and said, "Why are we doing this? Let's have another go at it and create a new car that captures the spirit of the '69, because that is what you really want. You don't want to repeat the past slavishly. You want to do a vehicle that captures all of the spirit, the passion, the essence of the old car, but reinterpret it in a new and modern and contemporary way that is going to last awhile."

So that is what we did. Ed Welburn got a second team on it, which was led by Tom Peters, who had done the Corvette. Tom Peters very quickly -- very quickly, within weeks -- had this clay model going. And when we saw it, we knew it was right.

While the Mustang and the Challenger are very nice cars, I honestly think this goes beyond that. I like both of those cars, (but) they don't really break any new ground aesthetically. They are very close to the original car. Maybe that is a good thing, but we elected not to do that.

We elected to do a thoroughly new car with totally new surfaces that doesn't just make the same statement of the old car again, but in fact makes a new statement while capturing all of the spirit and essence of the original cars.

We have no production plans to announce. But this concept car was designed over a production architecture, using production mechanical units, and if and when there should be a production car, it would be as close to this as the production Solstice was to the concept.

Ever since the first day I got to General Motors, I have been getting mail from Camaro owners, Camaro clubs, Camaro fanatics. It is like a cult following out there. For the last few months I have been answering e-mails by saying, "Just wait for the Detroit show. I think you will be pleased."

I know where (Camaro) fits in the overall enthusiasm ranking. If it was a question of what would you like to do, I would obviously do this one first. We can't always follow our enthusiasm. We have to do what's right for the business.

It took us about six months on the Solstice to kind of get all the numbers together, see whether we could afford it, see if we could fit it into the engineering workload. It would probably be the same here.

Co-existing with Corvette

Don't forget that the Camaro and the Corvette did co-exist. But the Corvette is very expensive, and the Camaro was always very affordable. If we were to put this car into production, it would be priced with the Mustang, which means it would be only slightly over the Pontiac Solstice.

For production we would obviously do like we did in the old days -- you would have a popular-priced six-cylinder version, then you step up to an eight, then you step up to the next eight, all the way up to 500 hp or whatever size V-8s we have. Any V-8 engine that General Motors manufactures today is potentially slated for this car. You always would like to keep the Corvette with a few horsepower more than a Camaro. Theoretically, anything is possible.
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