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Could it be here much sooner than we thought?

GM could move quickly on Camaro, design chief Welburn says


AutoWeek | Published 01/20/06, 1:03 pm et

DETROIT -- The Camaro concept unveiled by General Motors at the Detroit auto show clearly gets design chief Ed Welburn's blood pumping.

It didn't take much reading between the lines of his remarks at the Automotive News World Congress to get the message that he wants the remake of the classic muscle car to join the Chevy lineup as soon as possible.

GM stopped building the Camaro and its Pontiac Firebird sibling in 2002. The cars debuted as 1967 models.

"It was a vehicle I was very passionate about," said Welburn, GM's vice president of global design.

Welburn wouldn't say whether a decision had been made to put the concept into production. Once GM brass give a vehicle the green light, Welburn noted, it typically takes three years for production to begin.

"But the Camaro isn't a typical car," he said. "I think we could move very quickly. It is a strong design."

Despite Welburn's coyness, it's an open secret that the Camaro is headed for production. The car is based on a rear-wheel-drive platform that will be engineered by GM's Australian Holden subsidiary.

GM sources say the production Camaro will be almost 100 percent true to the concept car. But the interior will be scaled back to allow lower prices for an entry-level V-6 version.

Welburn said he and GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz wanted the Camaro to be reminiscent of its predecessor, but updated. This suggested a strong Corvette flavor for the project, he said.

The concept is powered by Corvette's aluminum LS2 6.0-liter, 400-hp V-8.

Welburn said he was happy to be able to talk about the Camaro, after frustrating months of enforced silence.

GM kept details of the concept shrouded in secrecy for eight months before its debut.

And inside the company, he said, "We never used the word 'Camaro' above a whisper."
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