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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Eric Peters - The American Spectator

Watching Ford bathe in the glory of its resurgent, retro-style Mustang has surely been agonizing for General Motors -- as well as deja vu all over again.

Back in 1964, when the first Mustang appeared, GM also had to stand there empty handed, with nothing to offer customers but fumbling excuses -- and promises that something was in the works. Three years later, in 1967, the first Camaro finally appeared. It was a good-looking car and did well. But the Mustang had a critical three-year head start. Camaro was caught playing catch-up. It had some good years -- especially in the mid-late 1970s and through the 1980s, when Tuned Port Injection IROC-Zs were as common as Ocean Pacific shorts and boom boxes as street performers -- but faltered badly in the 1990s after a not-so-hot restyle.

Sales drooped to unsustainable levels within a few years and GM eventually cancelled the Camaro (and its sheetmetal sister, the Pontiac Firebird) after the 2002 model year.

Now GM is frantically rushing an all-new Camaro to market, perhaps as soon as 2007. The news has been accompanied by great fanfare and hagiographical commentary in the motor press -- the same way news that Pontiac would be bringing back the GTO ginned up much tub-thumping and happy scribbling back in 2003. (Much of this rah-rahing issued from the pens and laptops of over-40 guys who could remember the good old days when obstreperous V-8 muscle cars prowled the streets -- and pined for their youthful days-gone-by returning.)

But the revived GTO died quickly and quietly -- despite heroic horsepower numbers and better performance than any classic-era GTO ever delivered. Some of us saw it coming from the get-go.

The new Camaro will probably die on the vine for the same reasons -- and a couple of new ones, too.

And again, it's not all that hard to understand why. Or to see the iceberg dead ahead.

Unlike the Mustang -- which has always managed to appeal to a broad base of buyers ranging from young women to old men and everyone in between -- the Camaro is and always has been a strutting muscle machine. A car for drive-throughs, Friday night cruising, and teenage boys.

That works fine when it's 1969 -- and young, single guys can still afford to buy (and insure) such a car. It doesn't work so well in today's hamstrung, hyper-regulated and cost-inflated world. Part of what killed the latter-day GTO was its $30k price point. The young (under 30) guys who might want such a car couldn't afford it -- and the older guys who could had grown up. They wanted something less goofy. So did their wives. The same problem will surely beset the coming Camaro -- unless GM, by some miracle of Enron-esque accounting, figures out a way to sell the thing for less than $25,000.

And that still leaves the insurance issue. (Will GM offer to cover the nut?) And the reality that the market slice for cars of this type has become narrower than Paris Hilton's waistline. Ford has already vacuumed up a goodly chunk of the prospective buyers. Import sport compacts will prove stiff competition for the remainder. How many new Camaros must GM sell to make the project economically viable? And how hard will that be given the late start, limited buyer pool -- and the very real danger of $3 per gallon (or more) fuel? A 15 mpg V-8 muscle car in a world of $70 fill-ups is apt to be about as popular as Hummers and Navigators and Excursions -- sheetmetal Brontosauri that face extinction (or at least, massive discounting just to get them off dealers' lots).

These are daunting challenges.

But the thing that will drive a stake through the new Camaro's hood, deep into its small-block heart, is the polarizing, hyper-macho cod piece styling. If the production car ends up looking like the show car that's been in every buff magazine and all over the news, it will be the belly flop heard 'round the world.

The enduring genius of Ford's Mustang is that it transcends testosterone -- and the muscle car era. Fitted with a hi-po engine and stripes, it's a car that guys absolutely love. But it doesn't alienate women -- and women are half the market, don't forget (and most guys have a woman in their lives who they'd prefer not to annoy with their choice of car). The previous generation (1994-2002) Camaro was an "in your face" kind of car -- and so is this new one. You either love it -- or you hate it. And the question is, can GM afford such a confrontational machine with inherently limited appeal -- one that's already hobbled by being late to the game, fighting for a relatively small subset of prospective buyers and which will likely arrive just in time for the next ugly uptick in gas prices?

The smart money (or mine, at least) says don't bet the farm on it.

It's 2007 -- not 1967.

Like a botox'd, aerobicized, fish-netted Cher crooning on the mothballed battleship Iowa, you can sing longingly about turning back time all you like. Actually doing it, of course, is a tougher thing to engineer.

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I generally like the American Spectator but they need to stick to politics and keep away from topics they don't know anything about.

The guy is flat wrong about the styling. Yes the CONCEPT is hyper-masculine, but some of that is due to the unacceptable-for-production low roofline and the exaggerated wheel dimensions.

Dull this car down just enough for production and I think it is going to look clean and modern compared to the Mustang.

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like a 15mpg v8... People don't really understand that these modern engines are amazingly efficient. My H/C 400+ whp LS1 still makes 25-26 hwy and no less than 18 city. That's with 4.22's!

The new v8's are going to be even cooler on the wallet as far as gas goes :)

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
CamTom12 said:
like a 15mpg v8... People don't really understand that these modern engines are amazingly efficient. My H/C 400+ whp LS1 still makes 25-26 hwy and no less than 18 city. That's with 4.22's!

The new v8's are going to be even cooler on the wallet as far as gas goes :)
Yep, that is one of his points that was so very wrong

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25 Posts
I hate to say it but he has some very valid points, even if they are somewhat overstated.

Boil it down the article and it lists some very significant challenges:
-High Fuel Costs
-High Insurance Costs
-Concern over GM's viability
-Polarizing styling
-Gender Gap (ask your wife / girlfriend - would she by a new Camaro?)
-Limited Market (face it, today, tuners are what muscle cars were in the 60's. 30 years from now, I am betting there will be a restoration market for WRX's, Evo's, Neons, etc. Can you picture a 7 figure price tag on a Mitsubishi? Do you think anyone thought a Hemi would go for that much?)

Don't get me wrong... I am a muscle car guy and I want the Camaro to succeed. Nothing would make me happier than to see a world full of LSX powered, rear wheel drive GM Products, but I fear that I am in a minority. A handful of rabid fans will not make the Camaro a success. It has to appeal to the masses, and the masses don't always care about the same things we do.

Personally I think the styling is pretty good on the concept Camaro, but I am admittedly biased. Still, I think that if they get the ergonomics right, get the price point right, keep the quality up and find a way to market it to women, they just might have a hit on their hands. This isn't to say that they can't do a killer SS or Z-28 - they just have to get the base model down as well.

2 cents worth.


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FWIW I would have loved to see a 3rd door option...just for those of us that need child seats in the back. If I own a Camaro it will have to be a 3rd car, like my 'bird is now. If it had rear access, I could pull it off as a primary vehicle.

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2001 Camaro Z28
11,842 Posts
Methinks Mr. Eric Peters (author of the article) needs to be strangled and slapped around a bit, and brought back to reality.
He has no clue what he's talking about!

Won't appeal to a broad base?
There's going to be a few models to choose from.
Including the base V6 model for the economy buyer.

Insurance costs?
Since when is a Mustang cheap to insure?

15 MPG V8?
Hey moron, it's 2006, not 1976.
My 420hp modded 4th Gen gets 25+MPG, and it got 30MPG when it was stock.
The AFM LS2 in the concept is rated at 30+MPG.

This guy needs to get his facts straight.
He really made himself look stupid with this article!

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863 Posts
My response to the Editors:

Dear Spectator Editors:

The members of (the first and largest online forums
dedicated to the new Camaro) read Eric Peters' article on the Camaro
with great interest. As we read on, however, we became dismayed at
some of Mr. Peters' conclusions. It is our contention, and I'm sure
the contention of GM as well if they were likewise responding, that
Mr. Peters has made several erroneous assumptions about the car and
the automotive market in general that lead him to his final conclusion
that the Camaro is destined to fail.

First, regarding the GTO's "failure": The GTO was a rebadged Holden
Monaro imported from Down Under. Mr. Peters chooses to gloss over the
importance of this fact in his article. Because the GTO was rushed to
the US market and based on an existing platform already on its last
legs, it was hampered (whether you like the car or not) by those
limiations. The GTO's production run has ended, however, not because
of lackluster sales (GM only planned to sell about 18,000 units/year
all along), but because the Holden chassis the car rides on is being
phased out. All information we have today indicates the GTO will
return end-of-decade sharing the Camaro's new platform, albiet in a
larger, more differentiated packaged than the clone relationship the
Pontiac Firebird once shared with Camaro.

Second, Mr. Peters argues the Camaro will have limited appeal. How is
that possible given the Camaro will come in several flavors designed
the match up with Mustang's offerings? In addition to the fire
breathing models, there will most certainly be one V-6 model and
possibly two. There will also be a couple of V-8 models. GM has also
stated their goal is to sell the basic Camaro for around $20,000. If
Ford can do it with the Mustang, my question to Mr. Peters is why
doesn't he think GM can do the same? Is there a built in $5,000 per
car handicap at GM we've never heard of?

The Camaro's chassis will be a new, global platform shared by the GTO,
the next Impala, Monte Carlo, several Holden models, and perhaps even
a Buick or two and a Cadillac. With that kind of economy of scale,
there's no reason GM can't build price-competitive Camaros.

As to insurance, see the bove mentioned V-6 Camaro. For what it is
worth, however, why would insurance on a V-8 Mustang be any less cost
prohibitive than a V-8 Camaro?

Let's address Mr. Peter's comments about the 15mpg musclecar too while
we are at it. The previous V-8 model Camaro managed 25mpg highway
with the auto transmission and an impressive 28mpg with the 6 speed
manual. There are seveal V-6 import branded sedans that can't get that
kind of mileage. GM has suggested the new Camaro, repleat with
overdrive gears and cylinder deactivation technology, will acheive
30mpg efficiency. This is most certainly NOT your father's musclecar.
In fact, predicts that model for model the Camaro will be
more efficient than a similarly equipped Mustang.

In the end, smells a Ford fanboy in an automotive writer's
clothing when we read Mr. Peters' article. He would be well served to
leave the over-generalizations, stereotypes and speculation at the
door next time.

Personally, as a conservative and a car nut, I am rooting for the
Camaro because it represents all things uniquely American. This is
exactly the kind of car at which the French would turn up their noses
while driving their tiny, underpowered cars--a thought that gives me
great pleasure! Now pardon me while I don my mullet wig and Smokey
and the Bandit jacket and turn the key on my Trans Am.


Chris Renner
Owner/Administrator, on behalf of the members of

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17 Posts
That is a well done reply Chris... you definitely rebutted every point he tried to make as being a demise of the Camaro... send as is and let's see if the a_ _ hole responds... in my opinion I feel that GM is pooling all thier resources to ensure that this will be car that will appeal to the masses.

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863 Posts
whoa whoa wait a minute I don't want a mullet wig or a smokey and the bandit jacket, but it was a nice rebuttal I wish I would have seen this before you posted the rebuttal because this guy must have a mustang in his garage or something because I guarantee that my wife will own a 5th gen long before she would ever consider buying a new mustang! Heck she may own one before some members of our board!
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