A few days ago, our in-house wielder of everything classic and awesome Michael Prichinello offered his insights on the Chevrolet Camaro. Though the retro muscle car has been on the market since April of 2009 (as a 2010), it never gets old to hear a true, unfiltered, unfettered take on GM’s bounce-back rallying cry–especially from a dude who spends his days in the presence of automotive greatness. It is a unique opinion that demands respect. Seriously- automotive writing is a ton of fun, but Mike’s gig makes mine look like indentured servitude.
Having said that, I don’t know that I share Mike’s take on the modern-day muscle car. Sure, there are some downsides to the new Camaro, but for what it is, and what it represents, its crazy, stupid fun. Towing capacity should be measured in heaps of bad-assery.
See, what Mike doesn’t know, and what he’s finding out the same time that you are reading this is that I recently chatted-it up with GM historian and the Marketing Manager for the previous-generation Camaro, Scott Settlemire. Scott is known around the General Motors offices as the “F-Bod-Father” (If you love Camaro’s, you’ll get that- if not, mind the breeze of that one shooting over your head).
Settlemire recalls the day the current generation Camaro was unveiled at the Detroit auto show. “I saw grown men cry,” explained Settlemire, “the last 4th-gen Camaro was a red Z28, built on august 27, 2002. People were so happy to see it back.”
For one of the most iconic American cars, the void left by the Camaro’s absence seemed unfathomable. “People would write angry letters, demanding we bring it back,” said Settlemire, “and we would have people walk into a dealership, stunned when they found out they could not buy a Camaro.” It was a day of rejoice for the Bowtie brand, as well as Americana, when the Camaro returned.
Much like the V-22 Osprey, and the B-24 Liberator before it, the Camaro is an Ambassador of Democracy, and just like its airborne forbears, the tools of its trade its power…raw power. The Camaro is not meant to be an instrument of apex-dissecting precision. Cars like the Scion FR-S and Mazda Miata make heroes out of any knucklehead with a right foot made of lead, and wrapped in Pilotis. With great power comes great responsibility, and the case is no different with the Camaro SS, 1LE, or ZL1. It takes a great deal of temperance, footwork, and handwork to master the Camaro.
I recently had the pleasure of driving a Camaro 1LE, which competes with the track-focused Boss 302, and it was an absolute joy to drive. The crude, unfiltered manner in which it dispatches a windy road is the stuff of legend.
As much as the Camaro is a definitive element in the periodic table of Patriotism, the modern Camaro, actually traces its roots back to Australia. Specifically, the Holden Commodore that underpinned the late Pontiac G8. Given that another essential element is democracy, which was imported from France, it seems a good a time as any to invoke Voltaire, “While I disagree with what you have to say, I’ll defend your right to say it to the death.”