Tuesday, August 29, 2006

2006 Woodward Dream Cruise

Ok, so I'm a tad bit late reporting on the 2006 Woodward Dream Cruise, but better late than never right? Once again neither of my classics were running for the event, nor did I take up my 1989 Formula this year. I simply rode up with my neighbors, walked for a few hours, then sat and watched for a few more. This year we settled in down around 9 mile in Ferndale, which isn't normally my first choice, but that's where we resided out of convenience. For one, this was Mustang Alley on 9 mile. I believe I have seen enough Mustangs to last me until next Dream Cruise. Normally I like to reside in what I consider the core of it all, up around 12 mile or so near the McDonald's restaurant. There is always next year, just as there is always next year to try and have my Camaro back on the road, kickin' ass and taking names. Until then, here are some pictures along with my Flickr link where I have a good 100 or so uploaded, enjoy!

Click here for more 2006 Woodward pictures

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Official 2009 Camaro press release

Interesting that this will be the first Camaro to utilize independent rear suspension, putting a leg up on the Mustang, while joining the Challenger as an IRS car. It will be interesting to see what impact it will have, as many of you may recall, the last generation Camaro/Firebird with a solid straight axle actually out handled the Mustang Cobra equipped with IRS. Additionally, an IRS setup usually is not as effective for straight line acceleration. I recall reading more than a few articles that noted wheel hop with IRS on the GTO and CTS-V. I would hope that for the Camaro crowd they will have this issue resolved, as most off us who like to lay rubber don't care to blow out the IRS in the process. I don't know about you guys, but I've been saving over a month now, awaiting this day. Now, I must find out how in the hell I'm going to insure it living in the city of Detroit.

On a side note, something rather amusing, I sent a letter to one of the big shots at GM some years back when I heard the announcement that they were going to kill the F-body platform. I informed them that the only chance they had of ever selling me a new car was through that of an F-body, as the Vette will always be more than I'm willing to spend, as I'd rather own 2-3 muscle cars at that price. I went on to state that they were failing to realize the importance of the F-body and what it means to the shrinking group that was still purchasing them. The Camaro and Firebird had always had a cult following, it had alway been the arch nemisis to the Mustang, to take that away was taking away the only reason I had ever been a Chevy fan. What was left was a bunch of front wheel drive cars in which I would never purchase.

As years passed, new and more exciting products came to market, though not only from GM. The revised Mustang was a grand slam, a car that I'd be willing to have my Chevy orange blood swapped out via a transfusion for Ford blue. In the mean time, Cadillac brought out its rear wheel drive Cadillac line up, which if I were into luxury cars, I would perhaps seriously consider, yet that wasn't my meat and potatos. I was a muscle car fan after all. More cars would follow, but the SSR to me was a waste of a niche vehicle. It ranks right there with the Ford Thunderbird as a "could've been." Had neither of them been priced so high, weighed WAY too much, and been so underpowered initially, they would have both sold much better. The GTO was another could've been. It's interior styling and powertrain were among the best GM had ever seen, yet the styling just didn't scream GTO, it said "Corporate Pontiac," and didn't differentiate itself from the Grand Prix enough. Then came the Solstice and Sky, possible the coolest little roadsters I've ever seen. Convincing enough that I would even ponder buying one, yet still, I wanted that muscle car.

Over on the Chrysler front, they were pumping out cool products as well. The Viper has always been cool, but like the Vette, a car I'd likely never spend the money to buy. The Magnum/300C/Charger were all sweet, but 4 doors? No thanks, not quite yet. When they brought forth the Challenger concept last January, I was blown away. At the time, I felt I would sell my 1970 Challenger to buy a new Challenger, yet I could say the same for my Camaro, I'd hold onto my 1969 as opposed to the new one. Time changes one's perspective, and in all honesty, I wouldn't sell either of my classics for the new versions (are you kidding me? I'm a collector now, if I don't intend to keep it forever, I won't buy it!). The more magazine covers both cars graced, the more the Camaro grew on me. The more info that came out, the more I leaned towards the Camaro. The Challenger is said to come in at 4,000+ lbs. That's not nimble enough to be a muscle car as far as I'm concerned. It's gonna need that 425 hp hemi to motivate if from a stop. My 1970 Challenger weighs in at 3,600 lbs, and I consider that quite porkly for a pony car. Now no official weight has been announced for the Camaro, and they have already said they will need to trim some weight off the Austrialian version, but they hope to get it in the 3,600 lbs range. Still more than I'd like to see, but I'll take the 400 lbs less with 400 hp or so any day.

In addition, the more I considered the styling of both, I realized I like them both for different reasons. Though from my perspective, owning both vintage versions, the Challenger is just too much like the 1970 I already own. The Camaro however, it has sharp edge styling mixed with nostalgic lines. There is no mistaking the new Camaro for my 1969 counterpart. For this reason I look at it this way, if you used to own a 1970 Challenger and want to relive what it used to be, then the Challenger is for you. If you want to relive your 1969 Camaro you used to own, then you buy a 1969 Camaro, as the new Camaro has some serious modern influence kickin'. Anyways, below is the official announcement per Automotive News.

New Camaro coming in early 2009, Wagoner says
Sports car to come in 'many shapes and sizes'

Richard Truett | Dale Jewett | Automotive News / August 10, 2006 - 9:41am / UPDATED: 8/10/2006 12:49 P.M.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- General Motors has big plans for the reborn Camaro coming in early 2009.

GM will put the Camaro sports car into production in late 2008, and put it on sale in early 2009, CEO Rick Wagoner said today. The production Camaro will closely resemble the concept car unveiled in January at the Detroit auto show, he said.

Rick Wagoner said the sports coupe will be available with a variety engines and transmissions and hinted that a convertible version might also be in the works.

"It will come in many shapes and sizes," Wagoner said.

The car will be engineered by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia but built in North America, Wagoner said today at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.

GM will announce the car's production site later, Wagoner said. He made no comment on the potential for a Pontiac Firebird version of the car.

Growing segment

Despite rising gasoline prices, the Camaro gives GM an entry in the growing muscle-car revival that includes cars such as Ford's Mustang-based Shelby GT500, and the Dodge Challenger that is scheduled to reach showrooms in 2008 with a Hemi engine.

Wagoner did not offer many technical details, but he did say the new Camaro would have an independent rear suspension system to improve handling. That is a feature that Mustang fans clamored for, but did not get.

High-performance variants of the Camaro will likely be powered by a version of GM's classic small block V-8 engine, such as the one used in the outgoing Pontiac GTO, which developed 400 horsepower.

The 2009 Camaro will share some styling cues with the 1969 model, but GM does not view it as retro car, Wagoner said. The goal with the new car's styling was to appeal to those who like the '69 model, and also younger buyers.

GM first showed a concept version of the Camaro at the Detroit auto show in January. Since then, GM said, the company has been flooded with requests to build the car and has been offered deposits from enthusiasts.

It took GM about eight months to make a business case for the Camaro. Wagoner said today he agreed with GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz' assessment that GM could sell 100,000 Camaros per year. Ford Motor Co. sold 100,995 Mustangs through July this year.

GM was widely expected to approve the car for production, and in April one Detroit-area GM dealer even started advertising the car for sale.

You may e-mail Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com

You may e-mail Dale Jewett at djewett@crain.com

Monday, August 07, 2006

2008 Camaro unofficially official

Pending an announcement this Thursday, the Camaro will in fact be going into production.

Camaro to roar back by 2008

Just as I said I would, I've been putting money aside for the launch of both the Challenger and the Camaro. I am leaning towards the Camaro, since it's sharp edge styling screams modern muscle with just enough flashes of retro. The Challenger on the other hand, well, it looks like the 1970 Challenger in which I already own. The Camaro is said to have 3 engines available, a V6 and two V8's. I would assume that the V8's will likely be the 5.3 and 6.0 engines. With a possible LS7 427 cubic inch option available a few years down the road, and who knows, maybe even the rumored supercharged version the Corvette will supposedly get, sporting a supercharged 650 hp.

While the article questions how many will line up to buy a Camaro with gas prices at $3.15 a gallon, I think they are forgetting something. These cars have NEVER been gas guzzlers. My 18 year old Formula knocks down 22 mpg (though usually 20 mpg the way I drive), my dad's 1995 Formula knocked down 27 mpg prior to his 4.10 gear installation, even then, it still gets around 23 mpg. I read an article somewhere that stated the new Camaro will approach 30 mpg. I'm sorry, but if it can knock down nearly 30 mpg, and still make around 400 hp, I wouldn't think too many would hesitate in buying one. In fact, I would venture to say their key market will likely be that of my parent's generation. Folks in their mid 50's, with kids moved out, now not needed that SUV or full size pickup and having grown tired of the poor gas mileage.

I was a bit spoiled while driving my mom's Aurora these passed couple weeks, as it knocks down 25 mpg even at speeds averaging around 80-85 mph. I tell ya what, those few mpg make a huge difference, as I didn't have to refill the tank mid week like I do with my car. All in all, great to see that in a few years all the Big 3 will have their pony cars resurrected and back doing battle. It's been 30 years since the trio has played with one another.