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Thread: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    In 1984, when I graduated (just barely) from high school, all us motorheads bemoaned having been born too late to catch the muscle car wave of the late 1960s. Well, here it is 15 years later - and once again the moment is ripe. Don't let the same thing happen to you. Buy a Camaro Z28 today if you have any kind of itch to own a seriously fast American brain smasher... for tomorrow, they may (and probably will be) gone.

    In fact, the death warrant may already be signed. Neither the Camaro nor its "corporate cousin," the Pontiac Firebird, have sold well in years. Weak sales are bad, but what's worse for an automaker in these days of federal argle-bargle are government fuel economy standards that result in obnoxious "gas guzzler" fines anytime the "fleet average" dips below 27.5 mpgs. In this world, 15 mpg Z28s are already a liability; factor in droopy sales and (inexplicably) declining interest in these kinds of cars, and only blackness lies ahead.

    So now is a good time to buy a Camaro - especially since the high performance Z28 is at a high water mark (more so when equipped with the optional SS package). No previous Camaro - not the 1969 Z28 302; not the mighty LT-1 350 of 1970 - can touch it. Five second 0-60 mph capability off the showroom floor is mighty performance by any measure. And when you measure it in terms of price - the 1999 Z28 has a base MSRP of just $21,140 - it is enough to make you think that maybe you've been sniffing too much octane booster.

    A six speed manual transmission. Standard 305-hp V-8 engine (320-hp if you opt for the $3,700 SS package; more on that below). High capacity 4-wheel disc brakes tucked inside 16-inch aluminum rims. Rumbly dual exhaust. A top speed in excess of 150-mph. All for around $20k?

    Hey, that's all right.

    You're basically getting a Corvette in a different suit of clothes with a pair of extra seats thrown in - and for $10-$20K less. After all, the Z28 has the same 5.7 liter V-8 (albeit "detuned" from the Corvette's 345-hp rating thanks to a stuffier exhaust system on the Camaro), the same six speed gearbox (with excellent Hurst linkage in the SS) and a suspension system that, while more primitive (because it has a "solid" rear axle as opposed to the Vette's all-independent set-up) can deliver cornering ability on the street, where it matters, every bit as good - though admittedly accompanied by a harsher ride. But frankly, the Z28's super-firm ride and rougher characteristics are part of its charm. The Corvette is an excellent sports car. But the Camaro is a muscle car. And there is a world of difference between the two concepts.

    Those who want to strut and stomp around will definitely enjoy the hyper-macho ballsiness Z28. The Corvette is for when we all get older and need some tight fiberglass to shore up our own sagging hides.

    Some odds and ends:

    Chevy put a new nose on the Camaro last year that carries over to 1999. It recalls the 1970-72 models with the "bumperless," Rally Sport front end and I think looks much better than the previous design.. The thing reminds me of a famished Mako Shark looking for supper. Smart little fishies will get out of the way.

    Traction control is now available on all Camaros, including the Z28, for an extra $450. I wouldn't waste the money, however, unless you expect to drive the car in the snow. After all, this is a muscle car, right? Why would you want to limit wheelspin? Aren't fishtailing posi burn-outs the whole idea?

    The SS package, on the other hand, is highly recommended. Yeah, it's a big chunk of change - but look at all you get: Functional Ram Air intake with scooped hood and lower restriction dual exhaust system that bumps the output to 320-hp and puts the car within a tenth or two of the Corvette, acceleration-wise. You also get beautiful 17-inch rims shod with Goodyear F1 tires that put down a bigger contact patch individually than all four tires on your typical Taurus. There's also a unique to the SS rear decklid spoiler and significant upgrades to the already formidable Z28 suspension system.

    You're up to almost $24k at this point but you have a machine that will play mumblety-peg on the chest of the $30,000-plus Ford Mustang Cobra, hang with the Corvette - and beat black and blue any other performance car on the market under $60,000.

    The Camaro's weak points are remarkably few - and Chevy could easily fix these. One is the godawful ugly steering wheel, which is completely out of place in a car that ought to be special. It's just a big blob o' plastic (thanks to the stupid air bag; another story there). Something more racy-looking, with brushed aluminum spokes, perhaps, would dramatically change the so-so (albeit functional) working environment you're faced with. Similarly, some attention paid to the layout of the gauges would help. Again, they are eminently functional. But they don't look cool in the way, say, the engine-turned dashboard of a 1973 SD-455 Trans-Am (or the wraparound, cockpit-themed dash of the '70-78 Z28) looked cool.

    But again, these are trivial bitches considering the package. To fixate on them is akin to worrying about a small zit on the face of the prom queen. It's not perfect. But I wouldn't kick the Z out of my garage.

    Neither should you. Get one while you still can.

    END


  2. #2
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    Re: Flashback: 1998 Camaro Z28/SS

    Just posted this article on the main page with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...0&Itemid=10857



  3. #3
    MrMike
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Nice article, Eric. Thanks for reposting it. I love the looks of the 1999-2002 Camaros. In fact, I bought a new '99 Camaro as a gift for my girlfriend in February, 2000. It was only the V-6 (the nice 200 HP version), but it was loaded with options: T-tops, leather, Monsoon sound system, 4-speed automatic, 16" aluminum wheels and power everything. It was also bright red. The car had a MSRP of $22,000+, but after discounts, rebates, etc., I got it for under $15,000. We drove it from Wisconsin to her home in Tennessee. It was a pleasure to drive and got 30 MPG on the trip. The one major complaint we had was the hump on the floor on the passenger's side. Very annoying. We're still together and she still has the car but rarely drives it. I think it has maybe 8,000 miles on it today.

    You may wonder, if I was in a position to buy that one as a gift, why didn't I get a nice SS for myself? I strongly considered it and test drove a couple, but I was still into Buick Grand Nationals and T-Types back then (owned three) and couldn't give them up for a slower, less comfortable car.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMike
    Nice article, Eric. Thanks for reposting it. I love the looks of the 1999-2002 Camaros. In fact, I bought a new '99 Camaro as a gift for my girlfriend in February, 2000. It was only the V-6 (the nice 200 HP version), but it was loaded with options: T-tops, leather, Monsoon sound system, 4-speed automatic, 16" aluminum wheels and power everything. It was also bright red. The car had a MSRP of $22,000+, but after discounts, rebates, etc., I got it for under $15,000. We drove it from Wisconsin to her home in Tennessee. It was a pleasure to drive and got 30 MPG on the trip. The one major complaint we had was the hump on the floor on the passenger's side. Very annoying. We're still together and she still has the car but rarely drives it. I think it has maybe 8,000 miles on it today.

    You may wonder, if I was in a position to buy that one as a gift, why didn't I get a nice SS for myself? I strongly considered it and test drove a couple, but I was still into Buick Grand Nationals and T-Types back then (owned three) and couldn't give them up for a slower, less comfortable car.
    Thanks, Mike!

    That hump on the passenger side floorboard... I remember it also; it was there to make space for the catalytic converter - and you're right, it was annoying if you were riding shotgun!


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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Back in 1997, I came within a hair of buying a brand-new 1997 30th anniversary edition Camaro SS convertible. I loved the color - white with orange stripes. It was a super rare car especially being a convertible. I passed after thinking I wanted a mint conditioned 2nd generation Trans Am instead, so not too long after that, that's what I bought.

    Here's what it looked like:



  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    I remember the first one of these cars I ever saw. I was returning to my car, an '88 Ford Taurus, in a parking lot. There was a new Camaro parked next to me. First thing I noticed was that the Camaro was taller, wider, and longer than my full-size 4-door sedan.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Back in 1997, I came within a hair of buying a brand-new 1997 30th anniversary edition Camaro SS convertible. I loved the color - white with orange stripes. It was a super rare car especially being a convertible. I passed after thinking I wanted a mint conditioned 2nd generation Trans Am instead, so not too long after that, that's what I bought.

    Here's what it looked like:


    I remember that exact car, also - because one was in the press fleet at the time and I got to play with it for a week. A neat car, but you did the right thing buying your TA.

    Your car's a lot more interesting and unique - and it's worth probably 3-4 times what that Camaro is worth today!

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I remember the first one of these cars I ever saw. I was returning to my car, an '88 Ford Taurus, in a parking lot. There was a new Camaro parked next to me. First thing I noticed was that the Camaro was taller, wider, and longer than my full-size 4-door sedan.
    They were definitely large cars; one criticism of the 4th gen. models was their less than stelar use of space. The third gen. hatchback cars were much better in this respect.

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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I remember the first one of these cars I ever saw. I was returning to my car, an '88 Ford Taurus, in a parking lot. There was a new Camaro parked next to me. First thing I noticed was that the Camaro was taller, wider, and longer than my full-size 4-door sedan.
    You're right these cars were pretty big compared to mid-sized car and a Mustang back in the day. Eric also make a good point that these cars had a total lack of space for such a big car. I always felt the 4th generation f-bodies had terrible visiability, it was hard to see out the spaceship window and the darn tree trunk side windshield pillars. And it was hard to see out the side windows, this was a bad car to parallel park. I think the designers took the good looking aerodynamic 3rd generation f-bodies and turned them with the 4th generation into a really wild design that has not aged well. I liked these cars when they were new, however

  10. #10
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    I take exception to the notion that the 3rd generation cars were "good looking" in any way. The 1st generation were lovely, and the 2nd were stunning, until 1974 when they got the ugly bumpers, ugly grille, and fishbowl rear window.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I take exception to the notion that the 3rd generation cars were "good looking" in any way. The 1st generation were lovely, and the 2nd were stunning, until 1974 when they got the ugly bumpers, ugly grille, and fishbowl rear window.
    Everyone has their own likes/dislikes - but I have to point out that the third gen. car sold phenomenally well during most of the '80s. The 4th gen. cars, on the other hand, never equaled that performance.

    I also personally think GM did a helluva job with the '75-'81 second gen. cars and working within the constraints dictated by federal bumper impact standards, etc.

    Of those years, the only one that look s a little clunky - to my eye - is the '75, because the front end has awkward bumperettes, etc. (The '74 also had a less than great nose, with ugly black rub strips, etc.) By '76, GM had managed to smooth out the new shovelnose design so that it looked very aggressive and aerodynamic. Few cars of the era had front clips so well-integrated with the front fenders, hood, etc. The monochromatic (body color) treatment enhanced this "look" tremendously.

    Then in '77 came the four quad headlights and "beak" - which was hugely popular; the '79 refresh was pretty cool, too. Pontiac had actually planned to have clear covers for the headlights, but this was abandoned due to cost.










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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I take exception to the notion that the 3rd generation cars were "good looking" in any way. The 1st generation were lovely, and the 2nd were stunning, until 1974 when they got the ugly bumpers, ugly grille, and fishbowl rear window.
    The third gens had great aerodynamics, symmetry, and excellent looking lines. Looks are very subjective, to each his own, however you really don't think this is a "good looking" car?:


  13. #13
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    No. Not even a little bit. Looks like a ham-fisted styling effort to me. The nose is particularly bad, it's too angular and blank.

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Flashback: 1999 Camaro Z28/SS

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    No. Not even a little bit. Looks like a ham-fisted styling effort to me. The nose is particularly bad, it's too angular and blank.
    Well, there's no point arguing a subjective; however, the buying public certainly found the design very appealing. These cars were very successful as new cars - and today, they are fast-appreciating collectibles.

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