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Thread: Camaro DOA?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Exclamation Camaro DOA?



    To read this article with pictures: http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=632&Item id=10927


    Still believe Camaro has a chance?

    Six months ago, I wrote about the iffy prospects of GM's attempt to revive its muscle car franchise. I argued that the combination of an economic downturn and a public turning away from gas guzzling V-8s would likely prove lethal to the fortunes of Camaro - a "Joe Sixpack" machine whose success depends on there being enough middle and working class horsepower junkies out there willing to buy it in large enough numbers to justify GM's investment in tooling, production and so on.

    GM's looming bankruptcy - or the equally embarrassing taxpayer-funded bailout that seems likely - is the automotive equivalent of pancreatic cancer. Camaro's already a goner - before the first of them even make it to dealerships this spring.

    If any make it to dealerships this spring.

    No matter what happens - bankruptcy or bailout - GM is going to have to tighten its belt and trim its sails. There will be no room for any car that doesn't add to the bottom line. In other words, which sells. On its own. Without giveaway incentives or subsidies. In large enough numbers to make producing it worthwhile.

    By this standard, even the vaunted Corvette doesn't cut the mustard. It is what's known in the biz as a "halo" car - meaning it earns its keep by burnishing the image of the brand (Chevy), which (in theory) translates into higher overall sales even if the Corvette, itself, is a net money loser.

    So, how likely is it that Camaro - which lacks the Corvette's small but devoted buyer base and unbroken record of continuous production that dates back all the way to 1954 - and more to the point, isn't an exotic sports car that GM can use to showcase its latest, cutting-edge technology - can last when the bean counters get down to the nitty gritty? What does Camaro add to GM's balance sheet - except the prospect of yet another money-loser?

    Camaro is way cool, but so is my 455 Trans-Am from the '70s. That doesn't mean either car is viable in today's marketplace.

    Look, I love three-inch chambered exhaust pipes, hood scoops and whale tails as much as anyone. To those who want to slam me as a Prius-snuggling hostile to internal combustion greenie-weenie who simply wishes cars like Camaro ill, re-read the above. I own a muscle car even more obnoxious than the pending Camaro. And I have owned not one, not two but three Camaros, also.

    Ok?

    The fact that I (or you) love cars like these is immaterial to the question, do they make business sense given today's market realities?

    And the obvious answer, of course, is no.

    V-8 gas guzzler are radioactive. Coupes are a hard sell even in good times. And we are most definitely not living in good times.

    Consumer confidence has fallen off a cliff. People aren't buying $150 VCRs - let alone cars. Any cars. It is the worst market for new cars in decades, maybe ever. And it is not going to get better anytime soon. Certainly not within the next year or two. GM can't afford to carry Camaro that long, hoping things will turn around. When it comes handout time, do you suppose Congress (and the taxpayers who will get the bill) are going to tolerate GM building frivolous wastrel such as Camaro?

    And even if these lethal problems could be disappeared, we have the almost certain bum's rush to a 40 mpg "fleet average" fuel economy standard that will be imposed by the Obama administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress. Despite being completely at odds with the working man constituency of the Democratic Party, inside-the-Beltway pressure to impose fuel economy standards is all but overwhelming. Passage is certain. And the only way a four hundred horsepower V-8 Camaro will come close to meeting a 40 mpg standard is by dropping it down an elevator shaft - with its engine turned off. Even the V-6 version isn't going make the cut.

    Very likely, neither will the entire industry. We may not have one at all come this time next year.

    Camaro's just going to be one of the first to fall. The fact that it's sad doesn't make it any less real.

    That's the way the ball bounces, unfortunately.
    Last edited by Eric; 11-20-2008 at 06:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Sounds like the final flush for the commode, I mean camaro..

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    Sounds like the final flush for the commode, I mean camaro..
    Yeah, that's my sense of it, too.

    The sad thing about it is that it's so unnecessary.

    Had GM simply come out with an improved fifth generation Camaro circa 2000 (instead of allowing the flawed 4th gen. car to linger until 2002, by which time it was a sales failure, before canceling it entirely - and then leaving the market for almost 10 years before re-introducing the car, etc.) it would have had a better chance of survival.

    What GM needed, circa 2000, was a smaller, more efficient car that could be sold as both a sporty commuter and a high-powered muscle car. The base car should have offered a 30 mpg-capable 4-cylinder. The performance version a 5-literish V-8 around 300 hp in a car that weighed no more than 3,000 lbs.

    That could have been a home run, I would bet ya...

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Apart from being ugly, and being impossible to see out of unless you're 6'4", what were the G4 Camaro's flaws? Behind the wheel it seemed like a decent drive for an overweight behemoth, if you don't mind window sills up around chin-level. It was just impossible to park, and it was ugly inside and out. The engineering was decent enough.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    Apart from being ugly, and being impossible to see out of unless you're 6'4", what were the G4 Camaro's flaws? Behind the wheel it seemed like a decent drive for an overweight behemoth, if you don't mind window sills up around chin-level. It was just impossible to park, and it was ugly inside and out. The engineering was decent enough.
    It was too big (with poor use of interior space) as well as ugly. The interior was awkward (even more than usual for a car of this type) and even uglier than the exterior.

    But the main flaw was its one dimensionality. It offered incredible bang for the buck, as a performance car. But it had little appeal outside of the overwhelmingly young, single male demographic. Most women hated it. That made it hard for married men to buy. And unlike the Mustang, the base version of which has always been a huge seller across a very diverse audience, the base Camaro under-performed, as far as sales went.

    It needed a re-do long before GM cancelled it. But GM just let it twist in the wind. Each year for the last several years of production, sales continued to drop. By 2002 (final year) it had become a complete flop.

    GM basically pissed away the equity it had in the cars. It is now trying to build that back - a task all by itself but one made infinitely harder under the present circumstances.

    The timing could not be worse. Had GM brought the pending 2010 version out even four years ago, it might have worked. Now, it's almost sure to fail.

  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I just wonder if they've repeated the same mistakes with the new car? It's pretty big, and has high sills again.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I just wonder if they've repeated the same mistakes with the new car? It's pretty big, and has high sills again.
    This is subjective, but I think the new one looks right. They did an especially nice job with the interior.

    I'd argue the problem is not style. It's price (A V-8 SS will be close to $35k), cost to operate and could-not-be-worse timing.

    When the feds pass a 40 mpg CAFE standard (which I am betting they'll do before 2009 is over) that will be "it" for Camaro, neither version of which can come close to that and the V-8 version of which will be in the high teens.lows 20s as far as average MPGs.

    But even before that ones to pass, how many people are going to plunk down $35k for a Camaro in this economy?

    I'd be surprised if they can sell 15,000 of them during the first year.

  8. #8
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I wasn't talking about high sills as they relate to style, but as they relate to feeling buried in the car and being able to see out and parallel park and stuff. A 4-wheeled pillbox may look cool, but it's hard to drive. Get in the car and say "nice interior and all, but where's the rest of the world?"

    Thing that bugged me about the last two generations of Camaros was the A-pillar that felt like a spear pointed at my forehead. Seemed claustrophobia-inducing.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I wasn't talking about high sills as they relate to style, but as they relate to feeling buried in the car and being able to see out and parallel park and stuff. A 4-wheeled pillbox may look cool, but it's hard to drive. Get in the car and say "nice interior and all, but where's the rest of the world?"

    Thing that bugged me about the last two generations of Camaros was the A-pillar that felt like a spear pointed at my forehead. Seemed claustrophobia-inducing.
    Much of this depends on your stature. I'm tall, so it's never been much of an issue for me. Also, virtually all cars have high (and getting higher) door sills because of side-impact crash issues.

  10. #10
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I'm average height, 5'10", but my limbs are short relative to my height. Which means that my torso is longer than average for my height, which means that I sit higher than most people my height. Therefore, if I feel "buried" in a car, then I bet that a majority of people, and all women, would also have trouble seeing out.

  11. #11
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    I hadn't really taken much notice of the new Camaro until I go the latest 'Collectible Automobile'. Having seen it, I think this is 'retro' at its worst - not a straight copy of the original, not an evolution of the original line, not a modern design with recognisable references to the original. It may be different in real life, but to me, just glancing at a picture it doesn't shout 'Camaro' - Charger & Mustang, & several Euro retro cars - MINI, Fiat Cinquecento, do that.

    External styling just looks clumsy, the interior looks cheap...not really got much going for it!

    As I see it, the only thing that will sell it is the 'Camaro' nameplate. Is that enough?

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    I hadn't really taken much notice of the new Camaro until I go the latest 'Collectible Automobile'. Having seen it, I think this is 'retro' at its worst - not a straight copy of the original, not an evolution of the original line, not a modern design with recognisable references to the original. It may be different in real life, but to me, just glancing at a picture it doesn't shout 'Camaro' - Charger & Mustang, & several Euro retro cars - MINI, Fiat Cinquecento, do that.

    External styling just looks clumsy, the interior looks cheap...not really got much going for it!

    As I see it, the only thing that will sell it is the 'Camaro' nameplate. Is that enough?
    I think they did a decent job of styling in the sense that it echoes the '69 model (previous Camaros tended to be evolutionary updates of the second generation 1970-'81 cars).

    The problem is that it's not 1969. Or even 1989.

    The muscle car is a wonderful thing but it is a relic of a time that has passed.

    It could work, kinda sorta, when gas was cheap and the economy was doing well and middle/working class people could buy them. And before the advent of high-performance sedans and wagons, muscle coupes had this market pretty much all to themselves.

    All that is different now. The combination of high cost to buy/high cost to operate, a flat-lining economy and the presence of dozens of far more practical (but equally quick/fast) sporty sedans and hatches renders a car like the Camaro, if not obsolete, a very hard sell.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I think they did a decent job of styling in the sense that it echoes the '69 model (previous Camaros tended to be evolutionary updates of the second generation 1970-'81 cars).
    Seeing a picture of the two side by side, the '69 looks elegant, the new one looks clumsy.

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    Seeing a picture of the two side by side, the '69 looks elegant, the new one looks clumsy.
    It's very difficult to copy the lines of '69 because of modern bumper impact/crashworthiness issues. The new Challenger is similarly blocky-looking.

    This is subjective (my opinion) but I think the new Camaro looks much better than the previous one cancelled in 2002. I still much prefer the Mustang, but again, that's only my personal taste.

    I think the larger problems aren't stylistic, but have to do with the current economic situation and so on, as explained in the earlier post...

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Brand View Post
    Seeing a picture of the two side by side, the '69 looks elegant, the new one looks clumsy.



  16. #16
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    The prominance of the headlights & foglights are reversed. The '69, you see mostly headlights and the windscreen. On the new Camaro, you see foglights and hood.

    Chip H.

  17. #17
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    The prominance of the headlights & foglights are reversed. The '69, you see mostly headlights and the windscreen. On the new Camaro, you see foglights and hood.

    Chip H.
    I think the grille could do with more elements, as below, and the foggies need to be plain insets.

    Ken.
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    Last edited by Ken; 12-03-2008 at 04:18 PM.
    Die dulci fruimini!
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