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Thread: An Early Sunset For Camaro?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    An Early Sunset For Camaro?

    I'm not seeing many new Camaros - so I thought I'd check into the numbers.

    It does not look good.

    Despite the hype, GM only sold 81,299 Camaros last year, the first full production year.

    For some perspective, that's about what Camaro (and its now-defunct sister car, the Pontiac Firebird) sales were back in 2002 - the year the cars were cancelled. Combined production for that year was 72,788 - which was considered terrible by GM and industry analysts. Definitely not sufficient to justify keeping the car in production - which is why both cars were dropped (the Firebird, permanently).

    When Camaro was hot, it was selling an easy 100,000 units annually. When it was really hot, back in the late 1970s, as many as a quarter million were sold in a single year. Those were the Great Days, when you could hardly go outside and not see a Camaro - or a Firebird.

    The mid-late 1980s were also good times.

    If you were around back then you no doubt remember how Everywhere they were. IROC-Zs and GTAs. Hundreds of thousands of them were made. Along with Ford's Mustang Five-Point-0, they were among the hottest - and best-selling - cars of the period.

    But that was a time when the sporty car market was much different - much less competitive than it is now. Among other things, the Camaros and Firebird of the time faced little in the way of serious challenge for enthusiast buyers' dollars from front wheel drive or all-wheel-drive imports, of which there were far fewer, for openers.

    Today, FWD and AWD performance cars are many - and very popular. They come in more practical sedan/wagon bodystyles (Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi EVO), making them viable as everyday cars - duty a V-8 muscle coupe with an unusable backseat has trouble dealing with.

    For seconds, the market for rear-drive V-8 muscle coupes was still very strong back then because the young generation of the time grew up with V-8s and RWD and that's what they wanted and expected in a performance car. FWD cars were considered economy cars; you couldn't do a burnout with AWD - and four cylinders and six-bangers, turbo'd or not, just didn't have the mojo of a big ol' V-8.

    But the young crowd today grew up with FWD compacts and that's their default preference. They didn't bond with hulking V-8s and 4,000 pounder RWD performance cars because those cars were just not around when they were growing up.

    Plus, gas was cheap.

    In 1985 - the year the IROC-Z Camaro made its debut - a gallon of unleaded cost $1.20. You could fill up your Camaro for about $25.

    Even taking inflation into account, gas costs a lot more today. About 60 cents more per gallon. It's also got less energy content, being about 10 percent ethanol (thanks, corn lobby) so you don't go as far on a gallon, which means you fill up more often.

    Porsche drivers don't care about this, of course - because they're generally older and by definition, richer.

    But Camaro is by definition a young man's car. And young men (and women) are usually not rich, or even affluent. They're trying to get a leg-up, save for a house maybe. Many of them might want a car like Camaro - and would buy one when gas is cheap and good jobs plentiful.

    But that's not the situation today.

    Gas is over $3.00 a gallon and could soar back to $4 (or more) at almost any time. Everyone knows this - fears this. Unemployment is still hovering close to 10 percent, "officially" (despite the government's happy talk and it's really close to 18 percent if you go by honest accounting). A record number of 20 and 30-somethings have moved back home - with Mom and Dad - because the job market sucks and they can't afford an apartment.

    Not a good time to buy a $30,000 V-8 muscle car that costs $60 to fill up.

    Sales of the current Camaro - the reborn model - peaked just after its introduction and have been declining gradually ever since. In August of 2010, sales dropped 27 percent. In September, they were down 21 percent. By October, they dropped by 38 percent.

    This should be setting off alarms.

    My guess is the first year (2010) sales were mostly to aging Generation Xers and Boomers - people in their 40s, who are reliving their high school and college-era muscle car romances. But this is not sufficient to keep Camaro afloat because there are only so many 40-somethings who have the interest - and the disposable income - to indulge such a purchase. Once this group has bought its fill, who's gonna take up the slack? GM needs to sell this car to today's 20 and 30-somethings; that's the sweet spot. But the kids are buying other things - or they're not buying anything at all.

    No one outside of GM can say what the tipping point is - when the cost of building the car, including compliance costs associated with CAFE, exceeds the net profit to the company from selling the car.

    But it can't be far off - and we may have already crossed it.

  2. #2
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    In my humble opinion a very eloquent car with and as good looking as good looks can get but not very practical and way to expensive. These are cars that future clovers will buy and pretend they are going fast in.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    In my humble opinion a very eloquent car with and as good looking as good looks can get but not very practical and way to expensive. These are cars that future clovers will buy and pretend they are going fast in.
    On the upside, the V-6 versions make as much or more power than the V-8 versions of these cars used to make - and get decent gas mileage, too.

    Still, I think their time was yesterday - not today.

    You can't go back, much as we'd like to....

  4. #4
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Camaros would sell better if they weren't all ordered by the dealers with all the options they think they can get. This runs the price up so far that a budget tight buyer doesn't even consider them. I'll bet there isn't a base Camaro on a new car lot within a 100 miles of me.

    That's why all the 1/2 ton trucks built (sort of) in America are automatics. Most new vehicles are preordered by dealers and they made more money per truck on an automatic. Since few were ordered, they quit making them.
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  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Camaros would sell better if they weren't all ordered by the dealers with all the options they think they can get. This runs the price up so far that a budget tight buyer doesn't even consider them. I'll bet there isn't a base Camaro on a new car lot within a 100 miles of me.

    That's why all the 1/2 ton trucks built (sort of) in America are automatics. Most new vehicles are preordered by dealers and they made more money per truck on an automatic. Since few were ordered, they quit making them.
    True - but it's also not like it was back in the day, when it was possible to order a stripped-down Z28 with no AC, power windows, locks, etc. All that stuff is "standard" now (meaning, they just raise the price). Also, the new car has expense-padding safety equipment such as multiple air bags (I think it has at least four - maybe six) plus ABS, traction control, stability control, etc.

    I've owned several old Camaros, including an '80 Z28 that had just the 350 V-8, a 4-speed and that's it.


    Good luck finding something like that today!

  6. #6
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    I culled these numbers 5 or more years ago, assuming the accuracy good by that time frame, and most match my Camaro / Bird and Stang "Red Books".

    Notes:
    1. Cobra production from 1965-1969 is not included (it was counted as a separate line by Ford).
    2. Numbers preceded by an asterik (*) designates a redesigned version.

    Year: Mustang ("fox" Capri) / Camaro (Firebird) / AMC Javelin
    64:*121,583 / NA
    65: 559,451 / NA
    66: 607,568 / NA
    67: 474,121 / *220,906 - (82,560)
    68: 317,404 / 235,147 - (107,112) 63,169
    69: 299,824 / 243,065 - (87,708) 48,968
    70: 190,727 / 124,901 - (48,739) --------
    71:*149,678 / *114,630 - (53,124) 27,554
    72: 125,093 / 114,630 - (29,951) 26,184
    73: 134,867 / 96,751 - (46,313) 27,536
    74:*385,993 / 151,008 - (73,729) 29,536
    75: 188,575 / 145,770 - (84,063)
    76: 187,567 / 182,959 - (110,775)
    77: 153,173 / 218,858 - (155,736!)
    78: 192,410 / 272,631 - (187,285!!)

    79:*369,936(110,144 Capri) / 282,571 - (211,455! )
    80: 271,322(79,984 Capri) / 152,005 - (191,340)
    81: 181,552(58,946 Capri) / 126,139 - (70,899)
    82: 130,418(36,134 Capri) / *189,747 - (116,362)
    83: 120,873(25,376 Capri) / 154,318 - (74,884)
    84: 135,678(20,642 Capri) / 261,591 - (128,304)
    85: 156,514(18,657 Capri) / 180,018 - (95,880)
    86: 224,410(20,869 Capri) / 192,219 - (110,463)

    87: 159,145 / 137,760 - (88,612)
    88: 211,225 / 96,275 - (62,467)
    89: 209,769 / 110,850 - (64,406)
    90: 128,189 / 35,048 - (20,553)
    91: 98,737 / 101,316 - (50,247)
    92: 79,280 / 70,712 - (27,567)
    93: 114,228 / *39,755 - (14,313)
    94:*123,198 / 119,934 - (45,615)
    95: 185,986 / 122,844 - (51,730)
    96: 126,483 / 66,827 - (31,023)
    97: 100,254 / 95,812 - (30,754)
    98: 170,642 / 77,198 - (32,157)
    99: 126,067 / 42,098 - (36,219)
    00: 218,525 / 45,417 - (31.826)
    01: 155,162 / 29,009 - (25,743)

    02: 138,356 / 42,098 - (30,690) -- (NHRA Package Model "S" Pontiac - Private Dealer added - 534)

    2010: 73,716 / 94,433

    If your saying GM only sold 81,299 units (delivered, not produced), and as such, is going to fail, then I'd suggest the comparison should look at the Mustangs sales for the year too, thus it could be said both are on the road to oblivion (not counting the Challengers less than 40,000 units sold in 2010).

    Personally, I'd say the lack luster Economy played a very big hand in sales this year, across the whole Auto sales realm too.

    during the years the f-bodies and the mustang/capri were both in production (67-02), there have been more total f-bodies built than mustangs/capris. surprising, but true.

    2nd gen and 3rd gen easily outsold same-era mustang/capri by a wide margin; 1st gen came agonizingly close but fell just short. 4th gen was WAY behind in sales compared to same-era mustang. what a surprise (sarcasm)


    Click here: 2010 Camaro Vs. 2010 Mustang: Camaro Beats Mustang in Monthly Sales - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedc Camaro outsold the Stang in June 2010.

    Click here: December 2010 Camaro Sales Production Figures Ends 23 Year Mustang Sales Reign! | 2011 Camaro ZL1 SS LT Camaro for

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    No question the economy is a big factor.

    Another one (my opinion) relative to Camaro vs. Mustang is that Camaro hasn't got (at present) the mass market appeal or the "legs" that Mustang has.

    Being out of the market for almost ten years hurt the car. A whole generation of young buyers grew up without new Camaros around. Meanwhile, Mustangs are everywhere.

    Women like and drive Mustangs; older people, too. The latest Camaro is very much a guy's car. That hurts the car.

    I think Camaro and Challenger for sure are doomed. Mustang will probably survive.

    I'm not saying this as a secret "Ford guy" (I'm not) or because I have some ax to grind with Camaro (I don't; I personally like the car; I've owned many F bodies).

    But I think (a) the market is very different today than it was when cars like Camaro were the star players in the sporty segment and (b) the economy has to be in great shape for a car like this to succeed and of course it isn't and probably won't be, for years, if ever again.

  8. #8
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    I think the new Camaro has the same problem that the previous one had -- if you're not 6'3" or taller, you can't see out of the bloody thing with those tiny mail-slot windows. Low seats and high window sills will keep women out of this car 'cause they'll be physically unable to park it without hitting things.

    The Mustang is more driver-friendly.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel View Post
    I think the new Camaro has the same problem that the previous one had -- if you're not 6'3" or taller, you can't see out of the bloody thing with those tiny mail-slot windows. Low seats and high window sills will keep women out of this car 'cause they'll be physically unable to park it without hitting things.

    The Mustang is more driver-friendly.
    Actually, it's just as bad if you are 6 ft 3!

    I'm that height - and the Camaro (new model) is awkward to get into, with the feeling of being crushed down once you're in. I couldn't get the steering wheel positioned in such a way as to be both comfortable and not obscure the gauges, at least partially.

    The '70s and '80s-era Camaros I've owned had much better ergonomics. Amazingly, they were also smaller and lighter cars. The new Camaro is huge; you don't realize just how big it is until you do an actual walk-around.

    I agree on Mustang; it's a much more driver-friendly design.

    The Challenger also has that virtue. Its interior is spacious - especially the back seat, which is vastly more roomy than either Camaro or Mustang. Still, it's a huge car, too.

    I think this is one of the few cases of a modern version of a given type of car being larger - and heavier - than its ancestor of the '60s and '70s!

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