Bumblebee's Evil Cousin
When the Chevy Camaro first appeared in 1966 as direct competition for the Ford Mustang, it seemed that another automotive icon was born. GM's build-up to the unveiling of the Camaro was nothing short of epic, with the world's first ever real-time press conference in which 14 cities were hooked up. From cryptic telegrams to journalists to a surprise twist when they finally released the car's true name, Camaro, there was an air of mystery that surrounded the vehicle which made it that much more desirable.
In the '60s, Chevy product managers defined the Camaro as "a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs". And while that statement may bring a smile to your face now, after spending a week behind the wheel of the latest-gen Camaro, I'm hard pressed to agree with Chevy and my smile wasn't that wide.
For starters, I'm (blissfully) too young to remember the first, second or even the third-generation Camaros. And by the time the fourth generation came around, I was too obsessed with Euro-bred vehicles to pay attention to American muscle - besides, you have to admit the look of the '93-'02 Camaro was a bit cruddy.
I've never driven a classic Camaro, and perhaps that's skewed my view somewhat as I think the main allure of the latest iteration of the Camaro is the nostalgia of it all. Like seeing a new version of the first car you ever owned, you're going to feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside even if the design is a bit garish and the build quality isn't quite spectacular.
There's no denying that the newest Chevrolet Camaro SS has some serious presence on the road. Thanks to the Transformers Bumblebee, the car is instantly recognizable by one and all. I don't think I've ever had so many young admirers before. Little toddlers holding their Transformer toys pointed to the Camaro SS with wide, shiny eyes, waiting for the transformation to take place. I almost felt sorry that I couldn't do more than wave and smile for them. Not very Bumblebee of me.
As a convertible, the Camaro SS loses a bit of its powerful coupe stance because of its chopped-off roof. With the top down, the rear looks decidedly chunky and almost larger than the coupe version. With the top up, the lines of the car are thrown off slightly by the cloth break. However, the angular, masculine profile is sustained, and really, that's the most important part of the Camaro design, right? Brute strength.
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