It's 40 years since The Blue Flame became the first car to achieve 1000km/h, setting a World Land Speed record that lasted 27 years. It could have gone even quicker - but it very nearly didn't make it at all.
Chevrolet enthusiasts were stunned when it was announced that the Camaro would be discontinued after the 2002 model. It was hard to believe that General Motors was pulling the plug on one of its most beloved and popular performance brands. The demise of the Camaro, along with its platform-sharing Firebird, would leave Ford’s Mustang as America’s only pony car. Would the Camaro ever return, or would GM forever abandon it?
In January 2006, the Camaro concept car was revealed. Its edgy design and LS2 powertrain left enthusiasts salivating and asking if this iconic muscle car would ever return. The question was answered later that year, when it was confirmed that the Camaro would be resurrected as a 2010 model with production to start in early 2009.
The new Camaro shared its underpinnings with the now extinct Pontiac G8, a testosterone laden four-door sedan that originated down under as a Holden VE Commodore. It would, of course, shed two doors and have styling cues that, while reminiscent of the good old days, were contemporary in many ways.
With a curb weight of over 3,900 pounds, and 52 percent of it resting up front, Camaro’s suspension had its work cut out for it. To compensate for flinging around nearly two tons, the chassis was substantially stiffened. A multi-link strut front suspension with progressive rate coil springs and direct acting stabilizer bar kept the front end in check, while the rear end was controlled with a unique 4.5 link independent suspension. The wishbone style lower control arms and special L shape upper control arms were designed to reduce unsprung mass and give sports car handling, while meeting cost constraints.
The coupe was the only model available at launch, leaving a convertible in the wings for 2011. A quick glance from the side might give you flashbacks of the 60s. After all, the C pillar, quarter panel kick-up and shark gill louvers harken back more than three decades. And while the rear view doesn’t quite follow the original design, one look and you know it’s got Camaro blood in its veins. The same goes for the front end with a deep-set grille that, while contemporary, screams 1969 all day long.
Inside, designers did their best to keep the heritage alive. The instrument panel’s twin round gauges in square pods and vintage looking center console gauges appeared as though the old Camaro drawings were once again rolled out to tool them up. But that’s where the similarity with yesteryear ended. The interior appointments were light years ahead of previous generations. Occupants were spoiled with the safety of six airbags and comfort features including an optional Boson Acoustics stereo system, Bluetooth connectivity, air filtration system, power windows, locks, power driver seat and cup holders. The finishing touch was a rugged Hurst shifter with a retro-looking shifter ball on six-speed equipped vehicles.
Power for the six-speed SS was courtesy of Chevrolet’s Gen IV LS3 displacing 6.2 liters and pumping out 426 horsepower. Those customers ordering an automatic transmission received a 400-horse L99 version. Chevrolet was all about keeping things simple, hence these powerhouses had only two valves per cylinder, and only one camshaft. That’s not to say that they aren’t state of the art. Both of the LS3 and L99 blocks were comprised of a deep-skirted, all-aluminum block. The nodular iron crank was held in place with six bolt mains, and pistons went up and down via shot peened rods. High flowing aluminum heads with 2.165 intake and 1.59 exhaust valves effectively moved gases. And the L99 featured an advanced Active Fuel Management system that combined big power and excellent fuel economy. These engines made the 2010 Camaro SS a civilized rocket ship.
The Camaro was an instant hit, with nearly 82,000 sold by December 2010. Those impressive sales bested Mustang for the first time in 23 years!
Fuel For Thought Brembo brakes are standard on the SS SS models ride on 20x8-inch/20x9 aluminum wheels 400-hp (auto) and 426-hp (manual) get around 25 mpg
Specifications Number built – 81,299 (2010) Construction– Uni-body Engine– (2) 376 cubic-inch V-8s Power/Torque– 376-cubic-inch V-8s, 426 horsepower, 420 lb-ft torque (LS3), 400 horsepower, 410 lb-ft torque (L99) Transmissions– Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic Suspension Front– Independent multi-link strut, direct-acting stabilizer bar and progressive rate coil springs Rear suspension– Independent multi-link with progressive-rate coil springs, stabilizer bar Steering – Rack and pinion Brakes – 14-inch front, 14.4-inch rear Length/width/height– 190.4/75.5/54.2 inches Wheelbase– 112.3 inches Weight– 3,902 lbs. (SS w/automatic) 0-60mph/quarter mile– 4.6 seconds, 12.9 seconds at 110 mph (Road & Track, April 2009) Top speed– 155 mph (governor-limited) MPG– 16 - 25 mpg est. Price– MSRP - $30,241 (SS); Today – $25,425 - $28,150
Insurance cost Insurance cost is $558/year for a $26,925 2010 Camaro SS. This is based on 3,000 miles per year of pleasure driving. *Based on a quote from Heacock Classic Car Insurance, www.heacockclassic.com
Engine– The LS3 and L99 are two fantastically powerful, torquey, and economical engines. They are the perfect mix of old-school pushrod torque and high-tech horsepower.
Handling– While the Camaro handles well, pushing nearly two tons into a hard turn is a lot of hard work; the big rims and sticky tires do an admirable job of dealing with the Camaro’s mass.
Alternative Dodge Challenger R/T Number built– 36,791 0-60/quarter mile– 5.8 seconds, 14.1 seconds at 102 mph Top speed– N/A Price– MSRP - $30,220; Today – $24,175 - $27,375
Alternative Ford Mustang GT Number built– 73,716 (January 2010 – December 2010) 0-60/quarter mile– 5.3 seconds, 13.8 seconds at 104 mph Top speed– N/A Price– MSRP - $27,995; Today – $20,900 - $23,525
Books Camaro: A Legend Rebornby Larry Edsall Camaroby David Newhardt How to Rebuild GM LS-Series Enginesby Chris Werner
Review Camaro fans were thrilled that the 2010 was released, and even more thrilled when they saw its combination of power, style, and economy. Though not perfect, it is a triumph of GM engineering and a great start to the fifth-generation pony car. Camaro lovers who aren’t content with factory performance buy specialty models. This high-end Lingenfelter Camaro is powered by a supercharged, 378-cube LS3 making 650 horses and sporting a factory ZR1 cam, a stainless steel Corsa exhaust, a body color, aluminum engine cover, and CCW rims. Our yellow cover car is owned by NFL quarterback David Carr.