Dodge unveiled its Challenger, and Chevrolet its Camaro, in Detroit.

concept chevrolet camaroThe Camaro Concept is “intended to explore customer reaction to design and engineering elements that might lead to an all-new version of the Camaro”, says GM coyly, but it’s a safe bet that this one’s pencilled in for production, to give GM a rival to the Challenger, Ford’s reborn Mustang and suchlike.

GM sold over 699,000 Camaro coupes during 1966-69, its first three years on sale, and this two-door GT concept harks back to the original Mk1, particularly the 1969 model. It’s not as painstakingly recreated as the Challenger, with GM taking a line similar to that of Ford with the Mustang: mixing classic design cues and details with an otherwise modern design to create a car that was clearly a descendant, but an all-new generation.

A similar brief was followed, however. GM global design chief Ed Welburn said: “Millions of people of all ages fell in love with the Camaro for all of the right reasons. Camaros were beautiful to look at and offered performance that could rival expensive European GTs. Yet they were practical enough to drive every day and priced within the reach of many new car buyers.”

The new Camaro, therefore, combines a version of the Corvette’s 400bhp 6.0-litre V8 and six-speed manual transmission with fuel-saving cylinder shutdown technology to push it to 30mpg, and though it’s very much a low-slung, long-bonneted design, it’s claimed to be easy to drive and park around town, and to have adequate space for two adults in the back. The fuel economy may be enough to prevent a repeat of the original Camaro’s demise: it fell out of favour in times of fuel shortages and high petrol prices.

Rear-wheel drive, this Camaro has been developed for more than just straight-line speed: it has independent suspension all around with progressive-rate springs and gas-pressure dampers, and should be a bit better at going round corners than its predecessors. The show car rides on huge five-spoke alloy wheels, 21 inches in diameter up front and 22-inchers at the rear.

Should it get the green light – and bar GM sliding into bankruptcy, it will – the Camaro is still some way off production, however. GM stalled development of large rear-wheel drive models for a while, and the Camaro is now expected to be based on the upcoming Zeta Lite platform developed by Australian division Holden for its next-generation Commodore. This platform could also spawn closely-related models for other GM brands – namely Pontiac, which could also try to cash in on muscle car nostalgia, reviving the Firebird.
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