I missed out on the early years of the Camaro. In the mid-60's I knew my goal
was to grow up and own a Mustang convertible. By the time I was of driving age, my tastes
had changed to the VW Beetle. It wasn't until 1982 that I was clued in on the spirit and
personality of the Camaro.
A new friend, who had rented me a room, was the proud owner of a Silver Z28, and the
guy living across the street owned a Mustang GT. Watching the rivalry between these two
friends, when it came to their cars, was amazing to me. Out of sheer loyalty to my
landlord, I was responsible to learn all the beefy facts about the Camaro and master
driving to the corner store without getting a speeding ticket.
Two weeks ago, when the 2001 Camaro SS was delivered to me, my first reaction was
fascination. Just one look, and this screaming machine's metallic paint and muscle spells
out "JOY RIDE." In a matter of moments, reality came creeping in as I realized I
was not spending my week at Speedway Meadows, but on the sleepy streets of Marin County. I
would wear my supersonic, radar detector glasses and drive with extreme caution.
Images can often be deceiving. After driving the Camaro for a week, I found it a very
high-spirited pony, but extremely well trained and eager to please. There are not
many words I can put in print beyond "sexy" to describe the exterior looks of
the Bright Rally Red Z28 SS. It is pure, raw, emotion.
The car's design remains true to its basic concept, sport-trained, pumped muscle. A
long snout leads to mesmerizing eyes above a large, sensual mouth. It not only hugs the
road, but seems ready to kiss it too, and the rear spoiler shoots upward with an
aerodynamic flare. All eyes are on the Camaro, all the time. This is not a car for the
self-conscious. There remain a lot of hard-core Camaro lovers in the world, and I really
had some fun with the feedback.
Inside, the Ebony cloth upholstery looked a little plain to me. However, these cloth
seats are the one and only soft touch to the car. Roominess has been sacrificed for style.
I was a comfortable driver but really happy not to be a back-seat passenger. A Monsoon
sound system is standard with eight speakers and an AM/FM stereo radio cassette. My tester
came with an optional 12-disc CD changer. Typically, I notice a lot of things about the
interior, but not with the Camaro. My focus was all on the driving experience.
The big thrill with the Camaro SS is the gutsy, rumbling, 5.7-liter, LS1 V8.
Acceleration = Adrenaline. The Z28 SS gallops out with 320 horsepower and 345 lb ft of
torque. In case of over-enthusiasm, there is a standard traction control system. ABS
braking was superb, maintaining a good grip going deep into the corners. This fast,
confident car has great steering and the balance of a gymnast. My one complaint is with
the gear shifting. With a beefy six-speed Borg-Warner transmission to play with, the Z28
lost points for its awkward, edgy, uneven shift linkage.
The MSRP price starts at $21,615. With options like the Preferred Equipment Group and
the SS Performance/Appearance package, the price revs up to $29,495. Considering it's hard
to find anything over 300 hp under $39,000, this Camaro Z28 SS is a car guy's deal on
wheels. Do I think this macho-mobile is a man's car? Yes. Would I buy one for myself? No.
(But if my fiancé owned one, I would borrow it often!) Do I think the Camaro Z28 SS is an
honest sports car in the purest form? Yes! By Carol Green © AutoWire.Net