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First look: Camaro tests Down Under

Unmasked: Production-ready Camaro on the banking at Lang Lang.

GM reveals first photo of 2009 Camaro on trial in Melbourne

4 Jan 2008

GENERAL Motors has taken the unusual step of releasing a photo of the new Australian-developed Chevrolet Camaro without camouflage – more than a year ahead of release.

Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper yesterday posted the photo of a white Camaro at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground on GM’s own Fastlane blog site and said that future testing would be conducted without any camouflage.

Introducing “the first picture of the Camaro development vehicle without camouflage”, Mr Peper even encouraged people to take their own photos of the test mules, which have been seen around Melbourne roads in recent months.

Mr Peper said that word came down from GM product chief Bob Lutz to remove the camouflage from the pre-production Camaros “so further evaluations could be done for aerodynamics and cooling efficiency”.

“During this upcoming year, pre-production Camaros will appear both on US and Australian roads as we continue with testing and development. So keep those camera phones ready – if you happen to see one, we’d like to hear about it, so please post a comment and include your ‘spy photo’,” Mr Peper wrote.

137 center imageLeft: Bob Lutz (centre) at the Camaro Concept launch at the 2006 Detroit show with GM chairman Rick Wagoner (left) and golobal design chief Ed Welburn (right).

The official photo shows the Camaro has retained the overall shape of the concept cars produced in Melbourne that have already appeared at shows in the US and Australia, with a very shallow glasshouse area and a virtually invisible B-pillar.

However, blog sites around the world have concentrated on scoop photos of the interior, with most comments being negative and appealing to Mr Lutz to make sure the final production version is more attractive.

Although developed in Australia, the Camaro will be built in Canada. Production is expected to begin in February 2009 at a rate of 75,000 units a year, but GM hopes it will rise to 100,000.

There are likely to be three models initially – a 3.6-litre V6 entry level model, a 300kW V8-engined Z28 and a range-topping 6.2-litre model with more than 380kW.

A convertible is expected in 2010.

Mr Lutz visited Australia three months ago and was delighted with the people at Holden and their work on the Camaro, which he drove at Lang Lang.

“I have never experienced an automotive company, including my three years at BMW, that has so much passion for excellence and dedication to the product. It’s contagious,” wrote Mr Lutz.

“Oz is a nation where the ‘car-guys’ (both genders) rule, at least at Holden. I just love the palpable air of the ‘we want to win’ spirit that this team exudes.

“We drove cars on their ride road which, strangely, bears a lot of resemblance to a racing circuit.

“One I can sort of talk about is the Camaro. We had the first fully representative prototype with close to final surfaces standing at track side. It looked as awesome as the concept, and the blotchy black/white camo scheme could not destroy the great stance and proportion. The body fits were already better than what came off the line a few years ago. The interior had some hand-made plastic parts and showed some gaps, but was remarkable for the first car.

“Twisting the key produced a muted rumble from the big V8. We pulled away smoothly in the first cog of the new, slick, six-speed manual. Depressing the accelerator shifted the world into fast forward, with three or four more quick upshifts.

“The car had just been completed and had had no tuning or finessing. But I loved the response, the sound, the steering and the brakes. There’s more work to be done, for sure, and the group knows it. They still have time for further development.

“The goal of the team led by Gene Stefanyshyn is to produce the finest car in its class, ever. Do I think they will get there? I wouldn’t bet against that team!”

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