2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The folks at Chevrolet Design must have been understandably ecstatic this past April when the Camaro was named the 2010 World Car Design of the Year by a panel of international judges.

The folks at Chevrolet Design must have been understandably ecstatic this past April when the Camaro was named the 2010 World Car Design of the Year by a panel of international judges. The short list for the award, sponsored by BASF (which, coincidentally, provides the paint for the Camaro), also included the Citroen C3 Picasso and the Kia Soul. And that list was paired down from a starting list of 30 cars.

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With the World Car of the Year honor the Camaro joins the Fiat 500 (2009), Audi R8 (2008), Audi TT (2007), and Citroen C4 (2006).

In acknowledging the award Tom Peters, Chevy Design Director, Global RWD, Performance Cars and Full-size Trucks, stated, “In recreating this modern sports car, we have proven that people are just as passionate about Chevy as ever.” Peters added, “We have been delighted about the strong reaction to the Camaro.”

He has no idea.

I wish he could have been in the passenger’s seat as I drove the Inferno Orange Metallic Camaro SS slowly down Main Street through downtown Plymouth, near the park in the town’s square. It was one of those spring days when jackets are shed and shorts are worn by the young who are grasping for summer. The park was full of kids, eating 2 ice cream, texting, gossiping, voguing. It had been a long winter.

A group of eight or nine middle-school aged teens—girls outnumbering the boys—were walking toward me. The boys, given the numbers, were probably feeling pretty good about themselves. Sun, spring, girls.

Then two of them spotted the Camaro.

They separated from the group. Then they got down on their knees on the sidewalk and began bowing to the car like something straight out of a movie about ancient Egypt or Wayne’s World. As I drove past they got to their feet and started running after the car, as their friends continued walking in the opposite direction.

“Strong reaction,” indeed.

The thing about Camaro—like Mustang, like Challenger—is that you like it. Or you don’t. It is rather binary. If you don’t like it, you probably don’t care to learn that it is built off of a rear-drive platform that originally blistered the desert in Australia, as it began life as a Holden. You don’t care that there are dual exhausts with stainless steel tips, a tasteful trunk-mounted rear spoiler, and even heated outside sideview mirrors—which just goes to show you how far we’ve come in the world of muscle cars. You like the Camaro. Or you like one of the other two.

Or maybe you don’t have a pulse.

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Although one might characterize the Camaro as “American Muscle,” here’s something that you may not know: The Camaro is built at the GM Oshawa Car Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. The previous—fourth—generation Camaro was built at the GM assembly plant in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec. Oshawa is where the Chevy Impala and the new Buick Regal are built, as well.

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So when you have an SS model, what do you put under the hood? If it is the one equipped with the Hydra-matic six-speed automatic transmission, then it is the 6.2-liter LS99 V8—which is derived from a Corvette engine introduced in 2008—that generates 400 hp @ 299 rpm and 410 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. Assuming that you’re using premium. While you can use regular unleaded, premium gets you full performance.

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Inside the SS, in addition to the standard gauges just beyond the telescoping/tilt steering wheel, there is a four-pack of auxiliary gauges, instrumentation that is the sort of thing that your everyday commuter is unlikely to derive any useful information from, but which will nevertheless make them feel like they’re in a real performance car (they are). A really nice touch—one of the nicest I’ve seen in any car in a long time—are high-gloss plastic inserts on the door panels, orange accents that are in keeping with the exterior color. It is quite a clever use of nontraditional materials so while the car may seem retro, it really is avant-garde in some ways. Like this.

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And I think of those kids who saw the Camaro on a sunny day.  Who says that muscle cars have had it?

Selected Specs

Engine: 6.2-liter V8. Aluminum block & heads

Horsepower: 400 @ 5,900 rpm

Torque: 410 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 112.3 in.

Length: 190.4 in.

Width: 75.5 in.

Height: 54.2 in.

Curb weight: 3,902 lb.

Coefficient of drag: 0.35

Fuel economy: 16 mpg city; 25 mpg highway