With confirmation that HSV will bring the Camaro to Australia this year, there will be an inevitable glut of articles written about the car’s amazing performance capabilities. You will read about how well the car’s DNA translates well to Australian roads and how it will satiate Australia’s historical thirst for performance cars. The 2SS spec that HSV is converting mid 2018 will come with its well established credentials; a spectacular machine aimed at filling the gap left by the demise of the Commodore’s performance guise.
But like the Commodore and their HSV versions before it, paper figures were really only second to what the car was/is really about; that something else, an intangible allure that can’t be matched by 0-60 times and a lap around a German race track.
The Camaro is no stranger to many rental markets around the globe. Most in their tamer 6 cylinder option, but as such, is still a fantastic way for those wanting to see why you don’t need to spend European prices for performance and attitude.
In fact, the Camaro (and it’s Mustang counterpart) continue to prove that spending more than what you can get from GM and Ford respectively, really doesn’t make any sense if you love getting bang for your buck.
Honeymoon in style
On my recent honeymoon the newly minted wife and I drove our way from Seattle down to LA, exploring the different landscapes, cities, towns and cities along the way. For the Seattle to San Fransisco leg, we had originally rented a Chrysler 300 for the drive. A few years ago I wrote about how important your rental car was to your holiday and I stand by what I said- make it count as part of a memorable holiday.
So when we arrived at a National kiosk in downtown Seattle, it seemed like an act of fate as I was about to pick up a 300, the beautiful front grille of a Camaro stared me down from the corner of my eye.
“How much to upgrade to the Camaro?” I asked.
A few keystrokes later the National employee looked up and made my day; “only $10 extra a day”.
Inevitably my excitement was curbed when my wife and I opened up the boot to see a space equivalent to a slightly oversized briefcase. Tempered slightly when the boot’s divider was removed to reveal that yes, there was actually enough space for all our luggage.
Two large suitcases, one small suitcase and two large backpacks squeezed in for the ride.
2-door performance cars may not always put comfort first but on our drive from Seattle to Portland the I-5 was clogged worse than the Westgate Freeway on a bad day. The 3 hour drive took 6 hours that day. Crawling stop-start at 5mph in a Camaro isn’t exactly using the product as it was designed for. But surprisingly, comfort was more than plenty, and as soon as there was any break in traffic, no matter how brief, opening those tailpipes and letting out the 250kw of power was incredibly satisfying. The 3.6 litre V6 lets out a low hum as you let it loose, and while it’s not what its V8 sibling can do, it’s more than capable of letting that highway scenery disappear into yesterday.
The sixth generation Camaro is always striking, and no matter where on the road trip we stopped, I always looked back every time I locked the car. It looks beautiful against the backdrop of the still snow-tipped terrain of Crater Lake, stands out like a diamond in the rough at some lost highway petrol station, and even feels at home at a campground. We had booked a few nights in a Yurt in Oregon, and the look the park ranger gave us when we pulled up to her booth in a convertible pony car was one of bewilderment and utter contempt (in a funny way). Amongst the RVs and SUVs, the Camaro held its own.
Driving through the state of Oregon is a driver’s dream. Exiting off I-5 to take the scenic route through Mt Hood and then towards Bend, the winding, mountainous region serves up a palette of driving joy. The Camaro handles incredibly well through mountains, besides lakes, through suburbia and of course, on highways. It even handled itself pretty well against tourist traffic fighting for access on a tiny one lane road near the beautiful water cascades of Multnomah Falls. Through the vast array of scenery I always felt connected to the road. And in a sense, that connection between you, the car, and the road, is really what the drive is about.
As we pulled into San Francisco to drop off the ride for the next, I felt a tinge of sadness letting it go. Even the National return clerk lit up when we pulled up in it instead of a beige by-numbers SUV. The road from Seattle to San Francisco is paved with many great pieces of wilderness, lined with urban and suburban playgrounds for a Camaro to run wild. I look back through the photos and so many of them seem to have the car either front and centre or creeping in the background. It encompasses all the wonder, excitement and passion of a fantastic driver’s car. The right price, the right performance, and the right kind of grit and slightly unrefined performance.
It is the quintessential machine for the American drive.
We often talk about cars through their numbers. Car people are obsessed with besting times, outrunning last year’s figures, and yes, I do believe the Camaro, especially in their 2SS and blistering ZL1 spec levels can match and do all of these nerdy things.
Yet for some, like me, the American pony car is more about a feeling. Performance, style, affordability and attitude. The last two qualities easily lost on some European brands.
There was a moment as I stood overlooking Crater Lake that was I overwhelmed with joy and a profound sense of gratitude. I was amazed that this, one of the most breathtaking and beautiful sights on Earth was here, practically free to see, and completely accessible for everyone and anyone. I looked back to see the car I drove to the Lake and couldn’t help but feel that everything was just right.
Rare Ferrari GTO sells for record $70 million
How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams?
How much money would you pay for the car of your dreams? What about a one-of-a-kind beauty that you see driving past your prestige dealer? How about a rare 1963 Ferrari GTO?
If you are Dave MacNeil, the answer to the latter, is USD $70 million. MacNeil, who is the CEO of automotive weather guard company WeatherTech, shelled out the record amount for a rare Ferrari.
It is no ordinary rare Ferrari of course. While already limited to 39 builds, this particular one, chassis number 4153 GT, is special. The car won the 1964 Tour de France motor race and finished fourth at Le Mans in 1963.
The $70 million paid by MacNeil eclipses the previous record for the Ferrari GTO. In 2013, a GTO was sold for a then record $53 million.
The Ferrari GTO is powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine and is one of only 39 built between 1962-1964.
A Ferrari 250 GTO has yet again broken the record as the world's most expensive car, this stunning, and rare, silver example recently selling for a cool £52 million – https://t.co/kfhJroCFsZ pic.twitter.com/PqoUUYU6sH
— evo magazine (@evomagazine) June 4, 2018
MacNeil joins an exclusive group of GTO owners that include Ralph Lauren and Walmart heir Rob Walton.
How much is too much?
When you are in the same tax bracket as the Ralph Laurens and Walmarts of the world, perhaps there really isn’t a price that is too much for a prized automobile. It is truly rarefied air when the cars in your collection exceed seven digits a piece. For the rest of us, it seems utterly ridiculous of course. Collectors however, do see the worth of these incredibly rare vehicles.
How would you rather spend $70 million? I would definitely buy an expensive sports car, but one for considerably less.
Camaro coming to Australia as an automatic only
The Chevrolet Camaro is officially coming to Australia this year as an import from Holden Special Vehicles. Excitement may have been tempered slightly with its expected high price, and its auto-only option.
With the demise of local manufacturing, Australian buyers looking for grunt outside of expensive European options have flocked to the Ford Mustang. Almost 10,000 ‘Stangs were sold last year, which is enough proof that, while Australians don’t make affordable muscle cars anymore, they still want to buy them.
Holden, without a flagship V8 for the first time in decades, is turning to its parent company GM for a much needed boost. Holden’s performance arm, Holden Special Vehicles, announced earlier that the Chevy Camaro, in its 2SS trim, will be made available this year.
Good News and Bad News
That’s definitely the good news portion of it. While the thrill of locally made, hotted-up Commodores have been put to bed, the Camaro is more than a worthy successor. HSV have announced the specs for the 2SS for Australia, proving that it’ll pack quite the punch to satisfy the cravings of auto enthusiasts and muscle car fans.
— HSV (@OfficialHSV) December 14, 2017
The Australian 2SS Camaros will come with a 6.2-litre Gen 5 LT1 V8, packing 454hp (339kW) and 455 ft-lb of torque (617Nm). It will have Brembo brakes, a bi-modal exhaust, tons of technology and a variety of colour options.
So what is bad news here? Well, the Camaros have started arriving in Australia in your factory standard left-hand drive version. They are being converted to right-hand drive by HSV, which will add a hefty bump to the price tag. While no official numbers have been released just yet, speculation is that the price will come in around USD$60,400 (AUD$80,000). That’s almost $20k more than made-for-Australia Mustangs. HSV says they will be looking to keep numbers at 1,000 units a year, well below that of Ford’s current Mustang sales.
Another sticking point for performance enthusiasts is that the Australian Camaros will be available with an automatic transmission only. I know that probably stings, so I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Equipped with paddle shifters, it’ll be mated to an 8-speed auto transmission, which means the Camaro will be based on the outgoing 2018 model, and not the new 2019.
Still a Winner
Time will tell how the factory-backed Camaro will do. European performance cars have done pretty well with automatic transmissions, so it shouldn’t really hurt that much. While on the pricey side, the Camaro will still be far more affordable than an Audi RS or BMW M-series. It is a just a shame that this particular car, one that is aimed at filling in some lofty Commodore shoes, comes a little shackled from the get-go.