Never Stop Driving #76: Au Revoir, Camaro
The car that Chevy rushed out the door to compete with the new-for-1964 Ford Mustang has reached the end of the line: Camaro production ends next month, so we’ve given the car a proper send-off with a wide selection of material you can access here. The Camaro pushed its crosstown rival, the Mustang, to be better. And vice versa. I once fell so hard for a 1972 Camaro that I took out a loan to buy it.
The Camaro is also the cover car for the latest edition of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, which is packed with gorgeous custom Camaro photography (sample here) and detailed summaries of all six generations. You don’t get the magazine? Well why not? It’s the best magazine I’ve ever helmed and a curated and welcome respite from digital mayhem. Anyone can join the Hagerty Drivers Club, which comes with six issues of the magazine, roadside assistance, full access to valuation tools, and more. Sign up here.
Since the Camaro already went out of production once before—in 2002—and then returned in 2010, I shrugged my shoulders when I first heard of its impending demise. GM still has plenty of folks who know how to make cars for enthusiasts—like Cadillac sport sedans and the Corvette—so I’m hoping they’ll carry the Camaro flame and one day introduce something better. Then again, maybe I’m being too optimistic. GM might not have the funds to engineer another low-volume specialty car like the Camaro. Since 2016, when GM bought Cruise, the company’s had bigger priorities, like shoveling billions into developing autonomous and electric vehicle technologies. The road to a profitable autonomous vehicle manufacturing business, however, lengthens daily and the company recently scaled back its operations after California suspended Cruise’s permit, and Cruise founder and CEO Kyle Vogt resigned.
That drama aside, GM also probably figures that, with Camaro sales in decline, the Corvette provides a sufficiently sporty image boost for Chevy, so why do another Camaro? Ford, by the way, clearly sensed the Camaro’s days were numbered and was poised to fill the void with several variants of the refreshed Mustang. I’ve seen the new design on the road and it’s growing on me.
Over the holidays, I read something about Flint, Michigan, that struck me. In 1900, Flint was the center of horseless-carriage production. Over the following decade, the city was dramatically and hastily reformed and by 1910 it was a thriving hub of automobile production and the home of General Motors. The pace of change was remarkable, during a time when most homes didn’t have electricity. By comparison, GM bought Cruise nearly a decade ago and Cruise is progressing at a snail’s pace. I know, I know: GM reported profits of $10 billion on grosses of $150 billion in 2022, so a few billion spent over seven years on Cruise development is just the cost of doing business, relative pocket change for you and me. But many other companies are pulling back their AV investments, and I expect GM soon will conclude that Cruise is a money bonfire and its efforts are better targeted at developing EVs. One of which, ultimately, could carry a Camaro nameplate.
Another item I read over Thanksgiving was our piece about a remarkable Dutch motorcycle rider who flew to California, bought a motorcycle, and entered it in the Baja 1000—the roughly 1000-mile off-road race in Mexico. Furthermore, this intrepid two-wheeler set out to ride the entire race solo in what’s called the Ironman class. Other racers soon learned of the quest and jumped in to help along the way. I won’t give away the final act but trust me when I say that this story should be a movie. Incredible.
I also binge watched the excellent Hulu documentary on Jenson Button’s 2009 Formula 1 championship season and the high-stakes background drama that played over the entire season. That was the year that teams, led by Ferrari, nearly left F1 to create their own series. You’ll wonder how any of the main characters—from team owners Nick Fry and Ross Brawn to the drivers—held the team and themselves together that year.
Have a great weekend!
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