Never Stop Driving #76: Au Revoir, Camaro

Eric Weiner

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.

Fifth Gen Camaro yellow side profile blue backdrop studio lighting
2010 Camaro SS John Roe

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.

Wouter crossing finish line from livestream
SCORE International

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!


P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment HERE.

Please share this newsletter with your car-obsessed friends and encourage them to sign up for the free weekly email. The easy-to-complete form is here. And if you’d like to support the efforts of Hagerty Media, please considering joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

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    I think they (GM) will replace the Camaro with Chevelle, redesign the corvette , then bring Camaro back looking like the corvette and the chevelle to look like the discontinued Camaro

    The demise of the Camaro proves that GM is not run by car enthusiasts..I get it that they have to make money to stay in business..If they built what the people wanted, they would sell more cars…3 cylinder turbos are not the answer…neither are 4 cylinder full size trucks..

    As a teen in the mid 70s a 69 Camero was the car. I still love them. My uncles 72 was another reason he was the cool uncle. But I saw an add from my local dealer for an $89,000 2024 model. I’m sorry but if you wonder why sales are down…..

    I think GM executive management should be ashamed of themselves for not developing a PONY car that could compete with the Mustang and Challenger. In my eyes it shows lack of capabilities to simply compete in a market segment. The old GM would not let Chrysler tromp on its market share in a segment, but today’s GM just let the Challenger/Charger eat the Camaro’s lunch.

    Where did all the car people go? If GM couldn’t realize the market sift when they introduced the rear engine Corvette? They had a loyal following of the front engines Corvette and certainly needed to introduce a rear engine model to compete with the Ford GT. Perfect opportunity to rebadge the outgoing C7 as a Camaro. All bases covered. Then turn the current Camaro into an EV variant as ford did with the Mustang. The roadmap had already been laded out.

    I could never afford a showroom fresh Camaro due to my appetite for the highest level of offered performance. Going back to the ‘96 Z28 6 speed I test drove, I knew I’d bury myself in debt and wisely moved on. The later SLP versions taunted me even harder, but I missed out and they were gone at the end of 2002. Then came the 5th gen which was still out of reach for me. By the time the 6th gen had been around for a few years things were finally starting to jive financially and I again looked at the Camaros. In October 2022 I ecstatically ordered a Riverside blue metallic ZL-1 6 speed manual. Well the months came and went, The winter came and went. The order cutoff for ‘23’s came and went, but still no dealer allocation. The same car in a ‘24 was going to be $10k more so I cancelled out of overall disappointment. The dealer still hasn’t had a single allocation since I ordered over a year ago.
    I’m confused how lack of sales is labelled as the cause to kill off this car when orders are left unfulfilled.
    I now find myself paying a lot of attention to the new Dark Horse, with special interest in Ford performance’s recent announcement of the warranty approved 800 hp supercharger offering.

    I imagine they would say that they underestimated demand on that car. I think it’s super tricky to balance thanks to the high consequences of over estimating demand.

    I guess I can understand that, but it does very little to console me and my shattered dream of a new Camaro after 25 years of lusting lol…
    What does make me feel better is that when spring ‘23 came and the car was nowhere close to being fulfilled, I managed to snap up a 13000 km C7 stingray 7speed. It’s not an LT4 but… I guess it’ll do for now!
    Great articles Btw Larry and congrats on the 5.0 sale!

    GM / Chevrolet forced the Camaro to be a low volume vehicle…..I placed an order for a 2024 Camaro LT1 convertible with a manual in early August…my dealer never got an allocation and the last convertible for 2024 was built on November 22. I have heard from others that this situation was similar to theirs for the last few years when they wanted to purchase one. Dealers could not get them for dealer stock on their lots or for sold customers. If by chance they got one for dealer stock it would be gone before it hit the ground.

    I wonder if the Grand River Plant which also builds Cadillacs and is destined for EV production was prioritized for what currently is most likely the Cadillacs………I have owned a number of Camaros and both my wife (2014 2LT convertible) and I (1999 SS Coupe) own them for summer fun today. Sad to see the decisions that are being made by Corporate GM.

    Correction here is was forced to go to a low volume model.

    GM only had the Cadillac Apha 2 and it is a well designed platform but a very expensive one. This limits sales and adds cost.

    The cars were out there but many dealers did not stock many as they were not fast movers like they once were.

    It is not just GM Dodge killed the V8 and the Mustang is on borrowed time.

    I can see by comment that many are not really understanding the true reason of the demise.

    The Pony car was a performance car that a powerful V8 was installed in a Cheap econo car that had a nice looking body. Mustangs were Falcons and the Camaro was a Chevy II.

    GM had the Corvair and that was their sport coupe but the flat 6 was more expensive to build than the V8 plus there were the media issues so they moved to the Camaro. It really was not rushed out. It took several years to get it out.

    As time went on we all know the death of the RWD econo cars came and the formula for the Pony car Changed. It went to a more expensive or a platform it shared with nothing else. It became more of a GT car vs cheap performance to cover the added cost.

    As time went on sales dropped more and more not just at GM but Ford and Dodge did gain some for a while but they even saw declines. All three coupes from all brands did not move 25% of what the early Mustang or Camaro moved in the early years.

    The Formula is broken.

    The Dodge V8 is gone. GM killed the Camaro and be aware the Mustang is on barrowed time. The fact Ford is hurting for money may keep it around a few more years but that money will be moved to other programs selling vehicles that will sell 200K units a year delivering more return on investment.

    This is not about EV or Autono. Cars. This is about the lack of coupe and sedan sales and the inability to sell them cheap as they used to do.

    Automakers are facing tough times. The cost of the EV is high and they are not going to meet the cost goals so they need a break from the government regulations that are forcing EV on them.

    GM has run both ICE and EV in paralleled. So we will still have ICE as long as regulation permit.

    I rather do not expect a Sedan Chevelle. They are having a hard enough time moving Malibu Sedans and other sedans are in decline.

    The Blazer is moving about twice as many models as the Camaro and it is based on a platform shared with 5-6 other models. This is profits in action. It also even with a V6 will run 14 seconds so while not a Camaro SS it will run decent and get 21 MPG around town. It also will haul things the Camaro never would.

    GM just reintroduced a new Trax. That thing is selling as fast as they can build them. Be it even a 3 cylinder vehicles. It has a good price it looks decent and is well equipped. This is what the market wants.

    The auto marker is no longer driven by enthusiast and for most buyers vehicles are just appliances and the more they do the better.

    In this age where they are now going to bring a Corvette SUV for a cheap money grab it is telling of the market.

    We need to stop pointing fingers at the admin and start realizing the changes are coming from the buyers not the MFG. They have changed and auto makers need to build what sells.

    It is no longer enough to just make money but today they have to pick programs that will earn the most return on the investment.

    No we don’t have to like it but we do need to face reality.

    I make my living in the performance market and I see all my vendors scrambling to try to find the next thing. Many have latched on to trucks and Jeeps as that is where most of the market has gone. We used to live off the Camaro and Mustang 5.0 but no more. There is little money in that segment in the performance market.

    We need to look at this from a business perspective.

    Now if CARB and the EPA do not back off all of this is going to be a greater mess. Both are run by appointed activist and it is getting ugly.

    I agree with pretty much all you say^

    Crazy me in charge of GM would task a skunkworks team as follows:

    Blazer platform, make it cool, make it a car, keep costs in line… what can work?

    Maybe it’s a Camaro, maybe it’s more Monte Carlo, 4-door Chevelle… or even a Vega wagon –whatever proportions can look good. AWD can be an asset, and have more visibility than the recent Camaros.

    Hate to say it but a company is created to make money for the owners, in this case GM for the shareholders as are most businesses. The Camaro sales have not created enough return on investment to be deemed successful. The Corvette is, and always has been the halo car for Chevrolet. The higher end Mustang price, as well as the higher end Camaro have bloated up to the point of a “starter” Corvette. Why would you compete against yourself?

    There is and will continue to be a shift toward electric and other renewable energies, perhaps the Camaro will return in the future as an EV product, but I would hate to see it become an equivalent to the Mustang – E, however eventually that is what NASCAR will be racing on the ovals.

    I have been a “pony” car fan since I was a kid watching Javelins, Camaros, Cudas, Challengers, Mustangs compete in Trans Am. I also was on the scene for the drag race wars of them as well. A different time when these cars sold at a profit enough to keep them in production, for a while. Perhaps we will go full circle again with EV power.

    As was written in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” “I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”, maybe is what GM is trying to do with the Camaro, as they sing the praises of the new Corvette, and the future…

    Electric vehicles are ridiculously expensive, damaging to the environment (mining of materials to make batteries) and the result of flawed thinking that is filled with hubris that 1) Global warming is bad and 2) humans caused it and 3) humans can do something to stop it. Those who are the poorest in this world are disproportionately affected when we abandon fossil fuels. It’s fine to think of new ways to power our economy moving forward, but EVs are not the answer. Neither is an authoritarian government (which is where we are headed) mandating that EVs are the way to go.

    Camaro! I worked in a small chevy dealership for almost 40 years. Hot rod crazy forever. Ordered my demo in 1969: 69 Camaro Z28, green/white stripes, chambered exhaust, etc. What a fun car it was but with a wife and 2 kids not too practical. Sold it to a young fellow who took it to the local drag strip in Union Grove Wi first week end; clutch and drive shaft gone. My next demo a “station wagon” !!

    I hear you Mark. My first new car was a Miata. Made payments with a credit card when I got tight for cash. Dumb. The roadster soon gave way to a minivan.

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