Camaro & El Camino
Back to the Future
Op-Ed by MonaroSS
GMI Contributor – 3 March 2013
Which direction should GM go? All new and modern, or continue developing the very popular retro style of the Gen5 Camaro? It’s a valid question, and one that has been asked many times in the threads of this forum. Just recently ChevroletRevived and FBODYRULES proposed staying the course and evolving the Gen5 styling. Many, perhaps most, who responded to that thread disagreed. I have been in that camp, the group that wanted a new direction, but I now find myself more firmly behind the evolution of the Gen5. Here is the reason why…
It is very hard to design a winning new design. Just look at how members here bag on new designs from the large car companies who spend billions and have the most professional of designers and market researchers to guide those decisions. So if the best of the best, and there are only about 200 car designers in the entire world, can’t get it right most of the time, then that means there is no sure thing. A bit like music, a big music company can hire the best professional songwriters, but some kid on YouTube doodles down a tune that gets a million hits and propels them to stardom, while the professional efforts languish. Why? Because it’s art, not science.
Some things just take the public’s fancy, be it the hook in a simple song that sells millions, or the long hood short rear deck proportions of a new small car called Mustang that just hits the public’s sweet spot.
So the old saying is that, “when you are on a good thing – stick to it”. Most songwriters who get a hit song can get more hits by writing similar tunes. And so it is with car design. GM could write a new song that everyone loves, or it could go clang.
Would we have wanted the next Camaro to look like the Toyota Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ ? It’s not a bad design, even if a little awkward in places. But that’s what you get with brand new design - experimentation that may or may not fully work. Yes evolution is more predictable, but it’s also like going into a McDonalds or Subways when you are travelling abroad, you at least know you are unlikely to get a bellyache compared to experimenting with the local cuisine…
Below I’ve provided Gen5 comparison pics so people can see the evolution. I wanted the cabin to have better visibility and be less claustrophobic. It had to be smaller and with a taller tumblehome (glasshouse) but it still needed to have pony car muscular looks. That is a hard task as it is always easier to make a car look hotter by lowering the roofline, so I went with a fastback design to spread the roofline over a longer area and thus help disguise it greater height. I also swept the lower window line down for a Coke Bottle effect to gain more glass area. I also retained the pony car muscles with curving fender hips over the front and rear wheels, but softened them from the hard lines of the Gen5 for a more modern interpretation…
OK. So above I’ve gone for evolution for Camaro and have simply added a cargo bed out back to turn it into an El Camino. This is not a pick-up truck for hauling heavy loads. With only a 5ft bed length, if you want to carry some dirt bikes you will have to do so with the tailgate down. Camaro is on 109 inch WB (same as ATS), with the El Camino 8 inches longer on 117 inch WB.
I used the long door from the Camaro and it’s tilt forward seats so that the extra space I have allowed behind those seats is easily accessible to put shopping or grocery bags. When there are two on board on a rainy day, and when you are carrying something in the bed that prevents the use of a cover, this dry safe storage will be welcome.
Like most designers I like to use big wheels to show off a design (the large one’s are 22’s), but I have also used some wheels with more meaty sidewalls for those who complain of such things so you can see a more pothole friendly wheel tire combo.
Finally, as this El Camino is never intended as a work truck, as it is merely a more practical sports car for the recreationally minded, I thought – might as well throw in a Targa Top version for an even sunnier driving experience.
Also, as an interesting move reflecting the hotrod scene, I think GM should offer some matt colors like the matt black and matt orange below...
Below I show the two headlight design options available, one similar to the Gen5, the other an LED choice harkening back to the Gen1 RS headlight covers. The Gen5 face is there for comparison.
In addition to the Camaro and El Camino I have also done a 4-door Camaro that I call the Camarada (also on 117 WB) which some will recall I have shown before - but is updated here. The Camarada SS is a workingman’s Panamera and could step in from 2017 to replace the Chevrolet SS if no other car is suitable.
The Camarada SS shares the same platform as the El Camino, and same drive train and interior as it and Camaro. A four door version of a coup does not share anything other than taillight with it’s coupe from the A pillar back, so I believe if you are going to pay for all those expensive sheet metal press dies, you may as well use a unique styling. So I added new hood, front fenders, and clip and rear taillights to get a fully unique niche vehicle that can exploit a different market.
While sharing so much with the Camaro and El Camino internally, but only sharing the windshield as an outside surface, the Camarada can and does eschew the retro of the Gen5 and instead evolves the look of the Gen4 Camaro instead for a more Euro look. People who want Americana can get that in the Camaro and El Camino but, as a vehicle to be sold around the world, the Camarada looks to the front of the last modern Camaro and to the rear of the next C7 Corvette for styling inspiration…
And lastly we come to the 800R Program. I have mentioned this before about how GM took a turbo Ecotec I4 engine and kept upping the boost for more power, and as things broke they strengthened them, until eventually they had an engine that could make 800hp without breaking. Well this 800R Program would do the same thing, but with GM’s new Twin Turbo V6. Ticking the 800R box on the options sheet gets an expensive (but cheaper than doing it yourself) upgraded racing block and innards for the V6TT, capable of making up to 800hp without breaking. This is for people serious about racing the new Camaro. Then GM works with outside suppliers to offer Stage 1 (450-550hp), Stage 2 (550-650hp) and Stage 3 (650-800hp) kits that add bigger turbo’s and exhausts, larger intercoolers, bigger radiators, oil coolers, manifolding and drive-train upgrades etc.
Stage 1 is for street machines, Stage 2 for those who want to race/drift it, or just have a really mean track-day car; and Stage 3 is for drag racing and nutters…