What better way to kick off your 100-year anniversary than to unveil a brand new product to consumer markets. So it begs the question. What else can we expect from General Motors’ rock-n-roll brand– Chevy, formally Chevrolet. Will hero Autobot Bumblebee find himself in rare form in Transformers: Dark of the Moon as he adopts the capability of transforming not only into a Camaro, but a convertible Camaro? A few smirks and innuendos from Camaro designer Tom Peters suggest my assumptions are correct. I guess we’ll have to officially wait and see come this July. Nevertheless expect the same performance and configurations as the coupe.
Chevrolet, who sold 4.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2010, says the domestic coupe and convertible were designed simultaneously. So of course the body style is identical like Siamese twins with one going for the bald look. The reason for the convertible’s tardiness is due to a change in convertible top suppliers since the first went bankrupt. I can only imagine the headache, especially since the convertible will represent 20% of Camaro volume.The “Z-folding” top, which by the way looks good while up, opens and folds in a quick 20 seconds. Trunk space is tight once the cloth is stowed so pack light. And though roomy in the rear with the top down, you better call shotgun when the top goes up because rear headroom is non-existent. We’ll treat this one like a 2-seater.Thankfully there is only one middle latch to unlock the top opposed to two side latches, which is very inconvenient. Chevrolet uses this same top in the Corvette convertible.
To exploit the vehicle’s characteristics and mannerisms, we headed to San Diego for a fun day’s drive in gorgeous California weather. My drive partner Frank and I took a Black V8 Camaro SS and “rolled out” in typical Autobot fashion. We were like father and son chasing wind as if it was the roaring 60s all over again. Offered in four models starting at $30K, the Camaro convertible has been selected as the grand prize for Super Bowl XLV MVP. The base model comes with a 312-horsepower direct injection V6, which achieves 29 mpg highway fuel economy. Our SS stepped up the ante to 400-horsepower emitting from its 6.2-liter L99 V8. The L99 features an Active Fuel Management System that cuts off four cylinders during easy driving. The second SS V8 is the 6.3-liter LS3 with 426-horsepower. A 6-speed manual is standard on the Camaro convertible with the 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters as a $995 option.For an additional $10,500 you receive leather seats, 20″ rims, Boston Acoustics sound system, head-up display, 4-pack gauge cluster, Bluetooth, and USB. An RS Appearance Package adds HID headlights with the signature Camaro LED halo ring, 20” rims and a spoiler and runs $1300 to $1900 depending on your model. The Rally Stripes are a stand-alone option at $470.
The California breeze felt great as we cruised in the morning and galloped in the afternoon listening to XM and playing with OnStar, GM’s person-to-person telematics system. The subwoofer was moved from the trunk to the rear seat and the vehicle antenna is placed inside the spoiler. Vehicles without a spoiler will have a trunk lid mounted antenna.
The convertible is rigid, with reinforced braces, and additional support to the A-pillar to support a rollover. The vehicle feels wide, as pony cars should, but equally offered dynamism during the drive. So much so that the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is your 2011 Indianapolis 500 pace car, just as it was in 1969. Indy is also celebrating its Centennial so the union is perfect. The Orange on White Camaro SS drop-top with an orange, leather-themed cabin is the 7th Camaro and 22nd Chevrolet to pace at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. No performance enhancements were made to the pace car.
In addition to the pace car promotion, the first Camaro convertible sold at Barrett-Jackson for $205,000 while 100 special-edition Neiman Marcus Camaro convertibles went for $75,000 a pop in just three minutes. What can you say? In a few generations they will be the new classics.