Does the final generation of the Chevy Camaro deserve a much better sendoff than it’s received? We certainly think so, but this seems par for the course with GM.
The Camaro was made for 49 model years, with a return that added 14 years to the mix. From the first model to this final 2024 version, this Chevy pony car has been a powerful performer, but something’s off. We expect production of this impressive pony car to finally end sometime soon, but GM hasn’t announced the end date yet. As one of the most exciting and fun-to-drive muscle cars in the market, it seems Chevy is missing out on one of the most important and expected events for this car: a proper sendoff.
Unfortunately, recent Camaro history tells us that GM doesn’t understand the importance of special models or a proper farewell.
Does the Camaro deserve a swan song?
The fifth-generation model returned to the market in 2010 and immediately became a sales leader in this class. The new style and amazing performance brought us a car that could turn laps like Italian supercars but didn’t cost much more than a midsize SUV. The fifth generation model lasted until 2014, and during those five model years, the Camaro was the top dog in the Pony Car class.
Unfortunately, this sales dominance was short-lived and by 2016, Chevy saw the Camaro drop to the basement in terms of sales. Still, this incredible machine deserves much better than what it is getting and has received from GM. At the very least, the Chevy Camaro deserves a fitting sendoff.
How did GM fail the Camaro?
From the fifth generation to the sixth generation Camaro, we didn’t see enough visual differences to make the newest model more exciting and fun. When Chevy attempted to correct some of these problems in 2019, they did so with a bad facelift that made things worse. It shouldn’t have been this difficult to make a car that was striking fear in the hearts of European automakers at Nürburgring, a sales leader, but GM failed the Camaro at every turn.
In addition to the lack of innovation and bad facelift, it doesn’t help that the Camaro shares some qualities with the Corvette. If a customer can spend a little more and drive away in a Stingray instead of a ZL1, that’s exactly what they’re most likely to do. Toss in the tiny trunk and lack of outward visibility, and you’ve got a car that’s hard for most drivers to enjoy. That said, this is still the Chevy Camaro, and if GM had done any of what Dodge and Ford did for their pony cars, it might have been a sales leader in this final generation.
What did the Challenger and Mustang offer that the Camaro did not?
During the past decade, you couldn’t turn your head around the Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang and avoid seeing the array of special models that made these cars even more desirable. During this time, Ford gave us the following Mustang variants:
- GT Performance Pack 2
- GT350 upgrade in 2019
- GT350R refresh in 2020
- Shelby GT500
- Mach 1
- S650 Generation GT
- Dark Horse
Turning to the Dodge Challenger, we received the most powerful pony car ever made when the Hellcat arrived, but Dodge didn’t stop there. This classic-looking muscle car was offered in several special versions, including:
- SRT Demon
- Widebody – offered on several trims
- 10-Horsepower boost to the Hellcat engine
- Hellcat Redeye
- R/T Scat Pack
- R/T Scat Pack 1320
- Super Stock
- 1025 HP Demon 170
In addition to these models, Dodge gives the Challenger several Last Call special editions and has offered several versions of these special cars in the Charger model, which gave muscle car shoppers plenty of great choices.
What happened to the world-beating track monster?
The Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE was a literal world-beater on the track. This car rocketed around the Nürburgring fast enough to garner attention from many of the European brands known for supercars. The 1LE package gives the Camaro serious track-focused items, and the ZL1 model puts out 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, delivering insane performance. While admirable, this wasn’t enough to make the Camaro the choice of many shoppers who could enjoy one of the special versions of the Mustang, Challenger, or Charger.
GM could have done more the keep the Chevy Camaro at the top of the sales list in the Pony Car class but used excuses instead of actions. The result has been an amazing car that could be mostly forgotten because GM failed it at every turn since it returned to the market in 2010.
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