It has been a long time since the Bow Tie market had this kind of enthusiasm for an upcoming production vehicle. After an eight-year hiatus, the Camaro is back and looking sexier than ever. While some may have frowned on its long overdue status, there are plenty who feel that the timing couldn't have been better. And while the economy is reeling, car guys are still doing their thing, building an incredible number of first- and second-gen F-bodies and finding the means to enjoy them.
Personally, I know that it's getting more and more difficult to get into an early street machine, and with the availability of new production models, this is the end-all, cure-all answer to those itching to get into one of their own. The biggest difference: It's a clean slate, and you won't have to worry about budgeting away the rust-infested Sheetmetal. Instead, you can take full advantage of its sleek retro-induced lines and modern-day LS powerplant and be the first of the next generation of hot rodders.
Enough of the babble. Let's showcase four of the hottest fifth-gens from SEMA. These were built purely from a conceptual point, but have heavy influences, ranging from the infamous Donahue Sunoco road racer to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s rendition of a slick performance ride. For the fuel-conscious, there's a V-6 variant with stunning looks that'll make any owner the envy of the neighborhood.
As for us, there's very little convincing that needs to be done, and I'm already sold on it. Matter of fact, I believe the day has come to trade in my ride and do whatever I can to get into Chevy's latest road-scorcher. If you're wondering how easy it'll be to modify them, I've heard plenty of stories within the aftermarket that folks are already in the process of arming themselves with a host of goodies, ranging from exhaust systems to complete suspension packages and power adders. Sign me up!
Camaro LS7 Concept
By far my personal favorite, the LS7 Concept is themed for the performance-minded and the specialty aftermarket builders and is a prime example of what can already be accomplished with off-the-shelf, bolt-on components. Powering the late-model hot rod is a complete 550hp LS7 motor with an electronic controller from GM Performance Parts. It also features a wet sump oiling system conversion, which eliminates the production dry-sump assembly that requires an external oil tank. Expelling the fumes is a GMPP-developed set of headers and air intake that will be available in the months ahead. Additional features include a Tremec 6060 six-speed with a GMPP Hurst shifter, Brembo four-wheel disc brakes, a driveshaft safety loop, and a complete GMPP exhaust system. The wheels shown here are a custom set of 20s, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that they will be available as an option by the time the production models are released.
Camaro Dale Earnhardt Jr. Concept
If you didn't already know it, NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a big-time early-Camaro fan. GM asked him how he would modify the new Camaro. Wanting a modern day Pro Touring-style street machine, his vision included an E85 conversion for a more aggressive tune from the factory SS 6.2L V-8, aiding to bump up the horsepower levels by a few digits. Transferring the power is the SS optioned six-speed tranny with a Hurst shifter for aggressive rowing action. For the exterior, his paint scheme of choice is a trick custom gray over white, and he also chose a Chevy Accessories grille, ground effects with a rear diffuser, a dovetail rear spoiler, production HID headlamps, and production RS taillamps. Of course, handling is key. To help promote adhesion and braking for spirited driving, it features a lowered stance with massive 21-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero ZR-rated performance rubber.
Camaro Black Concept
No doubt about it, if Darth Vader could have given his rendition for the exterior, this would be it. Underneath the hood is a potent 300hp 3.6L V-6 that isn't afraid to lay the smack down. Most of the modifications are geared toward the exterior: a complete Chevy Accessories ground effects package and rear diffuser, a matte shaded hood, an SS-model rear spoiler, RS taillamps, and 21-inch rollers with a darkened finish. Adding to the unique look are a revised grille, also in a dark finish, and HID lights with a halo ring. For braking, all four corners are outfitted with Brembo binders.
Camaro GS Racecar Concept
If you're into Trans Am road racing, you undoubtedly recognize the paint scheme that commemorates Mark Donohue's championship-winning '69 Camaro. Through the combined efforts of GM High Performance Vehicle Operations and Riley Technologies, they created a real-world brawler that is also the prototype for the Grand Am Koni Challenge GS racing class. This baby is race-ready and based off the Camaro body-in-white that will be available for approximately $7,000 without a vehicle identification number; that means you can't register these for the street and are strictly limited to racing applications (Can you imagine what a sportsman doorslammer would look like???) The GS shown here is outfitted with a close-ratio Tremec 6060 six-speed, custom 3-inch exhaust, and tranny and differential oil coolers and is powered by a production LS3 mill.