I can still remember my flight home from the '06 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Back then GM invited several members of the media, including 250 enthusiasts from Camaro clubs and websites across the country, to witness the unveiling of the Camaro Concept. To say the General made an impression would be an understatement. The media went nuts over it, and the Internet was on fire with all the Camaro fanatics asking one thing: How long will we have to wait to get into the new fifth-gen?

More recently we were invited to take part in the '10 Camaro media drive in San Diego, California. This was an excellent opportunity to get into the first production models, not only to look with our eyes but with our hands, logging serious miles through a number of road conditions. While this was technically a one-day affair, we were invited to scope out the Camaros a day early, given the entire afternoon to check out the rides of our choice and drive them at our discretion.

With my bags dropped off and camera in hand, I raced to grab a set of keys. I loved that there were 15 Camaros ready to be driven. However, only five were V-8s. The remaining 10 were V-6 variants. Since all the V-8s were already checked out, with a waiting line, I headed straight for the fully loaded Victory Red V-6 LT with the manual six-speed and the optional RS package. This baby was a looker, and I can unequivocally say that the RS upgrade is a must, with its high-intensity discharge headlamps, a spoiler, and larger, 20-inch wheels.

Before you take any digs at the V-6, let me tell you I was far from disappointed, especially with its 304hp/370-lb-ft mill. We're talking about 304 horses, more than enough steam to challenge most out-of-the-box stockers, including the 210hp Mustang V-6 and the 300hp V-8--there's something to think about!

Knowing I had two hours to get familiar with the Camaro, I started by heading 10 miles north to my old college, University of California San Diego. If anything was going to be an indicator of how today's youth would take to it, this would be the place to show it off. Whether people were enamored simply of its bright red hue or they knew what was really in front of them is hard to say, but from the second I got in the car, it was hard not to find someone staring at any given moment. On campus it was no different, with heads turning to focus on the Camaro. After making my way through the main entrance, I headed straight over to a few select areas that would lend well to photography. Not more than five minutes into the session, a crowd started to form, and it was only a matter of time before campus security showed up, wondering what was going on. Yep, it was time to move on and head back to the beach area, but not before making a quick stop by the marina for a few more images.

The following morning, everyone met up for the presentation, which featured several key members from the development team. From there, we partnered up with other folks from the media; in my case, I hung out with former Hot Rod Feature Editor Jeff Koch. While Koch was out making sure we got the keys to a V-8, I went into the garage where Sangyup Lee, one of the lead designers, discussed the Camaro's skin.

With the formal introductions handled, we packed up our gear and jumped into the Red Jewel Tintcoat SS that Koch had secured for us. Knowing we had a 140-plus-mile route planned out in three separate legs, I sat shotgun, playing navigator with the supplied maps, and had ample time to check out the interior in greater detail and enjoy the ride. During the second leg, we jumped into a Rally Yellow V-6, but it was the third leg that got me pumped up.