2010 Chevrolet Camaro – International Design Genes

The 5th generation Chevrolet Camaro is an American muscle car with venerable international design genes. That stunning exterior was penned by a Korean-born designer, the GM Zeta platform is Australian, and it’s made in Oshawa, Canada. Proof that GM finally understands how to mine the rich seam of talent that runs through their global operations, channeling that into an award winning product capable of wooing the world’s automotive press, while remaining true to the American muscle car philosophy. Furthermore, it’s a clear indicator of the manufacturing icon’s imminent return to competitive health.

Sourcing the rear wheel drive Aussie Zeta platform is no dilution of the muscle car bloodline. In point of fact, it’s a stroke of genius. The Australians have their own proud pony car heritage, extending back to the 60s, each sunburnt example a true-blue cousin to the American Camaros, Chargers and Mustangs of the same era. I ask you, who better to guard the Gold Standard?

Still not convinced? Meet the extended Aussie family, as they were in the glory days:

GM Holden Monaro

In July 1968, the first Holden Monaro Coupe graced the showrooms (Holden are a fully owned Australian subsidiary of General Motors). While it was an Australian design, intended only for the local market, beating inside two of the three variants was a big American heart. The Monaro ‘GTS’ Coupe sold with a 307 cubic inches (5,030.8 cm3) Chevy sourced V8. A 250bhp (186kw) Chevrolet 327 cubic inches (5,358.6 cm3) V8 powered my favourite, the ‘GTS 327’. In the next year, clearly not satisfied, Holden engineers decided to add more power, in the true muscle car spirit. They dropped in a 300 bhp (224 kW) Chevrolet 350ci (5.7 L) V8 instead, and lo, the ‘GTS 350’ was born. As some of you might note from the image, the Monaro’s styling cues draw from Chevrolet’s first generation Camaro and the Oldsmobile Toronado.

Chrysler Valiant Charger

Only a couple of years later, Chrysler Australia were busy applying the same formula, exploiting an alchemy of US/Australian design and engineering talent, culminating in the Chrysler Valiant Charger R/T, which first saw tarmac action in 1971. Pick of the 265 cubic inch 6 cylinder HP (‘High Performance’) engines was the E38 option, blessing the R/T with 280hp, mated to a 3 speed manual. In 1972, the E49 option raised the madness bar to 302hp, delivering power through a 4 speed manual. Not until 1975 were Porsche able to squeeze more power out of a six with their Porsche Turbo 911 (300). Take that Stuttgart.

The nose of the the Australian VH Valiant range, to which the Charger belonged, was a direct design descendant of the US Chryslers of the time, most particularly the recessed area for headlamps and grille, surrounded by a continuous strip of trim along the leading edge. You need only look to the 1968 Dodge Charger to see what I’m talking about.

Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III

Not to be outdone, in 1971, Ford engineers at Broadmeadows, Victoria took an Australian XY Falcon, fed it steroids, slapped on wings, added performance brakes and uprated suspension, then finally gave it a suitably striking paint job. Behold the insane 1971 GTHO Phase III. The US derived 351 Cleveland small block V8 produced over 380 HP (285 kW), propelling the Phase III to 155mph (minus the rev limiter) through a top loader 4 speed manual. To fully appreciate how special this car is to Australian petrolheads, in 2007, a rare unrestored example sold for AUD$683,650 (USD$623,234) at a classic car auction in Melbourne to a local buyer. The exterior design lineage can be traced back through earlier Australian Falcons to the US progenitor, the 1966 Falcon.

Today’s Camaro is a truly modern sports coupe, blessed with levels of refinement and quality unprecedented in a car of its type. Those crusty cynics of the BBC’s Top Gear loved it (enough to pit the Camaro against a £70,000 E63 AMG – a completely barmy comparison, but flattering nonetheless), and among the many awards it has garnered, the 2010 World Car Design of the Year must have pride of place on the GM mantelpiece. It can mix it with the best of Europe around bends, thanks to front and rear fully independent suspension and advanced traction control systems, but simultaneously delivers raw, tub-thumping thrills as only a true American muscle car can. Just thank the Aussies for keeping the torch alight.



One response to “2010 Chevrolet Camaro – International Design Genes”

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