When the idea of the Camaro was introduced to the press in 1966, the attending journalists were curious to know more about the name. When asked what the word meant, General Motors product managers responded by saying that a Camaro is a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.
Fast forward forty five years, and the Camaro and Mustang are still bumping heads on streets across the country. Yes, it’s been forty five years since GM produced a competitor to Ford’s fast coupe. Both cars have gone through many changes, and both are creating a new generation of pony car fans.
Chevrolet has chosen to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Camaro, which officially launched in 1967. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro is available with a 45th Anniversary Package, and we’ve got our hands on the convertible version. Are we holding the keys to an everyday droptop wearing new badges and vinyl or is there a small vicious animal parked in our driveway? Keep reading to find out…
Customers interested in the 45th Anniversary Package need to start with a Camaro of either the 2LT or 2SS trim variety. That means you can opt to put V8 or V6 power under the hood. This being Hooniverse.com, we would prefer the V8 SS version complete with a manual transmission. As fate would have it, however, we were given a 2LT equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 convertible with an automatic transmission.
Hooniverse’s own Mr. Mad_Science himself previously spent time with a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro LT, so I was a bit uneasy jumping into the driver’s seat of what I presumed to be a tarted-up rental car. I twisted the key and immediately set off on an a two hour jaunt from the coast to the desert… and found myself disagreeing with Tim for a fair portion of my drive.
Now, let me get this out of the way before I talk about the V6 mill mounted under the puffed-up hood. I would’ve greatly preferred to be in a Camaro equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 (or one wearing Hurst badges) producing both far better noises and horsepower and torque figures that induce smiles simply by reading them off a stat sheet. I wasn’t in a V8 car though, so I leaned on the 3.6 to show me what it’s got.
Chevrolet wasn’t content to sent out the 45th Anniversary Camaro with the standard lump producing 312 horspower (which is up from the 304 hp that Tim experience in the 2010 car). Instead, the Bow Tie boffins squeezed a bit more juice from the engine, and the Camaro pictured here actually produces 323 horses. The 2012 Camaro Convertible is also a few pounds lighter than the 2011 model it replaces. That may not sound like a huge jump in go power, but out on a California highway it had me blowing past the morning’s on-their-way-to-work set. That passing was aided by the fact that I could force the Camaro to stay in whatever gear I saw fit thanks to paddles fitted to the back of the wheel. This time around they’re real paddles too.
Still, I can’t completely disagree with Tim’s opinions on the Camaro.
It feels like it handles well because it’s wearing nearly 300-mm wide tires out back. Though the car wears 12.64-inch front/12.4-inch rear rotors, braking is a mushy event and the pedal feel is nonexistent for the first inch or so of travel. It’s a big car on the outside, yet extremely snug inside due to the sensation of being nestled in a cockpit. Visibility is atrocious, but the convertible offers the option of unlimited visibility as long as the sun as shining. The engine note is boring despite the exhaust note entertaining those directly behind the Camaro. You’re also going to need to call the bank and ask for $37,810 to buy the very Camaro pictured here.
The base price of a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT Convertible is $34,100. That’s not much more than the $31,310 required to own a V6 Mustang convertible, and it’s a few grand less than the dough needed for a Nissan 370Z roadster. Add in options for any of those three, and your accountant will start sweating. The major option included on this particular Camaro is the 45th Anniversary Package I keep talking about.
For $1,625, you get 45th Anniversary badges on the fenders and unique stitching on the seats, 20-inch aluminum wheels, HID headlamps with LED halo rings, a unique stripe and decal on the hood, and a 45th logo on the interior. The badges look great on the fenders, and the vinyl on the hood is surprisingly well done without being too garish. Inside, the seats look stylish with their 45th logos stitched into the backs. One area that was a bit overdone, however, lies with the door and dash panel that is a soft, pale plastic, which lights up at night. I’m not sure what look Chevy was going for here, but it comes off as the finest in redneck limousine accountrements.
So has Chevrolet turned the 3.6-liter-packing 2012 Camaro Convertible into an upgraded drop-top rental? No. The automaker has filled the car with features that show its a better car than to be stuck with fleet status. Six-way power adjustable heated frontseats coupled with the booming Boston Acoustics audio system will keep you comfortable. The heads-up display will keep you alert, and the 323-horsepower V6 will keep you mildly entertained. On the outside, the looks will keep other drivers just a hair envious of your machine.
There’s no denying that the Camaro is a good looking machine. Sometimes chopping of a coupe’s roof can hurt a vehicle’s lines, but Chevrolet’s finest deserve a hearty golf clap here. I’m no ragtop enthusiast as I like non-removable or folding metal above my head, but the 2012 Camaro Convertible looks even more handsome when it’s toupee is hidden away.
Chevrolet continues to refine it’s Camaro. 45 years later, the car isn’t exactly a small animal anymore, but it continues to try and eat Mustangs. Chevy is way ahead in year-to-date Camaro versus Mustang sales numbers, and it shouldn’t slow down if the Bow Tie brand keeps adding more power under the hood, and more amenities in the cabin.
The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 45th Anniversary Edition is a 323-horsepower looker that celebrates the heritage of an automotive icon. It’s also expensive, heavy, and hard to see out of. We’d probably overlook most of those faults if we were connected to a gurgling V8 by way of a six-speed manual gearbox. With a 3.6-liter V6 and autobox, we can’t quite do that. Still, we’d be crazy if we weren’t impressed by the power put down, the strong features list, and the 29 mile per gallon EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating.
If this is what rental cars have become, we’ll meet you at the nearest Hertz. …you should probably put us down for the insurance too.