GM Executive Bob Lutz has made it absolutely clear, a new Pontiac Firebird/Trans Am resurrected along with the forthcoming Camaro is not on the way. Which hasn’t stopped people from speculating, conceptualizing and just generally HOPING, that it may still happen. At the same time, even before it has arrived, there are many others forecasting a short life for the new Camaro. Unfortunately, the latter is probably correct.
It could not be a worse time to launch a new muscle car. Adding to all of the economic and energy-related reasons that need not be repeated here, the Camaro is coming out with a price tag that analysts say is simply too high to meet targeted sales. Look back at the last GTO and its failure to meet sales goals by thousands of units and you can see where these predictions are coming from. Of course, the GTO suffered from a lack of aesthetic imagination, something that does not apply to the new Camaro or the concept Firebird drawings. However, the new Camaro will have to contend with another issue that plagued the GTO; price. The SS version of the Camaro is at least going to be sold in the mid-30 grand range. And that isn’t even taking into account the additional price increases that are inevitably added at the dealerships. Once vehicles are sold to loyal Camaro fans, Chevy is going to struggle to find enough buyers with that amount of disposable income to plunk down on a fairly impractical car. With Mustangs selling in large numbers for the last several years, Chevy will likely be unable to price even the base model Camaro low enough to compete with Ford dealers who will practically give away a V6 Mustang to the High School crowd. Plus, the galloping pony is set to be freshened up in 2010 which will steal at least a little of the Camaro’s thunder. Realistically, those that do have the kind of money needed to get behind the wheel of the SS (the 40+ crowd) will probably look to buy something that projects more refined maturity and usability, even at the sacrifice of all of the performance that the Camaro has oozing out of its tailpipe.
Although the Camaro is an attractive throwback to a happier time in Detroit, GM fails to grasp a reality that Ford, for all of the company’s faults, has successful achieved in the Mustang. Instead of appealing to an older set of buyers with the promise that they can drive a new car and relive their youth; they should focus on building an obtainable car for a new generation and maybe gain a new loyal following in the process.