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click above image to view 52 new high-res pics of the Camaro Convertible Concept

Two days last week, Autoblog got to spend time with the Hugger Orange hued Camaro Convertible Concept that GM brought out to California, along with a few of its designers. In case you didn't realize it already, the car is stunning. GM Designer Tom Peters, though, was looking for a special, brutal kind of stunning: the brief for the Camaro Concept was "The meanest, scrappiest streetfighting dog, the meanest looking thing on the road." When he was describing that to Autoblog last weekend, at dinner, he actually growled.

Follow the jump for the full story, and check out our new gallery of 52 high-res images, a few of which you're not going to find anywhere else.

[Photos: Jim Fets]

click on any image to view the full high-res gallery

In addition to Tom Peters, Autoblog spoke to Brian Smith, lead exterior designer, and Micah Jones, lead interior designer. The first thing you'll want to know about this car, according to Smith and Jones: 90% of what you see will be on the production car. Whew.

And to hear Smith tell it, that is just reward for the "serious but fun" process that it took to get the Camaro Concept finished. The design team included American, Russian, Korean, and French designers -- all of whom knew the import of the original Camaro. When GM's Advanced Design Studio (ADS) in California was given the brief for the Camaro, they actually based their first sketches off the Gen 2 Camaro, produced from about 1970 to 1973. Then it was decided by the men in charge that not only did they need to use the first generation Camaro, they needed to use the 1969 model specifically. Smith said "It was more challenging than to use the Gen 2 car. The Gen 1 was harder to make 21st century. A lot of the muscle cars around that time looked similar, and it was easy to slide into enemy territory." He mentioned the time he looked at a designer's sketch and thought he saw something familiar. "I said 'It looks like a Javelin.' And the designer said 'Yeah, I had one.' So he had to redo it."

It's harder to bring forth heritage without overtly copying than it is to do an entirely new car. Add to that challenge the weekly meetings with Bob Lutz and Ed Welburn (VP, Global Design), who probably offered constant commentary since GM needed to get the car right. In the cycle of meeting, redesign, meeting, redesign, Smith said that at one point the car was too retro. When they finally did get a design they were happy with and were ready to cast the show car model, everything was stopped: it was decided that there should be some fresh eyes put on it. The Advanced Design Studio had two models of the car done, so they gave one to GM's basement studio in Detroit, called Studio X, to do an alternate version. Tom Peters ran the show there, and one of the designers he called on at Studio X was Sing Yup Lee, who did the original profile sketch that the Z06 is based on. They had one month to get the car ready.

Peters knew he wanted the baddest car on the block, as well as the '69 monoslot grill, which has a faster profile than the front of the car, a telltale sign of the '69. At the ADS, in the heat of the competition, the bigwigs stepped back and waited to see what would emerge, and Smith said "it really came together once we could just sit down and get to it. The competition and new eyes at Studio X made the car new." The result is what you see. Well, minus a top -- the convertible has had work done in the tonneau area, but it doesn't have a roof yet.

How does it look in the flesh? Really, really hot. It's wide and low (but not too low), with wheels out at the corners that make it look long. The expanse of metal -- highlighted by that Hugger Orange -- makes it look like there's Camaro everywhere. However, it isn't much bigger than a '69 -- one inch longer, two inches wider. You'll feel the menace when you get close to it. When it was still sitting in the trailer, in the dark, you could just make out the back of it, it was like just being able to see the outlines of a monster at the bottom of a well. The grill, jutting out like a cowcatcher, makes the headlights appear even more deep set, and with the hoodline squaring their tops... the car looks like it wishes you would just get out of the &*$#@! way. Even in orange.

Inside, the car is disturbingly nice. There was close integration with interior and exterior design teams, who really worked together on the tonneau cover and rear shelf area. It's gorgeous (have we said that enough yet?) True, it's a concept, so it's supposed to be nice, but again, Micah Jones said most of what you see in the pictures will remain. It's basic in its layout, with two round dials put in rectangular holes -- another '69 feature -- and additional gauges on the floor at the end of the central tunnel. The car is also really roomy. We're sure the lack of a top added to the sensation of roominess, but it really did feel like we could raise a family in there. And the gearshift is the kind of thing that would fit Predator perfectly -- a giant polished knob at the end of a kinked strut. The steering wheel is cool, too -- but that won't make it. It needs an airbag. Under the hood, the engine is "a jewel in a setting," branded and polished, emphasizing the aesthetics. Even the extraneous wiring is hidden. But don't expect it to be so pretty in the production car.

How does it drive? Well, we only got it up to thirty-five per hour, but we have no complaints. It looks awesome, sounds awesome, feels awesome. Both Smith and Jones have said they are fighting to keep the production car true to the concept. Even better, they alluded to modifications that they say "could make the car even better." Everyone we talked to also spoke of working with the accessories department and promising great aftermarket stuff. The coupe arrives in 2009, the convertible "within a year after that."

We say enough said. We'll take it. In black. With tinted windows and black wheels. Convertible or coupe, doesn't matter. Either way is how you spell "badass."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not bad, but let's see the hard top. Convertibles ARE for girls! Or poseurs anyway.

      The "cool" console gauges suck. They were a bad idea in the original Camaro, and they really need to go. Offer a $600 package with a different dash and console gauges for the old farts who want to relive their youth. The Camaro of my youth--while being pretty lame in the power department and a bit too flexible--at least had all the gauges where you could glance at them while moving.

      Oh what's the use. By the time I can pick up one of these used, gas will be too expensive to run the thing...

      At least it smacks around the Mustang in the looks department. No doubt it will smack it around on the street too! ;)
      • 8 Years Ago
      "50. That thing is ugly and the proportions are way off, and in US tradition it will suck ass at taking corners.

      Who needs the camaro when the new skyline GT-R is on the way"

      Comparing a true sports gt that will only sell in the low 5 figures, with a sports tourer that will sell 100,000+, hmm nice job of comparing apples to oranges there.

      The 350z is the proper competition which it has a hard time with the mustang if thats any indicator.

      The GTR will be aimed directly at the vette being 2/3 versions of the gtr will have its arse handed to it by the base vette. Plus the (evo gtr) the only verson that will outrun a base vette, will cost 85-90 grand.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Here's an idea for all of you people that don't like the new Camaro...stop reading articles about the new Camaro. Although I could see how that could be an issue though because you wouldn't be able to run your pointless rant to people who just don't care in an attempt to make it feel like you actually do have something worth while hidden in your pants. So please, if you're just going to make a comment bashing a car that is in such a niche as the Camaro ... please just don't.
      • 8 Years Ago
      @#41 "Ihateamericancars"
      nobody cars what you have to think. you can keep your shitty jap cars to yourself but stay off the post about our cars because all you do is post about how much our cars suck on evey post having to do with one of our cars.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice work America. I'm not the "modern" American car nut but this looks pretty good. I prefer coupes though. I'd still rather a 68 or 69 but this is nice and I hope they don't dumb it down too much for production.

      The Mustang concept was much nicer than the release.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gasoline actually cost $1.72 per gallon in 1969 (in constant dollars).
      • 8 Years Ago
      One word: WOW! This is what American OEMs need to compete. I will buy this over Lamborghini! This is what I called a Modern and Truly American Car. This must make it to production AS IS (or at least 90% of it). This makes Mustang and Charger look milder. If GM continues to make cars like these, it will blow Japanese out of the water. They (and Ford too) have to make concept like cars for real world, if they want to survice another 100 years.(otherwise most of what GM offers today is pefectly boring vehicles)
      • 8 Years Ago
      OK... SO GM may be capable of producing a car I might actually be interested in owning.


      No way in HELL will I ever put up with the trailer trash that is a GM dealership.

      Made the mistake of buying a jeep Cherokee from a dealer that also sold GM cars. WHAT A SCAMMING BUNCH OF PRICKS. Been worrying about this cause I do want a Z06 soon. Guess I'll just buy one off eBay and hope to GOD I never have to have the damn thing to the dealer for anything.

      This is why I buy Honda/Toyota/Lexus (the jeep was a wild hair but it has been solid). Just different worlds when it comes to the people you have to deal with at the dealership.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Age of the Dumb Ass

      Arctic Seas are Melting Today And GM is talking about building a 400hp toy. This car will offset 20 Prius's.

      There's going to be No Solution to Global Warming Unless our Government Regulates it.

      The funny thing about Exxon is, when Science can Find them Money( Oil ) they believe in Science 100%, but, when Science say's Carbon is going to Kill the livelyhoods of many millions of people, well, we Can't Believe in Science. GREED is Not a way to run a Government.
      • 8 Years Ago
      BTW, great job by photographer, it's not easy to capture the beauty like this!!

      And whoever got to drive this, I hate you from the bottom of my heart!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Your sleek, sexy new American sportscar was designed in Australia, people.

      Holden has been doing the bulk of the design work, in addition to the Commodore's platform that underpins it.

      Monaro will also be based on Zeta, but will be a different body from Camaro, sharing more in common with Commodore than Camaro. Whether Monaro becomes GTO remains to be seen.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Great car!
      btw do u have some kind of agreement with "leblogauto" in France, because they always have the same stuff, i mean half their content look same.
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