• May 18th 2007 at 10:39AM
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It didn't take rocket science, or the brainpower of that guy who kept winning 'Jeopardy,' to deduce that GM would follow up its much-praised Chevy Camaro Coupe concept with a ragtop version.

The production Camaro is still more than a year away, so to keep interest in the company's pony car strong, this drop-top concept took center stage on GM's Texas-sized display at the Detroit Auto Show.

To our eyes, chopping the top makes the Camaro look even more smokin' than before. While the coupe was cool, this has cruisin' down Pacific Coast Highway written all over it. You can bet GM CEO Rick Wagoner already has the keys for next summer's Woodward Dream Cruise.

The conversion from coupe to convertible may look like a simple chop-job, but it involved modifying most of the bodywork aft of the doors so as to make space for a folding roof. The windshield was also re-jigged -- it's higher in the middle and lower at the corners -- and features a shiny billet-aluminum frame.

Designer Brian Smith says he envisages a simple cloth top with a glass rear window and small quarter side-glasses. But, for the concept, there's no actual top beneath that leather-covered, rear-hinged hard tonneau, so bring your rain poncho.

To tie in with the original '69 Camaro convertible, the concept gets a paint job in eye-poppin' Hugger Orange pearl tri-coat with twin gunmetal-gray stripes. Check out the thin, orange pin-striping around the rims of the wheels to echo the look of the old Redline tires.

Inside, there's a new black and white color scheme. The seats are trimmed in 'Saturday Night Fever'-style white leather with white Alcantara faux-suede inserts, while the instruments get new white faces with cool blue neon rings. Interior designer Micah Jones had to rework the rear seats to make room for the top folding mechanism, which meant ditching the rear section of the center console from last year's coupe concept.

Apart from those show-car 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels and some embellished trim and interior bits, what you see here is pretty much what you'll get when the Camaro convertible hits showrooms in 2010, a year after the coupe. Those who've seen the production versions in the hallowed halls of GM Design say both coupe and convertible stay amazingly true to the concepts.

Under the skin, the new Camaro will ride on a version of GM's Global Rear Drive platform -- known internally as Zeta -- developed by GM's Aussie Holden division. It features a four-link independent rear end which should give the Camaro a handling edge over the live-axle Mustang. Expect V-6 and V-8 power and a starting price around $25K. We're drooling already.



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