• Dec 20, 2010
2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible – Click above for high-res image gallery

When General Motors showed some hardcore Camaro fans an early version of the convertible, they apparently received some less-than-favorable feedback. It turns out the Camaro faithful weren't all that smitten with the old-fashion whip antenna (not to be confused with the shark fin antenna for XM satellite radio and OnStar transmissions) protruding out of the topless muscle car's boot. The retro antenna was deemed to be a necessary evil due to the fact that, like most new vehicles, the hardtop Camaro hides the antenna in the rear window. And we all know that just won't work if the rear window can be stowed with the rest of the top, so engineers and designers had no choice, right? Well, as it turns out there was an option B.

The General turned to Antenna Performance Engineer Don Hibbard, a "lifelong Ham radio enthusiast," to shed the ungainly appendage. This was no easy task, though, as GM insisted that whatever the solution, it needed to perform every bit as well as the unit embedded in the hardtop's rear glass. To make matters a bit more interesting, Hibbard and his colleague, Gregg Kittinger, didn't exactly have all the time in the world to get the job done.

In a span of only 10 months, Hibbard was able to work some magic. The new Camaro Convertible will feature an AM/FM antenna that is built into the Camaro's rear spoiler. The embedded receiver will reportedly work as well as the rear window antenna from the hardtop, but without the retro eyesore. Now, if only they cold solve for the awkward trunklid combo of the CHMSL, satellite radio and lip spoiler...

Hit the jump to check out a video of GM's clever antenna solution and to check out the official press release.



[Source: General Motors]
Show full PR text
DETROIT – When spy shots surfaced of the pre-production version of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, an outcry went up among Camaro enthusiasts over the AM/FM whip antenna positioned on the rear deck lid.

Quite simply, they hated it.

Chevrolet was quick to respond, commissioning a self-described antenna freak named Don Hibbard to find a way to fix it. "Antennas are a beautiful thing to me," says Hibbard, an antenna test performance engineer.

Engineers working on Camaro are passionate to drive perfection into every aspect of the vehicle. Hibbard and colleague Gregg Kittinger had to do what some thought was impossible: conceal the AM/FM antenna without sacrificing radio reception, while not putting it inside the Camaro's windows. The two, who share three other patents, happily accepted the challenge.

"We weren't sure that it would be possible," said Kittinger. "Typically antennas are hidden in a vehicle's rear window, but with a retractable soft-top roof, that's not an option."

So they came up with a novel approach – hide the antenna inside the rear spoiler. No one had tried that on a Chevrolet before because of the hit to radio reception.

"We responded to a legitimate criticism from devoted Chevrolet Camaro enthusiasts and in 10 months found an innovative way to improve the overall aesthetics of the vehicle without sacrificing performance and quality," said Kittinger.

While the shark fin antenna that transmits XM Satellite Radio, OnStar and cellular signals is still present on the car's deck lid, the built-in spoiler antenna eliminates the need for a longer, separate whip antenna to receive AM and FM radio signals.

Hibbard, a lifelong Ham radio enthusiast, says the unorthodox placement of the antenna within the body of the vehicle created a number of technical challenges, such as balancing form by preserving the car's styling and function of unimpeded audio reception.

"Where other automakers have tried and failed, Chevy succeeded," said Hibbard. "We hope to take what we've learned with the Camaro Convertible, build on it and apply it to future vehicles."

The 2011 Camaro Convertible arrives in dealer showrooms this February.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      This car kinda looks nice as a convertible.....
      • 4 Years Ago
      FB on Don Hibbard's RF-expertise, coming in handy for GM.

      73's and Merry Christmas!

      DE NØEVK
      • 4 Years Ago
      Now if Ford could only copy this the Mustang would so much better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's what I was thinking. I don't really mind the antenna on the Stang but the first thing my mind went to when I saw the 2011 was the BMW Z8 which had the antenna in the rear bumper. That's what my mind went to when I saw this article.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's already better in just about every way. Who really cares about the antenna anyhow?

        What I'm really interested in is the weight of the convertible Camaro. The coupe is already a pig so the convertible will probably tip the scales at around 4,100+ lbs. That's a lot of car to move around....
        • 4 Years Ago
        No kiddin... that's what my Nissan pickup weighs
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sadly as is so often with GM's half a$$ thinking, they went to great lengths to make this antenna work and be hidden, but then still leave you with that awful XM antenna that ruins the design of the car anyway.
      If you are going to go through all the time, money and trouble to hide one antenna, do both.
      • 4 Years Ago
      AM/FM antennas are not used for transmission, only reception.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uh... I'm not an engineer, but 10 months??? Why not just imbed the antenna in the FRONT windshield. Seem to recall this was done in the past.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Q. "Why not just imbed the antenna in the FRONT windshield."

        A. Cost.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Most cars have the front windshield replaced at some point during the life of the car. Replacing the rear glass at some point is far less likely, making the rear glass the place to add cost.
        • 4 Years Ago
        There are tons of vehicles with the antenna in the windshield! Why all the hub... it seems like wasted effort!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Antennas work better if they are further away from sources of interference. The ignition system on the engine (think of all those sparks jumping gaps) is a big source of interference. This is why cars typically have the antenna at the back and then an antenna amplifier back there to boost the signal so that when it goes to the front and picks up noise, there is still a better signal to noise ratio than there would be if the antenna were in front.

        It's quite possible he was working on other things during the 10 months.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How about they fix that ugly OnStar/satellite radio antenna first?
        • 4 Years Ago
        They fixed what was theirs to fix first. You don't like the Onstar antenna? Don't buy it and tell Onstar why you didn't.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's the story? Infiniti FX45 has had an antena hidden in it's spoiler (actualy two piece resing backdoor) for years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why not a power antenna like the old GM cars? My 99 Bonneville's power antenna is great!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wait till winter comes. Why do you think everyone in the northern part of the US disconnected them? My Regal had a power antenna and it was cool for a minute then I just disconnected it again.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Imagine. It took 10 months to accomplish what Mitsubishi did back in 1978. I have been in the wrong end of the car business all these years. Don't designers and engineers have institutional memory?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe he could work some magic on the interior.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It took him 10 months to develop an idea that's already been in use by several other car makers?
        • 4 Years Ago
        gm ftw lol
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm with you. There are several aftermarket solutions available that are also downright cheap. We used to install them on all sorts of custom vehicles, and in most cases, they usually worked at least as well as the factory antenna did, especially glass-embedded units.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Audi did it and it sucked. I had better reception in my Super Beetle.
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