The mission within the mission was to nail the spirit of the car but in a fresh, new approach. Peters: "To me it's the proportions of the car. The short front overhang, the longer rear overhang, the powerful fender shapes that say 'this is a front-engine, V-8, rear-drive performance vehicle.' I think this has to come across immediately. It has to be obvious. It has to be an American expression."When you look at the theme, one of the things we wanted capture that was very powerful in this vehicle was the strong center port opening (grille) and enclosing the lamps inside it as a unit. To me, that says Camaro. This is very basic, straightforward. This also fits into the Chevrolet philosophy of functionally driven design. There is not a lot of excessive style. Because it is a powerful V-8, you denote that by a powerful hood bulge ... not a lot of fuss or detail to it.

"As you walk around to the side, what can you do that's a fresh expression of the Camaro's past? The brake vent (in front of the rear wheel), we want to make that functional. We want a functional brake port for cooling, much like that of the ZO6. If it's on there, it's got to be functional. Simple taillight functions, not a lot of tricky shapes, very straightforward, functional. Fenders that sweep back and tie into a central fuselage or nacelle. On the rear, we wanted to do something that was fresh, but again, we wanted to take some strength derived from the (C6) Corvette There are elements and influences of the strong Corvette fenders because the Corvette is a front-engine vehicle with rear-wheel-drive performance, so we wanted to develop a theme that hinted at cues developed from Corvette but still were uniquely Camaro, and not only uniquely Camaro, but uniquely fresh and modern. We used very simple structures in terms of the diffusers, and how they tie into the exhaust. Again, V-8-powered, dual exhausts. Also, the exhaust pipes kind of telegraph the power, the soul of the vehicle.

"But the fact that this functional design is all part of the aesthetic, it in fact then does become part of the style, like the YF22 Raptor, which we used as a theme for the Corvette, as kind of an image vision. All those aircraft are designed from a functional standpoint, but that function becomes part of the aesthetic ... not something that's covered up with a styling shape or something that's just there for the looks. It's driven by something that's really needed for that vehicle to perform to its optimum level. From my standpoint, that's how I like to approach vehicles as well. That's the difference between styling and design for me.

"The same thing with a car. No excess anything that you don't need. If you look at the concept closely, it's just the right balance of line and form. So you have this kind of structure or backbone, from a form standpoint, and then it's sheathed in a very tight skin. That's where you get some of the more muscular aspects of the package.

Structure and tension. Tension is a key word. You can have very angular elements in a car, you can have very round, voluptuous shapes in a car, but they must have that forward visual tension. You like to use aircraft as a kind of visual, as kind of a metaphor, they are very forward thrusting, very directional. The lines go with the flow of the vehicle. They track around the vehicle. This beltline goes right into it, and gives you completeness, oneness of design. It's cohesive. It's one shape. Like you would say a human form might be."

The simple but classic five-spoke wheel design suggests a feeling of strength, light weight, and displays the big rotors and finished brake calipers which become functional elements that add to the visual aesthetic. Peters: "As I mentioned before, we wanted to draw from the vehicle's strong heritage. General Motors has some cars that are just incredible in the way that they were very strong and exciting when they were first done, and they are still very powerful. The Sting Ray comes to mind, certainly the first Camaros. I would bet you any amount of money that 50 years from now, they will be every bit as exciting and hold as much interest and raise levels of excitement just because of the passion they express. They are timeless."

Tom Peters has been in the GM system for a while. He did the '85 IROC Z under Jerry Palmer and he put time in at Pontiac, so it's not like he just fell off the turnip truck. In his experience he's never had a reaction to a concept's first reveal like he did with the Camaro. Chevy had invited Camaro clubs and dotcoms from across the country to mingle with the company throng for the pre-Detroit show unveiling. He drove the Camaro through a kind of gauntlet, people crowding the line on either side of the car, and they were cheering and clapping and popping their thumbs up. "I wasn't ready for the reaction to this car. Not even the C6 got such a reception. That told me that there's a lot of emotion, energy, and passion for it. It made me think that this car must be pretty significant."

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Camaro Concept 1969 Camaro SS
Wheelbase:110.5 in108.0 in
Length:186.2 in186.0 in
Width:79.6 in74.0 in
Height:53.0 in51.6 in
Track, f/r:63.8 in59.6/59.5 in
Engine:364 ci 400 hp 400 lb-ft396 ci 375 hp 415 lb-ft
Transmission:six-speed manualfour-speed manual
Suspension:MacPherson strut coil spring multi-link IRSUnequal-length A-arm coil spring solid axle leaf spring
Brakes, f/r:Disc, 14.0-inDisc, 11.0-in one-piston
Calipers:four-piston calipersdrum, 9.5x2.00-in
Wheels, f/r:cast aluminum 9.5x21, 11.0x22steel 14x6
Tires, f/r:275/30ZR21 305/30ZR22F70x14