Hello, Camaro Comrades and Firebird Friends............
(I'm typing this on my laptop aboard a Delta Flight to Philadelphia - and I'm looking forward to spending some time with some of you at the Philadelphia Autoshow tomorrow.........)
----The adage "Some things never change" - is most appropriate when referring to the passion that Camaro (and Firebird) Enthusiasts show toward these legendary brands.
I've had the privilege to visit with you (either in person or on the internet) about all things Camaro since the early 90s........including the time while our beloved Camaro went on hiatus......
Ever since the world caught a glimpse of the Camaro Concept on January 9th, 2006, Camaro Enthusiast websites/clubs have been some of the busiest on the 'net.
And there certainly hasn't been a shortage of controversy.
.....There was the headlight debacle - where people saw spy shots of very early alpha and beta 'mules' with quad headlamps, not realizing -- or believing -- that they were only placeholders (--- we have to have headlamps for night testing, right??) .........it got so bad that I had one of our moderators on Camaro5 design a special smilie with a sign that read "NOT THE REAL HEADLIGHTS!"
There was the first camera-phone shot of a white coupe in a facility that some 'well-meaning' individual posted - which made the car look ungainly. I recall a few dozen 'hate mails' that I received shortly thereafter asking me if we (Chevrolet) had lost our collective minds. I asked people to calm down - they'd love what they saw when we were ready to show the new Camaro in all its glory.
There was the 'B-Pillar panic' - where a whole lot of people told me that the B-Pillar would be a deal-killer and they would not buy a new Camaro.
(I'm pleased to report that most of those very people are suffering from "perma-grin" as they drive their new Camaros and enjoy miles of smiles......)
There was the 'SS front fascia fiasco' - where legions of enthusiasts SWORE that they'd tear the SS fascia off of their new Camaros and replace them with a replacement fascia from the V6 model.
(......and for the record.... I do not know of anyone who has actually carried through with that threat........)
.......and many more of these 'moments'.........
And there's a side of me that loves every one of these 'Panics' -- because it allows us to continually see the passion that you hold for these automobiles.........
There's also a part of me that worries about the damage done when people jump to conclusions..........and to witness just how upset some can get.....
Lately, there have been numerous threads concerning what we may -- or may not be -- working on in terms of additional Camaro models. And with the advent of the Internet, it's pretty hard to keep secrets........no matter how hard we try, information manages to leak - most of the time by well-meaning individuals ---
No matter where we test future products, there is invariably an enthusiast or two nearby with a camera or camera/phone at the ready. And thus, we have the 'panics' like the above................
The past year finds many, many threads on many many different Camaro/Firebird sites surrounding a "secret" High Performance Camaro.
Lots of pictures in camouflage....
Lots of conjecture as to what the engine might be....
........ Many arguments on what this car might be called........
Now -- assuming that we're working on such a beast.......no matter WHAT we call it, we're going to unwittingly anger some of our enthusiasts.
And that's unfortunate.
I've actually had multiple emails and IMs stating "Mr Settlemire (...in some case followed by a string of expletives......) -- if you call this new Camaro a/an (--insert nameplate here--) - - I will never buy another GM product!"
Some claim that if we call it (...insert another name here) -- we'll be responsible for some sort of catastrophe............
That, my friends, is true passion for the brand.
Here's what I CAN tell you:
>We take each of your opinions very seriously.
............... And we take your loyalty very seriously. The consumer today has nearly 400 nameplates from which to choose....and we don't take your choice to buy one of our cars or trucks lightly.....we want to keep you as a customer for life.
>Team Camaro will NEVER be satisfied. No matter how good the product, there will ALWAYS be room for improvement, be it in terms of performance, appearance, comfort - you name it, we strive to continually improve it.
> I've never seen another team (other than Corvette) that lives the product 24/7/365....and I do mean LIVE it............the product is all-consuming.
>Whatever new models we might bring forth to you, please know that we expect them to be the BEST -- with features and driving pleasure that are designed to give you a real good case of (as one of our Disciples, Tim, calls) ....."Perma-Grin."
>We do not share details with you - because, while we may want to, we also know that this is a very competitive business. A quick review of the auto industry in the past three years tells you just HOW competitive it can be...and the last thing we want is for our friendly competitors to know what we have up our collective sleeves. Similarly, they want to keep their work a secret. That's the nature of this business.
So - know that we're always working to make the Camaro better in every way.
We're beyond delighted that Camaro outsold Mustang this past year.......and this with Coupe models only - versus Mustang with its coupes, convertibles, and GT-500 models. That said-- we know that Mustang (and Challenger) are very serious and worthy contenders - and we can ill afford to take our eyes off of them for even one second.............
So - know that we are listening......know that we are looking at every little detail........and know that no matter WHAT we might call any future models or special editions.........you can COUNT on it that it will remain "The Great American - (...and Canadian!..) Thrill ride.
I've asked you many times before to "Have Faith" -- especially when most of you thought the Camaro had gone away forever - And you kept that faith. I ask you to once again know that we are dedicated to designing, engineering, and building the world's best cars and trucks. And we mean it.
Thanks for listening -- and more importantly - thank you for your passion, loyalty, enthusiasm -- and yes - - thank you for "Keeping the Faith"