New Car/Review

Chevrolet

Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible (2000)

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Chevrolet Full Line Video footage (23:22)

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,615
     Price As Tested                                    $ 33,615
     Engine Type               OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SPFI*
     Engine Size                                 346 cid/5665 cc
     Horsepower                                   320 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               345 @ 4400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  101.1"/74.1"/193.5"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3557 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.8 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                              275/40R17 Z-rated
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/25/20          
     0-60 MPH                                        5.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                         14.5 seconds @ 103.5 mph
     Top speed                                           150 mph
                    * Sequential port fuel injection

(This week's test car, the Chevrolet Camaro SS, is one that Bob Hagin loved wringing out 30 years ago. His son Matt loves testing these Muscle Cars as it brings back memories of his hot-rod youth.)

MATT - This week's test is of the Camaro SS convertible and not unexpectedly, that's the same moniker the "Bow Tie Boys" at Chevrolet coined for the first top-line Camaro back in '67. It's a name revered by two generations of auto enthusiasts. As it was back then, the Camaro Z28 SS is a clone of the Firebird Trans-Am, and both starting out as relatively short, stubby cars. Those days were the start of the Pony Car Era and all the car makers were hot to get in on the action. General Motors was behind Ford's Mustang by a couple of years, but it quickly shifted into high gear. The Camaro traditionally came with a choice of two different V8s as well as an economical in-line six.

BOB - Chevrolet even got desperate enough to grow Camaro sales by installing an "Iron Duke" four-banger in the late '80s to challenge the Pinto-powered Mustang. Nowadays the new Camaro still comes with a choice of powerplants. Two V8s are offered, with the standard version producing 305 horsepower with a torque rating of 335 pound-feet. But by tuning the intake and exhaust a bit, Chevrolet boosts the power up to 320 for the SS version with an equal increase in torque. The V8 is almost a twin to the engine in the newest Corvette and its displacement is 5.7 liters. Chevy fans still refer to it as the "350" which has been the Camaro's established engine size almost from its inception.

MATT - That's true, Dad, and although it still utilizes the ancient technology of using pushrods to operate two valves per cylinder, the execution of the design is quite different from what it was up until the late '90s. The block and cylinder heads are both made of aluminum, and since weight reduction is a target for General Motors, even the oil pan is made of aluminum. It also helps keep the engine oil temperature relatively low, even when the engine is being pushed. Although the four-speed automatic that was in our SS didn't detract much from its performance, I think the next time we test one we should ask to have it outfitted with the optional six-speed manual transmission. It just seems like a natural choice for this road-rocket. The SS performance package on our test car included 17" wheels and a suspension upgrade, but I think it's time for the big move for the Camaro to independent suspension in back. The press material from Chevrolet states that the median age of buyers is around 40 and half of them are female. I wonder what the demographics are for the SS model?

BOB - Keeping all that power on the road can be a problem, and to help control SS wheel spin, the car has a limited-slip differential. Also, the axle ratios are different between the manual and the automatic to equalize off-the-line performance. Our car also had GM's traction control since a high-powered sportster can be a handful in the snow. It modulates wheel spin automatically by altering the throttle position and the ignition spark advance.

MATT - When we tried the SS on Press Track Day at Laguna Seca Raceway last year, I rode with Brendan and while I was comfortable, at six-foot-four, "Brother Bren" was struggling to find a comfortable position. The Camaro has a back seat, but it's best suited for small kids or two very small adults. The steering wheel has a set of buttons on it that allows you to control the radio station selection and volume without taking your hands off the wheel. Another interesting feature is that as you drive faster, the volume on the radio increases. For convertibles like our tester, the top folds away completely and is covered by a three-piece tonneau cover. Due to its exaggerated wedge shape, the Camaro looks very long and with the top down, even longer.

BOB - Because of its length, low setting position and high tail, I had a tough time trying to parallel park the thing.

MATT - Dad, to Camaro buyers, that minor inconvenience is worth the trade-off of having one of the least expensive, highest performance muscle car on the road today.

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