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1995 CHEVROLET CAMARO V6 3800 CONVERTIBLE

by: CAREY and BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO:Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

The fourth-generation Camaro coupe was introduced in 1993, followed by a convertible in the 1994 model year. Since then minor refinements have been made, but the big news right now is a new V6 engine. Although Camaros are usually thought of in V8-powered Z28 form, 65 percent of sales are the base V6 model. To improve V6 performance, Chevrolet called on the GM Powertrain engineers for help and they provided a longitudinally-mounted, rear-wheel drive version of the 3800 Series II engine. Previously found sitting transversely in the engine bay of front-wheel drive GM sedans, the new 3800 V6 has 40 horsepower more than the old 3.4, equivalent fuel economy, and improved emissions. The 3800 Series II-powered Camaro is a winning solution. The 200 horsepower made by the 3.8-liter V6 is nearly that of a certain competitive V8 and more than the "high output" V8 offered in early 1980s Camaros.

Both V6 and V8 Camaros are offered in coupe or convertible form. Convertibles are built on the same assembly line in St. Therese, Quebec as the coupes and have chassis modifications to compensate for the removal of the top. Chassis flex is less of a problem than on previous Camaro convertibles and aftermarket conversions. The top is a wonderful device, comparable in construction and ease of use to far more expensive European cars.

To investigate both the new V6 and the convertible, and take advantage of summer weather, we spent a week in a Camaro convertible powered by the 3800 Series II engine. We compared it to previous drives on the frost-heaved roads of Quebec, the freeways and back roads of California, a good tight autocross course, plus Sears Point and Road America Raceways. Our memories were all good!

APPEARANCE: The 1995 Camaro convertible retains its classic styling. With the convertible preferred option package, plus 16-inch alloy wheels and Goodyear Eagle GA touring tires, it looks just like V8 powered models except for some badging differences. Unlike some other convertibles the Camaro looks just as attractive with the top up as it does down. Except for the hood and rear fender panels the body utilizes dent-resistant plastic compounds all-around. From bumper to bumper it looks great!

COMFORT: The Camaro development group did its homework. The interior is as good as the exterior. The seats are great - you won't be sore after a couple of hours on the road. Rearward visibility with the top up is somewhat compromised, but the top can be put up and down so quickly and easily that, if you need the extra visibility, just press the button to bring it down. The top is fully lined. To retract it, unlatch two clips and press a button. With the top up, the car is snug and reasonably quiet. With it down, open-air joy! The steep rake of the windshield reduces wind turbulence in the cockpit to less than some cars with just a sunroof.

Gauges and warning lights are right where they should be and the climate controls - big obvious knobs in the middle of the dashboard - are among the best around. The AM/FM/CD sound system provides excellent reception and clarity. Unfortunately trunk space is restricted due to top stowage requirements. As equipped, our Camaro was fitted with power locks, remote lock/unlock, power mirrors and windows.

SAFETY: The 1995 Camaro convertible is equipped with dual front air bags, three-point seat belts, four- wheel anti-lock brakes, and a theft deterrent system, as well as front and rear crush zones. ROADABILITY: Even with its increased horsepower the Camaro V6 is not quite a "pony" car, but more of a "personal sports" car. Or maybe a well-balanced, affordable near-grand touring car. Its suspension, seating and tires are designed to provide all-day driving comfort in the front seats whether the top is up or down. Handling is very good, and the fun factor is hard to beat, especially with the top down on a good day. With its full interior lining when the top is up it has the look and feel and almost the quietness of a coupe. Even when the top is down the output of the A/C or heater can be felt in front.

PERFORMANCE: The 3800 V6 really improves the performance of the V6 Camaro. It accelerates faster than with the old 3.4, and responds beautifully in most driving situations. It is a very smooth powerplant. Right now the new engine must be paired with the Hydra-matic four-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. A 5-speed manual transmission will be available soon for those who like to shift for themselves. The exhaust note from the V6 is somewhat subdued when compared to the V8.

CONCLUSIONS: The improved Camaro V6 convertible is truly a "Genuine Chevrolet."

SPECIFICATIONS:
1995 CHEVROLET CAMARO V6 3800 CONVERTIBLE

           
       Base Price             $ 19,595  
       Price As Tested        $ 23,733  
       Engine Type            V-6, ohv-pushrod, sfi
       Engine Size            3.8 liter/231 cid 
       Horsepower             200 @ 5200
       Torque (ft/lbs)        225 @ 4000 
       Wheelbase/Length       101"/193"
       Transmission           four speed auto w/overdrive
       Curb Weight            3350 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  16.8
       Fuel Capacity          15.5 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)
       Tires                  Goodyear Eagle GA P235/55 R16 m+s  
       Brakes                 vented disc/drum, ABS standard
       Drive Train            Front engine/rear drive
       
                          PERFORMANCE
       
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon
         city/highway/observed     19/28/23.7
       0 to 60 mph                 8.5 sec 
       1/4 mi (E.T.)               16.8 sec  
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)   0.33  with top up
       

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