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New Car/Review
30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 Convertible

30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)
30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 Convertible

by John Heilig

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

MAKE: Chevrolet
MODEL:  30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 convertible
ENGINE:  5.7-liter V-8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:  285 hp @ 5,200 rpm/ 325 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION:  Six-speed manual
FUEL ECONOMY:  16 mpg city,  27 mpg highway,  17.6 mpg test
WHEELBASE:  101.1 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:  193.2 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:  74.1 in.
CURB WEIGHT:  3,591 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:  15.5 gal.
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:  7.6 cu. ft.
TIRES:   P245/50R16
INSTRUMENTS: Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, water temperature,
             oil pressure, battery voltage, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT: Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, cruise control,
           air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio with cassetteand CD player, 
           anti-lock braking, dual air bags, 30th anniversary appearance package,
           traction control, leather seats.

It's hard to believe the Chevrolet Camaro is 30 this year. But like most people reaching mid-life, the Camaro certainly doesn't want to act like it's 30, and certainly doesn't behave like a 30-year-old.

Our tester this week is the 30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 convertible. As such it carries a hefty $30,185 price tag, but you may be able to haggle your dealer down to under 30K. But with all this car has to offer, it can honestly be considered a cheaper, larger Corvette with a smaller trunk. Smaller trunk? Yep. The convertible stowage takes up most of the available trunk space that you'd get in the coupe version (you lose about five cubic feet) and brings the total number lower than that available in the new `Vette.

But you can carry two people in the back seat of the Camaro and the Vette doesn't even have a back seat. Granted, any rear-seat Camaro passengers will have to be small, but they can fit.

On the equal side, the Camaro is powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 that has all the growl of the Vette. It's coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox and drives the rear wheels, just like any self-respecting pony car should do. That engine is rated at a healthy 285 horsepower that's enough to keep you fighting the car to keep it reasonably near the speed limit no matter what road you're on.

We escaped the "long arm" one day in New Jersey. As I cruised around an exit ramp that took me under the highway I had just exited, I saw a black-and-white. I hit the four-wheel disc brakes and slowed down to the speed limit but I was clocked at an obscene speed. After tailing me for about a half mile, the officer pulled me over and asked for the particulars. when he discovered I didn't own the car and what I do for a living, we spent the next 15 minutes chatting about cars and how difficult it is to keep cars like the Camaro in control. After a pleasant "be careful next time," I was on my way and no poorer than I was when I first met the guy. Whew!

The 30th Anniversary Camaro is audacious, with white paint and a pair of orange stripes running from the nose to the tail. Couple that with a raucous exhaust note and you're speeding in some people's eyes even when you're standing still. Fortunately, we had cruise control to help me behave.

Seating in the white leather seats was comfortable for two (I didn't sit in the back). There's some side support in the seats, but for serious driving I'd replace these seats with something that offers more support.

The Camaro's suspension invites aggressive driving on twisty roads and straight ones. Up front the independent suspension is by dual wishbones (short arm/long arm) with coil springs over the gas-charged shocks. The rear suspension incorporates a Salisbury axle with a torque arm, trailing arm, track bar, coil springs, monotube and gas-charged shocks. The overall ride is firm, but not hard. There's enough compliance built in for a comfortable ride.

The power top retracts easily and folds flush into a recess behind the rear seats. there's a three-piece hard tonneau cover that fits over it. We didn't put the top down too often because of cool temperatures, but when we did, we didn't leave it down long enough to put the cover on. There's not a lot of wind inside the car with the top down, though.

I liked the Camaro, but it's probably too raucous for me. Maybe that means I'm getting too old. My daughter liked it, though, and almost every person under 30 who saw or heard it also liked it, so there's a ready market for the car.