Embarrass a Classic Muscle Car

The new Chevy Camaro has 335 hp and does zero to 60 in about five seconds flat.

That’s with the V6.

Which is the one to buy.

Because it is affordable — $27,195 — vs. $36,300 for the V8 powered Camaro SS.

Which isn’t.

Either to buy — or to insure.

Nor feed.

The 2016 V6 Camaro (and the V6 Mustang) on the other hand, boast more horsepower than almost all of the classic-era V8 muscle cars had — and are much quicker. How many classic muscle cars could post a five second zero to 60 run?

Very few.

And absolutely none of them were capable of almost 30 MPG on the highway — as the new V6 Camaro is.

The ’16 Camaro’s new four-cylinder engine (yes!) should crest 30.

It also makes 275 hp … out of 2.0 liters. Cue The Kingfish …holy mackerel!

We are, despite all the bad stuff happening, living in some very good times.

Performance car-wise, at least.

Consider: The four cylinder-powered 2016 Camaro is stronger — and quicker- than all the V8 performance cars of the 1980s (excepting exotics) and most of the V8 performance cars of the ’90s.

And it makes the V8 muscle cars of the ’70s seem sore-gummed and sad in comparison.

Some of you may remember the Smokey & The Bandit movies, which featured a river-jumping, sheriff-flummoxing ’77 Trans-Am. This car was — with one exception — the strongest and quickest America performance car available in 1977. Here are the numbers and stats:

6.6 liter, 400 cubic inch V8.
200 horsepower (this was the “high performance” version; the standard version produced 180 hp).
0-60: 7.5 seconds; standing quarter-mile, 15.9 seconds
Top speed: 118 MPH (mechanically limited).
Gas mileage: 16 highway

The balls-out quickest (and most powerful) American car you could buy in the late ’70s was the Chevy Corvette powered by its optional L-82 350 (5.7 liter V8) which made 210-225 horsepower. The Corvette’s standard engine (L-48) whelped out a miserable 185 hp.

That’s 50-90 fewer horsepower less — from more than twice the engine — versus the ’16 Camaro’s standard 2.0 turbo four.

Fast forward into the ’80s. Tuned Port Injected Z28s and 5.0 Mustang GTs were much less embarrassing but still only running six-seconds to 60 and maybe dipping into the 14s through the quarter mile.

Easy meat for the new Camaro.

As recently as five years ago, a five second to 60 run was solid for a V8 performance car.

What I am trying to get cross here is that — by the grace of the Motor Gods — it is no longer necessary to buy a V8 to own a muscle car. Or at least, to own a performance car that will easily beat most muscle cars made back in the ’60s — and all of them that were made back in the ’70s.

Even better, the new Camaro is a bargain.

Both to buy — and to drive.

To keep, too.

Lookee here, say the Kingfish. And take out your inflation calculator.

A 2016 Camaro with the four cylinder engine (MSRP $25,700) would have cost you $6,548 back in ’77 (see here). Which is about what you’d have paid back in ’77 to get a top-of-the-line Smokey & The Bandit (SE) Trans-Am with the optional W72 (“T/A 6.6”) 400 V8 (see here).

Now let’s look at the relative cost of the current Camaro SS (the V8 model).

Its starting MSRP — $36,300 — is equivalent to $9,249 in ’77 dollars.

That sum would have bought you a new L-82 Corvette (about $8,650 in ’77) and left you with enough surplus to feed it for at least a year

The new Camaro 2.0 costs a third less — and uses half the gas.

Let’s not forget the other critical factor — often overlooked when discussing performance cars (and muscle cars): The tab to insure the thing. Which will be a function of its replacement cost as well as its perceived reputation for shenanigans. The new V8 SS Camaro stickers for about $10k more than the base four-cylinder turbo version. That $10k will come out of your pocket up front and premium-wise.

But probably, it’s the V8 car’s rep that’s the killer.

Just as it was back in the day. The insurance mafia put the screws to anyone under 30 who had one, even if the owner had a “clean” driving record. The presumption being that you just hadn’t been caught yet. An attempt was made by the major purveyors of muscle cars to run under the radar by offering less objectionable models such as the Olds Rallye 350 (a sort of 442 in drag) and the Heavy Chevy (an SS Chevelle, kinda-sorta) but the mafia was wise. These were still basically the same cars as their more blatant brothers and still had V8s. Detuned, sure. But easily re-tuned.

The new stuff enjoys the presumption of being gelded by dint of not having V8s. A little four cylinder Camaro? A V6 Mustang? What possible harm could there be in that?

Fortunately, plenty — and it’s all good.

Get one — before the word gets out.



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