Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Cars in the City

Camaro convertible


A Camaro in the late 1970s and early 1980s was one of my favorite cars. All the cool guys drove older model Camaro Z28s, Trans-Ams or Monte Carlos — any two-door that wasn’t a parent’s practical sedan. If you were dating a guy with a two-door, most had bucket seats. This meant sitting on a pillow nestled on the console to sit as close to each other as possible.

Yet, when I test drove the 2023 Chevy Camaro, I wasn’t sitting in the sales assistant’s lap. We cruised in the wind in our own seats on a balmy 55-degree February day.

The Camaro 1SS convertible is a powerful ride. Attempting a left turn on busy Hickman Road might take forever. When the assistant suggested I floor it, I obliged. Floor it? Heck, yeah! 

With a 6.2-liter V8 engine, there’s no hesitation. It takes off in a flash and hugs low to the ground, turning tight corners with ease.

The streamlined front dash includes an 8-inch touch screen, which doesn’t overtake the sports car look with fancy features. It does offer a backup camera, keyless start and hands-free features. The suede steering wheel is a nice texture — just right for Iowa temps, as opposed to hot leather in the summer.

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The bucket seats sit low but are not too low-slung or difficult to get out. Got passengers? Make sure they’re petite. As an average gal with short legs, I climbed into the back seat. My knees awkwardly jammed into the back of the passenger’s seat, and I could barely straighten my legs. Anything more than a half-hour drive lands you with stiff knees and the inability to shimmy out of the backseat gracefully.

The Camaro is an adventurous, fast ride that doesn’t resemble a teenager’s car. The sharkskin metallic gray body pairs well with a black top. The SS5 split-spoke satin black wheels with a dual exhaust update the look. A push button folds the convertible top down easily into the back of the car. 

According to the U.S. News and World Report, Camaros ranked sixth best in sports cars for 2023. The No. 1 sports car is still the Ford Mustang, as the two rivals have sparred for more than five decades for top muscle car bragging rights.

In 1964, the Ford Mustang was born, and Chevy quickly needed a sports car to compete with it. In 1967, the Camaro Sports Coupe was offered for $2,466. If you’re a classic car buff, you should have kept your 1968 Camaro instead of trading it in for a practical Ford Escort. Vintage Camaros in good condition today fetch more than $100,000. Most Camaro models retained their value due to their iconic styling and speedy two-door rides among a sea of clunky SUVs. 

Convertibles continue to attract attention. When I glance at the sport’s car driver, I don’t expect to see a cute guy — it’s usually a nostalgia-seeking, gray-haired Boomer. Anyway, I don’t think teenagers can afford the $54,800 price tag.

Top up or top down, the Camaro continues to be an iconic sporty ride. ♦

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