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Weidel on Wheels: Chevy Camaro offers a fast dose of nostalgia

Sports car has retro looks and plenty of power to have some fun
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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As a scrawny kid who grew up with a muscular makeup that warranted no admiration, it never made sense to even consider owning one of the so-called “muscle cars.” Leave that to bolder guys with big egos who needed a car to match their self image. As for me, I was perfectly happy owning a Volkswagen Beatle as my first car. Not that I didn’t admire the muscle cars. They were powerful, made a daring statement, possessed a noisy exhaust that added to the appeal -- plus they simply looked cool. What’s not to like? One of the original muscle cars was the Chevrolet Camaro. It came out in 1967 and car geeks just drooled over it, while even non-car guys like me, who hadn’t even hit the teen years yet, were impressed. General Motors was in reactionary mode, trying to play catch-up to the Ford Mustang, which had arrived earlier and quickly captured the attention of the car-buying public. The Camaro and its GM buddy, the Pontiac Firebird, both came out in the same year and helped steal a little luster away from the Mustang. The Camaro enjoyed a long 35-year run, took a break for seven years, and now is back on the scene with a very appealing 2010 model that is turning heads, much like the original version. The new rear-wheel drive Camaro coupe has a retro look, featuring a long hood and familiar looking grille, while the rear has a short deck, distinctive fenders and rounded taillights. Although it comes implied simply with the Camaro name, the new models, which come in five trims, have plenty of power. I was fortunate to sample the Camaro 2SS for a week, a model that has a 6.2-liter, V-8 engine with 426 horsepower and was capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Camaro was predictably quite a bit of fun. Besides the appealing looks and its powerful engine, what was also very cool about the Camaro was the price. The base model – a 3.6-liter, V-6 with 304 horsepower – starts at $22,995, while the 2SS version is very affordable at just under $33,000. Gas mileage for the 2SS was a respectable 16 to 24 miles per gallon. Not that everything is perfect with the 2010 Camaro. Like many sporty vehicles, the Camaro has way too small a window of visibility, which leaves the driver tentative in passing situations. The interior was also a bit cramped, especially the backseat, while the trunk has a narrow opening and can make storage difficult. But the bottom line is no one buys a Camaro for its roomy qualities and storage capability. They want it because it’s got a ton of power, grips the road with assurance and makes driving lots of fun. __________ 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Price: $30,995 Mileage estimate: 16 mpg city; 24 mpg highway Power: 6.2-liter, V-8 engine with 426 horsepower Standard features include: Anti-lock disc brakes; stability and traction control; dual exhaust with rear spoiler; halogen headlamps; nine-speaker, Boston acoustic audio system with CD/MP3 player, XM Satellite radio; driver information center; heated front seats; six-way, power front seats; trunk pass through; leather-wrapped steering wheel