Like most concept cars, the Chevrolet Camaro convertible isn't real. It moves under its own power, but it's by no means a polished and finished product. Still, if someone offered you the chance to drive it, would you say no?
This is Flashback Friday, a weekly feature where we republish classic stories from the Jalopnik archives. Think of it as Jalopnik's 'Best Of' series. We chose this story because a friend of ours recently bought a plasma cutter. Production Camaro? Yes. Production convertible? Not so much. Somebody break out the p-torch and get to cuttin' — we wants our hair to bow-tie blow, you know? -Ed.
If driving a concept car is silly, writing a review of a concept car is like showing up at a black-tie wedding at the Ritz wearing clown shoes, red nose and a Bozo wig. Therefore if you're reading this review to help you decide between buying any next-gen pony cars, whether the Camaro, the Challenger or the Mustang when they all hit the showroom floor in the next year and a half — just stop reading right now. Then I want you to go on to the next post, because a write-up of time spent behind the wheel of a car designed entirely for show and never for go will help you in no way to make a purchasing decision. If you're interested in reading about driving a car that could fall apart at any moment, and which you may never get to experience, continue reading.
Last week I was offered the opportunity to drive the Camaro convertible concept car through the twists and turns of a two-mile length of road in Tejon Ranch, 426 square miles of land along California's scenic Interstate 5, just about 60 miles north of the city of Angels. The fact that these concept-drive events are nothing more than public relations stunts designed to drum up excitement about the car did nothing to damper the desire to feel the wind on my face and hear the sounds of horses a-racin'. The problem is there's no way to do a real review on a one-off concept car because — well, because of a lot of reasons. If I were to actually write a real review on it, it would probably read something like this:
Handling and Ride: Inc.
Considering the alignment's been shot all to hell by thousands of miles of journalist drive time (the correct ratio of real person miles to auto journalist miles is approximately 47.3 to one) and we barely made a u-turn in the concept, I've no way to tell you what the steering or handling will feel like in the real thing.
Given that you're not allowed to accelerate above roughly 25-30 mph (I say roughly because there's no working instrumentation), for fear you'll shake the one-off fiberglass shell from the chassis or, worse yet, cause the engine to overheat and catch fire, I've no idea whether that big V8's got the power to make the real thing hustle.
The gearbox, hmm, well, the shifter knob sure looks cool. We never got it into gears 4, 5 or 6 — so all we can say is yeah, the shifter knob looks cool.
Unless you count the wind whistling by at our relatively low driving speed or the sound of that big V8, we got nothing for ya.
Interior Design: Inc.
The seats aren't the real ones, so you've no idea what the sight lines are going to be like in the real thing. The instrumentation, as I said before, doesn't work. But it looks cool as hell and Chevy engineers tell us "90% of [the production model] will translate from the concept." We've no idea what that means in practical terms; it could be anything from the color combinations to the look of the steering wheel.
Exterior Design: Inc.
Yeah, everyone knows it looks like a half-shark-half-'69 Z28. While designing the General's muscle machine, Chevy engineers tell us they "strived to find a design that balances and creates an equality between the Camaros of old and a totally modern interpretation." The only problem is the heat from the engine was causing the paneling on the concept to warp a bit — taking some of that design balance and turning it into an amusement park hall of mirrors.
Nonetheless, pretty pictures of me driving the Camaro at school-zone speeds isn't all. I also left heartened that, one day, I'll be able to see Dodge, Chevy and Ford pony cars battling once again — running stoplight-to-stoplight down Woodward Avenue back in Detroit. That put one hell of a big smile on my face as I left Tejon Ranch to catch my flight out of La La Land.
This post originally appeared on Jalopnik on May 16, 2007 at 3:00 PM EST.