No. 797,
May 20, 2015

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Not a surprise.

Did anybody ever wonder why there is no reverse on an airplane? Because the Bernoulli principle wing won't work going backwards. Not on an airplane, not on an Indy car. (The Bernoulli principle explains that a conventional wing works by generating lift through its curved upper surface and a relatively flat under surface. Airplanes are “sucked” into the air while race cars use the principle in reverse to be “sucked” to the track.) The car ‘blow-overs’ that have recently occurred at Indianapolis surely weren't a surprise to the aerodynamicists. They just may not have told the drivers that it would go like stink when pointed the right way but if you spin out, you're done for. I venture that the same “cure” effected will be similar to that adopted for the NASCAR racer. There, pop up panels have been added to spoil the airflow (lift) created when you turn a vehicle with a curved upper surface and a flat bottom 90 degrees to the direction of the airflow. Didn't you think it was unusual that the sedans seemed to roll forward when they kited? On the Indy cars, we are probably going to have to look at breakaway rear wings and/or blowout panels of some sort in the under tray. Developing the actuator mechanism will be the task. So far, none of the drivers have been injured. Let's keep that record intact.

Fred McKenna
Saint Louis, Missouri

 

Camaro vs. Mustang.

It promises to be the best fight since Ali vs. Frazier.

Lou Wassel
Troy, Michigan

 

Keepers of the flame.

I'm totally on board with Autoextremist with this one. Been following cars all my life, was a boy when the first Mustang came out. Chevy was caught totally off guard, focused on battling Ford via the traditional full-size way – Impalas taking on Galaxies. The other market segments – compacts and intermediates – were recent developments and still finding their direction. An argument can be made that Ford drew inspiration for the Mustang directly from Chevy itself – specifically, the popular compact Corvair Monza which Ford tried but never could match through its own compact model, the Falcon which otherwise ate standard model Corvairs for lunch in sales.

So, why not take the Falcon, reskin it with sporty lines & drop the new small block V-8 into it?

The rest is history. Among the many things I find appealing about the Mustang and Camaro are that today's generation carry on the respective Gen One design cues which gave each its own distinct personality. Yeah – credit goes to both GM and Ford for keeping the light burning.

Stuart Humpert
Napa, California

 

Embarrassment at Indy.

Watching the Indy 500 qualifying is just embarrassing. The biggest race of the year and they STILL do not have a clue about the aerodynamic package. Fortunately, nobody has been seriously hurt - yet. And as I look at the cars I wonder: Is one reason nobody watches this racing anymore is that the cars are so freakin' UGLY? The wing packages look as though they were purchased from a J.C. Whitney catalog.

SWM
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada



Camaro vs. Mustang.

Your Rant (and On the Table) this week about Camaro/Mustang is right on. I have always been a GM fan but love to see each improved Mustang released since it keeps the competition strong and thriving. I expect this Camaro to trump the Mustang, then the roles to reverse when the next 'Stang comes down the line. And the beat goes on...

One thing I noticed in the Chevy press releases that you have been preaching about for years – they revealed the Gen 6 Camaro on May 16, then stated it will go on sale “later this year”. So a major manufacturer actually listened and released a vehicle only a few months (not 4-frickin-years) before it goes on sale!

Scott K.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief's Note:
Unfortunately, I don't expect any real Camaro volume to be hit the dealers until the first quarter of next year. -PMD

 

When push comes to shove.

I get what you're saying about Marchionne, but I think you haven't realized the extent of Fiat's weakness in Europe. Current Fiats, whatever their platform, are certainly no worse cars than anything Renault, Peugeot/Citroen/Opel/VW/Ford are putting out right now. (Well, save for Ford — their monospace C- and S-Max are pretty great, as well as the Fiesta/Focus).

The European auto market is very nationalistic — by that I mean most French buyers will buy Renault or Peugeot/Citroen no matter what/ Germans go for Opel or Ford or VW etc.

The Italian economy is in terrible shape and Italians have pretty much given up buying new cars. So Fiat/Alfa's domestic market is terrible right now, with no improvement in sight, and Marchionne is doing the only thing he can, which is pump up the Jeep/Ram segment and hope for consolidation.

Peter A.
Paris, France

 

The new Camaro.

You have whiffed on the Camaro exterior design critique. The car itself may be wonderful but the exterior is a testament to the GM management's cowardice. This latest iteration was an opportunity to push forward the legacy of the second and third generation Camaros where design was unleashed to do their best work. In this case instead we get a ton of tooling money spent that achieves the look of a mid cycle update. Bill Mitchell and Chuck Jordan are spinning in their graves over the Design leadership that has been squandered.

Jeff Kennedy
Edwardsville, Illinois

Editor-in-Chief's Note: After sixteen years of creating this publication, I will never, ever get over two things. 1. People getting all in a frenzy about the designs of cars that they haven't even seen in the flesh yet, which, unremarkably enough, doesn't deter them in the least from making definitive pronouncements as to their worth. And 2. People apparently only reading what they want to see in my columns, and then taking away something completely different and coming to a utterly nonsensical conclusion, while getting their noses out of joint to boot. Nicely done, folks. -PMD

 

The racing malaise.

I share the sense of disappointment about the events at Indianapolis. Prior to the split in American racing it was definitely one of the great races of the world. These days I suppose there may be people who associate the weekend with the 500 and show up regardless as a family day out. On a global basis it no longer registers and Gordon Kirby tells his version of the high octane truth this week. Maybe its fair to describe it as the greatest race in Indiana these days. Next month we have Le Mans to look forward to and they don't run spec cars. There may be a lower number of spectators there compared to Indy, but all of them will be likely to have a good grasp of the nature of what they are watching and a good number of mainstream manufacturers are involved. Would GM benefit more from a win with a Corvette in France or a Dallara at the Brickyard with one of their engines installed? Please keep telling it is - one day somebody has to take notice of your proposals to fix the malaise that afflicts racing in all its forms.

John Meachen
Norwich, Connecticut

 

Camaro ain't all that.

I also share the view of Mr. Kennedy that the new Camaro styling is a bit underwhelming. Given an all new platform I expected more-what I see is a refresh of the current design and not fixing the lack of outward visibility that has been a criticsim of the latest generation since its introduction. The revamped interior & power train choices are steps forward, but I have not been a fan of the current style and was hoping for something really new. Had there not been all the hype about the new model I would likely have had a better impression, but once it was revealed it was to me, at least, a letdown. I expected more of a difference like between my C6 & C7 Corvettes. I guess the sales numbers will tell how successful the redo was. If I owned a current generation model I would not be in a hurry to get out the checkbook for a '16.

WG
Shoreview, Minnesota


Done, done and done.

You want to fix Indy? Simple. Throw away the wings and any under body aero, and lose the paddle shifters. Make the drivers do their job.

All fixed.

J.R.
Rochester, New York


Still too damn big.


As we've all been sternly admonished, I'll withhold my comments regarding the new Camaro's styling until I actually see one in the sheet metal (although that rear side window looks a bit off, no?), but I'm fully prepared to declare this right now: it's still too friggin' big. Sure Chevy's put it on a diet, but like most Americans after a slim down that just means the adverb morbidly no longer needs to be appended to obese.

Now I don't mean to pick on the poor Camaro; the same critique can be applied to just about every current iteration of genus sports car. Contemporary Mustang-osauruses and Challenger -dactyls roam the nation's byways, and even my beloved 911 has morphed from Kate Moss to Kate Upton.

But just Google image a '67 Camaro and take a gander at what we've given up. Those svelte curves, those big peepers; hell, you could even see out of the damn thing. As someone else put it, today's cars look like a giant has wrapped his lips around the tailpipe and blown.

All of which leads to the question, Peter, what did you think of the wrap up of Mad Men?

G.W.
San Francisco, California

Editor-in-Chief's Note:
For the record, the 1967-68 Camaro is still my all-time favorite Camaro. It was tautly proportioned and distinctly different from the Mustang, and the compact overall size of that car next to the monsters of today still makes me shake my head. I had the pleasure of hammering a '68 Z/28 for a long weekend - in period - and it was simply a blast to drive. And the Sunoco Penske Camaro that Mark Donohue drove to the '68 Trans-Am Championship is my all-time favorite Trans-am car to this day. But you mention the most horrifying juxtaposition in all of motordom at the moment, and that is comparing the original 911 to the 911 of today. It is simply astonishing, and not in a good way. Which is why for me, and for many others, the Cayman is the new driver's Porsche. The 911? Still cool, sort of, but unfortunately the thrill is gone, as B.B. famously said. (I recorded the last episode, haven't watched it as of yet.) -PMD


Thus it was ever so.

I love it!  Your readers’ comments as well as other comments on the net re-enforces the Mustang, Camaro persona perfectly.  Let me take a stab at this.  They are both:  American, Emotional, Impractical, passion invoking, sexy, childish, ego stroking, fun, smile inducing... I could go on, but suffices to say, they represent what is so often missing in today’s automobiles.  FUN, never boring.

D.W.
Lugoff, South Carolina

 

Ch-ch-changes.

Both Mustang and Camaro are heading in a new direction transitioning from the all American Pony cars to more of a hybridized pony/sportscar that will have broad world appeal. Smaller and lower designs. Independent rear suspension. Turbo charged 4 cylinders engines. Respectable fuel economy. It's all good as long as they don't go too far. The new V-6 with 335 HP is really remarkable!! As far as styling I have to agree with Peter as you really can't say for sure until you see the vehicle in person. That said, it does look quite similar to the 2015 design and the flat and slightly upturned rear end looks rather Mustang-ish!! So I'm on the fence. But overall it sounds like a real nice package. Great performance, good looks and a good value!

Frank S.
Rochester, Michigan


OMG... he's sort of underwhelmed.

My first car was a Firebird Trans Am (a black '76 with, alas, a smog-choked 6.6L V8, a 4-speed manual transmission, a limited slip diff, and no chicken decal on the hood), so I have a soft spot for muscle cars.

I have yet to see the new Mustang and Camaro in the sheet metal, so perhaps my impressions will change when I do. My opinion of both cars is quite similar — yes, the Mustang looks like a Mustang, and yes, the Camaro looks like a Camaro. But I feel they aren't quite what they could be. I wish that both designs were a little more ambitious and a little less conservative. A little more forward-thinking, with a little less homage to historical design cues.

Yes, they are both attractive and I'm sure they are far better to drive than the previous models. But I don't look at the photographs and say to myself “Oh, my God, I've got to have that.”

JaredN
Boston, Massachusetts


Cool. Not cool.

It was great to see GM introduce the new Camaro the proper way – not parading around a concept for three years before showing the “production” model. They did it in front of the right crowd as well- die-hard Camaro fans. Of course some photos and specs still were released or leaked out, but for the most part things went as they should – it was Christmas morning and “Santa GM” took the wrappings off the presents!! As the owner of a vintage Camaro, I have to say that the new model looks fantastic! Well done GM!!

The wrecks at Indy have been shocking. Glad to see that some changes were made in the name of driver safety – and spectator safety as well. I was at MIS when the Indycar wreckage went into the seats and killed and injured several people. I really don't want to see that happen to anyone again in any form of motorsport, but there are always risks for participants and spectators. Heck, you can hit with a foul ball at a baseball game and get hurt.

J.V.
Northville, Michigan

 

The Cowboy Rides Away...

WG alluded a week back to Peter taking some well deserved time away from the computer keyboard, heading south to Austin. I thought perhaps we’d hear from the Budster, his own self, about their time spent together. Curious as to what the soundtrack was in the ZL1. Let me rephrase that – when not grinning to the roar of the intake and the thunder from the exhaust, what else did they listen to? To be fair and objective - Ed Welburn appears to have redeemed himself with the Camaro. Waiting to seeing it in the flesh before passing final judgment. My only question is why the fascination with hockey stick reflectors in the tail lights on both Corvette and the Camaro? The greatest weekend in racing is upon us. May the racers be safe and put on a great show. The recorder is ready so I can fast forward through the boring stuff. Mostly NASCAR. My best to you all.

Jack J.
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Editor's Note: I have a feeling we'll be hearing from Dr. Bud soon. -WG