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Camaro Concept Design Story *lots of pics and info

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Ever since Ford reinvented the Mustang for today’s market, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors have conspicuously been without their own retro hero. In a bid to potentially tap into this market, both Dodge and Chevrolet unveiled such concepts at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show: the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro.

The Camaro was first introduced in 1966 as a 1967 model, continuing in various iterations until 2002. Now, the Camaro badge has been resurrected to sit on what was one of the main attractions of last month’s show.

The Camaro project was launched shortly after the 2005 Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of last year. The brief called for a reinterpretation of the original ’69 Camaro using the same 2+2 layout, with the potential for sharing existing components. It was open to proposals from every GM design studio, including those outside America.

As exterior designer Vladimir Kapitonov commented to Car Design News “at one stage everyone in GM was sketching the Camaro.” But it was hardly a project that required much arm-twisting: despite being out of production for four years, the Camaro remains a popular personal vehicle amongst the designers, engineers and others at GM for their daily commutes, and it was GM Vice-President of Global DesignEd Welburn’s own ’69 model that was brought into the studio for reference.

The first generation Camaro was noteworthy for its band front-graphic with contained lamps, before the expression became more open. It was also a three-box coupe, rather than the fastback two-box of later models, with a distinctive low horizon-line on the body-side. These cues were mixed with those from the fighter jets and other high performance vehicles during the sketching stage during February 2005, the first review scheduled in March. Themes identified within this period included the twin cropped rear lights, strong cab/flank contrast, plus the two-part side fender treatment.

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Second-generation Camaro also influential during initial stage

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From this review the interior, from designer Julien Montousse based at GM’s California based Advanced Design Centre, was very well regarded and chosen to help inform, via several digital models, the first full-size model. Montousse was brought from California to Michigan to aid in its development, joining a team that included Interior Design Director Jeff Perkins, Interior Design Manager Christos Roustemis and lead designer Micah Jones. Work began on the buck during springtime.

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Diesel watches used to inspire interior switchgear

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Sketch rendering from GM Advanced Design Center, California

A number of key exterior sketches were also selected from the March review: GM Advanced studios in California and the UK each produced several, with others coming from the main Advanced Design North studio in Michigan. These solutions were developed in clay as third-scale models for several more weeks, representing different possible directions before going into full-size. The proposal by Design North, overseen by Bob Boniface, was relatively conservative with less contrast between surfaces than the more exaggerated proposal from California, though both demonstrated a clear affinity to the original ’69. One clay from Coventry is made distinctive by the F-22-inspired screen and softer side sculpting, while the front features a lower graphic that pulls the hood below the arches.

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Early concept sketch from California previews the final car

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Early concept sketch by Sangyup Lee

At this stage, the proposal from Design North was most favored until a review in June caused things to turn around: Ed Welburn, during a review of the full-size mock-ups, asked to see a second version with more reach. In response to this, a small team working in Studio X, an isolated basement studio in Warren, took up the task under the control of Tom Peters, Director of Design RWD Performance Vehicles. The team at Studio X included designers Sangyup Lee, Steve Kim and Vladimir Kapitonov.

Given this decision, Peters' team worked through the early summer to reach new solutions. In late July there was a review of the Studio X sketch proposals by the design leadership team that comprises of Tom Peters, Ed Welburn and Executive Directors of Design Ann Asensio, Michael Simcoe, Jeff Perkins and David Rand. This evaluation culminated in work beginning immediately on a full-size clay without the typical intermediate scale-model stage.

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Selected proposal from Design North Studio, Michigan

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Third-scale model from California studio

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Wraparound-screen and softer sculpting from UK studio

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Work on Design North full-size before June review

Full-size modelling created a taut, mechanical feel, the pointed nose of the Californian scale model lifted to give a sharper plan-view. The band-graphic of the original car was also retained, but with a more aggressive, street-fighter attitude.

At the rear, there is a similar strip-theme as used by Design North on one of their scale clays. But while that used dark trim for contrast, the show car does away with this to let the surface do the talking instead.

During a late-summer showdown between the two proposals, Ed Welburn chose the more aggressive Studio X proposal as the theme for final development, calling it “the hardest decision I have made since being named vice president for GM Design.”

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Full-size modeling in Studio X

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Studio X design team led by Tom Peters

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The interior team overseen by Roustemis “didn’t want to be too influenced by the ‘69” and consequently found an appropriately contemporary direction early on, their ideas also informing the resolution of external details such as the badge’s orange key-line and use of brushed aluminum.

In place of the exterior’s fighter-jet bias, the designers were influenced by analog Diesel watches, and carried the deep-dish theme from the steering wheel to the cluster gauges.

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Final rendering by Lead Interior Designer Micah Jones

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Deep-dish gauges become reality

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Full-size interior clay modelling in progress

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Show car interior before trim applied

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Lighting emphasises orange interior accents

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Body being readied for show

NOTE: what is that SUV in the background?

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Scowled expression blends with tense surfaces

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n November, designers in GM became aware of Dodge’s project to reinvent the Challenger, an arguably more retrospective solution. In deciding to not follow the original Camaro too closely, GM has convincingly upstaged its rival by revealing a fresh approach despite familiar themes. Though some designers CDN spoke with consider the front's central crease still too faithful to the second-generation car, the overall reception was very favourable, and the interior in particular was one of the highlights of the show.

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Body being readied for show

NOTE: what is that SUV in the background?

that's is the buick enclave.

i liked how much effort and passion was put into designing the camaro concept, but i would like to see that effort put into our mainstream cars as well.

And yes, i see myself in a white camaro w/ stripes and dual pipes sometime the future 8) .

Edited by carstar

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Those almost remind of the Autonomy concept.

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Third-scale model from California studio

Note the "Competitors" diagrams on the top of the board.

The Mustang is an obvious competitor but I didn't realize they were aiming for the Infinity G35 & 3 Series coupes.

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isnt it funny that right after i sent them my drawings for a 2008 Chevelle that they started to ponder on how they were going to stage to return of the Camaro? The second time I sent in my work they never replied and right after I did, the concept came out. Hmmm, wonder what they actually thought of it?

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Fpr once in the past ten years Chevrolet/GM got it P E R F E C T.

My only advice is BUILD IT. Like now, right away, yesterday... not fast enough!

I know I keep doing this but this time it's blatantly obvoious:

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Check out my Camaro sketch from Dec. of 2004. (for the C&G Camaro contest)

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That's pretty cool.

After seeing it in person yesterday and today, I'd say the only thing that needs tweaking is the front, and the only thing it needs is to have the headlights not recessed so far. You shouldn't have to bend over to see more than half of the headlight.

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Hmmm... where have I seen the design of the red version before? I know some OTHER GM division had that same look to it (not frontend though)...

Oh yeah, that's right... it was the SATURN CURVE concept:

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While I like the CURVE's design (the frontend grille is awkward), I'm lad it didn't make it past the drawing board as a Camaro proposal!!! :P

Edited by GMTruckGuy74

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Does anyone happen to know the dimensions for the new Camaro? It looks really long and wide in pictures? I hope that it isn't that big like all the pictures suggest.

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Does anyone happen to know the dimensions for the new Camaro?  It looks really long and wide in pictures?  I hope that it isn't that big like all the pictures suggest.

Having seen it up-close and personal in person I can say that it is astoundingly small compared to what the photos suggest. Much smaller than the Challenger.

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