Having attended school (that’s what they call University in the US) in Alabama in the mid-80s, I acquired a deep appreciation of American muscle cars, particularly the early SS Camaro, a favourite of those ‘good ole boys’ in the Deep South.
While the Chevy Corvette was pure aspiration, the Camaro and Firebird, were within reach of the working class, or those few lucky students with well to do parents.
But the SS Camaro was special for me, it looked like what a proper American muscle car should look like, but with a little more style and exclusivity than the rest of the hard charging V8 fleet.
It’s a real pity that the moonshine running business had all but dried up by the 60s, as the factory tuned Camaro might have been a favourite of those bootleggers from North Carolina.
These guys had a serious need for speed, when night after night they raced at dangerous speeds, sometimes with no lights, in an attempt to avoid the sheriff or various state troopers.
The delivery car had to be fast and the driver needed to be skilled, but the cars were also modified to the hilt, in the quest for greater performance and handling.
Bootlegging ran highly worked engines usually with superchargers for that instant acceleration, while the extra weight of the sour mash whisky haul would require two sets of shocks.
Had these boys been able to get hold of the latest 2010 Camaro SS, I doubt whether they would have needed to add as many modifications as was required in the good ole days.
With an old school 6.2-litre pushrod V8, which is really a de-tuned version of the Corvette LS3 engine, the SS Camaro delivers a thumping 570Nm of torque at 4,600rpm.
Shifts are via a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission, which is understandably capable of leaving a substantial amount of rubber on the tamac from the 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
The SS has been rightfully equipped with launch control, which is built into the “Competitive Driving Mode”. I suggest you leave this function for closed road activity, unless you want to risk the car being impounded in whatever state you might reside.
This beast will rocket from 0-100km/h in a rapid 4.7 seconds, and expect to run 13 seconds flat, at the drag strip.
While the auto SS is good for 294kW (400bhp), the manual equipped car gets 310kW (422bhp).
The US can thank General Motors Holden of Australia, for much of the development work on the car, as the Camaro is a shortened version of the Pontiac G8, with the same MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear set-up.
But its reasonably heavy at 1,770 kg and the steering is said to be a touch light.
Little if any criticism though, can be leveled at the 356mm Brembo brakes up front, which apparently get the job done in no uncertain terms.
The Camaro lead designer Sang Yup Lee has captured the best of the classic 1968 Camaro SS in a thoroughly contemporary package, leaving no one in doubt as to the identity of this hero nameplate.