Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I was part of the endless debate about which Detroit muscle car was the most powerful, most awe-inspiring, and most likely to attract the opposite sex. During those formative years, I spent more time than I care to admit working on engines and adding aftermarket parts so that I could answer the question definitively. Of course, that special time began to fade into memory as other automakers captured greater market share and adult responsibilities started to bear down. However, after spending a couple of days behind the wheel of the 2010 Camaro SS, I can happily say that some of those youthful feelings are not dead yet.
The designers at GM really thought this one out. From its spartan interior that literally hides its sophisticated technology to the throaty big block under the hood, the Camaro evokes the past while staying firmly rooted in the present. The design is at once menacing and sexy, raw and refined. Needless to say, I could hardly wait to get the SS out on the road. Stepping on the gas felt like a trip down memory lane as the car taunted me to show its stuff. However, the connection to the past was temporarily broken when the new Camaro effortlessly negotiated one of my favorite banked offramps. Unlike the days of old, the driving dynamics of the new generation are simply stellar. After being suitably impressed with the mechanicals, it was time to observe the reaction of the public.
And react they did! A small traffic jam ensued in front of my house as men young and old converged on the scene. Guys called their friends, excitedly telling them to drop everything and come see the car. Pictures were taken from every imaginable angle, memories were shared, and an instant bond developed between strangers who shared a passion for the Camaro. There were pleas to open the hood, start the engine, sit in the front seat -- in short, I was asked to help fulfill long-deferred dreams. I happily obliged because I saw the excitement of my youth in all their faces. After an hour-plus of group admiration, it was time to alleviate the growing traffic hazard, so I took my wife for a drive along the coast. As the SS came up to intersections, all the males turned their heads in unison. Thumbs-up was the universal gesture, followed by a mad search for cell phone cameras. Being a Kelley Blue Book employee makes me interested in the consumer perspective, so I solicited input from the crowd that materialized whenever the car stopped for more than 30 seconds. Almost to a person, the prevailing sentiment was some variation of "...this car is amazing; I knew they could do it!"
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Vince Nelson is Kelley Blue Book's Executive Vice President, Information Services. When he's not reliving his youth, he oversees all the data collection and processing behind Kelley Blue Book's trusted car values.