If it’s original-recipe musclecar you’re looking for, the list of ingredients is short. Take the smallest, lightest rear-wheel-drive platform you’ve got and shoehorn a V8 into it. Notable specimens include the Plymouth Roadrunner, Chevy Nova SS, and while it looks big now, the Pontiac GTO. But nearly all 60s-era pony cars took a simpler approach than their modern equivalents.
These days, you’ve often got to pay for a 12-speaker stereo, heated and cooled seats and roadside assistance just to get the big engine. But is that what people want? The smart money says no, which is why Chevy will soon offer a low-option, low-cost V8-powered Camaro. You know, like in old times.
More Weekend Warrior than Track Special
Keep in mind this isn’t one of the less-is-more track special affairs you see coming out of Stuttgart where you sacrifice air-conditioning, replace all the badges with stickers and tear out the stereo only to pay 50 percent more.
The Camaro “lite” would keep the SS model’s small-block V8 and ditch some of the options that boost prices over the rival Mustang GT. Only in its second production-year, the latest iteration of Chevy’s pony car has received high praise from enthusiasts, but true to history has struggled to out-compete the Mustang.
It’s also likely that Chevy wants to steal some of the thunder from Ford’s Mustang refresh for 2018, which bumps output for both GT and Ecoboost models. The updated Ford’s sub-4 second 0-60 time might sound tempting, but what’s a few tenths of a second when you can save several thousand dollars and still have one hell of a car.
Not the First Stripper Sports Car
Even though Chevy has received praise for their V6-powered Camaro, enthusiasts rightfully want their V8s. Access to that performance at a lower price could help move units. It’s an approach other automakers have tried in recent years, specifically Japanese sports car makers.
Subaru offered the WRX TR ten years ago to satisfy the desires of tuners who wanted a WRX to use as a blank canvas, and that car arguably came as an answer to direct competitor Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution MR. While the Camaro might court a slightly different demographic, there’s no question that a cheaper car means more money for parts.
Whether you’re planning to build a V8-powered track rat or just want to enjoy some American muscle without throwing down for extra bells and whistles, it seems like a good idea to us.