Another month has come and gone which means it is time for yet again another Cars & Café. Unfortunately this month the Saturday happened to fall on the holiday weekend known as Labor Day. Most people in Minnesota that have a cabin know Labor Day weekend as a work weekend and I fall into that category. As I was cleaning up boats, many auto enthusiasts in Minneapolis were gathering for coffee and doughnuts. Oh and there were cars as well.
The weather was gorgeous (where as last month is was *ahem* crappy) and the cars flowed in. Luckily for us my friends Ross and Alex Bellus both were in attendance reporting back.
The good is a long list this month. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake made an appearance again as did the Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. The Bentley Continental SuperSport made an appearance along with three Porsche GT3 RS’s. These are all super but the Mazda Miata with a LS3 V8 shoved in it, well that really takes a special place in my heart. The amount of awesomeness that oozes from that is off the charts.
I’m told little to no head scratching vehicles made an appearance, so I will just have to take the word that there were few. I did hear about a VW Golf that had digital camouflage (what!?). Also, the above VW something or another that was chopped and had a small bed welded on on the back made an appearance. Oh and that VW something or another had full hydraulics in the front which the owner lowered down once parking. Also a BMW had a very unique sound system in the trunk that payed homage to BMW’s M division.
From the Super Seven to the Yenko Camaro, the cars were all there and the weather cooperated. Many thank’s to Ross and Alex Bellus for providing the photo’s. Until next month when the enthusiasts gather again for a cup of coffee and doughnuts, oh and the cars.
It has been four long months of winter wonderland but the sun has finally broken out and the snow is melted. Another season of Cars & Café has come upon us and the first one of the season did not disappoint. I was a little nervous as the weather predictions for Saturday were calling for rain, but that all changed last Friday. I started to get hope as the prediction changed to a chilly 51 degrees and sunny. I woke up early Saturday morning (late, I was supposed to get up at 6 but had a major alarm clock fail on my part. I forgot to turn it on and woke up at 6:37 am) and looked outside to find the sun breaking cover. Excited, I hopped in our 1990 300ZX and headed out to the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.
Our 1990 300ZX
It was a chilly 42 degrees at 7:38 am when I rolled into the AutoMotorPlex. Gates opened at 6:30 am and only a few tuned up Audi’s and a lonely (read awesome) BMW Z8 were there so far. I parked in the Japanese parking area and started mingling. Cars started pouring in around 8 am and it just never stopped. The sun started warming things up and we reached a nice 57 degrees. It turned into a huge turnout with couples, families and enthusiasts alike, all coming together with the passion of automobiles.
Some of the more notable (read interesting) rides included a first generation Scion XB that was white with plain steel wheels. What made it really interesting was it was lowered, had the windows tinted, and had strips of LED lights taped (yes, taped with black duct tape) directly above the headlights. Parked next to that was a Nissan 240SX with a broken up body kit that was held on with zip ties. Yes, you read that right zip ties. The 240SX was painted green with John Deer graphics. The owner commented on how the zip ties break all the time and he replaces them constantly.
LS1 Shoved into a mid 80's Mazda RX7
All was not lost though because many really awesome cars where there as well. There were more Corvettes from all different eras than I could count. Some Corvettes were heavily modified some were plain stock though most were tasteful (save for a few). A Volkswagen bus showed up and was in really good condition. When a mid 80′s Mazda RX7 pulled in, I knew something interesting was under the hood mainly because of the sound coming out of it. Upon further inspection the owner had shoved a LS1 engine under the hood with a custom exhaust system. One of the most questioned cars was the original Mini Cooper but it was a stretch limo version. The owner informed people it was originally owned by the Spice Girls and was actually signed by them on the rear.
Spice Girls Mini Cooper Limo
De Tomaso Pantera
The cars garnering the most attention were the Ford GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, De Tomaso Pantera and the Aston Martin(s). A ton of American cars showed up and they even had their own (decent size) section. Three Pontiac G8′s were in attendance all parked next to each other. Two were GT’s and one was a GXP. The GXP had a Holden badge on the rear and one GT had a custom hiding (flip down) front license plate.
The turnout was terrific. The weather held out and really ended up being beautiful. I am not sure we could have asked for a better Cars & Café to kick off the season! Here is looking forward to the first Saturday next month.
The pony car wars are back in full swing. I covered this with the review of the Camaro V6. I will not focus as much on the pony car wars rather, the focus will be on the Camaro SS itself. The Camaro has been enjoying brisk sales. Most are leaving the dealers lots at full MRSP. The new Camaro continues to outsell both the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger each month since it has re-arrived on the scene, it would be fair to say the Camaro has been a hit so far.
This car is based on the Zeta platform, which is not a light platform. Pair that with sophisticated independent suspension set up, and you end up with a heavy car. To say this car is a porker, well, it would be justified. It needs to call up a weight loss clinic and lose about 500 lbs quick. The SS I had was equipped with a manual 6 speed transmission. The cars official weight, according to General Motors, is 3849 lbs! The Camaro SS is slightly heavier then the V6, and the extra weight is sitting directly above the front wheels. You can directly feel this weight when driving aggressively.
Optional Inferno Orange Interior
The car I had was a 2SS with a few nice option packages including the RS package, interior accent trim package, cyber grey metallic stripe package, 20″ polished aluminum wheels, and inferno orange metallic paint. The RS package is $1200, and for that you get 20″ flangeless painted aluminum wheels, body-color roof ditch molding, high intensity discharge headlights (xenons) with halo rings, and RS unique tail lights.
RS Unique Tail Lights
I like that the xenons that come with this package are bi-xenon. They do not list them as such. That means both the high and low beams are xenon, vs having the high beams be regular halogens. The polished wheel package replaced the regular painted aluminum wheels that come with the RS package for $400. The most interesting of the options was the combination of the inferno orange metallic exterior paint and the interior accent trim package. This combination had the interior swathed in inferno orange from the stitching to the black and orange seats. Also, we can not forget the orange plastic moldings. This made for a very bright interior. At first it was a little much, but as the week went on the orange interior grew on me.
The big draw to the SS is the engine. Equipped with the lovely and ever versatile 6.2L LS3 pushrod V8 from the base Corvette. In the Camaro SS the LS3 is slightly detuned to 426 hp and 420 lb-ft with the manual transmission.
When equipped with an automatic, the engine is no longer the LS3 rather the L99, putting out 400 hp and 410 lb-ft. There is no question this engine is good for much more power with a slight electronics adjustment and some upgrades like superchargers and cold air intakes. The car can handle the power just fine. Rated at 4.7 seconds 0-60, the car is no slouch at the drag strip. Seat of the pants puts you in the range though it feels a tick slower due to the heft the car has about it. The car is rated at 16/24 mpg, and I can honestly say I topped the highway rating. I took the Camaro on a road trip down to Des Moines, IA. On the way there I managed a respectable 21.2 mpg average. That was ok, but on the way back I averaged 25.2 mpg, which I was truly impressed with. I had the cruise control set at 75mph both ways. With the cruise control set at 60 mph, I would venture a bet you could get close to 28mpg.
This car could just possibly be the national symbol for thumbs up. Everywhere I went someone was giving me a thumbs up. I blew past a man in a Jeep Liberty, he was craning his neck to see the car so hard I thought he was going to drive off the road. Everyone wants to look inside and tell you about their Camaro story from back in the day. Do not go to the mall and expect to walk right in. Someone will stop you to talk about the car.
I mentioned the interior in the last review and aside from the inferno orange trim package the interior is the same. I love the retro styling that Chevrolet has done with the interior. The graining on the materials is decent looking, but the materials themselves are very hard and cold. The Mustang has the upper hand when it comes to technology when you consider the available touch screen navigation and Microsoft Sync system.
I hope for the next generation that General Motors can find a way to shed some major weight. They could use more high strength steel, or more exotic materials. Maybe they should just dip into the Corvette’s parts bin. Make some body panels out of composite or better yet, carbon fiber. A sticking point could become using more exotic materials becomes expensive quickly. This car is not at a high price point for what you are getting.
The take aways after driving this Camaro for a week were pretty clear to me. First, you always get out feeling like you drove an American hero or a national icon. Second, the interior materials could use an upgrade in the next generation along with an overall diet. Third, muscle cars can now do more than just a straight line. Fourth and final, the American public has spoken and they love love the new Camaro!