Hot in the Lot
Mr. Lyon's Revived Classic CamaroNEIRAD enilno edition
In March, Charles Spivey disproved the notion that a teacher couldn’t have a cool car with his story on Athena Tsaparkis' Scion tC. This month, I am happy to declare that janitors too can have very cool rides–and with all due respect to Ms. Tsap, this ride is just a touch cooler. The car I speak of is night custodian Richard Lyons' 2010 V8 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS. Some know this car from its star role in ""Transformers." Automotive enthusiasts will recognize it as one of three new retro-style, American-made sports coupes. Wherever you know it from, it is instantly recognizable in the 80 High School Lane parking lot.
The Camaro badge has been around for a long time. Launched in 1966, Chevrolet produced four generations of Camaros from then until 2002. By that time, the classic sports car had become overweight and below quality standards, and thus put on hiatus. The 2010 fifth generation Camaro marks the model’s triumphant return to production and popularity. With striking looks and serious performance, its popularity is understandable.
It is this balance that sold Mr. Lyons on the Camaro. The Camaro has two main competitors: the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. All three ponies are modern reiterations of late 60‘s/early 70’s classics, with looks that pay homage to their predecessors and performance that far exceeds them. It is impossible not to lump the trio together. Like most costumers looking for a car in this segment, Mr. Lyons cross-shopped the three. While the Challenger had his favorite design, it was lacking in the performance department. The Mustang was the least expensive, but as he said, “everybody has one.” The Camaro, on the other hand, is a visual statement–the definition of eye-catcher.
As nice as looks are, the numbers really seal the deal. While the Mustang proves superior to the Camaro in the slalom run, a test of handling, it can’t match the Camaro in terms of raw speed. From 0-60 mph, the Camaro beats the Mustang by about two tenths of a second (don’t even bother asking about the Challenger). Depending on your source, you get numbers like 4.7 vs 4.9 or 5.0 vs 5.2, but the verdict is clear.
As precalculus teachers have been professing for ages, fiddling with the window can give a better gauge on the trend. Expanding it here shows an increase in the gap. According to an Edmunds Insideline comparison test, the Camaro earns a 6.7 0-75 time, blowing away the Mustang’s 7.6.
Mr Lyons does not waste this performance. Every few weekends, he brings his ride to a track in Englishtown, NJ. After signing his life away in a waiver and paying a small $50 fee, the asphalt is all his to take a clocked quarter mile run. Mr Lyons sights his best runs at around 10.3 seconds at 110 mph. He hopes to shave this down to high nines at around 130 mph after completing a certain modification.
In every new Camaro’s engine is a chip that limits the vehicle’s top speed to 155 mph and keeps horsepower down to a meager 426hp max (sarcasm). Replacing this chip should unlock more of the engine’s fiery potential and turn it into a, “racing rocket.” Don’t worry, this isn’t illegal–just fun. This mod will certainly help out at Englishtown, Lime Rock racing course, and some, “secret racing spots.” If I told you them, I’d have to kill you;). Jk, I’d just have to quit journalism.
Either way, you have Mr Lyons nothing to worry about with behind the wheel. He has had plenty of experience driving American cars with big engines. He’s been doing so since he graduated from DHS in the ‘80s. His past vehicles include a 1976 Buick Century and a 6-mpg 1985 Ford Thunderbird Elan that he proudly calls the, “Shelby of its day.”
Ready for a shocker? The modern Camaro only gets one mpg better around town, at a dismal 7mpg city (the EPA claims the Camaro gets 16, but Mr. Lyon’s real world experience, and wallet, will tell you otherwise). While the vehicle has a comfortable cabin, with standard amenities including leather seats, premium audio, and USB connectivity, it was not designed for driving around town. A nice function allows Mr Lyons to choose between sport and economy modes, softening the suspension and making piloting less fatiguing. Still, the car’s stiff dynamics are undeniable. These critiques assume reasonable conditions. In the snow, it is almost easier to drive in reverse as this is the only way to get any traction. On the highway the Camaro does better in terms of comfort and economy, getting a respectable 24mpg.
But who drives a race car to buy a dozen eggs at Shaws? Who goes for a time trial in a winter wonderland? Mr Lyons hopes to soon not need to worry about day to day dynamics by relegating the Camaro to a strictly weekend role. His plan involves buying a good’ol used truck for day to day use. This way, the Camaro will cover less mileage and age slower, saving its prime condition for the strip and race day.
While a great plan for Mr Lyons, what does this mean for us? It means this Camaro might not be hot in our lot for too much longer. If you, like Mr. Lyons, “love its retro look” or appreciate it for having “all the different things” you could want in a sports coupe, admire while you can. If you look for it in the afternoon when Mr. Lyons arrives for his shift, there’s a good chance you’ll find it. It's hard to miss.