Camaro Ownership Report

Camaro Running Report: Summer ’17 Update

Maintaining it:
Detailed!
A few weeks ago I took it to Tony Spears (Autoshine Specialist Detailing) for a quick mini-detail. The car was nice and clean, but it wasn’t perfect, so I wanted it to have a good refresh by a pro. I didn’t have a paint correction done, but a good clean, polish and interior clean. It looks great! Interestingly the car has some curious paint spots, they look like stone chips in a circle shape and there are several all over the car. You can’t see them from a few feet away, but up close they are noticeable. I asked tony about these, and he informed me that they are the results of the car being egged at some point in its life! He went on to say that the when the eggs shells break they crack the paint as well, resulting in these odd stone-chip circles.
MOT Time
The annual test was due by the end of Saturday, so it was booked in for Monday and duly passed with flying colours. Very happy with that, always a little nerve racking the first time under ones ownership that a car gets sent off for its inspection. Thankfully, it appears nothing untoward with this car which is great news.
Next in maintenance world will be a service at the Chevrolet specialists over in Stockport.
Driving it:
Like attention? This car grabs it in spades. I’ve driven a lot of wonderfully exotic machinery, but nothing to date has the attention grabbing abilities of the Camaro in the UK. These are rare sights on the roads over here – plus it is bright yellow – and it looks like a car from the movies. Its certainly a stand-out car. But the best thing about it is that it makes people smile. Everywhere. No hand gestures, no swearing, just great big smiles. Kids do a double-take with the mouths wide open, even wives nudge their husbands and point at it.
Performance wise, the care is used almost exclusively for family days out at the moment, so the power is barely tapped into, but I have noticed that the downshifts are very keen and there is plenty of acceleration power, even in this V6 model. Compared to my Porsche Cayenne V6, the Camaro is more keen with its shifts and makes for a smoother ride, whereas the Cayenne is a bit notchy by comparison.
I’m also used to driving LHD now, which didn’t take half as long as I thought. It’s pretty easy, the only caution is on very tight roads. A few weeks ago I was passing by a school. The yummy mummy’s were parked on both sides of the road, leaving a small access to get cars through. I had to squeeze through and much of that was sheer luck when a car decided to come the other way rather than waiting for me to get through. I must have been inches away from it. But that aside, its pretty easy and there are no blind spots in the mirrors which is excellent!
I was thinking of maybe setting this up as a wedding hire type business, as I guess there may be some interest in such a car? I think I’ll attend a few comic-conventions with it and see what the take up is. Maybe see if it can pay its own way? I’ve not looked into the costs of such a venture though, but no rush on that front.
And Finally…
I don’t think this car park was big enough, nor empty enough for this BMW who had to park next to me. Sigh…

Camaro Running Report: The Garage Test!

I’m loving this car so far. Its great fun, and having the back seats means we can use it for families days out too. More on driving adventures and the attention grabbing nature of this car, in a future update.

In this update however, it’s time for a garage test! The Camaro is a very big car with dimensions similar to that of my Porsche Cayenne. I live in a new-build type house with an integral garage and, like all single integral garages on pretty much any house built in the last 20 years in the UK, they aren’t generous with their space.

The typical size of a UK garage is 2.4m x 4.9m (and is true of mine also.)
The Camaro dimensions are 1.92m wide by 4.8m long and the mirrors don’t fold in either.

That gives an interior space of less than half a meter wide and 10cm length to spare! Before buying the car, I measured everything several times and the answers were always the same: in theory, the car would fit, but it would be immensely tight. I decided that in all likelihood it would have to live outside, thinking that it is unlikely to be a particular target for thieves, being a rare bright yellow left-hand-drive car. So to keep it from prying eyes I bought a cheap outdoor cover to keep it hidden until I’d tried it in the garage.

That day came a few weeks ago when, with the assistance of my good lady wife, I reversed it into the garage. Easily did it with literally a few centimeters on either side as the mirrors went past the garage entrance, parking sensors flat lining continually in my ears. Finally through the door, the front is narrower than the back and Mrs Paul O guided me to within an inch of the back wall.

The result?

Camaro in a single garage!

Camaro in a single garage!

 

It fits!!!

The width of the car at the door section is actually no wider than that of a Porsche 911 (which I have owned previously and fits in the garage without a problem). Despite what the photo above suggests, once it is in the garage, its pretty easy to get out – although because I’m reversing in I have to get out of the passenger side. Thankfully its pretty roomy in the Camaro so that’s not too arduous, even for my 6’4″ frame. There is no way I’d be able to get it in the garage myself though as the entrance width and overall length is so tight, so its a team effort. All part of the fun of ownership, eh! As for the length there is perhaps 2-3″ to spare at the front and back, so not as roomy as that first photo looks at the front.

Camaro in a small UK single garage!

Camaro in a small UK single garage!

But I was absolutely overjoyed that I can keep it safe and secure in the garage – it literally made my night! So far in that garage I’ve had a 911, Cayman, VW Beetle, Audi S5, Ferrari 360 (cabriolet – doors too wide to open without the roof down) and now the Camaro.

So if anyone tells you they can’t get their car in a modern garage, you can tell them they are talking bullsh*t because your mate at Paul O gets his Camaro in there, “and that’s a big as a Porsche 4×4, don’t you know”**. 😀

** Caveat this with the common denominator that all of these cars have frameless doors, which I suspect is a big advantage.

Welcome to the fleet, Bumblebee!

Here it is, the latest addition to the fleet: My 2010 Chevrolet Camaro!

Yellow Chevrolet Camaro, Bumblebee replica

Bumblebee!

I’ve loved the design of these cars ever since the world was woken up to the concept in the 2007 Transformers movie. At the time I remember thinking “I really hope they make that car!” Whilst the design is now getting on for a decade old for those in the USA, in the UK these cars are still incredibly rare and therefore still look pretty fresh over here. Unless you are at an event with an American or movie related theme, the chances of seeing one on the road are minimal.

The Purchase
I have been looking to purchase a new sports car for some time now – I’m going to be 40 years old this year, so a bit of a present to myself I suppose (midlife crisis? I’ve been having those since my 20’s). Initially I was looking for another Boxster (987 model, still on the to-do list), but after several months I haven’t been able to find one with the spec and colour that I was after, within an acceptable distance of my home and at a price I was willing to pay.

As a car nerd, part of every daily routine involves searching the internet for my next possible car and I happened to do an eBay search on the Camaro. A Camaro does indeed have a legitimate entry on my ‘to own’ list, but previous cars for sale have either not been the correct colour, or too expensive. But, to my excitement, a yellow car was now available for sale, in the UK. It also had the black stripe and silver wheels, replicating the first concept car that was BumbleBee in that first Transformers film.

This car is a complete step away from everything I’ve bought before. Its left-hand drive for a start and an import. I slept on this idea for a few nights, and both occasions I woke up with my first thought being that I desperately wanting to buy the car. I told my wife who was sceptical to start with, until she saw one in the metal at a car show the following weekend and thought they actually looked quite nice.

It turns out that the seller of the car that was ultimately to become mine is someone who I’ve known from the past, when I used to go to meets for those who loved Knight Rider replicas. He remembered me too, when back at the first KR meet, I parked my old Boxster in the middle of all the KITT cars for a photo. A mutual acquaintance also vouched for both the seller and the car, which made me much more confident about buying it. After conversations with the owner, a week followed before a road trip could be organised with a couple of mates who know far more than I do about mechanical stuff to go and see the car.

A few hours later, I was driving home in my new Bumblebee Camaro!

The Drive Home
This was a real exciting experience. Having not driven left-hookers before, it was to be a new lesson in driving – and part of the attraction for buying this car, I’d have to really concentrate on the actual aspect of driving. One of my friends accompanied me in the car and being on the right-hand-side of the car was able to gauge where I was on the road as if he was the driver. I’d recommend doing this for anyone who’s thinking of doing the same as for the first few miles I’d get the instruction “you’re a bit too far over” or “you need to be more on your side”. These minor adjustments helped me with the unfamiliarity of the driving position and prevent me from panning it on the first go. After the two hour drive home, I was more or less sorted with where the car needed to be placed on the roads. That said, I do need to check my mirrors a lot more, just to be sure – but that’s all part of the ‘driving’ experience. There is nothing autonomous when I’m behind the wheel here – it’s an active participant role.

As for the performance and noise, more on that in a future update as I’ve been driving pretty boring whilst I get myself sorted with the left-hooker thing.

My Car
This car was originally a Florida car and had two owners before being imported to the UK last year with around 62,000 miles on the clock. The guy who imported it was in the States for a while beforehand and liked these cars, but upon importing to the UK didn’t like the attention it received and so sold it on to the guy who I bought it from.

I purchased a CarFax report (like a HPI over here, but much more detailed) which came back clean, and then a HPI for the UK element which was also clear. Happy days!

This is a 3.6 V6 model, so the ‘baby’ of the range, but it’s still got plenty of poke with 0-60 coming in around six seconds – and having back seats means it’s a family car, rather than just a solo thing. But the colour was one of the main deciding factors to buy.

The interior is the standard cloth affair and it has an automatic gearbox. These days I prefer autos plus I didn’t fancy a LHD manual car as my first foray into other-side driving. It has a sports option on the gearbox and you can use the flappy-paddles on the wheel. It’s not PDK dual-clutch rapid, but it seems pretty keen on the downshifts and compares favourably to my Tiptronic Cayenne.

Why A Camaro?
As mentioned, this was an entirely new car experience for me. I know nothing at all about Camaros. Before buying the car, I didn’t know where to get them serviced, how to get a USA-HPI done, what things that might go wrong with the car and I’ve never driven LHD up until that point. All of that put together made this an exciting and interesting prospect. It is a car that I’m going to have to research, get to know new forums, local specialists etc – all the things I’ve got nailed for the Porsches that I’ve owned over the past decade, I’d be starting again with this.

And, it is a car on my to-own list. It is also different, and a bit daft.

To-Do

  • The car is in good condition, but I like to have my cars well-cleaned when I buy them. So it’s off to my detailer soon!
  • Fix tyre pressure sensors. These are broken (there is a story behind this for a future update).
  • Found out more stuff about them – servicing intervals etc.
  • Leather interior? Maybe! We’ll see. Quite liking the more practical fabric to be honest.
  • Personalised Number Plate.

Lots more to come on the ownership experience on this one. I’m excited about this car and I’m looking forward to documenting the experience.

Hope you enjoy too!