The automotive equivalent of the Hatfields versus the McCoys has been roundly resolved – at least for the moment, anyway.
For the first time since 1985, the Chevrolet Camaro has trounced its cross-town rival in the pony car wars, the Ford Mustang.
But who’ll take the crown this year is anything but certain. Both clans are arming themselves for another shoot-out. Chevrolet is readying the long-delayed Camaro Convertible, while Ford not only has the big Boss 302 on tap, but also a pair of new powertrains for both the base and Mustang GT models.
Competition, it’s often said, improves everyone’s game. That assessment was questionable for many years. While Ford firmed up its hold on the pony car segment, Chevy and now-abandoned Pontiac seemed to be just going through the motions for many years, finally calling it quits and pulling their Camaro and Firebird twins from the market, a decade ago.
But the all-new Camaro, launched late in 2009, managed to carve out a unique niche, blending “heritage” design with a decidedly modern platform that quickly won raves from reviewers and buyers alike.
So, even with a modest refresh of the Mustang, last year, Chevy managed to rack up 81,371 Camaro sales, with Ford’s rear-drive offering coming up with just 73,716.
Don’t cry for Mustang, however. It still saw a 10.6% increase in volume in 2010, a year that ended on a surprisingly positive note for virtually the entire auto industry. (For more on the 2010 sales numbers, Click Here.) Camaro, meanwhile, jumped 31.9%, though that number is actually an understatement, since the car was available for only part of 2009.
By most forecasts, 2011 is likely to be a solid year for the auto industry. But it’s always a challenge to keep the momentum going for specialty cars, like Camaro and Mustang. So, both makers are planning big for the year ahead.
Perhaps the biggest news for Mustang, in 2011, is the addition of a pair of new powertrains, notably including a 300-horsepower V6 that also yields 30 mpg on the highway. Though models like the GT and Cobra might get the big headlines, the V6 version dominates the sales charts and could help Ford claw back some buyers.
But Chevy isn’t about to relinquish its long-sought lead, not without a fight. The maker is aiming to broaden its appeal, according to Chevrolet General Manager Chip Perry. “The Convertible will make the all-new Camaro, already a smash-hit, even more desirable to a greater range of drivers,” he insists. (For the first official pics of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, Click Here.)
Delayed by more than a year due to the collapse of a key supplier, the ragtop edition will hit showrooms in February, and will carry a $30,000 base price – about $7,000 more than the Camaro coupe, incidentally, and $2,000 over the base Mustang convertible.
Chevy is already planning what’s next to build buzz for Camaro. As TheDetroitBureau.com revealed last month, the Z28 high-performance model is quietly under development (For more, Click Here) and is expected to make its return to the Chevy line-up sometime during the 2012 model-year.