13 October 2015

Curtain Call For Camaro’s Generation 5

Last chances are heaped upon us. There’s that last chance to save 50 cents a pound on bananas and the last chance to reserve tickets for the hockey season – neither of which ever seems to be truly final.

But when Chevrolet says this is your last chance to purchase a fifth-generation Camaro, it’s a fact. The automaker recently said that the 2015 Camaro 1LE, ZL1 and Z/28 are “effectively out of production.” Chevy stopped accepting new orders for V-8 Camaros in August, and production of the fifth-generation cars is scheduled to end on Nov. 20. With the sixth generation making its debut later this fall, it’s truly the end of the line for the current design.

While drivers are eager to try out the 2016 models, those with an eye toward future values might be wondering about the legacy of these 2015 performance models. The Gen-five Camaro, which premiered in 2010, pleased enthusiasts with its retro reference to the first series of 1967-69, and coming on the heels of a seven-year hiatus that saw no Camaros, it was a milestone for the brand.

Will it be a milestone for collectors? That’s a tough call, but some of the Gen-five cars may have potential. For example, the 2015 Camaro SS with the 1LE performance package has a lot going for it. This 426-horsepower hugger was judged by Car and Driver to be a “track-ready performer on the order of the Porsche 911 GT3.” High praise, indeed.

The 2015 build numbers aren’t final, but Monte Doran of Chevrolet said he expected a total of about 2,600 1LEs to have been produced for the model year, so one measure of desirability – low production numbers – is met. Its potential as a car you will enjoy is excellent, and its price is reasonable: Starting at $37,035, including destination charges, it sells for approximately half what you would pay for a 2015 Camaro Z/28.

The 2015 ZL1 is the King Kong Camaro, with 580 horsepower on tap; 11-second quarter-mile times are achievable. Rick Hendrick, the NASCAR team owner (and Chevy dealer), bought the first Gen-five ZL1 in 2012. There are likely to be equally potent Gen-six Camaros coming out of Chevrolet engineering, but the 2015 ZL1 revived the Camaro’s reputation for supercar performance – and its run is over. Doran said that approximately 1,200 copies of the 2015 model were built.

While the ZL1 is brutally powerful, the slightly less potent and considerably more expensive 505-horsepower Z/28 is better in the twisty bits, as evidenced by a 7:37.47 Nürburgring lap. That’s four seconds faster than the ZL1 and quicker than published times for the 911 Porsche Carrera S and Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. Will the last of the Gen-five Z/28s, which also numbered around 1,200 for the model year, be one that collectors chase in years to come? Chances are good, even if the $72,305 price on the window sticker seems breathtaking now.

“Want” should be the key word here, not “invest.” It’s true that many cars, including numerous Camaros, have experienced impressive increases in value over the years, but it’s also likely true that quite a few millionaire car collectors were once billionaires. But a car you truly enjoy is always a good buy, even if its value doesn’t appreciate.

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