2010 Camaro injects pizzazz into GM

LOS ANGELES David Newhardt has been photographing and writing about muscle cars for calendars and coffee table books for many years.

"The Camaro isn't going to be a high-volume vehicle. We're not going to see 150,000 units selling. But it's going to put money in General Motors coffers, and that's what's important, and it's going to bring foot traffic in the showroom," Newhardt said.

To him, the new Camaro looks just enough like the classic one that inspired it.

"Chevrolet pulled it off," he said.

The Camaro isn't the most practical car you can buy. The rear seat is barely big enough for kids. But for style in a nicely-sized package, it hits many of the right notes.

The car's two most obvious competitors are the /*Dodge Challenger*/, introduced last year, and of course the /*Ford Mustang*/.

Restyled earlier this year, the 2010 Mustang carries on its late-60s muscle car theme as well, with some updates, like a groovy chrome-laced instrument panel, and these 60s-inspired sequential turn signals.

Just like back in the day, the new Camaro has competition from its Detroit rivals, but in modern times, there are competitors from other places, like the sleek new coupe from Hyundai called the Genesis.

While not really a true muscle car, the Genesis does pack a muscular punch with a powerful V6 engine and competes well on price too.

The key thing about this car is that it's got rear-wheel drive like a true performance model, and Hyundai could decide to add a V8 down the road.

Lots of choices, but buyers in this segment tend to be brand loyal, which is a good thing for the Camaro.

"The lot of the Camaro-faithful, while they acknowledge the Mustang and the Challenger, they wouldn't get caught dead in one of those cars," Newhardt said.

For GM, the Camaro comes along at the right time, just when the company needs a stylish shot in the arm.

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