What's so special about 45 years? It's neither here nor there, being 20 years past the 25th anniversary and five away from the 50th — both considered significant landmarks. Seldom do you see someone making hoo-ha about their 45th anniversary.
So when Chevrolet came out with the 45th Anniversary Edition of the Camaro at the Dubai International Motor Show, I failed to see the point. But when I saw the glint in Imran's eyes as he walked around it the hundredth time, it struck me that for a hard-core fan of American muscle, every model year is reason enough to celebrate with a special edition. After all, it's also a reminder that the American pony car has survived for close to half a century despite facing the threat of being drowned in several oil crises over the decades. And they've not just survived; they've come out stronger. While the rest of the world is going the downsizing way, these yank tanks are going strong with monstrous V8s still growling away under their bulging bonnets. In fact, for the 2012 model year Chevrolet has upped the output of its base V6 from 312 to 323bhp.
But the 45th Anniversary edition Camaro we got had the good old 400bhp V8 powering it. The special package includes a Carbon Flash Metallic paintjob, custom 20in wheels, asymmetric racing stripes on the bonnet and boot, foglight and taillight bezels finished in dark silver, standard rear spoiler, RS-style taillight lenses, HID headlights and a 45th Anniversary badge on the side.
The special red, white and blue logos are all over the cabin too and the black leather seats, steering wheel, gear lever, armrests, and centre console getting a red, white and blue contrast stitching. The anniversary edition also gets a head-up display. Apart from the special package, there are some welcome changes in the 2012 Camaro that nearly addresses a few of our gripes about the 2009 model.
For one, the oddly-sized deep dish steering wheel from the previous model has been replaced with a more conventional one, while the retro fonts in the gauges have given way to straightforward ones. One of our biggest complaints about the Camaro was its cheap and tacky dashboard that was unjustifiable in any car, let alone on one that costs this much. In place of the single piece of hollow plastic, the dashboard now consists of different panels in different colours and materials including some finely stitched leather. And to sort the issue of low outward visibility, Chevy has built in a new reversing camera into the rear-view mirror just like the one in the Ford Mustang.
The 6.2-litre V8 remains the same, powerful yet with a wishy-washy note that doesn't contribute much towards aural entertainment. The Camaro SS gets a new performance suspension package that includes retuned dampers, new stabiliser bars and wider tyres. The effects are apparent when you fling the car into sharp turns, where the SS coupé feels more composed and planted than before, and the car feels more hooked up to the road with decent feedback from the solidly weighted steering. However, the Brembos felt a bit too squishy to be up to the task of bringing the Camaro's heft to a halt.
With or without the 45th Anniversary embellishments, the 2012 Camaro SS is a step-up from the previous model, even without any performance enhancement. The new interior itself has made a world of difference. But if you're willing to pay Dh15,000 extra for the special commemorative package, you can rest assured to be the star attraction at your Friday morning muscle car meet. That is, until Chevy comes out with the 46th Anniversary special.
Model 2012 Camaro SS
Engine 6.2-litre V8
Transmission Six-speed auto, RWD
Max power 400bhp @ 5,900rpm
Max torque 556Nm @ 4,300rpm
Top speed NA
Plus Much improved interior, stand-out features
Minus No spike in performance