This isn’t the first rodeo for the sixth-generation Camaro exterior design director Tom Peters. Though recently retired, he prevailed within GM Design for probably longer than he’d like to admit. But, that’s a huge badge of honor in a profession that tends to shed designers like over-ripened fruit.
Having overseen many designs from two generations of Corvette to the Aztek–yes the Aztek, but that’s another story for another time; he knows design the General’s way like few others. Yet, enthusiasts can be the harshest critics.
There are Always Critics
Some are disappointed that the current Camaro isn’t “different” enough from its predecessor. Adding fuel to the displeasure is the controversial 2019 fascia, which has been tweaked for 2020. Speaking with the folks at Muscle Cars and Trucks, Peters is adamant about what the Camaro is, and how it should look. And he’s adamant that he wouldn’t change a thing.
When asked if he would change anything about the current Camaro design, his answer was, “Nope.” Peters says the same team worked on both the C7 Corvette design and the current Camaro’s. We haven’t heard complaints about the design of the new Corvette.
Peters Defends Design
“We wanted to add more sculpture, more flavor, and more unique shape to it,” he says. With the fifth-gen Camaro being more of a retro or “throwback” design, which in general enthusiasts embraced wholeheartedly, the design team wanted to avoid literal design cues.
Alpha Better Than Zeta
But, if there’s a fault to the fifth-gen, it’s that it was a big car because it started with GM’s Zeta platform architecture. With sixth-gen development, the improved and slightly smaller Alpha platform was chosen, which Peters says the designers were excited to embrace. The Alpha architecture is still considered a superior platform for handling and ride characteristics. And size-wise it harnesses the Camaro’s overall bulk to a more efficient proportion.
For now, the current Camaro will stay in its basic Alpha form through 2023. It will not transition to the A2 architecture that the upcoming Cadillac CT4 and CT5 are developed around. Those two models will be built with the Camaro on the same Lansing Grand River assembly line.
Entertainment Baked Into Design Philosophy
When we spoke with Peters at the launch of the latest Camaro, he was quick to highlight some of the subtle surface development in the hood and rear quarters. He also delighted in the sculptural elements his team added to make for a more exciting product. That hasn’t changed.
With new paint developments in factory paint, even subtle surface changes make new cars’ bodies dance as they move through space. Going back many decades to the first head of styling Harley Earl, he would emphasize to his designers the need to have customers “entertained” as they walked around a potential new car purchase at a dealership.
Designers would angle chrome trim and grille details so as to give the most highlights and reflections for the longest time during the day as the sun moves. So, interesting and entertaining body surfaces are baked into GM’s design philosophy going back to its beginnings.
If you’re a new Camaro detractor, perhaps you should take a second look.