#Motorama LIVE @ Mecum Jaguar XK120

8 04 2013

Team Hall & Nass and #Motorama LIVE recently attended the Mecum Auction in Houston, Texas, where our good friend and British automotive history buff Robert Edwards (@FastMINIRob on Twitter) joined us to Tweet up the action for #Motorama LIVE on @Twitter! During the auction, a rather stunning classic 1953 Jaguar XK120 SE crossed the block and sold for $92K US. We caught up with the new owner afterward, and obtained permission to film an interview about this amazing example of British automotive history.

So with the sounds of the auction block churning away in the background, sit back and enjoy this exclusive interview between Robert and Berry about the Jaguar XK120 SE.

Join us for more automotive discussion on #Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern Time (US) on @Twitter! Just search on and use the #Motorama hashtag to follow and join in the conversation!

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How Chevy Drives Innovation @ SXSW

6 03 2013

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Team Hall & Nass and #Motorama LIVE went to South by SouthWest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas to discover how Chevrolet goes all out to drive home an automotive presence at the SXSW Interactive, Film and Music conference held annually in Austin, Texas.

Ride along with us in a “Catch a Chevy” as Connie Burke, Communications Manager for Chevrolet, explains how Chevrolet has managed to drive crowds, make relationships and generate traffic via their creative interactive approach to developing a strong automotive presence at a conference not traditionally known as being automotive related. It’s a true rolling case study in brand marketing meets interactive presence LIVE in action. Come along with us an enjoy the ride!





3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie

5 12 2012

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http://youtu.be/g1bzdW1lXRc

Welcome to the 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie, celebrating our 2 Year Anniversary of #Motorama LIVE on Twitter! 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper takes you on a journey of fast cars, cool people and amazing events with Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE from the first week of December 2009 through the first week of December 2012.

This 42 minute feature movie contains a LOT of never before seen footage from our Team Hall & Nass years and the best of the best clips so far from our Motorama LIVE years. We could have gone back further and included a LOT more footage, but if we didn’t cut it where we did and condense it down to these 42 minutes, it might have become ‘Gone With the Motorama’, and let’s face it, no one should watch that much of our foolishness in one sitting.

So gather your friends and family around the computer, television or your mobile device, get some salty snacks, some frosty cold beverages, and enjoy some of the craziest, zaniest “best of” moments captured in the 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie!

Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported us over the last several years, from our friends and families, our fans, our sponsors, our OEM friends, reps, event managers, everyone who has ever used the #Motorama hashtag on Twitter, and last, but certainly NOT least, our amazing #Motorama LIVE staff members, without ALL of whom none of this would be possible. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough.

Join us for #Motorama LIVE every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern on Twitter! Just search on and use the #Motorama hashtag to join the conversation! #Motorama LIVE, THE most fun automotive enthusiast and motorsports #Carmmunity on Twitter!





2013 Shelby GT 500 1st Drive

1 07 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G-4DqtW6To&list=UUhOss6OGf1l4diaw_SNuTIw&index=5&feature=plcp

So what is it like to drive the all new 662 horsepower 2013 Shelby GT 500? Tighten down your belts, because Team Hall & Nass is about to give you a taste of the baddest snake ever released into the WILD here in Texas!

#Motorama LIVE and Team Hall & Nass were lucky enough to the the 1st media outlet in the state of Texas (& one of the first in the US) to be granted time alone behind the wheel of the all new 2013 Ford Shelby GT 500 in the wild. Though we only had a couple hours to play with it, and only had a cell phone cam with us, we managed to capture the following “1st Impression” video just for you, our loyal and awesome fans! The quality might be jittery and rough, but hey, how many 2013 GT 500 videos exist in June 2012? Exactly. So sit back, hold on tight and enjoy the ride as we share of 1st impression of this awesome machine with YOU!





Motorama LIVE 2012 Buick Regal GS NORC Interview w/Bill Rietow

20 05 2012

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnjnqY8PLF8&list=UUhOss6OGf1l4diaw_SNuTIw&index=7&feature=plcp

Motorama LIVE raced in the Nevada Open Road Challenge #NORC on May 20th, 2012, as did a GM Buick Factory Race Team. This is our interview at the finish line with Bill Rietow, Buick Lead Product Engineer, telling us all about his run in the 2012 Buick Regal GS in the 135 MPH Class.

Bill and his navigator John Townsend won the 120 MPH Class at the Silver State Classic Challenge Open Road Race back in September. Hear Bill talk about how he believes they did today in the 135 Class, as well as how well a stock Buick Regal GS felt racing over 90 miles of 2 lane public highway at speeds up to 161 MPH!

Thank you to our good friends at Buick! Today, they were truly Hall & Nass! :@)~





Ford Raptor SVT FULL HOONAGE Review

30 11 2011

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwpfjGmg8wk&list=UUhOss6OGf1l4diaw_SNuTIw&index=9&feature=plcp

NOTE – This is a 17 minute video, but pull your belts down tight, because you WILL be rewarded with LOTS of HOONAGE throughout. You may even learn something IF you can endure the review’ish’ parts. This has been a Public HOONAGE Awareness Announcement brought to you by the crazies at Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE!

We got our hands on 2 brand spanking new 2012 Ford Raptors to HOON at will on a specialty offroad course under Ford’s supervision. Then, after showing Ford just how worthy we were in the dirt, they gave us a gently loved 2011 Raptor for two whole weeks (completely unsupervised) with permission to “go do our thing”. You can imagine how much sideways, dirt-filled, insane action followed (can you hear the theme song from the Dukes of Hazzard in your head yet?!?), and thanks to the magic of YouTube, we’re about to share what we experienced with you!

The Raptor surprised us in ways we truly couldn’t have imagined before daily driving it. So if you can bear to make it through the wordy parts (there are actually some surprising things to share with you about the Raptor we bet you didn’t already know), you shall be rewarded with some classic Team Hall & Nass HOONAGE!

Thank you to Ford Motor Company for you continued faith in the power of Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE! We appreciate your support!

Join us for #Motorama LIVE, the best automotive enthusiast discussion anywhere online, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern on Twitter. Just search for the #Motorama hashtag and join in the madness!





Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review

27 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review

Preface

This particular tale will be different from any other review or adventure you have read from either Team Hall & Nass or Motorama LIVE before. To say our time spent with this particular 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible was a unique experience would be a massive understatement for a host of reasons. We’ll get into a few of those wild tales below. Somewhere in the mix, we may also manage to do a review on the car, too.

However, before we launch into our crazy adventure and impressions of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, we’d like to point out that this story is being prepared for both our Team Hall & Nass site, as well as our Wednesday night 9-11 PM Eastern Time #Motorama LIVE enthusiast discussion on Twitter. So while this is technically a Team Hall & Nass adventure, it is also being conducted with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by any of this, visit both our TeamHallnNass.com and MotoramaLIVE.com sites for information on what both entities are all about.

One Treat of a Favor

It all began when a local DFW area Chevrolet dealership called one day with a question. They asked if we were planning to attend the NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway in April, and if we wouldn’t mind doing them a favor. They asked if we could represent their dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event in the Team Chevy pavilion and take delivery of a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible for them at the track after the Sprint Cup Series night race. If so, we would get the full Team Chevy Dealer VIP treatment, including hospitality tent access, food, drinks, free tickets to the race, and the opportunity to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap as part of the dealer “drive away” program. As an added bonus, after the race was over, Thomas said we could keep the car for a week or so to put the break in miles on it, drive around with the top down and enjoy. If only more people called up to ask such favors of us! Of course, it took about half of a millisecond to say “YES!”

We arrived at Texas Motor Speedway the night before the dealer drive away event to enjoy the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, courtesy of our good friends on the GM Communications Team. While watching a highly competitive race, we were treated to something even more fun to watch. A father and his young son who were sitting directly in front of us were both rooting for Ford driver Carl Edwards, who held the lead of the race numerous times throughout the night. While seeing young race fans show their enthusiasm for motorsports always warms our hearts, this kid was priceless. Every time Edwards took the lead, he did a celebratory dance and high fived his dad. Then, in a rare exhibition that would make any veteran NASCAR fan proud, when perennial bad boy Kyle Bush wrecked, this little guy jumped up, pointed at the track, and broke out into a full on running man dance! So when it became apparent that his favorite driver was likely going to win the race, we decided to capture the moment on the likely chance it would be highly entertaining. Enjoy the video of his celebration here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEhtLKnY7wE&feature=channel_video_title.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Parade Lap Adventure Begins

On the day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, we arrived at the Chevy Chalet in time to enjoy hanging out and having dinner with the owners and managers of the North Texas Chevy Dealers. Afterward, we were led into the infield of Texas Motor Speedway to a row of 43 special decaled triple black 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertibles. We were assigned car number 17, with Chevrolet decals on the doors. While the inside of the car was covered in dust from sitting at the track with the top down most of the weekend, the outside was shining like new money. We got into the cars, strapped on headsets that were linked to race communications, and headed out in a procession from the infield onto the surface of the track on the front straightaway.

The sight of 43 matching drop top muscle cars anywhere is an amazing sight, but sitting behind the wheel of one as you drive out onto the surface of a NASCAR track in front of over 100,000 cheering fans mere moments before a race begins is beyond intoxicating. For someone who’s been around racing all their life and longs for a ride in the big time, honestly, it’s addicting!

We pulled up in front of the driver introduction stage and picked up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #1 Tracker Boats Chevrolet Impala SS, Jaime McMurray. While we drove around the apron of the track on the parade lap, the wind howling between 20 and 40 MPH on a blustery Texas evening, we cautioned him about coming out of two onto the backstretch. After circling the track and driving down a pit road crowded with the cars and crews of all 43 teams, we headed out to a secure parking lot to “officially” take possession of the Camaro from GM.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Drive Away Adventure Begins

After enjoying the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the stands, we headed out to the parking lot to retrieve our Camaro, drop the top, and begin the drive back to our house, roughly 30 miles from the speedway. Thus began a dance everyone lucky enough to have purchased and/or driven a brand new muscle or performance car knows all too well. The mental battle between knowing you must keep the engine RPMs at lower levels for the first 500 miles until the rings are properly seated and those run in miles are on the engine versus the almost uncontrollable urge to drop the hammer and experience that roar and rush that only a hot rod car can provide. Well, in Team Hall & Nass world, just because you keep the RPMs low doesn’t exactly mean you have to drive like a senior citizen. Once we broke free of the race traffic and found some clear highway closer to home, the heads up display started to show numbers a bit more to our liking … all while keeping the revs moderate.

Admittedly, I am a very lucky person. My whole life I have owned, rented, borrowed, raced, rallied or somehow had access to some of the best new muscle, speed and luxury cars America builds. So while I have a wide-ranging palate and appreciation for driving new hot rods, it is rare that one truly gets under my skin. Sure, there are many cars I get excited about. That happens all the time. However, this particular Camaro really appealed to something deeper in me, which became apparent as soon as I got it home.

That first night, I spent hours sitting out in my driveway inside of the triple black Camaro SS Convertible with the top down, the dials lit up, the radio down low, and just took it all in. The longer I sat there, the more this old feeling came back to me. One I haven’t felt since way back in the early ‘90s on the first night after I bought my 1994 fourth generation black on black Camaro Z28. The longer I sat there, the more that feeling came over me. This was not what you feel sitting in a Corvette. It was not what you feel sitting in just any cool new car. This was a feeling I only get in a Camaro. This is something I’ve felt many times over the years, as I’ve owned a few Camaros and have always had at least one model (if not multiples) in my possession all the way back to that first 1979 Z28 I bought when I was 16 years old. This is a feeling you get when you encounter an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and almost forgot how much you missed until they are standing there, and suddenly, all that lost time just vanishes and you’re back in a place that seems just like yesterday. Yes, I knew this particular car was not going to be just another drive and review project. This was special. This was a homecoming. This was a Camaro.

My History with the Chevrolet Camaro

Before I can describe the fifth generation Camaro SS Convertible properly, I should first briefly share my longstanding history with being a Camaro aficionado. My love, and even sometimes ‘less than love,’ relationship with the Chevrolet Camaro has existed for as long as I’ve had a drivers license. Having owned and driven many second, third and fourth generation Camaro Z28s over the years, and having kept a fourth generation Camaro Z28 as a semi-regular daily driver for the last 17 years, I’ve got quite a few “butt in seat” miles of Camaro driving experience.

As much as I love driving and racing C6 Corvettes, to me, there is still nothing quite like driving a hot rod Camaro. They have always been quick, twitchy, sideways, unapologetic beasts to drive. They do championship level burnouts with little throttle effort, they command respect at drag strips and race tracks everywhere, and they can whip most cars that cost up to 10 times more without any fear of trying to be something they are not. Since 1967, V8 Camaros have always provided those people on a more conservative budget with the experience of driving a slightly detuned Corvette in a less expensive wrapper (minus the dark period of disappearance from 2003-2009). But more than anything, as long as Camaros have been built and sold, they have always been the ‘best bang for buck’ vehicle Chevrolet has offered. With each new generation, Motor Trend always declares it so.

Describing the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

In November 2009, Team Hall & Nass got behind the wheel of every flavor of the all new fifth generation 2010 Camaro Coupe (base and RS V6 automatic and manual, SS and SS/RS L99 V8 automatic and LS3 manual models) while at the SEMA show. When we drove the cars, we were immediately smitten. We hijacked the LS3 six speed manual for a clandestine run down the Las Vegas Strip and a few hard blasts around some off the Strip backstreets. We quickly discovered that while the new Camaro had plenty of power, it also had a few shortcomings. It was too quiet due to a restrictive exhaust, it was hard to see out of in any direction, and it just didn’t seem to want to drive sideways very easily. All things I wasn’t expecting. The car wasn’t perfect, but then again, the Camaro was never supposed to be. What it did better than anything was capture the essence of the original first generation Camaro in a visually stunning way. If that was the goal, then it was a goal well met.

Fast forward to April 2011 and we find ourselves in the newly released 2011 Camaro SS Convertible. Our 2SS-optioned car with an automatic rang in at $42,532 on the maroney. It had every single option you could get except for the RS package, and the only RS options it was truly missing were the HID headlights, the halo lights, the HID fog lights and the smoked rear taillight lenses. That would have pushed the sticker up another $500 and change, putting a completely loaded SS/RS Camaro Convertible at roughly $43,000. So HIDs and white SS badge versus red SS/RS badge aside, this car had it all.

A lot has been said about the excellent modern retro exterior and interior styling of the fifth generation Camaro, and how well it captured the first generation. The only thing we could add to that would be to say GM did a great job keeping the lines of the convertible top the same as the coupe. Rare is the drop top that looks good with the top up, but the 2011 Camaro Convertible manages to do just that. In fact, the only thing that looks different between the exterior of the coupe versus the convertible would be the smaller back window on the soft top, which significantly decreases outward visibility on a car already known as unnecessarily difficult to see out of by everyone. Otherwise, they look darn near identical.

However, drop the top, and this all new Camaro Convertible really shines. With the top down, the car looks even better. It may sound funny, but while most muscle cars look mean in coupe form, the Camaro actually looks even meaner with the top dropped. Top down operation is as easy as turning one center latch that releases two locking pins, push and hold down the top button, and all four windows drop and the top folds back flush into the rear boot in about 10-12 seconds. Putting the top up is about a 24-26 second operation accomplished by pressing and holding the top button, then pulling down and twisting the one center latch, which locks the two pins. All four windows are a one touch up and down operation via the drivers’ door switches. This is a feature that all new vehicles should have. Kudos to GM!

Another advantage of the Camaro Convertible is that the aforementioned visibility issues in the fifth generation coupe vanish with a release of a latch and the press of a button. Well, all except for the still too low windshield header, but those who enjoy increased rollover protection should not be so choosy. With the top up, you can lose a Mack truck in the rear blind spots, but a few days of adjusting your sightlines and learning to tow your mirrors out a bit further go a long way toward learning to deal with similar visibility issues that plague most convertibles on the market.

Speaking of the large windshield header bar, it houses the world’s shortest sun visors. Some may even say they are “cute” … but at least they are wide and effective. They serve as a great place to mount a radar detector, but they sure are short! Of course, as short as the dash to windshield height is, they have to be short or else they would block too much of the forward view.

The center stack old school gauge package adds to both the retro flavor and the visible vital information you need when you plan to drive the car hard. The additional vital operation information that you can easily scroll through in the center pod of the gauge cluster is a very welcome addition to the fifth generation Camaro. The LED light strips along the tops of the color door inserts are cool, although we don’t understand why GM didn’t extend them all the way across the matching color panel in the dash to finish out the illusion. Also, it would have been nice to have the same LED lights in the cupholder rings and as ambient lighting in the floors like the Ford Mustang has. And having the capability to change the colors of the LED lights would have also been a really nice touch. Maybe we’ll see this come refresh time?

The seats in the Camaro SS are one of the best overall interior features of the car. The leather, the stitching, the bolsters, the two-stage heating, the adjustable headrests and the SS embroidery are all spectacular! If only the C6 Corvette had these seats, we’d be able to remove the headrests to use the HANS device when we track the car, then simply put the headrests back in for regular street driving versus having to replace the entire seats to use the HANS. Are you listening Team Corvette engineers?!? Please and thank you.

Much has been said about the fifth generation Camaro steering wheel. Some like it, many do not. We found it to be decent. We like the controls for the audio system, the phone (via Bluetooth connection) and the cruise control. We also like that you can access both layers of the center gauge cluster menu from the left stalk without taking your hands off of the wheel. Our only gripe with the wheel is that the spokes are about an inch and a half too tall for optimal hand and thumb wrap position.

One thing GM engineers hit right on the mark on the Camaro that they failed miserably with the C6 Corvette are the paddle shift buttons. You click on the right to upshift, and on the left to downshift. Just like every race car and video game steering wheel on the planet. Try that sequence next time you’re in a paddle shift C6 Corvette and see what happens (but be careful)! Of course, the lag time in the downshifts mirror the second to second and a half delay the Corvette has, making the whole GM paddle shift program beyond annoying for us to use. If GM would adjust the push to downshift timing to instantaneous shifting (to match the upshift timing), then this system would be fun to use!

Two questions we have on the otherwise very well designed and executed interior of the new Camaro – who came up with the radio design and why was it not designed with a navigation screen? Between the sun glare on the screen with the convertible top down and the obvious limitation of ever being able to have a navigation radio option, someone fell asleep at the drawing board here. Different is cool and all, but functionality is key in vehicle electronics. Even the badly outdated navigation screen in the C6 Corvette would be welcome over this in-dash experiment. Head unit complaints aside, the Boston Acoustics sound system rocks! The bass is hard hitting, the highs are crisp, the mids are smooth, and there is always enough sound to rock out even at high speeds with the top down. Kudos on the sound of the stereo even if there is a glare and navigation fail.

The trunk has as much room inside as the C6 Corvette Convertible, once you pass your items through the very restrictive opening. A high trunk lip makes it challenging to get anything bigger than a 24” suitcase in, and the shape of the decklid makes it difficult to access the side areas. There is a netting guide inside to remind you how much space the convertible soft top requires when it is down, but you can easily move that netting to utilize the entire truck space should you need to. Just remember when you do, if you try to put the top down, something is going to get smashed or possibly broken. So using the netting as a guide is a good visual trunk space rule of thumb.

Driving the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible is an absolute blast to drive! It is more addictive to drive around in than anything else in recent memory. You can just cruise along one moment, then in the next moment, twitch your right foot a bit and suddenly be in full hoon mode. Of course, it’s more fun to drive with the top down that up, but that’s true of just about any convertible.

One of the best things GM did outside of the engine bay was putting four piston front and two piston rear Brembo brakes with thick vented rotors on it. They haul it down from large speeds nice and quick, and don’t seem to fade when really pushing the car through the twisties for hours on end. Of course, we look forward to the six piston front and four piston rear Z06 calipers on the upcoming Camaro ZL1. With over 550 horsepower, it’s going to need it!

Inside the car, one of the best things GM did to enhance the driving experience is the heads up display. In a unit that is very similar to the one found inside of the C6 Corvette, you can adjust the height of the display, the brightness, and select display modes of speed only, speedo and tach (which we used), or speedo, outside temp and compass direction. Another cool feature of the heads up display is the radio station and name of each song pops up along the bottom when a change is made. What is absent versus the Corvette is the G meter. What would be nice to have on the heads up would be a scroll feature along the bottom that relays all of the vital temps and tire pressures. Being able to see that information without having to look down at the center gauge cluster or press a toggle button would be very helpful while attacking long runs of twisty terrain, especially while in competition. A great enhanced safety feature idea if you’re listening, GM!

We are big fans of heads up displays, especially when they are done right. Being able to see your speed is helpful in many circumstances. Especially when tracking your entry speeds for corner setup, trying to stay under the speed limit when a cop is near, or simply as a constant visual reminder that you’re probably going faster than you think you are.

For enhanced grip, our car was rolling on 20” rims with Pirelli tires mounted front and rear, which, frankly, boggles our minds. The C6 Corvette in base, Z51 and even Z06 form only rolls on 18s on the front and 19s on the rear. Sure the ZR1 has 19s on the front and 20s on the back, but it also has 638 horsepower! The 20s look cool, but as every hot rodder knows, larger circumference wheels take more power to turn over. It just seems like overkill for the Camaro to have such large wheels. Yes, the Pirellis are super sticky for stock OEM tires and do a great job to aid the overall handling of the car, but when the point of the Camaro has always been that it offers Corvette ‘like’ performance for those on a budget, to force those customers to have to pay for 20” tires just seems a bit harsh. We dig the 20s, but we would dread paying $400-600 per tire for replacement sets of either Pirelli or upgraded Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires on the Camaro. Ouch!

As mentioned by everyone who has tested both V8 variants of the fifth generation Camaro, we’re curious to know what GM was thinking when they put on an uber silent exhaust. It sounds anemic until you get to wide open throttle, and even then, you can hear that it needs to be opened up to enable less restrictive flow. There is easy power gain to be had just by immediately upgrading the exhaust. I can best sum this up with a comment made by a 60-something year old neighbor lady, who asked, “Why does your new Camaro not sound mean sitting there running like your old Camaro or that new Corvette does?” My sentiments exactly.

When we asked a GM rep about this very issue at SEMA in 2009, the response was, “We’re trying to appeal to a wider range of buyer with a quieter exhaust on the Camaro” and “we know the first thing enthusiast buyers will do is replace the exhaust.” Our point remains the same now as it was then – if you know we’re going to have to replace it to make it right, why not just install the correct-sounding, less restrictive exhaust in the first place? Come on GM. We love this car, but why leave the cork in the bottle? A muscle car should sound like a muscle car, at idle and at wide open throttle. Period. At least you can hear the roar of the exhaust at WOT a lot better with the top down than up. Yet another reason to buy the convertible over the coupe!

Speaking of power, we could go on and on about the wonderful power and fuel economy delivered by GM’s wonder engine, the LS3. It is our favorite GM engine right now (well, aside from the LS7). But the single largest unpleasant issue with the fifth generation Camaro, the one that absolutely boggles our minds, is why do all of the automatic V8 Camaros have the weaker L99 engine installed in them instead of the LS3? The very same LS3 that is already installed in all manual V8 Camaros. Of all the smart moves GM has made in the “new GM” era, this is perhaps the single biggest disappointment/mistake/mind boggler of them all. Why?

It cannot be that the automatic transmission used in the Camaro can’t handle the power of the LS3 when you consider GM has an automatic transmission mated to both the 436 horsepower LS3 in the Corvette and even to the 556 horsepower LSA engine in the Cadillac CTS-V. It can’t be that it’s somehow cheaper to install two different V8s in the same Camaro SS platform on the same assembly line at a similar sales price point. It can’t really be a fuel economy issue, because the LS3 is the most fuel efficient V8 engine GM has ever made. It also can’t be a weight issue, because unless we just happen to be wrong, the LS3 is a lighter engine than the L99, making it a better power to weight ratio option for the Camaro. So why are automatic buyers saddled with receiving the weaker- powered L99 engine when the higher horsepower, stronger built, more fuel efficient LS3 engine is already being installed in all of the manual Camaro SS cars on the same assembly line? We look forward to discussing this with GM and getting to the bottom of this odd issue on Motorama LIVE.

Engine/transmission combination dictations aside, the L99 V8 puts out 400 horsepower, 410 foot pound of torque, and launches the automatic Camaro SS Convertible forward at an impressive rate at any speed! From a standing start, you can easily put the Camaro SS over 100 MPH on any standard length highway on ramp. The fun doesn’t stop there, either. In fact, whether you have the 400 horse L99 automatic car, or the 426 horsepower, 420 foot pounds of torque LS3 V8 manual shift car, the fifth generation Camaro SS pulls hard all the way from 0 to as far as you dare take it. It has been published by Chevrolet from day one that these cars have an electronically limited top speed of 155 MPH. The car is such a hard charger that it is actually hard to resist the temptation to dig into the throttle every time you leave a light, a stop sign, merge onto a freeway, pull out to make a pass, or even when you just happen to have open lane in front of your car.

This brings us to perhaps a touchy area of this review … fuel economy. Get your wallet out, because this is where all that money you saved buying a Camaro SS instead of a Corvette is about to start coming in handy. Under “normal” Team Hall & Nass driving conditions, we struggled to stay in the 12-14 MPG range. In fact, when we went on a highly spirited drive one night with a couple of other road rally teams out in Middle of Nowhere, Texas, to attack some long straights and lots of twisties, we saw a full tank run average of 11.1 MPG. I filled the Camaro up to go on the drive, and I filled it up to get home, all inside of 200 miles. If you get on the throttle a lot in town, you may actually see your averages dipping down into the 9, 8 or even the 7.6 MPG range. We did. And, folks, that’s not being hard on the car or driving it like a buffoon. That’s just having fun every time you drive the car around town. By comparison, I’ve never seen gas mileage that bad driving a C6 Z06 around Las Vegas and having all sorts of stop light and on ramp fun.

In an effort to find out what the absolute best miles per gallon average we could achieve in the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible could be, we drove at constant speeds on a long, flat stretch of smooth highway in sixth gear. Granted, we did so with the top down, because, let’s face it, unless it’s raining out, everyone’s going to drive this car with the top down. While no doubt there is a bit of drag created by the cavern behind the front seats, here is what we found. At 60 MPH, the best we saw was 24 MPG. At 70 MPH, 22.5 MPG. These numbers were only maximized by holding everything rock steady (including our breath) and with the A/C turned off. By contrast, a similarly equipped 2009 LS3 Corvette Convertible Z51 automatic with 3.42 gears and the top down gets 22.5 MPG at 100 MPH with the A/C on and both occupants breathing normally. It’s all about aerodynamics folks. Well, that, and we suspect the L99 isn’t getting nearly as good of fuel economy as the LS3 can, but we are speculating.

The long and the short of it is if you want to have maximum power and see the best fuel mileage in a fifth generation Camaro SS, you should stick with the LS3 six speed manual.

Please note, we waited until we had put all the run in miles on this car before we ran it anywhere close to what you could call hard. Yes, we stretched its legs out to give it a thorough shakedown, but more than that, we exercised a ton of patience making sure we ran the motor in right first, just as if we owned it. After all, someone out there will be buying this car as a NASCAR Parade Lap car, and that owner deserves to purchase a properly run in car. This one is a true gem and should serve them well.

Protecting the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible Come Hail, Highwater, or BIGGER HAIL

As you may have gathered by now, we at Team Hall & Nass are big Camaro fans. So when we were caught off guard by a freak large hail storm here in North Texas, we didn’t let the fear of personal injury keep us from springing into insane action to save the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from potential hail damage. Our tale was so outrageous that not only did we capture it on camera (and ruin a new smart phone doing so) to prove it happened, but popular automotive site Jalopnik did a piece on our efforts to save the Camaro. In case you haven’t seen the videos yet, here is the Jalopnik story – http://jalopnik.com/#!5793142, a video of our rescue effort – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Oz_jW4Yyw&feature=channel_video_title and a video summary after the storm subsided – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG4sPVYgrO0&feature=channel_video_title. Don’t try this at home!

The miraculous news is that we managed to keep the new 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from receiving a single dent throughout 20 minutes of pounding hail ranging from pea sized up to golf ball sized. The sad news is that our personal fourth generation Camaro Z28 paid the price with dents covering the hood and both rear quarter panels. As of this story, the dealer we saved the new Camaro for has offered to have his hail dent repair guy look at our Z28 to see what they can do to fix it. Stay tuned for a future update on either a dent repair miracle, or a project Camaro Z28 build up, coming soon!

In Summary

Team Hall & Nass fell in love with the new Camaro SS Convertible for a lot of reasons. As we said before, the new Camaro isn’t perfect, but it’s not supposed to be. The Camaro is a bit heavier, a bit less agile, and not quite as quick as the Corvette, but considering it costs $20K less, it’s closer than the price suggests. If GM’s goal with the new Camaro SS Convertible was to offer a modern day retro drop top muscle car with Corvette ‘like’ performance for considerably less money, then they nailed it. No matter how you order or option the car, it is a lot of fun to drive. The fifth generation Camaro V8 has returned from a long absence to regain the “best bang for the buck” title. Period.

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions of our time behind the wheel of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, coupled with impressions from other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors we showed the car to and took out for hot laps, we’re going to give the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS a ‘Strong Buy’ rating with one caveat. If you’re going to buy one, buy the manual. Why? Because it is the only way to get the 426 horsepower LS3 engine. If you have the least bit of interest in adding power to your Camaro, either now or down the road, you’re going to want the LS3 over the weaker L99. It’s just a better, stronger, stouter engine. Besides, if you’re buying a muscle car, why wouldn’t you buy the one with maximum horsepower? Exactly.

When you visit your Chevrolet dealer to test drive the new Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a Camaro of any variety, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does GM when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us access to their cars to review and share with you. We appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Camaro SS Convertible Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible coverage. Be sure to check out our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible videos, some of which are already posted, with a lot more coming soon on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. You know our Camaro videos are going to be wild! Also, stay tuned as we continue to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of other exciting new vehicles on TeamHallnNass.com and on MotoramaLIVE.com.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Was a GM “Drive Away” Car

We want to publicly thank our good friends at General Motors, Team Chevy, the GM Communications Team and Chevrolet for allowing us access to the NASCAR events, dealer VIP treatment, and to review one of their cars. Note that this particular car didn’t come from the GM media fleet. It was a brand new car, for sale to the public, delivered to us by Team Chevy as part of the North Texas Chevy Dealers NASCAR “drive away” program. It was a Chevrolet dealer who asked us to represent his dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event, and who allowed us to keep the car for 11 days to drive, enjoy and review. Thank you very much. We hope you enjoyed the publicity as much as we enjoyed driving and reviewing your car!

Disclaimer

Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. They simply granted us access to the Team Chevy pavilion at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR races, two days of awesome race tickets, and the chance to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap and dealer drive away program. We sincerely thank all of you, our amazing fans, for taking the time to read all about it. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

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