June 18, 2014
I've never been a big fan of the 5th generation Chevy Camaro. I don't really love its cartoonish looks, arrow-slit front window, gimmicky interior or its truck-like powertrain in the SS version. (The V6 version isn't worth discussing. It's all Mustang all day there.)
But then I drove a ZL1. Turns out, all the Camaro needed was a supercharged V8 that would fry the rear tires if you looked at the gas pedal funny.
The ZL1 was fast, controllable, comfortable, made cool noises, and generally made me want to go for long drives where the tires came back all melty and feathered. That car was fun. That car made me happy. Our long-term 2014 SLP Panther is all that and then some.
June 10, 2014
I love hearing our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro's exhaust note, especially when it bounces off the walls of a tunnel or freeway underpass. I wanted to know just how loud the exhaust on the SLP Panther was so last weekend I downloaded a few cheap Decibel-meter apps for my iPhone and headed for the hills.
May 28, 2014
With its broad-shouldered dimensions and meaty rubber, our 2014 SLP-tuned Chevrolet Camaro certainly has an impressive stance. As you can see here, this muscle car looks like it's been going pretty heavy on the delt workouts. Indeed, when I compared its width to the new Corvette Stingray and the full-size Cadillac XTS, both fairly wide cars, the Camaro was still wider by about 1.5- and 2.5-inches, respectively.
May 23, 2014
As much as I love our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro, no car is perfect.
The Panther's flaw is its rev limiter. I hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.
April 28, 2014
Although modern automated clutch manual transmissions with their paddle shifters are pretty slick (see Porsche PDK), I'm still a three-pedal man. I'll gladly give up a few tenths in the quarter for the more satisfying, more engaging experience that grabbing gears in a true manual tranny brings.
April 10, 2014
You can't miss it. Right there on our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro's hood are one inch-tall letters smacking your ocular nerves with what lurks beneath: "600HP Supercharged". For good measure, it's printed on both sides of the hood bulge.
Challenge accepted. We rolled on down to MD Automotive's Dynojet chassis dyno to see if the bulge delivers on its promise.
March 7, 2014
Acceleration in our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro is thrilling. The exhaust roars and bellows through the gears while the supercharger whines all the way to redline. Deceleration is plenty exciting, too. It's a popping, burbling, snarling experience that makes the 10-year-old in me laugh with glee.
Unfortunately, due to the less than ideal design of the Camaro's pedal box, heel-and-toe downshifting is almost completely out of the question for me.
February 21, 2014
I love cars. Almost all of them. From Datsuns to Duesenbergs. And if you love cars you love looking at engines. It's one of the reasons older cars are still so appealing to so many people. Whether it's the tri-power carburetion on a '65 389 Pontiac GTO or the black crinkle finish on the valve covers of a sixties V12 Ferrari or the aggressive mechanical nature of Nissan's RB26DETT under the hood of an R34 Skyline GT-R, engines can be beautiful.
New cars, however, rarely have beautiful engines. Most of today's cars, even performance cars, are hideously ugly under their hoods. The time and cost it takes to beautify an engine have been cut from the process and the budgets long ago, replaced with some large plastic cover that's about as emotionally involving as a piece of Tupperware. Even the new Corvette Stingray has fallen victim to this unfortunate trend.
Off the top of my head I can name some new cars with cool looking engines, but the list is short. Most Audis, a 5.0 Mustang GT and the high-buck stuff like Ferraris, Astons and Lambos come to mind, but little else.
Which brings me to our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro.
February 20, 2014
One of my automotive desires when I was a bit younger was to own a replica of the V8 Interceptor (Pursuit Special) from the movies Mad Max and Mad Max: The Road Warrior. (OK, who am I kidding? I still think it would be a blast to own a replica.) Then I drove our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro. Forget Smokey and the Bandit or Transformers with this car. We just need to get a red accessory pull up knob for the shifter and an "MFP" rear license plate.
February 19, 2014
I don't know about you, but it's not every day that I get to drive a 600-horsepower vehicle like our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro. It is a wild beast that has more power than any human would ever need. So, what's the first thing I did when I got behind the wheel? I went to Target.
February 17, 2014
SLP has been in the business of building badass GMs for decades. Just the utterance of the word "Firehawk" leaves some of us grinning for hours. But that car, and previous SLPs, existed in a time when General Motors wasn't exploiting the talents of the Camaro and Firebird to their fullest potential.
Times have changed.
February 13, 2014
The current-generation Camaro has been out since 2010. Chevy sells tens of thousands of them each year (80,567 sold in 2013, in fact) . They're pretty common as muscle cars go, and many have been modified by their owners. So I thought that our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro would largely blend in with all the other Camaros out there. Right? Wrong. Well, I was wrong. I've had more guys comment or come up to me than anything else in recent memory.
I've given our Panther a nickname: The Bro Magnet.
February 11, 2014
The 2014 SLP Panther Camaro isn't afraid to tell you how it's feeling. There are the usual gauges in the gauge cluster, of course, plus the four accessory gauges ahead of the shifter (engine oil pressure, engine oil temperature, transmission oil temperature and volts), the configurable display in the gauge cluster (trip computer plus many other features), and the heads-up display that can be used to show speed, rpm and other vehicle aspects.
From a performance vehicle standpoint, I enjoy having this much information available.
February 10, 2014
Sucky day at work? Life got you down? I've got a solution. Here, take the key to our SLP Panther Camaro. Fire up that 600-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 and listen to the exhaust pipes crackle, bark and scare away small animals and children. Rev it a few times just because you can. Savor the sound. Now slot the chunky gear lever into first. Punch it.
If this car can't make you smile, you must be dead.
January 21, 2014
I'll be the first to admit I had my reservations about our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro. I was tasked with driving it off the SEMA show floor in Las Vegas and back to L.A. In my head, it would have far too much power, too little gearing and a suspension that rivals a shopping cart.
Boy, was I wrong.
January 13, 2014
Shocking news alert of the day: I love driving this SLP Panther Camaro. Not sure how anyone could not get a kick out of driving this 600-horsepower beast, but I guess it's possible.
And I agree with some previous editors who noted this SLP is totally livable as a daily driver.
In truth, I had my doubts.
January 7, 2014
Before taking our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro out to stretch its legs recently, I wanted to make sure it was past the break-in period. Typically, owner's manuals stipulate that you should hit a certain mileage threshold before you drive the car at sustained speed or push it hard.
In addition to the engine break-in, the SLP owner's manual also spells out a specific break-in procedure for the brakes. This is a bit unusual, given that most modern production cars (including a typical factory Chevrolet Camaro) require zero break-in for the brakes. Keep in mind, though, that SLP installed a Brembo brake kit on our Panther Camaro and that the car had all of 14 miles on its odometer when Mark Takahashi drove it off the 2013 SEMA Show floor.
December 26, 2013
This car makes me happy.
Those who know me know I have an affinity for black Camaros, like the 1969 SS427 my father and I just put together. Those that know me know I also have an affinity for black and gold cars, like the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am I've owned for about 15 years.
December 16, 2013
Because it started life as a Camaro SS, our long-term 2014 SLP Panther 600 has a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. It's a familiar gearbox if you've driven any powerful, rear-wheel-drive car of American lineage. SLP enhances it with a short-throw shifter kit, and our Panther also has the company's optional heavy-duty clutch kit.
I've now driven our SLP Camaro in a variety of traffic conditions, and this is one of the better applications of the TR6060 I've experienced.
December 13, 2013
I recently spent a long weekend in our 2014 SLP Panther 600 Camaro. If you like Camaros, it's tough not to like what SLP does with them. This car moves out quickly, and from the driver seat with the windows up, it makes exactly the noises you want to hear from a supercharged V8 at exactly the right volume. Of course, I hear it's quite a bit louder outside the Panther, but that's my neighbors' concern, not mine.