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 11, 2014
I have about 5,000 songs, a dozen audio books and multiple episodes of sixteen unique podcasts on my iPhone. With that much data, the MyLink system in our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro takes a really long time indexing my music library but what's worse than that though is what happens while I'm waiting for it to compile all that audio.
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.
June 9, 2014
This is embarrassing, but I hold the record for the best mpg in our long-term SLP Panther Camaro. Back in February I drove it 141.1 miles, very slowly it must have been, on just 5.782 gallons of 91-octane gasoline. That's 24.4 mpg.
June 5, 2014
This week I took it in for its second.
May 30, 2014
During the last six months, we've driven our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro over 10,000 miles.
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 26, 2014
Just based on my introductory animal sciences courses, I'd have guessed that the main predators for a panther would be, in no order: Man, deforestation and very large snakes.
Turns out, however, that the natural enemy of the Panther Camaro is the speed bump.
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.
May 21, 2014
Two weeks ago we put new rear tires on our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro. In response to that update, many of you asked how the Camaro's front tires were holding up.
May 19, 2014
Old car projects are never done. Although my father and I been enjoying our newly built 1969 Camaro Baldwin-Motion clone since November it still needs a few odds and ends. And it turns out our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro is a pretty good parts chaser.
That's a six-foot box of new brake lines for the old '69. And it slid right into the trunk of our new Camaro once I folded its rear seat back, which couldn't be easier. One pull of a strap from inside the car and the Camaro's cargo space goes from good to plenty.
May 12, 2014
Since day one, there's been this one piece on our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro that's bugged me. So in a fit of DIY-ness, I went ahead and removed it.
Take your best guess and follow me through.
May 8, 2014
Over the last four weeks we've driven our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro about 1,500 miles, most of it in and around the city of Los Angeles. All of that urban driving has done little to help the fuel economy average of this supercharged V8-powered muscle car.
May 6, 2014
What began as a routine tire repair became two new tires on our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro. This is the image that greeted me when I was handed the key to our long-term Panther. At a glance, I figured it needed a simple tire patch. And at a glance, I was wrong...
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.
April 8, 2014
Because it fritzed-out on my watch, too.
April 4, 2014
Since January we've driven our supercharged Panther Camaro about 3,500 miles. The SLP continues to be pure joy and, of course, thirsty. After all, it is a 600-hp muscle car rolling on very large very sticky tires.
Still, it can average over 20 mpg on the highway if you keep your foot out of it and make the most of 6th gear. Drive it like you rented it, however, and the Panther burns a tankful faster than John Force's Mustang. Usually we average 10 mpg or less when we play.
April 2, 2014
Sometimes, when a car is as cool-looking as our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro, you don't need words. Just photos.
So here's the black beast resting under a tree. Enjoy.
March 27, 2014
High-power tuner Camaros like our long-term SLP Panther are nothing new. In fact, the concept has been around as long as the Camaro itself, which Chevy introduced to the market back in 1967.
Back then there were a handful of now famous and infamous performance oriented Chevy dealers that turned into Camaro tuners, including Yenko Chevrolet in Pennsylvania, Dana Chevrolet in Los Angeles, Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, Berger Chevrolet in Detroit and Baldwin-Motion out on Long Island just outside New York City.
Basically, these folks realized that Chevy's 427 big-block, which was only offered in the Corvette and Impala, fit in the Camaro. And they immediately began selling turn-key swaps complete with financing and a warranty.
March 24, 2014
Our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro is not car-wash friendly. As some clothing is labeled "dry clean only" this 600-hp muscle car should be labeled "hand wash only".
As we've learned over the last few months, the Camaro's huge rear tires are just too wide for the track that pulls the car through the automated wash cycle and its aggressive front air dam is too low for the same mechanisms. So potential owners of special Camaros, SLP Panthers or otherwise, should enter that ownership anticipating the additional time and cost of hand washes, which can be significant.
March 20, 2014
After refueling our long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro, I went to turn on the seat heaters and adjust the manual climate controls. I pressed the button for the seat heater but nothing happened. I pressed it again, nothing. Then I noticed that none of the climate control buttons were backlit (as they normally would be when the car is running) and none of them were responding to my commands. Uh-oh.
March 19, 2014
Imagine a scruffy football coach on the sideline of a midwinter playoff game. He's a large man, at least 6-foot-8 and in his playing days he ate a steady diet of pizza and double-decker cheeseburgers. His team wins the season-extending game by the slimmest of possible margins, and in celebration they splash him with the ice-filled bucket of Gatorade.
The field is frozen tundra, and now he's soaked in an orange, sugary beverage. Like a dog getting out of the bath, the coach vigorously shakes off the bitter cold amidst a series of grumbles, mumbles, grunts and growls. That guttural sound is what the exhaust on the 2014 SLP Panther sounds like.
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 28, 2014
After 5,000 miles of driving, our supercharged 2014 SLP Panther Camaro began asking for its first oil change. Every time we started the car its information center in the instrument panel read "Change oil soon."
So we did.
February 27, 2014
Since we took delivery of our hot rod 2014 SLP Panther Camaro at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas back in November, we've driven this supercharged beast over 5,000 miles.
February 26, 2014
So, this happened. But what, exactly, is this, and what happened?
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.
February 6, 2014
One of the more impressive qualities about our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro is how well it rides on the freeway. As Scott noted previously, it's more complaint than a lot of other sporting cars. Factor in the moderate amounts of wind, road and exhaust noise and you've got a muscle car that begs to be taken on road trips. In fact, I'm sure some of my coworkers will do just that in the coming months.
But for me, at least, I find the driver position to be rather mediocre in terms of comfort.
February 5, 2014
Along with many of my coworkers, I've been around various "tuner" cars over the years. More often than not, these cars looked great in car magazine features but were far less impressive in real life. Promised gains in performance never materialized, and abusive ride qualities and shoddy aftermarket parts integration were all too common. Sometimes, things just plain broke. Or blew up.
But our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro isn't like that.
February 4, 2014
We logged about 1,500 miles in our 2014 SLP Panther Camaro for January. The whole time we drove it conservatively, hardly ever exceeded 2,500 rpm and had Josh Groban on a perpetual playlist.
For the month, we averaged 35.6 mpg.
Wait, no, wrong car. Sorry. That's the Passat TDI. The SLP Panther Camaro? Need you even ask? Yes, somewhere a Shell executive is smiling.
February 03, 2014
Chalk the following up under "not a huge issue when you're driving a 600-horsepower muscle car," but I don't like the way the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro's climate control knobs work.
While the knobs are nice and large, and have a grippy surface, they also have super-mushy, undefined detents. So it's easy to move the fan speed or temperature knob 1 1/2 or 2 clicks when you're just trying to go one.
January 30, 2014
While I was out hiking with friends last weekend, someone parked their flat-black Dodge Challenger next to our black and gold long-term 2014 SLP Panther Camaro.
In my opinion this is good black (the Panther) versus bad black, the Challenger.