Muscle cars have a grip on the American psyche no other vehicle can quite match. Sure, our brains may lie with family sedans and SUVs and our hearts may be drawn to mighty pickup trucks, but no other category of vehicle speaks to our souls quite like the muscle car. And while many may identify the Sixties and Seventies as the iconic era for the order Musclecaro, it’s hard not to view modern times as the golden age of American muscle — not when production Mustangs have broached the 700-horsepower barrier, factory-made Challengers run the quarter in the nines and Camaros lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife faster than Porsche 911 Turbos.
Still, it seems the good times may be about to come to an end — at least, for one-third of the Big Three. According to a report from Muscle Cars and Trucks citing multiple sources inside General Motors, GM has axed plans for a new generation of the Chevrolet Camaro, and plans to let the nameplate die along with the current version of the car in 2023.
Well, Muscle Cars and Trucks uses the more hopeful term of “hiatus” to describe what’s expected to happen to the Camaro in four years’ time, but for all intents and purposes, it sounds as though the Maro’s future currently resembles nothing so much as a black hole past that point. Early plans for a seventh-generation version have been dropped, according to the report; while the current sixth-gen model has a future sketched out through 2023, MC&T says their sources say there’s nothing beyond then.
Admittedly, the last couple years haven’t been all that kind to the Camaro. Sales peaked in 2011 during the early days of the fifth-generation model that marked the badge’s return to showrooms after nearly a decade in the dustbin; since then, they’ve been sliding downwards every year but once. 2018 saw a massive 25 percent drop in units moved, placing it behind the venerable Dodge Challenger for the first time. (The Ford Mustang has outsold both of them for each of the last four years.)
Making things worse for the Camaro: A poorly-received facelift for the 2019 model year, which gave V8-powered SS models an awkward black maw of a front end. Chevy quickly changed course for the 2020 model year (as seen above), but the reputation hit had already happened. Add in the fact that the other cars sharing the Camaro’s Alpha platform — the Cadillac CTS and ATS — are being phased out, and the weights dragging down GM’s muscle car may simply have become too great for even its mighty smallblock to overcome.
Still, the automotive world is like comic books: Few deaths are permanent. The Camaro has been resurrected before, and should it die in 2023, it may well return again someday. For now, though…well, we say go buy that eight-cylinder Chevy two-door while you can.
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