A power folding top, the addition of structural braces and the same powertrain lineup as that found in the coupe are the key selling points of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible.
The drop-top Camaro, which gets a formal debut at the Los Angeles auto show on Wednesday, goes on sale in February. The Camaro convertible will have a base price of $30,000, including the destination charge.
The Camaro convertible will be available in LT and SS trim levels, the same as the Camaro coupe. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 312 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, mated to either an Aisin six-speed manual transmission or a General Motors Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission.
The Camaro convertible SS is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8. Cars equipped with the Tremec TR 6060 six-speed manual will use GM's LS3 engine, rated at 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The Camaro SS equipped with a GM Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic uses the L99 engine, rated at 400 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.
About that top
The Camaro's folding top operates similarly to the folding top on the Chevrolet Corvette. A twist of a handle at the front edge of the top releases it from the windshield header. The driver then pushes a button, which stows the top behind the rear seats and lowers the windows.
Chevy says it takes about 20 seconds to lower the top, which is made from canvas material and uses a headliner to dampen road noise.
While the Camaro architecture was originally engineered to include a convertible version, the loss of the coupe roof prompted engineers to add some braces to counteract steering-wheel and cowl shake. The Camaro convertible gets:
• A brace that connects the front strut towers.
• A reinforcement brace for the transmission support.
• V-shaped braces at the front and rear of the underbody.
• A brace for the underbody tunnel.
Engineers also added a hydroformed tube inside the Camaro's A-pillars and a reinforcement bracket inside the windshield header, and they reinforced the rocker panels and front hinge pillars to cut down on noise, vibration and harshness.
The changes keep the Camaro convertible body stiff enough that engineers used the suspension bushings and springs with the same stiffness as the components used on the Camaro coupe, instead of selecting softer settings to quell vibrations.