When the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible sets the pace for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 this Sunday, it will showcase a top built to last a lifetime, operate worry-free and maintain the appearance of its Coupe sibling.
To assure long-term durability, the convertible top underwent extensive testing during development, being opened and closed more than 22,500 times – three times more than would be expected in a typical 10 years of use. Some of those cycles were performed in extreme conditions; temperatures ranging from minus-22° F to 170° F and humidity of up to 95 percent.
“This past winter we even had our engineers driving 80 of these convertibles back and forth to work every day here in Michigan,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “They had to open and close the top five times each day no matter what the weather was like.”
Every Camaro Convertible undergoes a water test as it completes assembly in Oshawa, Ontario. In addition, vehicles are randomly chosen to undergo an eight-minute water test at the assembly facility in Oshawa and at an identical facility at the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. More than 7,200 gallons of water are hurled at the car in a hurricane-like downpour at a pace of 900 gallons per minute.
Addressing another aspect of interior comfort, Camaro Convertible’s three-layer top includes an acoustical liner made of rubber sandwiched between an acrylic square weave outer fabric and an inner reinforcing cotton layer. Engineers use a sophisticated human-ear mimicking device called the Aachen Head to measure noise levels. According to recent GM road test data, the Camaro Convertible achieved a better interior quietness acoustical rating than the Ford Mustang in interior quietness.
“For many buyers, a Camaro Convertible can be a collector car, something they might keep for generations. So we made sure the tops would retain their quality for a long, long time,” said Oppenheiser. “There is great value in a convertible with the original top.” Oppenheiser knows the needs for car collectors well. He personally restored a 1969 Camaro Convertible several years ago.
Consistent with its coupe-like performance dynamics, the Camaro Convertible offers the looks of the Camaro Coupe when the top is up. The five bow roof design provides a smooth, taut and carefully tailored appearance that retains the sleek roofline of the coupe.
Unlike other convertible models in the segment, the Camaro top latches with a single, convenient handle located at the center of the windshield header. Once the latch is turned to the open position, the push of a single button lowers the windows and activates the top, which completes its cycle in about 20 seconds.