Any 4th gen Camaro or Firebird owners here?

Any 4th gen Camaro or Firebird owners here?

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Discussion

GTdrive

Original Poster:

154 posts

15 months

Wednesday 24th February
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I was having a chat with 300bhp/ton in another thread and he kind of steered me towards a 4th generation Camaro.

I have driven several f-bodies in the U.S. But it has been several years now. Last time was around 2003-2004.

Although the proposition of owning one of these cars here never crossed my mind. But given my current situation, I'm starting to consider a 4th gen Camaro, courtesy of 300bhp/ton.

I'm coming out of a RX8 as a daily driver and looking for another daily. I'm looking for something else which is also fun to drive, not too heavy, RWD manual, with sporty looks, some practicality but no hatchback or saloon and hopefully more reliable than the RX8,. A 4th gen Camaro check many of these boxes.

I already know that it is quite different from a RX8. But this is a past subject.

What I would like to chat about is how is owning one of these cars here, how is getting parts and consumables, how practical they are as a daily and so on.

I remember the rear seats being quite short in space. But somehow not as bad as a GTV 916 or XKR. Is it feasible for small children? Anybody here uses it for that? I guess a booster chair with seat and back rest is out of question? I don't mean the facing backwards ones.

Does everything need to be imported or bought in specialize U.S. car websites? Or does it share any parts with the GM European products which are readily available?

Have you ever had any down time where you couldn't drive the car because you were waiting for parts? This is to be my daily driver. So down time would be a big negative.

Maybe 300bhp/ton will come in again to share more experiences. It would be great to hear from anybody who owns a 4th gen f-body in the UK or Europe.


OverSteery

3,137 posts

195 months

Sunday 28th February
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I got rid of my last one a few years ago now, but I guess I've had about 10 years running 4th Gen V8s as semi-dailies. (I use a motorbike more than a car).

I had three in total which were used as the family car up to the kids were 10 and 12 I think. Tow bar fitted meant push bikes could come on holiday.

Very reliable and parts weren't an issue, most stuff was available off the shelf from a few specialists. Remember these are/were cheap simple cars, none of the modern over-tech. Pretty much the US capri really. I guess they are getting older now, but they made rather a lot of small block Chevys and many would run to vast miles in the US with minimal maintenance.

I appear to be in the minority preferring the 'early' 4th gens. Better looking and I find the LT1 a more characterful engine than the LS1.

I've not found many cars more suited to my own preferred driving style - slow in and sideways out. The lack of rear weight and torque does make playing silly b*ggers so easy.

If you want to drive one fast, you might want to budget for a brake upgrade!





Get yourself a copy of this book if you want to get the feel of them:




Edited by OverSteery on Sunday 28th February 21:28

rene7

368 posts

47 months

Tuesday 2nd March
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It's a car with real character [and grunt at least the LS1 engined Z28 ISsmile] - plenty of plastics which does tend to rattle etc. but compared to bland German BMW & Merc 'repmobiles' it's fabuluusss.
Parts are cheep as cchips - I bought F&R brake pads, 2 oil filters, set of plugs [8] and locking petrol cap - whole lot came to £72 inc next day p&p.
Mines an auto but still does 25ish MPG on A & B roads.
It's like a Mk1 escort on steroids. Definitly NOT for hot hatch drivers either they hate it toosmile
Hope this helpsthumbup

rockin

9,525 posts

209 months

Tuesday 2nd March
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I had a long, hard at F-body cars but never bought one. You are right about rear seats - it's very cramped back there. Even if kids are small now they tend to keep getting bigger. Also the interior as a whole is cheaply built and now very dated.

If you want a 2+2 that's a bit different have a look at the post-1997 Saab Turbo Coupe. A 2-door with full size rear seats and a brilliant engine. Early cars were called Saab 900 and later cars were called Saab 9/3.
https://www.netcarshow.com/saab/1997-900_coupe/


GTdrive

Original Poster:

154 posts

15 months

Tuesday 2nd March
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Coming from a RX8 my main worries are handling, interior quality and comfort, and rear seat space.

I have driven the 4th F-bodies. Both Camaro and Trans Am in the U.S. But it has has been years. I do remember being bothered by the rigid rear axle which was twitchy and would get upset on bumps, and that it didn't inspire confidence around curves. But somebody posted a video of a 4th gen Camaro going around English B roads and another around the Nurburgring, which made me question my old memories of driving them.

I remember the interior was very rattly. But I hear thal Camaros which came to Europe had the Trans Am leather seats. So at least this is a bit better. But I guess there is no way around the interior? Has anybody tried upgrading it? Are there any nicer leather front seats thst would fit? Maybe from the the GM divisions European such as Saab ? I guess the cheap plastic there is no way around. But if a least the front seats are nicer and the rattle could be taken care of, it might make it a better place to be.

But the deal breaker will be the rear seats. I have two kids. 4 and 7. If I can't fit booster kids seats in there it will be a deal breaker. I don't need it often or for longer runs. We have a proper 4-doors. But sometimes I might have to do the school run or something. Unfortunately I can't find much info on that. This is all I could find:



But this is a convertible F-body and has a bench seat. The bucket rear seats in the coupes look smaller.

GTdrive

Original Poster:

154 posts

15 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
rockin said:
If you want a 2+2 that's a bit different have a look at the post-1997 Saab Turbo Coupe. A 2-door with full size rear seats and a brilliant engine. Early cars were called Saab 900 and later cars were called Saab 9/3.
https://www.netcarshow.com/saab/1997-900_coupe/
But the Saab is a FWD.

irocfan

26,579 posts

154 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
rockin said:
I had a long, hard at F-body cars but never bought one. You are right about rear seats - it's very cramped back there. Even if kids are small now they tend to keep getting bigger. Also the interior as a whole is cheaply built and now very dated.

If you want a 2+2 that's a bit different have a look at the post-1997 Saab Turbo Coupe. A 2-door with full size rear seats and a brilliant engine. Early cars were called Saab 900 and later cars were called Saab 9/3.
https://www.netcarshow.com/saab/1997-900_coupe/
2 big problems with this ^^^

1 - no V8
2 - FWD


4th gen cars are a little basic, no question but (LT optispark issues aside, IIRC) are very reliable and (relatively) easy to fix

rockin

9,525 posts

209 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
The FWD/RWD thing is interesting. Some people get very attached to one or the other and some don't. I can give examples of two FWD cars that I had a serious look at and swerved away from - Alfa 164 (3 litre V6) and Saab 9000 (2.3 litre turbo 4). Neither was capable of accelerating in a straight line (excessive torque steer) and the Alfa's ABS was so poor it couldn't brake in a straight line either. However, there are some decent FWD cars out there - and when "small people" are involved rear seat accommodation can be a key factor, not least because they tend to keep growing.

In the RWD camp of affordable coupes/convertibles BMW's 3-series has got things pretty well sewn up in Europe. So if you want to "be a bit different" the challenge is to find a car that's at least as good, and that's tricky. Is F-body a good car? Well, these things are all a matter of personal taste but I didn't buy one, despite some serious looking. I still have original F-body sales brochures on my bookshelf - both Chevy and Pontiac. Mind you, there's a DeLorean brochure on there as well... smile

OverSteery

3,137 posts

195 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
I used a 4th gen as my family car until my daughter was 13 and son 11.

Whilst some people seem to need a people carrier for a six month baby, we found it fine for family holidays to Cornwall and centre parcs.


GTdrive

Original Poster:

154 posts

15 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
OverSteery said:
I used a 4th gen as my family car until my daughter was 13 and son 11.

Whilst some people seem to need a people carrier for a six month baby, we found it fine for family holidays to Cornwall and centre parcs.

That's very interesting. So you can fit child seats in the rear bucket seats? If so then a 4th gen Camaro will become a good contender.

I wasn't sure also about leg space. Specially behind the driver's seat. I'm not really tall. I'm 6',1".

OverSteery

3,137 posts

195 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
booster seats, rather than full child seats

GTdrive

Original Poster:

154 posts

15 months

Tuesday 2nd March
quotequote all
OverSteery said:
booster seats, rather than full child seats
Ok, but those don't work with the shorties, as they need the back rest to set the height of the seat-belt. Or the belt is too high and chokes them. frown

I believe booster seats are for slightly older children.

So full child seats, the facing forward kind, won't fit?

NDNDNDND

1,286 posts

147 months

Sunday 7th March
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GTdrive said:
OverSteery said:
booster seats, rather than full child seats
Ok, but those don't work with the shorties, as they need the back rest to set the height of the seat-belt. Or the belt is too high and chokes them. frown

I believe booster seats are for slightly older children.

So full child seats, the facing forward kind, won't fit?
Yes they will, but you'll have to be careful which ones you choose - they need to have a narrow base. I test drove a third-gen a few years ago, which was being sold by the proprietor of American Technique (incidentally, it was the car that Top Gear took to Cuba and trashed). He had a forward facing car seat in the back as he'd been using it to take his kid to school.

As for parts, most general service items can be bought in the UK if you need them quickly, but Rockauto.com stocks virtually everything at good prices if you're willing to wait for shipping from the US. Rockauto is also VAT registered, which means you don't get stung by courier shipping charges on import - just be careful which shipping option you choose at checkout to ensure VAT is included.

LuS1fer

37,497 posts

209 months

Sunday 7th March
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I owned a 1998 Z28 LS1 from 2091 to 2004.

Fantastic engine. Only issues I ever had was the AC compressor clacked so I removed the fuse (with T-tops, not a problem) and the EGR valve failed but that was £105 and simple to fit.

I had two kids and had two belt-in child seats but I'm only 5 foot 6 and the front passenger legroom is more limited due to the intrusion of the catalyst into the floor. The rear cushions are very cupped so hold the child seat but you need a narrow booster seat. Certainly more room than my 2005 Mustang which you sit on, rather than in.

The 4th gen is very low, you sit in it, not on it. The bonnet is very low.

The 1998 LS1 made more power than advertised. The reality was it was far closer to the Corvette than GM advertised. It ran 13s over the quarter. The earlier LT1 engine was more problematic with its silly crank mounted distributor Optispark. All used plastic body panels save for the hood and rear wings.

Bad points are that the body is very flexi. Jack one corner and only one wheel will lift. I fitted uprated rear control arms, had welded in subframe connectors and a strut brace and lower brace. I lowered the car using a Bilstein BTS shock and spring kit and put slotted rotors and uprated pads so the brakes were perfectly good. In standard form, the car is too flexible. I was amazed how the STB firmed up the steering.

Your main issue would be finding one. They are few and far between. Most will be auto. Camaros were officially imported and had better leather Firebird seats. In the US, good examples are on the rise in value.

They do have character though. I would have another (a late LS1 Firebird WS6 preferably) and still prefer it to my Mustang, at least in modified form.

Of course, the last one was 2002.

Worth looking at Cadillac CTS. The original CTS-V would be very hard to find but there are plenty of 3.6 Sport cars about but UK cars have high VED rates. An import would be more attractive, for VED but LHD.

Edited by LuS1fer on Sunday 7th March 10:52