GM to discontinue production of Camaro, Firebird, ending long history for the two sport cars
Wednesday, September 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
DETROIT (AP) _ Two of America's favorite sports cars are nearing the end of the road.
General Motors Corp. announced Tuesday that the 2002 model year will be the last for the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.
GM blamed the demise of the Camaro and Firebird on a 53 percent decline in the sports car market since 1990.
More than 4 million Camaros have been sold since it was introduced in 1967. Its peak year was 1978 when 260,201 were sold, but last year sales dwindled to just 42,131.
The Firebird's best year was also 1978 when 175,607 were sold. In 2000, though, sales were just a tad over 31,000.
John Middlebrook, GM vice president and general manager of vehicle brand marketing, said the automaker will celebrate the cars with a 35th Anniversary Edition Camaro and a Collector Edition Firebird Trans AM.
The cars will not be directly replaced, but the new Chevrolet SSR, available next year, is expected to attract some Camaro and Firebird buyers. The vehicle is a cross between a roadster and the now-extinct cult favorite El Camino.
Pontiac will offer the new Vibe GT, Bonneville SSEi and supercharged Grand Prix GTP.
The Ford Mustang is the only survivor of the muscle car glory days. The Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper sports cars have only two seats and are much more expensive than the Camaro and Firebird.
The Ste. Therese, Quebec, assembly plant where the Camaro and Firebird are produced will close next September. Maureen Kempston Darkes, president and general manager for GM of Canada Limited, said the company tried to discover an alternative to continue manufacturing at the plant, but was unable to find one.
``This is an extremely painful and difficult decision,'' Darkes said.