I love American muscle cars and for those regular TorqueNews readers who follow my coverage of the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, that should be no secret. However, I am frequently troubled by the commenters who go about how muscle cars should only come with V8 engine and nothing else. These negative commenters insist that the people who buy V6 versions of the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang shouldn’t have purchased a muscle car if they didn’t want more power. However, the anti-V6 people should understand that the V6 engines are why these cars managed to exist with powerful V8 engines in an era where automakers are being forced to produce cars that put fuel economy first.
To show just how important V6 models are to the American muscle car segment, I present to you the production figures for the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro.
2014 Chevrolet Camaro Production Statistics
The Chevrolet Camaro was the bestselling performance car in America for 2014 with 89,377 sold in the US while another 8,255 were sold in other countries and with 97,632 total units sold for 2014, the Camaro was the bestselling muscle car in the world.
Of those 97,632 Camaros sold for the 2014 model year, 71,481 of them were equipped with the 3.6L V6. In other words, 73.2% of the bestselling muscle car in the world and the bestselling performance model in the US were fitted with the lowest performance engine while just 26.8% had one of the four V8 engines offered in the 2014 Camaro.
Based on those numbers, if engine options were left entirely up to the accountants, none of the V8 models would exist since the take rate of V6 models are almost 3 to 1. This high number of V6 models sold allow GM to continue building models like the ZL1 and Z28, which have a much lower take rate. Also, while most V8 muscle car owners don’t care about fuel economy, the automakers do and having 73% of Camaro buyers opting for the fuel friendly V6 allows GM to see a much smaller impact on their fleet fuel economy figures on which CAFÉ laws focus. In other words, GM has to hit a certain average fuel economy figure across their entire vehicle lineup and the sales volume for more efficient models help to equalize any negative impact created by high performance, less efficient models. GM can sell 515 Camaro Z28 coupes without worrying about an impact on CAFÉ requirements because they sell 71k V6 models.
Breakdown by Engine and Transmission for the 2014 Camaro
While the most popular engine for the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro was the 3.6L V6, buyers also had their choice of 4 V8 engines with the Camaro SS getting the L99 and LS3 V8 while the ZL1 features the LSA V8 and the Z28 has the LS7 V8. The most popular V8 for the 2014 Camaro was the L99 (Camaro SS, automatic transmission) with 15,006 units sold around the world and the LS3 (Camaro SS, manual transmission) was second with 8,194 units sold. The 580hp supercharged LSA V8 in the Camaro ZL1 ranked third among the big engines with 2,436 units sold and the Camaro Z28 was last with only 515 models fitted with that formerly Corvette-only engine.
In addition to complaining about the existence of V6 muscle cars, some of the internet bigmouths like to complain about the availability of automatic transmissions – since they believe that all performance cars should only have a manual transmission. For the 2014 Camaro, the automatic transmissions outsold the manual transmissions by a margin almost as severe as the difference between V6 and V8 models.
Among Camaro V6 models, 64,238 had the automatic transmission while just 7,243 V6 models had the manual transmission. Among the Camaro SS sales, 15,006 had the automatic while 8,194 had the 6-speed manual. Among the high performance Camaro ZL1s sold for 2014, the manual transmission was the favored option, but only be a narrow margin of 1,339 to 1,097 and for the Z28, only a manual transmission was offered. In total, 80,341 of the 2014 Camaros sold around the world (82.2%) had an automatic transmission while just 17,291 had a manual transmission.
While we all want to be driving a powerful muscle car with a V8 engine and a manual transmission, the auto industry is all about making money and with V6 automatics being the bestselling muscle cars – those folks who hate the V6 and self-shifting transmission should applaud those folks who own a V6 automatic Camaro, Challenger or Mustang – as they are technically the people who keep the automakers building the higher performance models that we all love so much.