Camaro chief engineer dishes details, stokes rivalry with Ford and Dodge


Al Oppenheiser has been Camaro’s chief engineer since the car’s fifth-generation rebirth. Now two generations and two platforms deep, Oppenheiser and the Camaro development team are enjoying the competition in the pony car market. We sat down with Oppenheiser at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, right between Chevrolet’s new Hot Wheels-edition Camaro and the Bullitt Mustang on display at Ford’s booth next door.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/22/al-oppenheiser-interview


Coming from a younger generation,

How can Al criticize the Mustang when Chevy discontinued at the peak of the pony revolution with the New Edge…

You have Ford dealerships offering 750hp mustang GT’s for under 40k… Chevy SS’s comes with 455hp for about three thousand less… That’s more than the Dodge Demon for waaay less.

Just me on a personal note, the style of the new mustangs just blows the Camaro out of the water, and when I sat in the new Camaro, I felt really cramped, not gripped like a race car, but cramped… it just felt tiny inside of it and I’m average hight, 5’9".

On the other hand, I find the LS very easy to work with and to tune on… the Ford 5.0 is a major pain and not user friendly for us shade tree mechanics… but 750hp vs 455 for almost the same price? That’s hard to justify your blasting of Ford Al.


Ford dealerships are offering 750hp Mustang GT’s for under 40K? Prove it! Everybody has styling prefences so you like the Mustang styling buy it! Ford is always behind so Al is justified in his criticism. Take it from one of the Corvette guys who worked on the Corvette Team.


The 750 hp Mustang was only recently confirmed and will not be on dealer lots for 18 - 24 months. And anyone thinking it will cost around $40k is inhaling way too many exhaust fumes.

When I was at the North American International Auto Show, I looked at the sticker for the yellow 2018 Mustang GT Convertible they have on the show floor. It was over $56k. That is more than the sticker on my 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary. It’s within spitting distance of a Camaro 1LE coupe.

Mustangs are nice cars…Camaros are nice cars. Can’t we just leave it at that and not try to exaggerate one over the other?


I think he’s referring to the Roush supercharger kit that a couple Ford dealers across the nation are selling as a dealer installed option. Basically if you buy a stripped down, entry level GT with the Roush supercharger kit installed, the price checks in just under 40k. That’s cool and all…but it’s not really Ford Motor Company offering a factory GT with 750hp. It’s just the modern version of the Yenko and Baldwin Camaros of the '60s.

And he misses Al’s point which was, will the Mustang be able to put that power down in a package that can turn, etc? It’s widely known that the Camaro platform outhandles the Mustang platform. Adding another 320hp won’t make the Mustang put the power down any better.