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RIDE & JOY
CHEVROLET CAMARO SS CONVERTIBLE


Chevrolet

Living in the Middle East we’re locked inside a bubble of our own. Living in Dubai I’m locked inside a little bubble within that bubble! Sure, we’ve had our fair share of troubles thanks to the global recession, but in Dubai we’ve still been wrapped in very fine cotton wool.

I spent part of the summer and early autumn over in Canada, another area that has weathered the storm better than most. I’ve been travelling on and off to Canada for five years now and feel as though I know the place quite well. Read all the reports about the best place to live and Canada tops most of the charts, but it is only when you stay there do you realise why.

The Canadians are a secretive lot, keeping most of their good stuff to themselves and failing to declare it to the rest of the world. If ever there is some kind of a country audit the Canada will be in big trouble for hiding assets. The Canadian wilderness, logging, maple syrup, beavers etc, we all know about. But how about their world class wine that is hardly exported? They’re also tucking away from themselves fantastic fresh produce thanks to amazingly warm, long summers. Their sweetcorn is the best in the world, even their eggs taste better! The people are incredibly friendly, to the point that it makes you feel a little uptight not to be smiling and happy all the time.

This time while I was over there I managed to feel some worry in the smiling Canadian faces; it was their sense of relief more than anything. General Motors have a factory just outside of Toronto (Oshawa), a factory so large it needed a navigation system of its own. I was there to collect a Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible to test drive.

General Motors, themselves needing a helping hand by the US government, has invested heavily into this Oshawa plant. While I drove around the factory I was in awe of the vast amount of cars being built from this plant.

What seemed like thousands of Chevrolets (Camaro, Equinox and Impala) Cadillacs (XTS), GMCs (Terrain) and Buiks (Regal) sat cooling in the summer sun, fresh off the production line. I could see the dependency of the local community on this factory.

Jobs of course for the workers but around the plant were subsidiary businesses, houses, schools and the mandatory Tim Horton’s. This is a busy community that breathed a collective sigh of relief at GM being helped out and that GM chose Oshawa to build the new Cadillac ATS - that’s another few years of job security.

My house is only about forty minutes from the factory, in a quiet village where a lot of retirees from the GM factory live. It wasn’t quiet for too long once my Camaro rumbled into town. Playing the notes on the exhaust, with my roof down I could pitch perfectly.

I idled my way through the centre of the village. Luckily the Camaro is a car capable of expressing its muscles from the 426-bhp, V8, 6-2 litre engine but is more than happy cruising in second gear with the rag top down - the beauty of a manual box.

I’ve driven plenty of nice cars thanks to this job, but I’ve never been waved at or received so many thumbs up as I did in the Camaro. My guess was while the other drivers loved the great noise of the Camaro and its hunched athletic curves they were more appreciative that I was driving a car built just down the road.

Nipping to the shops in the Camaro wasn’t easy though, not that there was anything wrong with the dive of the car, it’s just that there would always be a few people admiring the car when I returned with my groceries.

With the roof left open the admirers could take in a proper look at the interior. It’s not just the drive or the noise of the Camaro SS that’s attracting buyers, the interior is well thought out, rich, uses colours and lighting really well and is sporty.

Many of these older guys told me they’d work on previous generations of the muscle car (this is the fifth), young guys told me put my foot down as I pulled away.

The most attractive aspect of the Camaro SS is you have all the attributes of a very expensive sports car (sound, drive, looks) in a very affordable package.

There was a definite sense of pride in this car from the community and if I lived in this part of the world permanently the Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible would be the car I’d be buying.

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